As the days draw by to the 2012 Rio+20 summit, various conferences and meetings are relentlessly being held worldwide. The major aim of these meetings or even conferences is to discuss the way forward about sustainable development. The driving consideration is that the current policies as well as paradigms are argued not to having adequately favored the achievement of sustainable development; the 2008 food and energy crises, financial collapse, global recession and social tensions may have well served as the wake up call. There are various approaches that may be taken, yet this entire have to put into consideration the need of the green economy for sustainable development. There is much dilemma in the ways of achieving sustainable development. Some critics argue that sustainable development can never be. The purpose of this term paper is to outline a strategy to influence the outcome of Rio+20 conferences. It begins by examining the weaknesses of existing policies and relates to how and why they have failed to achieve sustainable development, the basis of which the strategies of influencing the Rio +20 conference can eventually be elucidated.
First, the existing policies failed to address the important role of environment in achieving sustainable development and as well provide adequate framework for reinforcing rules and regulation on environmental conservation. Every human being in the world anywhere depends on the services of natural world and its environment to earn a life that is secure, decent and healthy(Gallopín, 1991). It is for this reason that human beings have made unexpected changes, realized in the recent decades, to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy. These have greatly helped improve life of billions. But human being have done so as they weakened the Mother Nature ability in delivering key services such as air purification, water provision, medicine provision and disaster protection (Jasanoff et al, 1997). Human beings have too triggered mass extinction of biodiversity to the extent that he is also threatened. The declining services derived from ecosystem pose as a great bulwark to the achievement of the Millennium development goals, which target to eliminate hunger, disease and poverty. It is argued that the pressure is mounting on the ecosystems, with great impacts being noticed decade after decade unless the need for change is quickly addressed.
For instance, massive air pollution emitted by industries, combustion engines, among other human activities have triggered global warming which have affected climate and resulted to famine cases and ever advancing deserts into arid lands. Farther more, the effects have also extended to the health of humans. Industrial emissions are to blame for the increasing cancer cases. However much it is emphasized that industrialization may be the best way of developing the south and cite Japan’s case as an example wherein industrialization has played a major role, looking at the situation of Japan’s environment makes the industrialization undesirable. The temperatures are so high and the clean air to breath is insufficient. Natives are yet to see the blue skies that ever existed before (Gunderson and Holling, 2002). The persistent production of green house gases into the atmosphere without putting into consideration their effect on the environment has in the recent time taken effect and led to escalation of basic commodities, all attributed to climate change. Resources that could never have been depleted have become depleted with much ease. Herein, industrialization fails to be the key to sustainable development as it does more harm than good. The adjustments of the consequences are more expensive than the good that is reaped from them.
Due to ontological reasons, the situation would continuously get dire (Gallopin et tal, 1999). The large amounts of carbon dioxide from the industries in developed countries combine with that from developing nations resulting to changes in climate. Climate change affects negatively the economy. In fact, the climate change is cited as the current economic crisis.
Organic farming agriculture has consistently been increasing by almost over 20 percent despite the fact that traditional and less sustainable methods of farming have been subsidized. But still the organic farming methods have not been self sustained. This is an implication that more hurdles have to be overcome to attain sustainability. It is therefore deduced that in order to achieve sustainable development, the crucial role that the environment plays has to be put into consideration. The current trends have proven to be both socially and economically unsustainable (UNEP, 2002 & UNCSD, 1992). Just as this was recognized in the 1992 Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg summits, the Rio20 summit should go deeper in discussing the issue farther.
There is a strong relationship between biodiversity and ecosystems that are fit in helping deliver the development outcomes that are sustainable as well as equitable. This can be supported by various illustrations, for example, establishment of about twelve thousand hectares of mangrove in Vietnam saved costs incurred during the processes of dyke re-construction to control flood water by seven times. There would be much need for the Rio +20 summit objectives to aim at supporting various innovations that will likely result in the qualitative channels of growth objective through education means. As such, the regulation of the current human activities alone will not be enough. It is imperative for the current policies to be comprehensively analyzed to find out why they are no longer relevant and to come up with best solutions. The Rio+20 Summit must therefore have clear-cut objectives that answer the question of how the natural systems, social systems and economic systems can harmonically exist. It is important for the systems to be able to facilitate the acquisition of goals for the future so desired amidst the changing world. While answering the question, it would be very important to re-evaluate the role of Local communities, globalization, scientific innovations and technology, and politics.
The Rio+20 summits should acknowledge the fact that Conservation measures would have a high chance of success if the local communities within various resource areas were involved. In addition, the local communities should be granted the chance to own the environmental resources, as they will not only get benefits to uplift their livelihood, but also participate in decision-making processes about sustainability (UNEP, 2002). Globalization should be discouraged, as decentralized units are even better. Even so, effective protection of the natural resources requires a network of efforts to coordinate in all sectors of nations businesses and institutions that are international. The Rio+20 summits should lobby for interparadigmatic dialogue. This encompasses cooperation between people that have different ideologies, objectives, and visions in attaining a common goal (Mushakoji, 1979). If sustainable developments have to be achieved, there must be understanding and cooperation among various groups for example, the governments, businesses, labor unions, Non governmental Organizations (NGOs), community organizations, political parties, and minority groups. Traditional disciplinary thinking is limited and needs to be re-thought beyond.
The current sciences technologies can also help achieve the sustainable development (Funtowicz & Ravetz., 1999). They reduce the negative impact of man on the environment, for or instance, Science and space technology can be applied in the management of watersheds and related disasters, fight against the process of desertification and improve the health sector services too. This may undoubtedly be the best way in quickly achieving the south nation’s sustainable development. There is dire need, therefore, for developing more technologies, especially those that are friendly to the environment.
In spite of the capability of science and technology to manipulate various phenomena, it has failed to solve some problems, especially those associated with complex systems in the sustainable development fields (weaver, 1948). According to Kates et al (2001:2) and ICSU (2002), science and technology plays a vital role in prospecting and avoiding the dangers ahead. The Rio+20 summits should adopt the need to advance a social contract for science that aims at dealing with the current situation of the planet. The current science is failing since the world is a new and a complex system now. It will require the social contract for science to focus on linkages between social, political, biological, economic, geological, physical systems (Lubchenco, 1997:36).The new science should include the modern knowledge, interdisciplinary research, support of science in developing countries and the traditional knowledge in formulation of models. The modern science and technology should review the following nodal areas of science: the units of analysis, integrated research, criteria of truth, inclusion of qualitative variables, dealing with uncertainty, incorporation of other forms of knowledge, agreement between scientists and policy markers, the involvement of stakeholders and the ways of dealing with multivariate scales.
Science and technology should be more outgoing. Rather than rely on tools and models, they should go as far as carrying out explorations, applications, teaching a network of tools and methods that would help come up with making policies. This would trigger multiplication of number of researches that are related and have common objectives. These shall all offer foundations for making policies and hasten the achievement of sustainable development. Schellhuber (1999) suggested that planetary sustainability could be achieved by basing on three principles of the system of the earth; the birds eye principle (focusing from space), the digital mimicry principle (construction of simulation models in the computer) and Lilliput principle (building of macrosoms). It can then be argued that science and technology for sustainable development could farther come up with a fourth principle that perceives directly the entire operations and understand the functioning of the complex systems. Just in the same way various statistical methods of handling data are applied, these can too be initiated and applied in the same case.
Generally, science and technology has a perfect potential in achieving the patterns, which are sustainable in consumption and production (Weaver, 1948). With the application of trans-materialization (A process whereby the dependence on natural resources is reduced by replacing more resource intensive products by less resource intensive ones), the problem of scarcity and harmfulness of materials can be reduced greatly. For example, it has seen the reduction of chlorofluorocarbons during the production of some white goods and reduced the use of chlorine in paper and pulp industries. Science has fostered dematerialization ( A process whereby natural resources are eliminated from processing chain yet without causing alteration to quality of production) in many areas and so limiting the impact on the environment. A good example is the capability to travel in the cyber space without a lot use of natural available resources. Yet remains a great potential within science to initiate further trans-materialization, dematerialization and make other changes in the structure to achieve sustainable development.
Science has transformed modes transport and industries operation. As if not enough, it has transformed the biotechnology. This is an attribute of discoveries of other forms of sustainable and renewable energies. The most notable area that science and technology has played role is introducing energy saving technologies in the tertiary and housing sectors. Arguably, with the introduction and implementation of such best technologies, the overdependence on natural resources would reduce drastically by almost 40 percent.
The new technologies would play role in waste management. Rather than release the wastes into atmosphere and cause environmental harm, the recent sector investment, which ensures almost 100 percent waste content is put to use, may be adopted. Even more impressive is the fact that new technologies can be applied in industries resource management. This does not only increase the industrial efficiency, production, and goods quality, but also ensure best way in which the natural resources are used. This enhances dematerialization on a large scale.
However, they can only be put into practice fully if the free and limitless notion about the services obtained from the environment is eliminated and the usefulness of every resource assessed. For example, the food prices should clearly reflect the costs incurred in cleaning the water channels that have been polluted by agricultural chemicals via run off water. In addition, the Domestic product and Gross National Income should take measurements concerned with impacts from the environment since they are costs that the society bears. Another example that depicts this notion and requires re-addressing is the case where airline companies do not pay tax for large amounts of carbon dioxide gas they emit into the environment. In this case, the airlines should own up so that the importance of the ecosystems is emphasized. . Rather than define industrialization as a tool for quick development, it should be defined as the process where the society quickly destroys itself, if only to make the issue appear more critical.
Politics play a crucial role in the achievement of sustainable development (Rose H. and Rose S., 1976:23). Quick achievement of sustainable development heavily depends on political will to over rule special interests. Such politics ensures equity so that the poor majority is also shielded.
Governments can also play a vital role towards attaining of green economy. Presently, the current operations on renewable energy technologies depend so much on the interventions that can be made by the governments (Gallopín, Funtowicz, Ravetz, 2001: 7). More so, the ease at which the adoption of renewable technologies can be adopted into the markets heavily depends upon its prices relative to other energy prices. The governments have the mandate to intentionally manipulate the prices in favor of renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, the governments should be encouraged to give support to arising technologies. In order to achieve green economy, the governments must too set rules to govern industrial emissions. The effective functioning of the ecosystem depends on various factors. This includes trade and subsidy. Investments and trade regulation measure are known to also affect effective ecosystem functionality to some extent. The governments have the capability to manipulate all these. The governments can set a long-term vision which aims at reducing overdependence on the available resources yet ensure economic development is achieved.
The road to sustainable development is not a smooth one since it comes with green economy. Achieving green economy has widespread implications on social and economic developments and that may be the reason why attaining it must be met with resistance. At its initial initiation, it may destabilize productions patterns, limit employment, and hence challenge the efforts to reduce poverty. As the Ro+20 summit embark on discussing ways in which the green economy can be attained, it would be very important to also discuss how transitions to green economy can be carried out effectively while reduce then stresses to the socio-economy.
As far as the human beings are concerned, there is indeed enough evidence to support the fact that the step to sustainable development begins with embracing the green economy. This turns out to be the areas that had been neglected in the policies in practice. This is where the policies have failed to meet the sustainable development goals. Obviously then, prevention is better than cure. The Rio+20 summits should embark on discussing policies and provide framework for green economy. While doing so, the Rio+20 summits should discuss the role of politics, Local communities and governments, globalization, innovations and technology as the issues that affect the attaining of the green economy. Sustainable development cannot be achieved by only controlling the existing systems; stretching out is the vital tool. The best formula is to support technology that hastens sustainable development. The other factors such as politics will act as catalysts. The old technologies should be phased out and be replaced by new technologies. The new technologies will increase productivity and reduce pressure on the natural resources through processes such as dematerialization and transmaterialization. In addition, adjustment should be made so as to reflect the products effect s on the environment. More pollutant ones ought to be made more expensive. As such, the Rio +20 summit should adopt a document that is not only with vision, but practically oriented as well; that which clearly defines what should be done to improve the lives of the poor majority, especially in developing nations.