Rio+20: Window into history


The events surrounding Rio+20 last month, the huge meeting of governments that was called together by the United Nations, can be seen as a window into history as it is occurring.  The nation-states are failing and new institutional frameworks are growing up to take their place.

Most commentators agree that the meeting was a failure at the level of national governments.  Many heads of state were present and there were many months of preparation, but the meeting was unable to take any strong action on global warming. The failure was especially great because the meeting of scientific experts just before the Rio+20 event stated clearly that global warming is threatening great damage to the earth. See the CPNN article about the UNESCO Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development.

Since sustainable development is key part of a culture of peace, we see once again that nation-states, with their culture of war, are not capable of making a culture of peace.

At the same time we can see other institutional forces developing to create a culture of peace, including youth, civil society, indigenous peoples and especially cities.  For details see the CPNN bulletin for July.

The increasing role of cities for sustainable development is in line with what I have written in my recent book, World Peace through the Town Hall.  Cities have not had a culture of war since the Middle Ages when they had their own armies, city walls for defense and gates where they could control who entered and left the city.  Now these are only sites you can visit as a tourist in the old cities of Europe.  Instead, cities are involved in promoting all of the aspects of a culture of peace.  Sustainable development is one of the eight aspects of a culture of peace.

It is not by accident that these events took place in Brazil.  Ever since the Rio Conference and Environment and Development in 1992 and the 15 million Brazilian signatures on the Manifesto 2000 for a culture of peace, the people of Brazil have been in the leadership of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.  The World Social Forums, started in Porto Allegre in Brazil, have contributed greatly.  And you can find many articles in CPNN about local initiatives for a culture of peace in Brazil, including at the level of city governments.