Blog / 16 November 2011

Sustainable development: a world full of contradictions

Sustainable development: a world full of contradictions


Brazil is a good example of this dilemma: the country has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility, it has an active environmental movement which has made the country aware of the its natural resources and has laws and regulations that provide good frameworks for the sustainable use of resources. Simultaneously in many states the political and legislative power are characterised by corruption, virtually feudal power structures and a high degree of impunity. The country thus illustrates the big challenge of Rio 20: agreements and sufficient local capacity are wonderful, though the political will to fundamentally change economic activity is crucial.

Brazil is to host Rio+20, meanwhile this country displays great contradictions to the eye of the world. Recently, it retired from the Organization of American States (OAS), when the OAS affiliated Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that they had to stop to the construction of the Belo Monte dam because the interests of the local population were not taken into account sufficiently. Perhaps more importantly, the decision to build the dam was in contradiction to the country's constitution. The political decision to step out of the OAS illustrates that good legislation and a strong institutional structure are of little value when economic and political interests are at stake.

It is not necessary to make new agreement or to discuss technical solutions for water and energy problems. The major question now is how interests of environment and nature, and the people who directly depend on environment and nature, can become key factors in political decision making processes? The conference in Bonn and preparations for Rio+20 should focus more on this dilemma.

Photo: Ssolbergj

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