Four Reasons Why Rio + 20 was Never the Answer

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Elevate Symposium provides four reasons why Rio + 20 Was Never the Answer.

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

Reasons for failure?

Those (in government) who are empowered to act decisively can’t or won’t do so, and those who would act decisively are not permitted to do so.

The Four Reasons Why Rio + 20 Was Never the Answer seems obvious now, but the hand wringing continues. As Anthony Morris, Australian QC stated in his 2010 address to the Cook Society. “Those (in government) who are empowered to act decisively can’t or won’t do so, and those who would act decisively are not permitted to do so.”

Connie Woodberry, community capacity builder and creative change agent from Elevate, LLC in Colorado, is not surprised by nor impressed with either the 50,000 people at Rio or many of the commentators who have posted their respective criticisms of the Rio +20 conference. “For most of us who are trying to fully understand sustainable development, the lack of direction and commitment from Rio was always on the cards for a number of reasons:
1.    The Arrogance of Ideas - The proliferation of special “sustainability” branches of Governments, “NFPs and NGOs all add to the noise not the solution. Once an organization gets on the trajectory of promoting and concentrating on its own idea of “the answer” it becomes the only idea worth consideration. Add the competition for sponsorship and government money and the arrogance associated with ideas becomes very much part of the problem of achieving meaningful change.
2.    Specialists who specialize – Systems are complicated and effective problem solving requires a systems understanding. When specialists concern themselves with only a small part of the organism the full picture and indeed the essential understanding of what is really happening is overlooked. It will only be through looking at the system that the system can be understood and addressed.
3.    Governments only lead on difficult decisions when they are sure of the support of those who are led. After all a government is just made up of people trying to keep their jobs.
4.    Us – It is nonsense to expect the world’s leaders to effectively lead the world into a sustainable future without the vocal support of those they lead. We all want to continue living, what we know to be, an unsustainable life, but our attitude is: let someone else sacrifice and pay the price to fix it.

What is required is not government statements (or the continuous criticism from the vaguely defined NFPs), let policy and grand statements from government follow our actions, let government announce that we, the business community, local government and highly effective sustainable development groups, are solving the problems. “ Connie Woodberry went on to say, “This is why our small business is willing to risk our time and own resources to kick start effective, ground breaking action such as the Elevate. Vail 2012, Creating and Sustaining Special Places Symposium from September 25th to 27th, this autumn in Vail, Colorado, which will bring together place makers, sustainable development specialists and those open to a multi disciplinary approach to solving the pressing problems of creating and sustaining our place. “

“ We no longer require permission to act.” Ms. Woodberry said. "Those of us who do, can just get on with doing.”

Details on the Elevate. Vail 2012, Creating and Sustaining Special Places Symposium, taking place on the 25th to the 27th of September 2012 in Vail Colorado, are available from Constance Woodberry. Places are very limited and early bookings receive a lodging discount.

Contact: Constance Woodberry by calling 970 471 6455 or at constance(at)elevatesymposium(dot)com for interviews or further information. More information is available on the Elevate website at

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Constance Woodberry

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