The Second United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will take place in Rio in a few weeks, after a gap of 20 years.
Green Economy is a key theme. The United Nations Environment Programme defines it as improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Antonio Patriota, the foreign minister of Brazil, the host country, praises these ideas loudly. He says, “Brazil has demonstrated that it is possible to grow and to include, while protecting and preserving.”
However, Brazil’s cities are doing just the opposite. In Sao Paolo, street vendors are being removed, their stalls smashed. This means about 100,000 persons are in fear of displacement. It is in contravention of the ideals of the green economy, because street vendors enable access to goods locally, saving clients from travelling in motorised transportation to shop. Rio’s story is unfortunate too. The landfill of Gramacho will be closed as the Rio+20 conference begins, displacing hundreds of wastepickers, who otherwise pick up trash and recycle it.
Dirtying the Yamuna
Management of the commons in India — rivers, forests, air, trash, public space — is undemocratic. An RTI application by the Yamuna Bachao Abhiyan shows that according to the Central Pollution Control Board, instead of improving, the polluted section of the Yamuna has increased by 100 km from 2010 to 2012. This, after governments have spent over
Rs 1,500 crore to clean it.
Many citizen groups work on this river, and they issue both ideas and warnings. These are widely publicised but rarely imbibed in policy. Now that the government’s ideas have all failed to yield results, it is time to find a whole new way to include ideas from citizens, so this dying river can be revived across the many states that it sustains.