Friday, 22 June 2012

How do you feel when... you meet Julia Gillard

by Sophia. 

This is just a shortie. I’m finding that processing so much of what occurs here in Rio takes me some time, so I’m probably going to go back to front in the order of my posts. But for now:
Silly as it might sound, I think I've got a feeling for how many world leaders might feel when they meet other world leaders. After spending this week in rooms with, amongst others, the King of Sweden, the President of Ecuador, the UN Secretary General, ex-Presidents of Finland and Ecuador, Nobel laureates, and the heads of countless highly respected NGO’s and Civil Society groups, something has changed. I’ve begun to lose the excitement I initially held about attending this or that session, because Head of State X was presenting, or NGO Y was chairing the panel. 
Instead, many have lost their sheen. Despite the titles they’re given, and the reputations that precede them, they’re still human. Just like the other 7 billion or so people they share this planet with, they also fundamentally depend on the same things as I: most generally food, water, shelter, and community.
So today, when the Delegation met with the Prime Minister of Australia, this is what I felt. She was human, just like us: she was a woman sitting at the other side of the table, who also gets jetlag and frizzy hair when travelling.  As someone most definitely in the spotlight, almost constantly surrounded by media, where everything she says is scrutinised from all angles, she perhaps becomes at ease in any situation. Especially if meeting with a bunch of students from Canberra who only have 15 minutes in her company; by the time introductions and logistics are ticked off, it doesn’t leave much time to ask the tough questions and potentially ruffle any feathers!
I’m far from positive that the outcomes of Rio+20 themselves will actually do much in getting us where we need to be. We all need to live here, utilising essentially the same resources to do so.  Therefore, we shouldn’t wait around for our ‘leaders’ to lead before doing anything to try and secure ourselves a sustainable existence. Because this is our planet, it doesn’t belong just to those who I used to be nervous about meeting in the flesh.
We have an equal right to take action, in whatever capacity that might be. No doubt I hope that they also realise that their wellbeing is at stake by acting too slowly. Without reflecting on our common humanity, it would be even more difficult for me to think that anything successful could come out of this Conference.
However, my hope lies not with most of the political leaders I’ve been exposed to, but with the members of civil society who I have been so inspired and excited by this week.  Civil society deserve a post in their own right, so more on that to come. Once I've processed this batch of info...


1 comment:

  1. great post Soph - I hope you're having a great time & learning lots :)