Monday, 18 June 2012

Sustainable Development: Being Achieved 1 Coca-Cola at a Time

Post by Federico Davila
Key words: corporations, green economy, interests

I have been attending the Rio+20 Conference at Rio Centro, well described by Stayner (2012, see post below) for 2 days now. The magnitude of the event is impossible to describe in words. Formal negotiations have not yet started, rather delegations are working on a draft text that will be formalised when the conference opens on Wednesday.

The ANU Delegation has been busy going to the Fair Ideas Conference along with numerous side events at Rio Centro. We are all incredibly busy, but are having a fantastic time.

Taking this blog as a space to communicate my reflections on the process, I wish to tell you of a particular thing that I have noticed since Day 1.

This post is based on 3 photos taken by myself, and 1 taken and published by the UN. The photos are shown below and commentary follows.

Photo 1: Coca Cola Brazil & Rio+20. Together for a More Sustainable World

Well, apparently Coca-Cola will change the world! The corporation, together with Rio, will work towards a more sustainable world. I cannot grasp why the entire food hall of the conference (you can fit an A380 in there by the way) has tables and chairs with Coca Cola Logos. More concerning, how did a conference that should be all about sustainable development, allow a private corporation that encourages mass-consumption and use of chemical fertilisers to grow corn syrup to sponsor Rio+20?

Every food stall sells Coca-Cola. Numerous Rio+20 posters have a Coca-Cola logo attached to them. The next photo is closely linked to this first one.

This is what the UN showed us on their Facebook Rio+20 site: 

Photo 2: Official UN Photo (

OK please note the contrast here. The UN chose to show the world this photo on their Facebook page to highlighting the lovely blue messages of the future we want.

They very conveniently, however, disguised and did not upload on their Facebook page the end of that wall, where it turns green and shows this:

Photo 3: The end of the Future we Want wall, showing the Lead Sponsor of the Conference.

Here we have Capstone Turbine Corporation. They are present in car factories, oil rigs, you name it. Now I am not saying I am anti-turbines.We need them. We would not function the way we do without them.My concern with this is that the conference, somehow, has selected private enterprises to sponsor it.

Reading into these things, to me it symbolises the lack of transparency to acknowledge the actual interests that are being portrayed here in Rio+20.

The Green Economy, as outlined by the ETC Group (2011) is the labelling of our business as usual model with a lovely name. A Green Economy will  perpetuate our current means of production and development. It will keep seeking the technocratic solutions to environmental degradation without taking the holistic and non market approach to saving the world.

 A final photo that summarises the interests of Rio+20 is below. Not many words are necessary to describe the issues with these mega billboards spread throughout the Convention Center.  

Photo 4 : Priorities at Rio+20

Look at the order here.
  1. Economy
  2. Social
  3. Environment

Rio+20 is not about environmental health. It is not about preserving the ecosystem services human well being is dependent on.

Rio+20 is, perhaps, a subtle and disguised power play of corporate and political interests to get away with continuing environmental harmful practices.

Am I reading into this too much? No, I am not. I have discussed this with other members of the Delegation. We agree. Rio+20 will create a space for the viscous means of production that have degraded our environment to continue for the endless grow of economies in a world with finite resources.

I am sorry if this blog has been negative, but I think it is the reality of the current state of the world. These realities are kept quiet, no one wants to say what is happening. These things are not said by delegates. They are not said by politicians.

They are, however, loudly said by activists, youth movements, thinkers, academics, and pretty much everyone from the 9 Major Groups who we have been engaging with in various events.

These 9 Major Groups are the ones that offer hope for the world. I will blog about this soon. There are thousands of people in this city, right now, with amazing ideas of how to create change without using the existing, controlling and closed walls of the Rio+20 Process. 

Rio+20 will not create the global governmental top-down change we strive for.

Rio+20 will, however, bring incredibly creative and imaginative people together with ideas that will need to be up-scaled to achieve sustainable development. Rio+20 is allowing these ideas to flow throughout the world, with names, business cards and concepts flying to all corners of the planet. 

Rio+20 offers the necessary platform for communication to happen on positive, fair ideas for sustainable development. These will be shared amongst civil society, and with time, grow and strengthen to contribute towards the future we want.

I look forward to your comments,

Federico Davila
June 17 2012


ETC Group (2010). Who will control the green economy? Available at:

1 comment:

  1. well written. Its encouraging though that all the young people there are aware of this not so subtle agenda for Rio+20. freakin coca cola. Its like the OECD new report "green growth" which basically states we're going to continue to trash the planet, just less than usual and using different tech.