Open Letter: My Life in Twenty Years

Gen Stewart | June 18, 2012.

Twenty years ago the world gathered in Rio De Janeiro for the 1992 Earth Summit. It was here that the ban the Framework Convention on Climate Change was born and the world began discussing sustainable development.

Twenty years ago, I was also born. As a newborn infant, I didn’t know that I was being born into a world would remain unresolved on the issue of sustainable development two decades later.

My entire existence has occurred between the Earth Summit and upcoming Rio+20 negotiations, where world leaders are gathering again to ponder the future. My future. And the future of all generations to come.

Twenty years ago, I couldn’t speak for myself but, I now can and this is what I have to say:

1) Please, please, please do something meaningful about climate change. We’ve had enough negotiation, the science could not be anymore settled but the political will to implement the necessary solutions is still lacking. The world needs to stop burning dirty fossil fuels and move to commercially viable renewables, and it needs to happen now.

2) You defined sustainable development as something that “meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. That was you, not me. So remember it. You still act as if the planet’s resources are infinite and that there are no consequences for pushing planetary boundaries. Our actions have consequences and the decisions you make are no different.

3) The status quo is not okay, it doesn’t reflect the fact that there are 1.3 billion people still living in extreme poverty. The gap in living standards continues to grow between the have and have-nots.

I haven’t asked easy of things of you. But I also haven’t asked for impossible things. Achieving sustainable development is still possible, but only if you have the political will to carry through on decisions made twenty years ago.


By Genevieve Stewart.


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