The early Christians with their communal living may have had the recipe for sustainable living just right, according to some of the speakers at last month’s Earth Summit in Brazil, dubbed Rio+20.
If saving the world one recycled milk bottle at a time seems daunting for the individual, a coalition of organisations has told the Earth Summit in Brazil that not even governments can save the world on their own. We must care for all creation together.
Calling itself ‘Friends of Rio’, the Guardian reports that this ‘extraordinary’ group of leaders from business, NGOs, trade unions and science, told the meeting that, ‘Multi stakeholder efforts can often achieve, through collaboration, what governments working alone cannot, especially for those in developing countries.
Such co-operative efforts can be transparent, participative and accountable.
‘They can share costs and risks. They can be economically viable and at the same time they can demonstrate clear social and environmental benefits.’
Friends of Rio whose signatures include the heads the International Trade Union Confederation and the Red Cross, made it clear they expected to be partners with governments rather than being seen as a sideshow.
‘Governments must mainstream their recognition of, and support for, such activities, making them part of their “official” discussions on sustainable development.’
Another campaigner at the Rio Earth Summit, former banker and high profile economist Pavan Sukhdev has been challenging the corporate sector to ‘change its destructive ways’, according to Guardian correspondent Jo Confino.
Sukhdev has created the Corporation 2020 movement which seeks to harness the power of civil society and governments to change the archaic legal structure that determines corporate behaviour.
‘It has become clear that business-as-usual will not be able to last very far into the future without making significant changes,’ he says.
‘There is no point in asking for change at a macro or sector level without also targeting change at the agent level. We have a serious agency problem. Corporations are 60% of GDP and 70% of global employment and, left to themselves, “Corporation 1920” type companies are unlikely to create the green economy.’
Corporation 2020 recommends the introduction of capital adequacy requirements for businesses above a certain size so they conform to prudential capital management standards.
If car companies, utilities, insurers and mortgage originators are ‘too big to fail’, public capital can be jeopardised if they do fail, as we saw in the collapse of AMI Insurance under the weight of Christchurch earthquake demands.
Science has taught us a great deal about our world. But we can still learn from the early Church in its unity and in its belief that together we can achieve and that we must look out, not just for each other, but for the whole creation.