Rio+Social: Themes from Behind the Scenes
September 3, 2012 BY Dayle Kern
What do you do on the morning of the day you’re going to meet several of your lifelong heroes? Eat breakfast? Brush your teeth twice? Jump up and down in a mix of excitement and nerves? On June 19th, I did all three.
While the Rio+Social hashtag was becoming a global trend on Twitter, I spent my day backstage for a little on camera one-on-one time with over thirty of the day’s remarkable speakers – from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to a 17-year-old who had won a “Date with History” to speak at the Rio+20 Conference. With each interview, I couldn’t help but notice the speakers’ poise, their ability to speak directly about any issue I brought up, and their capacity to think ahead and answer questions I hadn’t even asked yet. As the day progressed, I began to realize that several themes were developing. The videos of these interviews are now online, so I thought it would be nice to share some of these themes:
Optimism – with Perseverance
I’m sure the rooms at the United Nations’ first Earth Summit 20 years ago were filled with optimists just as Rio+Social was – but the optimists I spoke with were also incredibly determined – determined no matter what. I’m sure this perseverance has played a major role in bringing so many experts, organizations, and leaders to the table to examine sustainable development (and its many related topics), and effective actions to take now and down the road. Don’t forget – optimists can be realists, too. We may not change everyone’s habits or policies overnight, but we sure can continue to advocate for a better future.
Mindfulness – Small Steps for Your Day-to-day Life
Many of the speakers recommended small steps to take at home, such as taking your bike instead of your car, or unplugging appliances when you’re not using them. For some reason these simple suggestions reminded me of elementary school students who have just had recycle week at school and are newly inspired to make a difference. Too often it seems as though recycle week doesn’t stay with us; as one speaker mentioned unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, I thought about the things I might have kept plugged in back at home. I hope that the spotlight on Rio will serve as a global recycle week and each of us will be re-inspired to do our part not just for a week, but as an adoption of continued changes in our lifestyle that will minimize our carbon footprint.
Dialogue – Keep Talking the Talk!
The final theme I noticed throughout the day was the need to keep the conversation active around some of the important issues raised at Rio+20. “We know that these are the kinds of conversations that start massive change,” said Maura O’Neill, “Now we can connect the world as we’re doing today to source those ideas and scale them.” It’s essential that we keep these conversations active – active in your communities, whether that’s at your neighborhood pool or among your circles on Google+. The more we talk, the more ideas we generate to lead us toward the future we want!
As the global conversation continues around the issues important to you, leaders from all sectors are weighing in with their priorities and solutions. In addition to the behind-the-scenes, unscripted interviews I did, you can watch the full panel discussions that took place at Rio+Social.
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