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Re: [GreenYes] Fwd:Corporate highjacking of Rio+10 Summit
I think is it important to draw a distinction between dismissing incremental change (see Eric's original e-mail) and dismissing the multi-stakeholder, voluntary group hugs that seem to be so much the rage these days.  

Incremental change, even in environmental areas, is often very appropriate.  The ability of society to develop alternatives and to absorb change is limited, and fits well with an incremental model.   Furthermore, technology is often discontinuous. Thus, small incremental changes that shift relative prices of technologies by 20 or 30 percent can often trigger widespread shifts in patterns of private R&D, technology deployment, etc.  Had there been real incremental change beginning in 1992 at Rio, rather than a continuing erosion of most indicators, we would be in a far better place today.  

The issue with multi-stakholder processes, as was brought out so clearly in the original e-mail (cut out here to make this one shorter), is that it is a political battle of wills and power.  If the corporate interests are strong and the NGO/government interests are weak, you end up with a "consensus" skewed towards the more powerful participants; or with no results; or, more often, with an arduous, multi-year process that drags on and on with little to show.  Unfortunately, many of the governmental processes have had a similar outcome, which I suspect is one genuine driver for alternatives.

Edward Demming, often viewed as the father of total quality management, was famous for his statement that "if we can't measure it, we can't manage it."  This seems to be the core of what is needed at WSSD.  Any agreement, be it by a government or a voluntary coalition of NGOs and businesses, must have a hammer.  Terms need to lay out tasks and explicit timelines.  The timelines can be incremental ones, though the pace of change needs to be reasonably robust.  Mechanisms to measure and publicize progress (or lack thereof) need to be implemented from the outset of Rio +10.  Slippage in the schedule must then bring in stronger actions, committed to in advance.  It is kind of like what begins to happen if you default on your mortgage.  One possible hammer can be that voluntary arrangements suddenly become mandatory.  Another can be the institution of financial penalties that help pay for action by external parties to help make up for slippage in what was supposed to occur.  There are many more possibilities.

Aside from examples where enormous and widespread action is needed to stem irreversible damage (for example, protecting global biodiversity hot spots), achieving reasonable and measurable incremental progress would not be such a bad thing.  

Of course, operating against this noble goal are the political realities of specific governments and specific corporations, some of which very much wish for another symbolic agreement with no teeth.  In my view, it is better to have no agreement at all than a puffed-up wish document that pretends to do it all without any real capability to do anything.  

-Doug Koplow

_______________________________
Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463
E-mail:  koplow@indecon.com


>>> Eric Lombardi <eric@ecocycle.org> 05/08/02 03:12PM >>>
Wow... this was long, but very important stuff in here... the "Type II"
outcomes that corporations are seeking at the next Earth Summit are the real
enemy here folks ... it is an offer of "incremental" change for the better,
when the planet and the people actually need "widespread systemic" change to
begin reversing the trends and re-generating our biosphere.

We need, as a community of activists working on different fronts, a unified
"words and images" campaign to expose the Big Lie that incremental change is
acceptable.  And, since the roots of all significance lies in comparision,
we need to create a positive and alive image of our call for large-scale
leaps of progress !!!      This will be a touch task since the Corporate
Task II partnerships between business and NGO's will represent real progress
forward... but in tiny steps.

This is the next evolution of greenwashing ... incremental progress to keep
the government regulators at bay...

I'm not sure what we do ... but learning from the great Coke Broke Their
Promise campaign of the last 5 years is essential.  We need to understand
how that worked, and build on it...

Eric

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