THE question that faces next week’s summit on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro is: “What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Lambeth Palace posted a video on YouTube of Dr Williams talking about the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, which starts on Wednesday (News, 25 May). It marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that was held in the city in 1992, which was regarded as a turning point where international treaties to tackle climate change and preserve biodiversity were agreed.
It is expected to attract more than 50,000 participants from governments, business, and non-governmental organisations.
Dr Williams said that the question about the kind of world we leave to our children is “not just a question about what kind of material environment we want to leave — the answers to that, in a way, are quite simple: we want a world that’s free of pollution, a world where everyone has access to clean water, a world where food supplies are secure, a world where people have learned sustainable methods of agriculture and development.
“But, just as importantly, it’s a question of what kind of habits and what kind of lifestyle we want to leave to our children — what sort of skills we want to see them developing in living sustainably in this world.
“That means, as in so many areas, we have to start small, we have to start local. Big changes come because small changes happen. . .
“Governments can, of course, and must, play their part in all this. Governments need to give fiscal incentives to green development. They need to promote programmes that encourage us all to reduce our waste. They need to green our economy, both at home and worldwide. And we, all of us, not least the faith communities, need to collaborate in that and support governments in that vision.”
A report published by Christian Aid this week, The Real Brazil: The inequality behind the statistics, says that “the growth of newly emerging economies such as Brazil masks an unpalatable reality: progress and growing wealth do not automatically improve the plight of the poorest. . .
“Despite the boom, it remains among the top ten countries in the world for income inequality, and has within its borders some 16 million people — equivalent to the population of the Netherlands — living in abject poverty. More than twice that number, 21.4 per cent of the population, fall below the World Bank’s national poverty line.”