Day 2 confusing but inspired by the people I met
Jun 19, 2012
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It’s my second day at Rio +20 and I think I spent most of the day wondering whether I was attending the “right” events and how to arrange to go places. I first ventured off to Forte Copacabana to attend an event on Social Entrepreneurship and Technologies for Cooperation. Forte Copacabana is unreal and beautiful and strange with inspiring poetic messages. There I listened to Ellen Miller tell the story of her formation of the Sunlight Foundation, USA which shines a light through technology on government subsidies, payments to political candidates and spending. Next was a meeting at Rio Centro with partners planning The Access Initiative event “Choosing our Future” to be held at Botofogo on preparing a post Rio+20 agenda on transparency, public participation and accountability mechanisms. There I met John Bonine a well-respected and very quirky environmental lawyer and professor from the University of Oregon Eugene, Law School who has taught and inspired lawyers all over the world with an organization he founded called E-Law. E- Law supports lawyers from countries all over the world with fellowships, training and support. He has studied and written a book with his wife Svetlana on the subject of environmental rights as human rights. We got to spend some time together talking about my journey into environmental law and work as a transparency activist but also about his work and that of his wife. We both headed off to the State Supreme Court of Rio for the official opening of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability. I got to meet the famous environmental judge from Brazil Justice Antonio Benjamin who spoke about the importance of transparency and public participation even in his work as a judge. He was straight forward and forthright saying

“For governments to say that they are removing someone from poverty is no excuse for degrading nature and jeopardizing future generations”.

Perhaps even more eloquently he stated

“Too bad for planet earth if she does not have judges on her side”. He stated he is just one of a number of judges in Brazil with a commitment to the environment.

Looking back at my experience at Rio +20 so far it has been rewarding to focus on meeting and hearing inspirational people rather than worrying about events. I am now off to Portobello to hear Judges and Auditor Generals from all over the world try and provide a profound call to the world and a practical pathway to addressing sustainability through improvements in justice, governance and law. I remain positive; we will see what comes from this meeting.

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