Rio+20: Between the People’s Summit and the UNCSD

A blog from FALE, our sister network in Brazil.

There are some kinds of cliches that can sound from time to time in very different and often contradictory worlds. Words such as Sustainability, Dialogue, Environment Conservation and Collective Rights of Natural Resources were several times heard in the People’s Summit (link: ) and also at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) by me and my Christian fellows from the Eco-Churches movement (which FALE Network supports). These words sounded like the same in the both events, but at the same time, they had different meanings, and it was strange for us to hear then and to start feeling that something was dissonant in those events in Rio de Janeiro .

Marcos Custodio, a Christian environmentalist spoke in one of our meetings: ‘There is an abysm between the People’s Summit and the official Rio+20 because it opposes the society in one hand and in the government and the economy in the other. There are few people willing to build a bridge between these two sides of the story. This situation it´s very frustrating and it´s hard to hear that a place only represents “X” and another only represents “Y"’. Morgana Boostel, the General Secretary of FALE Network, said: ‘The dialogue takes place after the negotiations are already done, and there is this idle space between the negotiations and the beginning of the official conference Rio+20. I don´t think that there was a bilateral space of dialogue’. Although we were 'accredited' to participate at the Rio+20 Summit we had no power of interference in the final document (and it was extremely discouraging) once we were turned to a ramble audience of a pact that had no real meaning.

I suspect that those who have real power of decision in environmental issues are convinced that they do not need to build 'bridges' in order to produce changes that will affect the course of the devastation of life. The question we cannot run from is at which side followers of Christ should be. We cannot be as naïve as to join this struggle without realizing what are interests of the big corporations, the powerful and the rich. The Church has a double task to achieve in this struggle: being a bridge to restore the dialogue (repent) and being a prophet (denounce).

Unfortunately the presence of Christians in the People’s Summit and in the UNCSD was incipient and I might even affirm that others religions, with less followers, showed up with more interest and effective action in this story. However the movement of Eco Churches) try to indicate to us that there is a counterpoint, since we believe that every church should worry with the active-citizenship as much as with the environment. This movement only takes place because the majority of people that should be interested in these issues are not. As Christians we have this theological, prophetic and pastoral challenge for the next years, and we must involve our local faith communities in order to fulfill the entirety of the redemption mission: ‘For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed’ (Romans 8:19).

Despite of all those things we can celebrate the role of the Eco-Church movement at Rio+20, due to the fact that this action could produce paths of interaction and interesting ideas were proposed together, by church and organizations, in the People’s Summit. It may be worth to say that we had the opportunity to deliver our prayer and post cards of FALE’s Campaign "Speak out to a Sustainable World" to the Chief-Minister of the Brazilian Republic President (named Gilberto Carvalho), who attended the meeting.

Although we are sort of perplex by the size of challenges and aware we might not see the results of our wishes accomplished in the next years, we left the event being glad by knowing that our sweat and tears are like seeds of the God´s Kingdom to Come, and that one day will blossom out in this world’s earth, and they will bring joy and greater life.

Caio Marçal is a missionary and works as the Groups Mobilization Secretary of the FALE Network.

Translated by: Tatiana Koschelny

Read the original text here: