The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is over and many diverse interest groups have described the 53-page draft outcome document titled “The Future We Want” as “283 paragraphs of fluff.” In reviewing the document and various commentaries, it became evident to me that the conference was another attempt to address complex global issues, that affect us all, by nations and nongovernmental organizations negotiating from the perspectives of their own narrow self-interests. As such, the outcome was seriously compromised as various groups and nations, particularly the United States and Canada, worked hard to weaken the language of the document in order to protect corporate interests. Although there will continue to be some uneven progress in the years to come, social decline, economic inequities and environmental degradation will continue to worsen for the foreseeable future.
However, our region like other communities around the world, can achieve sustainable development at our local level creating a resilient, prosperous and sustainable region that will at least be able to better adapt to and mitigate to some degree, the inevitable negative effects of our global meltdown.
To accomplish sustainable development will require first and foremost a real understanding that we are all in this together; that our individual choices and actions affect both our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our community; that integral to the rights, freedoms and social welfare we enjoy is our social responsibility to contribute to the betterment of our community. Through consultation, cooperation, applying ethical principles and holistically addressing all the dimensions of sustainability together we can be successful both individually and collectively.
The essential leadership necessary to take on this challenging task can be provided by the Sooke Economic Development Commission. The terms of reference of this commission are currently under review. Hopefully, it can expand its mandate to become the Sustainable Development Commission and proactively lead our community and our region to a more sustainable future.