Daniel Perell and May Akale, Bahá'í International Community
After months of intensive negotiations, an outcome document on The Future We Want has been successfully negotiated and agreed upon by all Member States. As the anticipation grew in the days leading up to the High Level Segment, emotions ran high, and there was growing concern over whether there would be an agreed outcome from Rio+20.
And then, it happened. With a minimum of fanfare and celebration, the conference host convened a meeting of the Member States and civil society and announced that the multilateral negotiation process had achieved what just hours before seemed an elusive goal – agreement on the negotiated text. The announcement was met with tentative applause and some hesitation. But as the Member States arose to speak, one after another, they acknowledged the stewardship of the Brazilian government, and its diplomatic ability to successfully facilitate the building of consensus and the acceptance of compromise. All Member Blocs and States that spoke acknowledged that there were shortcomings with the document, that it lacked certain elements that they considered important, and that it was not as ambitious as they had hoped; yet, despite that, they all gravitated to the same final and inevitable conclusion that, given the complexity of the issues and the extreme diversity of opinions, the final text was the best possible outcome to satisfy all the participants in the process. It was the best we could do at this moment in history.
We can acknowledge the complexity of the process and express concern about the elements that did not make it into the final text. But let there be no doubt that the negotiated text is not the final stop in a lengthy journey towards planetary justice. It is another milestone and an important one. The leadership exercised by each of the Member States is a political leadership, and the task and true challenge now turns to all to give life to the concepts outlined and referenced in the document. The outcome document provides a framework within which all stakeholders will operate, lending their capacity, innovation, energy and inspiration to ensure that the vision and action resulting from implementing the ideas in the document are faithfully achieved. Our actions need not be limited to the negotiated text. Additional activities and actions, when aligned with the vision and thoughtfully implemented, can complement and enrich the learning and work of others. Underlying this effort is an understanding that everyone has a role to play, and a moral obligation to fulfill his or her responsibility to advance, however humbly, the progress of humanity as a whole.
As we have witnessed, the decision by Member States to approve the Outcome Document was not easily achieved. But now, the true leadership challenge begins. There are choices to be made, the first of which is whether to support this fragile statement of unity and to place our energies behind it, to uphold it, and to work towards its fulfillment, or to work towards its demise. This historic moment is not limited to a political decision, no matter how important that decision is. The reality of the challenge that lies before everyone now, is to assume the full moral responsibility to uphold the decision and work towards its successful fulfillment. As we do, we will gain experience, build capacity, and gradually enhance our ability to refine our action as we strive towards building the future we aspire to. This now becomes our collective challenge. The time for clear and decisive moral leadership rests with all of us as we strive to build the future we need.