Should the people of the world be disappointed by the “failure” of the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development? No. First of all, sustainable development as a concept is a Rorschach blot. The canonical version reads: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This has no specific meaning and can be used by anyone to mean anything that they would like. So it is not at all surprising that the representatives from 190 rich and poor nations meeting in Rio de Janeiro could not agree on anything substantive with regard to sustainable development.
At the Rio +20 Earth Summit, environmentalists and the leaders of poor countries were hoping to shake down the rich countries for hundreds of billions in official development assistance annually. However, most of the actual development achieved over the past two decades was not the result of official development assistance (a.k.a. taxpayer dollars) from rich countries being sent to poor countries. In fact, .. development aid often actually retards economic growth and “has an insignificant or minute negative significant impact on per-capita income.” Why? Largely because the aid is stolen by the kleptocrats who run many poor countries and the rest is “invested” in projects that are not profitable. So what has produced so much improvement in the lot of poor people in developing countries since the first Earth Summit 20 years ago?
Well, you know very well. Because while continuing to provide assistance, the private sector investments, using targeted resources and smart policies, have catalyzed more balanced, inclusive, sustainable growth.” Summary: The way to development is trade, not aid.
Looking back the failure of environmentalism as an ideology looks inevitable since has misconstrued the causes of many of the problems to which it claims to have a solution. At the close of the Rio +20 Earth Summit last Friday, environmentalism reached its highwater mark and is now ebbing as a political force internationally. It will be interesting to see in which direction those cherishing a permanent animus against democratic capitalism will go.