Disunited Nations, Part 2

It is time for the public to hold the UN and the world’s nations accountable for the miserable state of the environment and their inability to effectively manage existing “green” governance programs.

An independent non-government organization like the International Union for Conservation of Nature, World Resources Institute or the International Council for Science needs to develop a credible, science-based system for grading all nations and responsible UN agencies’ compliance with environmental treaties and agreements.

More important, the report card should provide the public with a user friendly assessment of nations’ and UN agencies’ efforts to protect clean water, adequate water supply, clean air, sustainable food supply and other critical needs. Perhaps this type of communication tool could be used to embarrass nations and the UN to do more than just sign treaties and contemplate where the world went wrong.

This tool may lead to a global environmental movement that pressures heads of states to make environmental protection a top world security issue. But it must be combined with a concerted effort to educate and activate the vast majority of the world’s population that is impacted severely by degrading environmental conditions.

Perhaps we need to give citizens the right to sue their own governments for multinational environmental agreement violations in international courts. UN officials certainly do not have the will to police themselves.

These ideas may seem like naïve, wishful thinking, but continued pursuit of a UN solution to the world’s environmental ills makes no sense in light of the last 35 years of poor performance.

Does anyone really think that another Rio Conference in 2012 will make a difference?  We already have amazing goals in the Earth Charter (never even adopted by UNEP, let alone the General Assembly) and dozens of multinational environmental agreements. What we don’t have is world leadership ready to take the bold steps necessary to halt the continued degradation of the world’s precious natural resources.

What we need is the sort of bold leadership only seen in times of crisis. Sounds like yet another job for President Obama. I just don’t see another leader out there with the vision, creativity, optimism and eloquence to catalyze the bold changes the environment needs.

Yes, we can?


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