With less than a month to go until the most important meeting on sustainable development for a decade, world leaders are mired in the usual no-can-do pre-summit talks. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon says the process is "painfully slow" – so fruitless, in fact, that five more days of negotiations have had to be scheduled.
We need to wake them up.
The World: a bigger picture
The task facing world leaders is to take on the vision set out 20 years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio, when the world's first blueprint for sustainable development was laid down: but so far they have failed to engage. Bureaucrats are working on a draft document more than 6,000 pages long: according to frustrated UN officials, negotiations have got bogged down in minor details. The Guardian points out that the national negotiators aren't empowered to make bold decisions.
"My message is that this is not the time to argue against any small, small items. Please do not lose (sight of the) bigger picture," Ban said Thursday. "This is not the end. Rio+20 is just the beginning of many processes so they should be flexible. They should rise above national interests or specific group interests."
Lost in brackets
Greenpeace International's Daniel Mittler, who has been watching negotiations, said: "We share [Ban's] disappointment at governments putting polluters first, watering down commitments and getting lost in hundreds of brackets instead of delivering the future we want: a future of zero deforestation, healthy oceans and energy for all delivered by renewable energy and through efficiency."
Further reading: Writing in the New York Times this week, Ban Ki-moon called – not for the first time – for vision and commitment from world leaders.
Take action: In advance of the Rio+20 talks, Avaaz is campaigning for a new plan to save the planet – a big switch of nearly $1tn dollars of subsidies to the polluting fossil fuel industry into cleaner, greener and safer energy. Join the 650,000 who have already signed the petition to world leaders.