Quite the equation. Wait, it needs to equal something. How about: Rio+20+Chris = EcoLogic to the zillionth degree!
Okay, let me break the math down (yeah, I called that math). In 2 days I’ll be representing EcoLogic in Rio de Janeiro at Rio+20, aka the Earth Summit, aka the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (another equation: Lots of aka’s = lots of importance). Rio+20 is the most relevant and widely attended gathering of sustainable development practitioners, policy-makers, funders, and thinkers in the world. Why “+20?” Twenty years ago, the UN hosted the first Earth Summit in Rio. Out of that conference emerged the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (which Mexico and all seven Central American countries have ratified) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the conference, I’ll have access to hundreds of workshops, presentations, and policy strategy sessions, interacting with representatives from thousands of organizations from all across the world.
Also coming out of the first Earth Summit in 1992 was a little NGO-that-could called EcoLogic Development Fund. EcoLogic was founded on the principle, promoted by so many rural and indigenous people at the Earth Summit, that truly effective and long-term conservation strategies demanded the inclusion and prioritization of rural voices – their needs, concerns, and ideas. So we’ve got two good reasons for me to be at Rio this year: 1) it’s an important conference for our work, and 2) it is deeply rooted in EcoLogic’s history and legacy.
But there’s an amazing 3rd reason why I’m going, and probably the reason that personally excites me the most. One of EcoLogic’s partners, AJAASSPIB, a local water council in rural Honduras, was named one of 25 winners of the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Prize. The way I’ve explained the Equator Prize to others is that it’s the Grammys of the community-based sustainable development world. And AJAASSPIB is Radiohead (got to shout out the world’s greatest band whenever possible). Well, that means that AJAASSPIB gets to send a representative, Doña Zumilda Duarte, to Rio to participate in conference activities, multiple trainings, and an award ceremony. Since EcoLogic nominated AJAASSPIB for this award, I’m able to join Zumilda and representatives of the other 24 winners at some of these events. I truly cannot wait to hear what these rural leaders have to say. What they’ve learned and what they still struggle with. What they need and, just as important, what they don’t need.
So now you see why Rio+20+Chris = EcoLogic to the zillionth degree. It’s an amazing opportunity for us to join AJAASSPIB on this momentous opportunity, engage with peers, promote our work, and learn new insight to bring back to our network of grassroots partners. On top of all that, it offers a unique opportunity for us to reflect, build upon our roots, and reinvigorate our resolve to create a world where both people and nature can thrive.
I’ll keep you posted on how things go. As you can tell, I’m going to be busy. I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference next week so follow us on Twitter @ecologicdevfund and I’ll give you a full wrap up when I return.
– Chris Patterson, Program Officer for EcoLogic
Chris collaborates closely with the senior program officer by writing grant proposals and project reports, and following trends in philanthropy, conservation, and international development. He is also on his way to Rio+20!