While criticized by some for being very repetitive, Abbott’s speech at the WEF might have won him some credits from “fellow-ignorants”. After all it was exactly what people at the WEF wanted to hear: less environment protection and more room for individual interests, a path not only billionaires at the WEF but the international community as a whole has been going down for a while.
To be fair I didn’t hear it but still could imagine that Abbott’s speech must rather have been dumb. Having had to put up with his rhetoric for the last sixteen months or so, a quick look at an article summarizing the speech confirmed that it was his usual tone. Now, whereas they might provoke some nausea for the rather critical citizen, his words certainly had a good echo among the rich and super-rich of this planet. After all, the WEF is a club aiming at making the richest richer, not the world a better place. That said, it is not only the WEF that has lost focus on what the real challenges are.
At the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000, the international community unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration outlining “respect for nature” and “shared responsibility” as some of the fundamental values of the UN and its future agenda. This position reflected the obvious need and urgency for action to protect the environment, because other than expected, the global environment had only worsened since it had become the main pillar of the international agenda at the Earth Summit in Rio 1992.
Only two years after New York more than 30 000 delegates from around the world gathered again at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) 2002 in Johannesburg. Despite of all the need, development was now the core focus whereas the environment had no more but a minor role to play.
No doubt, the WSSD in Johannesburg was disappointing, not only from an environmental perspective. Yet, it also made one thing clear: nations and governments are rather interested in development than in environmental protection. The recent world financial crisis has only contributed to this attitude. It’s not just Abbott who believes that economics can fix the entire world’s problems. Japans prime minister was even honoured with an economic policy being named after him, trying to revive the country’s economy with all means, no matter how risky they might be. Likewise the country decided to weaken its carbon emission reduction targets arguing somewhat contradictory that it was the environmental disaster in Fukushima that forced it to doing so. Can an environmental catastrophe be an excuse not to protect the environment?
Neglecting the fact that “the system” (e.g. indexes based on economic growth only) might have come to its limit, the current international development agenda seems to have been reduced to one focus: economic development. Forgetting the UN’s role to “move our world closer to the day when all people have the freedom to choose the kind of lives they would like to live, the access to the resources that would make those choices meaningful and the security to ensure that they can be enjoyed in peace”, neglecting that sustainable development is based on the three pillars economy, society and environment and ignoring that experts warn on enormous economic costs of non-fulfilled environmental protection, world leaders such as Tony Abbott only have one thing in mind: deregulation. Of course less government is good for him and his friends, because it means more freedom for them to do what they are good at: cheating, destroying, stealing and killing . Protecting the environment would benefit all of us, destroying it, only a few privileged ones.
In the words of Paolo Galizzi : “in its long journey from Stockholm to New York, via Rio and Johannesburg, the environment has finally lost its way to the main stage and been wrongly relegated to a secondary role in the global arena.” We can only hope that sooner rather than later our leaders will remember that it’s us with not us against the environment.
 As outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s report at the 2005 World Summit