log book - Tara Expeditions at Rio +20: half-way through the Earth Summit
Tara Expeditions at Rio +20: half-way through the Earth Summit
Romain Troublé, secretary general of Tara Expeditions, reminds us of the reasons and implications of Tara's participation in the Earth Summit in Rio and Peoples 20.
André Abreu, Tara Expeditions representative in Brazil, explains the preparation of the meeting and the results so far, halfway through the event.
How did the Rio+20 adventure begin?
RT: It all began in October 2010 during our stopover in Rio de Janeiro. It was one of the most important stopovers of the Tara Oceans expediton. We met the mayor of Rio who asked us to be the "flagship" of Rio+20.
We then communicated throughout the expedition about the importance of this Earth Summit.
But the determining factor in our coming here was of course the New York meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN. During his visit aboard Tara, he strongly encouraged us to participate in Rio+20, in order to explain Ocean issues to the people of Brazil and the whole world. From then on, we started working with the UN team, while in Brazil André Abreu prepared the event.
How did the preparation of this event unfold?
AA: For nearly two years, since Tara's stopover in Rio, we have established links with Brazilian universities, NGOs, researchers, culminating in this collaborative event. Together with this network of contacts, we have acquired a political force that helped us get a prime place in the Blue Pavillon. And obviously, we would like to thank our partners France Libertés, agnes b. and the Veolia Foundation.
What actions will Tara lead at this international summit?
RT: We've launched a major campaign aimed at the general public and the media. Locally, we speak frequently about the problems of the oceans on the Globo television network, the number one TV station in Brazil. As for the international press, we participate in the information platform "Oceansinc" which launches daily videos and articles on topics relating to the ocean and the negotiations taking place at Rio+20.
And of course there are all the conferences, events, debates, happening at the Blue Pavillon, which we share with other NGOs. Three whole days are devoted to the oceans.
How were the first Tara events at the Blue Pavillon received?
AA: Lots of people come to each session. We are very impressed to see what a great need there is to address the general public about Ocean issues. I think that's what is so greatly appreciated about the Blue Pavillon – we offer a democratic space where people can have discussions with the speakers. We also offer various means of communication – movies, plankton observation, TED conferences – which isn't the case at Rio Centro. Thanks to the expertise of Tara Expeditions in popularizing and educating about science, the activities proposed are extremely popular with the Brazilian public.
What is at stake at Rio+20?
RT: Concerning the formal negotiations, we hope that countries will reconsider the role of oceans in their development policies, but also that the international community will pass legislation to protect the ocean and establish governance of the high seas.
But most important for us, for Tara, is that society in general appropriates this problem and mobilizes to defend the oceans.
AA: We need to encourage a “blue” movement to pressure governments into making the right decisions.
If there was a message to convey to people, what would it be?
RT: We must act quickly to avoid reaching the point of no return. We can't repeat our message too often: the oceans are essential to human survival and today they are at risk.
The positive side of all this is that the sea shows great resilience – much greater than the land environment. The thousands of micro-organisms and their frequent reproduction facilitate rapid adaptation and renewal.
If we reduce the pressure inflicted on the oceans today, we can expect in the next five to ten years the first signs of regeneration. No, it's not too late!
Interview by Anna Deniaud