AC Alert for June 6, 2012 Hey, Could We Use Priceline at the Earth Summit?

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 2:00pm

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With the start of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio De Janiero ("Rio+20") just a few days away, the focus for those attending has shifted from agenda-driven issues to the more practical -- such as arranging lodging and travel. In that regard, would-be attendees in many countries had been shocked by the dramatic increase in Brazil's hotel rates. Some even threatened to pull out of the event entirely. Fortunately, there was some good news recently:

This from the global news service Reuters:  "Wary of price-gouging ahead of the World Cup and Olympics later this decade, Brazil's government says it has convinced hoteliers in Rio de Janeiro to lower skyrocketing rates ahead of the U.N. summit. Specifically, the government said Rio's hotels would cut prices during the event by at least 25 percent.

"The summit, known as Rio + 20 because of the two-decade anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit in the city, is expected to be attended by some 50,000 visitors and more than 100 government leaders from around the world. High demand for scarce vacancies, in part because of block reservations made by Brazil's government to guarantee rooms for visiting delegations, had prompted hotels in recent months to begin charging exorbitant rates for the event, which kicks off June 20."

Reuters goes on to say that on-line research by staff early this month found that hotels were charging at least five times as much for rooms during the summit as they were for the days afterward. The high prices rattled many non-governmental groups and other would-be visitors, some of whom canceled plans to attend. Even some government groups, including the European Parliament, decided to slash the size of their delegations.

The prices prompted concern within Brazil's government, and drew comments from critics who fear similar problems could occur when Brazil hosts the World Cup of soccer in 2014 and the Olympics two years later.

And so the concerns led to hearings in Brazil's senate, public fretting by the country's foreign minister, and meetings between Rio's mayor and local hoteliers.  Those meetings were followed this week by negotiations with Brazil's federal government.

A rate reduction agreement, the government explained, attempts to address the issue by reducing the commission paid to an agency that won a concession to manage reservations during the event. Hotels also apparently agreed to break up mandatory multi-day packages that had been set up for visitors during the summit, even for those not staying the entire event.  See complete report at the source: (Reuters)


The Rio+20 -- To be a History Making Event?

No matter what the hotel rates turn out to be, the summit is sure to be a history-making follow-up to the first one (which was held in 1992 in Rio). In 1992 parties with varying interests and concerns came together in an attempt to change the way world governments and key stakeholders looked at economic activities and economic development. 

The noble objective hoped for was to begin to change societal behavior so that wantonly destroying finite and precious natural resources and otherwise polluting our bright blue orb transiting around the sun would no longer be acceptable in both well-established and emerging economies.

Change did take place in various and incremental ways since the 1992 summit, and certainly public awareness of certain key issues, such as climate change and possible dramatic effects on societies is far greater today than was the case 20 years ago.

Among the goals of the 2012 summit: "To renew our commitment to sustainable development and express our determination to pursue the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

In our special Hot Topic Section "The Road to Rio" the editors of Accountability Central track breaking news, updates, commentary and opinion regarding the summit. Here are some recent excerpts:

U.N. Readies Largest Ever 'Save The Planet' Summit
(Source: Forbes) The United Nations is poised to conduct what is expected to be the largest ever gathering of leaders to discuss sustainable development at a time when inequality is on the rise from the U.S. to China.  Around 180 world leaders are expected to meet in Rio de Janeiro to brainstorm the future of environmental policy and poverty.

Rio+20 to give added impetus to sustainability debate
(Source: Engineering News) 20 years after the first Earth Summit of the United Nations (UN), the international community is meeting again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 20 to 22 for a major conference focusing on sustainable development. The summit will also access the extent to which sustainable development agendas have been put into practice and what they have achieved.

China vows to play positive role at UN environment summit but stresses economic needs
(Source: Washington Post) Chinese officials have promised to play a positive role in this month’s U.N. environment summit but stressed the needs of their country’s poor, apparently trying to dampen hopes for major concessions.

Anglicans to challenge world hunger at Rio+ 20
(Source: Anglican Communion) High level actions to challenge world hunger, climate change and urban violence have been planned for Anglicans at the UN’s sustainable development conference. Rights for landless people will also be on the Anglican agenda at the conference.

Game Change Rio: Ruin the World or Save our Planet?
(Source: Boston Globe) A Facebook game with a difference was launched this week: Players can ruin the world or save our planet by opting for choices based on real-world data that has not been publicly available so far. The Facebook game aims to mobilize people to demand action rather than just talk from the Rio+20 summit later this month.

Rio+20 should prioritize sustainable agriculture, says Caroline Spelman
(Source: The Guardian) Sustainable agriculture should be the UK's key objective for Rio+20, according to Caroline Spelman, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs. Spelman will be attending the UN conference on sustainable development along with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.



Two decades after Rio Summit
(Source: Daily Mirror) Mirror commentator Dulip Jawaardena believes that the June 20th summit in Rio represents an historic opportunity to define effective pathways to a sustainable future; a future with more jobs, clean energy, greater security and a decent standard of living for all.

What Can Rio+20 Do For The Arab World?
(Source: Green Prophet) Independent environmental researcher Abdel Raouf insists that even if there is just tiny progress at Rio+20, it will be better than nothing. He further states that big progress is often achieved through a series of small steps.

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.

Keywords: Events, Media & Communications | Accountability | Accountability-Central | Carbon Footprint | Climate Change / Global Warming | Conservation | Corporate Social Responsibility | Eco Thinking | G&A Institute | Global Warming | Green | Green Business | fracking

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