New breed of action heroes, new buzzword: Sustainia

In my last post, I had written:

I definitely agree that we need to brace ourselves for another line of attack from the “sustainability playbook”. There are already a number of indications that the jargon is shifting (being reframed for the umpteenth time?!)

Well, it’s happening faster than I thought … And Pachauri is helping to lead the charge of this new, improved blight brigade. Hot off the UN PR machine:

Schwarzenegger: Time for a New Breed of Action Heroes

(Geneva, 7 March 2012) – The former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces today that he will serve as Honorary Chair for the Sustainia Award alongside EU Commissioner Connie Hedeggard, IPPC Chairman Dr. Rajenda K. Pachauri and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland. The Award is part of a new initiative to develop the world’s first realistic model of a sustainable world in 2020 – and identify the companies and persons who can make it real.

As long as we can’t see or feel what a sustainable society is, we will never succeed in convincing decision makers to make the changes necessary. The sustainable private and public solutions must be recognized and scaled up – and we need a tangible idea of how it will improve quality of life for people and communities around the world.

This is the rationale behind a new, ambitious award and collaboration – “Sustainia” – launched today in Geneva, Switzerland. The initiative is led by former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is joined by three of the world’s most prominent sustainability leaders:

o European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard

o Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri

o Former Prime Minister of Norway and Former Director General of WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who founded the global sustainability agenda 20 years ago at the first Rio conference in 1992 on sustainable development



UPDATE: When I first saw this new line of attack, Sustainia, all I could think of of was ….

Oh, Sustainia!


8 thoughts on “New breed of action heroes, new buzzword: Sustainia

  1. Sustainability. Ah, yes, sustainability. Where have we heard that word before?

    I thought that Sustania is the name of a small principality between Liechtenstein and Austria. Either that or a sister ship of the Titanic.

    I’m sure that these awards will benefit from Schwarzenegger’s vast intellect.

    • See my update above for my first thoughts on this :-)

      Isn’t it interesting though that Pachauri has morphed from being a “climate change expert” to “one of the world’s most prominent sustainability leaders”.

      His membership in this group of eminences grises – with its mission of “convincing decision makers to make the changes necessary” – is sure to guarantee an objective – non-policy prescriptive – AR5, isn’t it?!

  2. Sustainia, a product and game? Sustainia, a virtual Second Life; a MineCraft for one-world advocates. No doubt powered by unobtainium… And soon?
    Android apps, so you can shape your future utopia on the hoof… Sustainia tweetdecks… Facebook Sustainia portals… Who know’s?

    “Bente Milton…has been working across different media platforms, creating content for web, games, education and interactive marketing… responsible for overseeing the creation, management and development of Sustainias social media strategy and Sustainias virtual world platform.”

    An all-together frighteningly Huxley-esque concept. But judging by her past experience, and the more complex attractions that seduce online gaming communities, I would hazard a guess that unless there is substantial warcraft involved in Sustainia’s world, it will miss the target demographic’s appetite for destruction by a mile. Sustainia looks to me more like a mix between, second life and Minecraft. Unsustainia?
    Mind you, I’m hoping that this untested mix of advocacy group and avatar driven, virtual world role-play fails spectacularly…
    Schwarzenegger and Brundtland? I mean c’mon!

  3. Yes, the signs are there, aren’t they – sustainability appears to be the new watchword, and I’m wondering if climate change is gradually becoming a sort of sub-category, along with deforestation and the rest. Here in the UK, tomorrow marks the start of Climate Week, (the first one was last year), and if you compare the current home page with the one that was showing around this time in 2011, you can spot the difference – “sustainable” or “sustainability” now appears four times, compared to nothing the year before.

    I’m curious about the way this is coming about – was there some sort of directive that went something like: “People, remember that “sustainability” is the order of the day. Do not neglect to insert this word whenever and wherever you can, from now on”? Or is it something more spontaneous, like birds flocking or bees swarming, or perhaps like the way new trends appear in the fashion world?

    • Alex, I think this “shift” has been going on for quite some time!

      Not only that, while I can’t put my mouse on it at the moment, some months ago, Pachauri was quoted as saying that “climate change is only part of it”. And he has actually been on the sustainability bandwagon (particularly the “western consumption patterns are evil” part) for several years!

      Not to mention that his “vision” for AR5 – as he had articulated it in July 2009 – was that “sustainable development” will be brought to the front burner – and that it would be “overarching” and “pervasive” throughout all 3 WG reports:

      Consider as well, IPBES (IPCC’s younger “sibling”) has been waiting in the wings with an orientation that leans right into sustainability – even though its “platform” is “biodiversity”:

      Even going back as far as the Brundtland Commission – where “sustainable development” was coined and was (IMHO) always seen as the over-riding “goal”.

      Perhaps CAGW was always seen as a means to an SD end. The fact that Gore (and his CO2 must be taxed and/or capped ‘n traded mantra) seems to have been cast aside in favour of Schwarzenegger as the best known luminary of choice to front this latest PR onslaught is somewhat telling, don’t you think?

      Not to mention Gleick’s “rehabilitation” – a mere 17 days after his fall from grace (at least in some circles, but obviously not enough!) – as a “water expert”. Notice how quickly his Johnny come lately “fame” as a “climate expert” has been dropped?! His Pacific Institute’s “mission” had always reflected the jargon of SD (rather than CC).

      And in the meantime, the UN has been busy lining up the NGO troops (see my post immediately before this one – and the one that follows this one!) to spread the new, improved “gospel” of SD after Rio+20!

      In short, I think that climate change always was a “sub-category”, as you put it … along with the others you mention! Take a look at the glossy brochure I linked to in:

      The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is the over-riding “body”. The CSD “envelope” includes all the “sub-categories”, of which CC is only one!

  4. So maybe what we’re seeing is a sort of step change? I.e., it was something always there from the beginning, as you point out, but is now coming into its own, as the prospects for a binding deal on climate change per se continue to recede… It appears to have gone into overdrive, of late – although, maybe that’s possibly just me starting to notice it everywhere!

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