In the past few years, political leaders have suffered decisive failures at advancing the sustainability agenda during their gatherings in Copenhagen, Johannesburg and Rio. Even cautiously lowered expectations have not been met. George Monbiot described Rio+20 as "the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war … the end of the multilateral effort to protect the biosphere."
There have been many divergent reflections on the reasons for such immense failure. However, we see signs of a new consensus about how to shape the future. The vacuum left by the absence of political leadership has generated a groundswell of support for collaborative, multi-sectoral processes focused on modest initiatives.