Fossil of the Day goes to all world leaders: Activists call Rio+20 an 'epic fail' so far

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

It's membership time. Cultivate Canada's media. Support Become a member.

With the official UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro now underway, we're sharing updates on the proceedings from activists and journalists. There is widespread opposition to the official Rio+20 text, and reports that the Canadian government played a role in contributing to its extremely weak language. 

Today, Indigenous activists and allies marched on the Rio Summit to present the Declaration that was adopted by their own gathering, putting forward strong demands to protect Mother Earth and oppose the commidification of nature. Meanwhile, civil society groups presented the infamous Fossil of the Day award to all the world leaders. Amara Possian, from Powershift Canada, explains. 

In the largest single Fossil of the Day ever handed out, NGO's and youth from around the globe awarded all nations at the Rio+20 conference the Rio Fossil for unanimously adopting the Rio text. Calling it a sell out of the people and the planet, they called for arriving world leaders to make Rio more than a photo op, and to step up and pledge real action and strong commitments, at risk of Rio being branded as a total failure.

The Fossil, as presented, read:

This past week of fossils has a been a real week of Fossil of the day Firsts. We saw Canada stage a surprise upset and come out of retirement to take home a special fossil.

For the first time ever, we awarded big oil a Fossil of the day - and the Fossil itself became the target a protest by some angry billionaire CEO's.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up: Canada for tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon. And the other big oil states for weaking language on subsidies and trying their best to cut the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn't feel like that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure, yet all governments have applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand success.

This is NOT the future want, if anything this is the future that big polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - yet here in Rio they've all come up with empty pockets. The first step is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the planet, and like I said, thats just the first step. There is still miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, this fossil is for every single nation here and for all the world leaders begining to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio and without a change this summit will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of its destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, heads of state and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole world is watching, the planet it burning and they are holding matches.


Amara Possian is in Rio representing Powershift Canada, and will be sharing additional updates this week. 

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.