Game Change Rio: Ruin the world or save our planet?

A Facebook game with a difference is being 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 game aims to mobilise people to demand action rather than just talk from the Rio+20 conference in June.

Game Change Rio offers a great way to engage with the complexities facing our planet today. “Once more of us begin to understand the issues involved, we have a better chance of changing the game,” said Hans Herren, winner of the World Food Prize in 1995 and founder of Biovision, a Swiss foundation for ecological development, which commissioned the game.

And changing the game is great fun! As you will discover, seeing the demise of ruthlessly polluting industries is just as fun as slaying some fantasy monster and providing water to the inhabitants of an arid strip of land is almost like saving the gorgeous heroine’s life.

Some 20 years ago, the Earth Summit, the United Nations Conference held at Rio de Janeiro, sounded the alarm on the future of our planet. Very little has happened since and we are still steering head-on into disaster.

Yes, the notion of sustainability has entered the mainstream; nations adopt sustainable policy frameworks, and hardly any company would dare to issue a mission statement that did not include sustainability, however vague. But short-term thinking still dominates and the mantra of growth at any cost still prevails. Most indicators show that we’re still headed in the wrong direction.

Rio+20 this June was called to address this global inertia and make change happen after all. But this follow-up conference is up against many vested interests and only if we all mobilise, can we hope for a game change. “We developed ‘Game Change Rio’ to get the message to people we might not reach through other channels,” Herren said. To make it truly global, the game is available in Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and German. A trip to the Rio conference in June awaits the player with the highest score and additional prizes will go to weekly champions.

Game Change Rio gives you access to real-world data that so far has only been available to experts and policy makers. Based on the Millennium Institute’s Green Economy Model, which was commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the game includes all relevant sectors of the world’s economy and the natural resources available. All the elements of the three key development dimensions (environment, society and economy) are linked in a unique System Dynamics model and the effects of different policies are visualized in their full complexity. The model has over 5,000 indicators, and with the 125 policy cards developed, the game has over 100 million possible outcomes.

Game Change Rio, the idea of Biovision, CodeSustainable and the Millennium Institute, aims to raise awareness for the issues that need to be addressed if future generations are to enjoy life on this planet and goes on to propose solutions to the problems we are facing.

For more information, check the Game Change Rio website.

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