So the Rio+20 conference chugged to its almost inevitable anticlimax. The NGOs and green-friendly press are looking for villains - missing big name leaders, lack of commitment by those who were there, the (allegedly) pernicious influence of the oil industry have all been blamed, but I've got a completely different view. It's no-one's fault. It's the process.
I think it's blindingly obvious that if you try and get over 100 countries - all with different economies, cultures, political systems and languages - to agree a single text on a hugely complex issue, you are going to get the lowest common denominator - and that common denominator is going to be pretty damn low. Consensus kills inspiration, innovation and ambition.
In my lighter moments, I mull on the idea that we should be holding international competitions rather than conferences. We would expect delegates to turn up and compete as to which country is doing most to shift towards sustainability. This already happens a little on an informal basis - witness the timing of UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg's announcement that London Stock Exchange listed companies would face mandatory carbon reporting. But what if we could do it on a grand, Olympics of Sustainability scale? We would have countries striving for a gold medal, pushing themselves to greater heights.
This isn't just idle beard stroking, some of the best sustainability moves have been driven by competition. With my local authority hat on, I witnessed the effect of Forum for the Future's Sustainable City Index. Our city, Newcastle, won it in 2009 and you could feel everyone in the Council and key partners striving to retain the title in 2010, which we did. Unfortunately Forum for the Future then killed off the Index and the pressure has come off. In business, Steve Jobs launched an ambitious green programme at Apple after being stung into action by a Greenpeace ranking of the environmental performance of consumer electronics companies. UK supermarkets battle it out every year in a green ranking scheme - nobody wants the wooden spoon.
And going back to the subject of this blog, competitions have been hugely successful in stimulating green behaviour within businesses. Researching the Green Executive, I found sustainability competitions between teams in a medium sized law firm, Muckle LLP, and in international drinks giant Diageo. They are fun, compelling and drive ambition - everything that consensus isn't.
But how would the idea work on the global scale? Hmm, back to the beard stroking.