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Nachhaltiges Wirtschaften: More Ecology, Less Economy for Rio+20

Bloged in Allgemein by friedi Donnerstag März 29, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO, Mar 27, 2012 (Tierramérica) – Hundreds of non-governmental organisations and social movements from around the world hope to counter the failure of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which they consider inevitable, with the success of the alternative People’s Summit.

Rio+20 Portal


Both events will take place in June in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian city that served as the venue, two decades ago, for the United Nations Conference on the Environment
and Development. Popularly known as the Earth Summit, the 1992 conference is considered
a turning point in the architecture of international environmental law.
Rio+20 [Homepage] is expected to draw around 50,000 people to the city to take part in preparatory
meetings and parallel activities during much of June, in addition to some 120 heads
of state and government who will meet for the actual summit on Jun. 20-22.
The People’s Summit [Portal] for Social and Environmental Justice in Defence of the Commons will be held Jun.
15-23 in Aterro do Flamengo park, near downtown Rio de Janeiro, as an alternative
event independent of the official conference, and is expected to draw roughly 10,000
Representatives of some 20 social, trade union, youth, women’s, indigenous, peasant
and Afro-descendant organisations met in Rio during the fourth week of March to
coordinate actions, fine-tune their critique of the official Rio+20 agenda, and
finish up preparations for the large-scale mobilisation in June.
One of the challenges is the inclusion of the rights of native peoples in the concept
of sustainable development, said activist Sander Otten, a member of the technical
committee of the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations [Coordination]
(CAOI), which brings together groups from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
„We need to demand the fulfilment of rights so that indigenous peoples are genuinely
able to have a say in the projects that are carried out in their own territories,“
Otten told Tierramérica.
On Jun. 17 and 18, a global committee of indigenous peoples will discuss two key
factors in this regard: the presence and impact of extractive industries in their
territories, and the right to free, prior and informed consent established in International
Labour Organisation Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
Otten acknowledged that some progress has been made in the area of indigenous rights
in the last 20 years. However, in the majority of cases, the governments of the
Andean countries are promoting the further expansion of extractive activities like
mining and oil drilling, as well as large-scale industrial monoculture plantations,
he stressed.
Indigenous organisations in the Andes region want to join the discussion on the
green economy – one of the central themes of Rio+20 – and propose alternatives based
on their own cosmovision. These include community economic management that respects
„Mother Earth“ and especially the paradigm of „buen vivir“ or „living well“, a holistic
life philosophy which pursues the goal of material, social and spiritual well-being
among all members of a society, but not at the cost of the other members or the
„The contribution of indigenous peoples will be the continued promotion of buen
vivir as an alternative for humanity and opening up the dialogue with other paradigms
critical of modernity,“ which continues to focus on the search for economic growth
instead of „solidarity and reciprocity,“ said Otten.
The CAOI advocates a less economic-centred approach to arrive at real solutions
for the environmental crisis. „What we are seeing today in the countries of South
America is not the implementation of the green economy model,“ said Otten, but rather
„the complete opposite.“
„There has been an intensification of the extractivist model, which cannot be considered
green in any way. The ‚brown‘ economy is continuing to expand in these countries,“
he said.
Otten supports reforms that would impose a tax on fossil fuels and bring an end
to subsidies for the sector, as well as the inclusion in the price of hydrocarbon
derivatives of the social and environmental costs of their extraction, which are
currently considered „externalities“, he said.
For her part, Sandra Morán, a representative of the Women’s Sector Political Alliance
of Guatemala and member of the World March of Women, stressed the need to incorporate
gender equity in the formulation of alternative proposals, in order to ensure better
quality of life for women.
„We play a fundamental role in life, we are at its centre, we reproduce life. We
must recognise the contribution that women have always made and bring an end to
the sexual division of labour,“ said Morán.
Feminist organisations are working to coordinate actions with other social movements
to develop „an alternative to the situation in which we currently live, which is
extreme poverty, violence, militarisation, control and authoritarianism,“ she added.
Morán has no hopes for success at Rio+20, because the conference will merely involve
the signing of decisions that have already been made, and „there is no possibility
of having an influence there.“
For her, the power of the People’s Summit lies in „coming together, strengthening
proposals and generating movements that are rooted in our communities.“
Scepticism towards Rio+20 is also shared by a number of Brazilian legislators, who
are organising a parallel initiative to attract the attention of the media and the
public. Known as the Rio Climate Challenge, the initiative is aimed at deepening
debate on climate change at an event to be held Jun. 14-17.
„We are going to conduct a large-scale simulation of negotiations between the carbon-emitting
countries and supranational entities to attempt to reach a consensus,“ Green Party
lawmaker Alfredo Sirkis, who chairs a special sub-committee in the Brazilian Chamber
of Deputies, told Tierramérica.
The goal is to conduct a discussion, on realistic bases, that will make it possible
to lay the foundations for an international agreement that would keep the concentration
of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere below 450 parts per million – the limit set
by scientists as the only way to avoid a climate change disaster.
For these mock negotiations, they will invite facilitators from the BASIC countries
(Brazil, South Africa, India and China), the European Union, the United States,
Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, the Arab league and small island states.
*The writer is an IPS correspondent. This story was originally published by Latin
American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a
specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations
Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.

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