Social movements call for a Permanent Peoples’ Assembly, Rio 2012

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For our rights and the rights of nature, against the commodification of life and the greenwashing of capitalism … Mobilize together towards Río+20 and beyond


We, organizations, networks and social movements, involved in the building of the Peoples’ Summit for social and environmental justice, against the commodification of life and nature in defence (Río+20), call for the mobilization and coordination of struggles across the planet. To ensure fulfillment of the rights of all peoples, especially those most vulnerable, to have access to water, food, energy, land, seeds, territories, and decent livelihoods, and to demand the rights of Mother Earth.

As part of this process of articulation, we are building together an activity to be held in Río de Janeiro, Brazil, June 15 to 23, 2012, simultaneous to and in the same city as the United Nations’ Conference on Sustainable Development.

This Assembly will have the challenge to give voice to the women and men, young and old, who are resisting daily the advance of a development model that is by definition unsustainable: a model whose predatory inhumanity is trying to subject every aspect of life to the dictates of the market, always putting the profits of a few ahead of everyone’s buen vivir or wellbeing, while simultaneously trying to hide behind a green-washed face.he Permanent Peoples’ Assembly.

It was during the Río Conference in 1992 – the so-called Earth Summit, or Río’92 – that an almost unprecedented social mobilization in the face of an official conference gave way, among other things, to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It is the founding principles of that Convention on Climate Change – the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries for climate change, ecological and climate debt, and thus common but differentiated responsibilities for its treatment – which are now suffering as never before the onslaught of the most concentrated forms of capital in their attempt to turn all of life into a commodity at the service of their profits.

Following on the setbacks marked in the climate negotiations in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010), there is no reason to expect less disappointing results from the COP17 in Durban (from November 28 to December 9, 2011). Also after the COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya (2010), the mercantilization of Nature also got a central role with the proposal of the so called innovative financial mechanisms that replicate the logic of the failed carbon markets.

But it was also in Río’92 when the corporate world began to raise the banner of “sustainable development,” seeing the possibility of turning it into a good business.

That same concept, complemented during Rio+10 by that of “corporate social responsibility” and subverted to the core by the simultaneous neoliberal opening and deregulation and global financialization of the hegemonic capitalist economy, is now wreaking havoc in the lives of people and the planet and threatens even worse impacts.

It is this agenda that is being deepened through the mechanisms and structural adjustment policies of the so-called “green economy.” Just like the neoliberal agenda of essential service privatizations in the ‘90s, the “green economy” is all about liberalizing market access to Nature, dividing it up into components such as carbon, biodiversity, and environmental services, while at the same time generating new instruments of financial speculation, corporate control, and the emptying of territories.

Given this reality, we need to turn Río+20 into a strong process of global mobilization that confronts the reality of a system of death that will stop at nothing to perpetuate itself, and strengthens our resistance and struggles for survival through the building of non-capitalist alternatives, such as food sovereignty.

The continuity and depth of current crises, its’ systemic and increasingly militarized and violent nature, the lack of adequate response by most governments, and the taking hostage of multilateral negotiations by geopolitical and big corporate interests, all lend urgency to the need to build this process as our own pluralistic, democratic, and autonomous space, with a strong message and concrete achievements.

It must be able to give echo to our denunciations and demands as well as to reproduce our creativity and strengths, our solidarity and hope.

Faced with the huge festival of false solutions that the large corporations, banks and international financial institutions, and accomplice governments are preparing for Río+20, in order to consolidate a green-washed capitalism as the only response to the multiple crises they themselves are responsible for unleashing – economic, ecological food, energy, democratic, climate, rights, gender, in short, a civilizational crisis – the Peoples’ Summit will have the challenge to articulate and draw attention to the real solutions that peoples everywhere are building, in the fields and forests, factories, communities, neighborhoods, schools, and other places of work and livelihood.

We, therefore make a call to engage in this process and to mobilize everywhere towards Río+20: promoting campaigns, initiatives of debates and capacity-building, broadening platforms for joint strategy and action, coordination and solidarity support among struggles and specific demands that bring us together.

We call on the peoples and movements struggling against all forms of exploitation, depredation and domination, to join with us in building the Permanent Peoples’ Assembly, in order to affirm our rights and those of nature against the commodification of life and the greenwashing of capitalism, under the rhetoric of the “green economy.”

Through testimony and analysis, exchange and solidarity, mobilization and concrete actions, the Assembly will also be challenged to strengthen participating struggles and call for new actions and initiatives, generating new platforms of unity.

In this regard, in the Permanent Peoples’ Assembly, those who are affected and who are the true creditors of the social and financial, ecological and climatic, democratic and gender debts that throughout the development of capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, racism, and anthropocentrism have been accumulating, will be challenged to contribute significantly to the coordination of our diverse efforts to develop non-capitalist economies and societies that are fair and equitable, in harmony with nature and all beings, overcoming hunger, impoverishment, exploitation and oppression, building on the basis of the many ongoing struggles and helping to prepare to confront the strategic challenges of the near future.

Self-organized activities will also be held on critical aspects of the processes of systemic and civilizational transformation, and the Summit will include opportunities to get to know and support directly the struggles of the inhabitants of Río de Janeiro and elsewhere in their efforts to survive the onslaught of capitalism and its greenwashing, including mega-events, land grabbing, mega-projects, the so-called clean development mechanisms, and many other acronyms and misleading names such as REDD, REDD+, biofuels, etc. We will denounce the perpetrators, organize direct actions, and, as befits, celebrate the life and hope that are born and nurtured in our struggles and victories.

Let´s mobilize together to build the Peoples’ Summit for social and environmental justice against the commodification of life and nature in defense of the commons, and the Permanent Peoples’ Assembly, on the basis of the many ongoing struggles in defense of life, sovereignty — food, energy, financial, territorial, and political- self-determination, equality, and human and nature rights, analyzing the origins of the present crisis and new forms of capitalist accumulation, colonization, and slavery. ]

As social movements, organizations, and networks, let us unite to ensure that Río+20 becomes a massive, global popular mobilization that strengthens our capacity to act locally, regionally, and globally in order to address capitalism`s green advance. Rio +20 must be a starting point for a more just society with more solidarity. December 4, 2011

Let us build together!

Life is not for sale, it must be defended!

We, the peoples, are the creditors!

Let’s globalize the struggle, let’s globalize hope!

We will continue until all are free!

  • Continental Cry of the Excluded
  • Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas
  • Coordinator of Andean Indigenous Organizations
  • Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Grassroots Global Justice, Jubilee South/ Americas
  • Oilwatch
  • Southern People’s Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance
  • Vía Campesina
  • World March of Women
  • World Rainforest Movement

1 Comment

  • The signatories write: “the Peoples’ Summit will have the challenge to articulate and draw attention to the real solutions that peoples everywhere are building, in the fields and forests, factories, communities, neighborhoods, schools, and other places of work and livelihood.” While local solutions are impossible to be against, they seem to be here presented as the only response to green capitalism.

    I think we in the climate justice movement needs to challenge ourselves to identify and develop whatever embryonic capacities we have to deal offensive damage to the material forces of global capitalism. The old socialist models of party-led revolution, along with the trade union movement, are in disarray. We have to find something new, other than liberal petitioning hiding behind empty radical slogans, and mindless direct actionism in the street.

    I don’t agree with the Deep Green Resistance group’s over-optimism about tiny guerilla groups in the imperial centers, nor do I subscribe to their primitivist, anti-civilization ideology. But I have to heed their dismally honest assessment of the green left’s strategic position today.

    I am facing a desperate aporia, a complete lack of a way forward. Without any attempt, without even the recognition of the need to deprive the rich of the means of stealing from the poor and destroying the planet, we can only build utopian islands that we blindly hope will survive the coming deluge of climate meltdown.

    I am writing this as a plea for ideas, for some way out of complete pessimism, for something rational for which to fight. Who on the green left other than these DGR would-be guerillas has any answers about rebuilding the capacity for mass action capable of shutting down the operations of capital, seizing power at the local and regional level to build real democracy and sustainability, while somehow avoiding the violent resurgence of capitalism, the crushing of any de-occupied zones? Is there any hope in such Zapatismo?

    Is there any hope in mass general strikes forcing parliamentary politics into a climate justice line in the rich countries, where territorial resistance is pretty much impossible? What entity is capable of leading such action without falling back into the failed model of the party led mass movement? I have honestly no idea.