Bolivian activists: This is not "The future we want"

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All governments must reject this agreement and halt the negotiations process until concrete commitments are made to replace the neo-liberal model with one based on fair development in harmony with nature and the philosophy of Living Well (Vivir Bien)

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Statement by the Bolivian Climate Change Platform

Rio de Janeiro, 20 June 2012.

A warning from civil society to governments that the agreement consolidates the “green economy” and false solutions.

We reject the document “The future we want” that has been approved initially and is about to be ratified by heads of state of member governments of the United Nations, and we warn civil society and progressive governments that the content of this document will deepen the structural causes that have caused the socio-environmental crisis that we face, and will not resolve this crisis, by further liberalizing the economy and the commodification of nature.

The document states that the objectives put forward in Agenda 21 in Rio in 1992 and the three Conventions: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), as well as the progress made over the years, are still valid. But these important principles, including common but differentiated responsibilities, are only included in the introduction as a declaration when they should be an important part of the entire text.

In its current form, the text reaffirms and deepens the current neo-liberal economic model. It promotes “inclusive and sustainable” economic growth with various references throughout the text without putting forward proposals or changes to the dominant economic system. The multiple crises we are facing are recognised but all the responses are still within the framework of neo-liberal model and seek to deepen the free market without recognising the underlying structural causes.

The inclusion of the concept of Mother Earth and Living Well (Vivir Bien) in harmony with nature guts the meaning of the proposal by the world´s indigenous peoples to change the economic model and development patterns in order to have a society in harmony with nature. Instead this has only been included to legitimise the green economy as this phase of the neo-liberal model and the free market.

It is wrong to assume that deepening the neo-liberal model via a green economy will simultaneously lead to sustainable economic development, the eradication of poverty and the maintenance and management of ecosystems. As peoples of the world we know this is the same neo-liberal model – even more inhuman – that will exacerbate social inequalities that have destroyed and harmed Mother Earth and nature.

We also reject the conditionality to be put on international aid in finance and technology, which will only be provided to those countries that implement “green economy” policies. In this way capitalist countries seek to violate the sovereignty of those peoples and governments that decide not to give in to the multinationals.

The document, to be approved by heads of state in the high level segment, reaffirms that those “developing” countries need resources to fund their sustainable development actions. But there are no concrete commitments and the responsibility to generate funds will be given to the private sector with the consequences that we know this will bring.

We alert civil society and government allies to the following points included in the current agreed Rio+20 text:

  • The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities are recognised but it is unclear what obligations developed countries have to implement this principle. There is no mention of whether this principle applies to the green economy.
  • The language that has been included on Mother Earth and living in harmony with nature is used to legitimise the green economy. The rights of nature are recognised (in some countries) but in the context of the promotion of sustainable development this is a contradiction.
  • The definition and the way the green economy will be applied continue to be ambiguous but dangerous because it still justifies sustained economic growth – which has already led to increasing social inequalities and destroyed Mother Earth.
  • Even though it states that each country can use their own approach to the green economy, respecting sovereignty, a system is put forward that ends up putting conditionality on states to comply with international standards.
  • A greater role is given to the private sector to support green economy policies who will potentially generate funds via projects that involve the commodification and financialization of nature. These are more of the same recipes that have causes the different crises that we are facing today.
  • It opens up the possibility of strengthening market and financial mechanisms, as well as other services, that small scale farmers can supposedly able to use as a tool to achieve food sovereignty, but this will just lead to more poverty and exclusion.
  • It indirectly strengthens and incentivises the participation of the private sector and is an incentive for private investment in infrastructure for drinking water services, basic services and energy, among others. It calls on governments to create enabling environments for public and private investment.
  • It puts a monetary value on biodiversity and its capacity to provide essential services as the basis for sustainable development and human well being. Promotion of investment via incentives and policies to conserve biological diversity.
  • It puts forward Sustainable Development Goals, even though the Millennium Development Goals have not been met, that aim to implement the green economy.
  • There are no commitments or obligations that guarantee the transfer of finance and technology to developing countries.
  • It opens up the possibility of private investment as an innovative source of finance for international overseas development aid.
  • A backward step in the struggles against the free market in sectors such as health and education and that not also include “environmental services.”

Based on these observations we call on civil society to unite in demanding all governments, including those of the G77 and ALBA, object to this agreement and take actions to ensure the negotiation process is halted until the structural causes are attacked and concrete commitments are agreed to ensure a change in the current neo-liberal economic model, and to build a new model that allows us to achieve fair development in harmony with nature and the philosophy of Living Well (Vivir Bien).