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Rio+20: Farmers, Indigenous peoples mobilise against green capitalism and the privatisation of nature

Rio de Janeiro, June 14, 2012 -- La Via Campesina -- About 3000 people from around the world will mobilise to say NO to the commodification of life and nature at the "Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice and in Defense of the Commons", the parallel opposition activity to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20.

The peoples' summit is a space for discussion, debate and construction of alternative proposals by the global civil society, social movements and peoples collective organisations. La Via Campesina -- the international organisation of small farmers -- has been actively participating in the construction of this activity in order to denounce the false solutions of the same failed economic model that are now being dressed in green under the name “green economy”. La Via Campesina is instead promoting peasants' sustainable agriculture as a true solution to the global climatic and environmental crises.

The delegation of La Via Campesina will participate in various plenaries as well as the global mobilisation that will take place on June 20 concentrating at the junction of the roads Av. Rio Branco and Av Presidente Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. La Via Campesina has been actively participating in the planning of the Peoples' Summit. This meeting marks the 20th aniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio 92 or Eco 92).

The most important political space in the Peoples' Summit will be the Peoples' Permanant Assembly that will organise around three main themes: denouncing the structural causes of global poverty and the environmental crisis as well as the new forms of the reproduction of capital; peoples' real solutions and new paradigms; and the agendas, campaigns and mobilisations of anti-capitalist struggles after Rio+20.

La Via Campesina is an international movement that brings together about 200 million peasants, small and medium-sized producers, landless, rural workers and Indigenous people from around the world. La Via Campesina advocates sustainable small-scale peasant agriculture as a means of promoting social justice and dignity. The organisation brings together more than 150 organisations in about 70 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and America.

 

People of the world confront the advance of capitalism: Rio+20 and beyond

Position paper of La Via Campesina

June 6, 2012 -- Governments from all over the world will meet in Río de Janeiro, Brasil from June 20-22, 2012, to supposedly commemorate 20 years since the “Earth Summit”, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, that established for the first time a global agenda for “sustainable development”. During this summit, in 1992, three international conventions were adopted: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Fight Desertification. Each of these promised to initiate a series of actions destined to protect the planet and all of the life on it, and to allow all human beings to enjoy a life of dignity.

At that time, many social organizations congratulated and supported these new conventions with hope. Twenty years later, we see the real causes of environmental, economic, and social deterioration continuing without being attacked. Worse still, we are profoundly alarmed that the next meeting in June will serve to deepen neoliberal policies and processes of capitalist expansion, concentration, and exclusion that today have enveloped us in an environmental, economic, and social crisis of grave proportions. Beneath the deceptive and badly intentioned term “green economy”, new forms of environmental contamination and destruction are now rolled out along with new waves of privatization, monopolization, and expulsion from our lands and territories.

La Via Campesina will mobilize for this event, representing the voice of the peasant inthe global debate and defending a different path to development that is based on thewellbeing of all, that guarantees food for all, that protects and guarantees that thecommons and natural resources are put to use to provide a good life for everyone andnot to meet the needs for accumulation of a few.

20 years later: the planet and humanity in crisis

20 years after the Earth Summit, life on the planet has become dramatically difficult.The number of hungry people has increased to almost a billion, which means that oneout of every six people is going hungry, mostly children and women in the countryside.Expulsion from our lands and territories is accelerating, no longer only due toconditions of disadvantage imposed upon us by trade agreements and the industrialsector, but by new forms of monopoly control over land and water, by the globalimposition of intellectual property regimes that steal our seeds, by the invasion oftransgenic seeds, and by the advance of monoculture plantations, mega-projects, andmines.

The grand promises of Río ’92 have resulted a farce. The Convention on Biodiversityhas not stopped the destruction of biodiversity and has strengthened and generatednew mechanisms destined to privatize it and turn it into merchandise. Desertificationcontinues to accelerate due to the industrial agriculture and the expansion ofagribusiness and monoculture plantations. Global warming —with all of the disastersand dramatic suffering it is already causing—has not slowed, but has accelerated andbecome more severe.

The great deceit of 1992 was “sustainable development”, which social organizations initially saw as a possibility to confront the root of the problems. However, it was nothing more than a cover-up for the search for new forms of accumulation. Today they look to legitimize a new façade under the name “green economy”.

Thegreen economyand other false solutions: a new assault on the people and their territories.

Capitalist profit-seeking has generated the biggest systemic crisis since 1929. Since2008, the hegemonic system has looked for ways out of its structural crisis, searchingfor new possibilities for accumulation that support its logic. It is in this context that thecorporate takeover of agreements on biodiversity and climate change have occurred,and consequently, the development of this new financial engineering called GreenCapitalism.

Governments, business people, and the organizations of the United Nations have spent these last years constructing the myth of the “green economy” and of the “greening of technology”. They present it as a new possibility to bring together environmental stewardship and business, but it is in fact the vehicle to obtain new advances of capitalism, putting the entire planet under the control of big capital. . There are various mechanisms that will be advanced by the green economy and all of them will increase the destruction. More specifically,

  1. The green economy does not seek to reduce climate change or environmental deterioration, but to generalize the principle that those who have money can continue polluting. Up to now, they have used the farce of purchasing carbon bonds to continue emitting greenhouse gases. They are now inventing biodiversity bonds. This is to say, businesses can continue destroying forests and ecosystems, as long as they pay someone to supposedly conserve biodiversity somewhere else. Tomorrow they may invent bonds for water, natural “views”, or clean air.

  2. These systems of buying environmental services are being used to take lands and territories away from indigenous peoples and peasants. The mechanisms that are most forcefully promoted by governments and businesses are the systems known as REDD and REDD plus. They say that these are systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by deforestation and degradation of the forests, but they are being used to impose, for a ridiculous price, management plans that deny families and rural communities access to their own lands, forests, and water sources. In addition, they guarantee businesses unrestricted access to collective forest areas, enabling biopiracy. They also impose contracts that tie communities to these management plans for 20 years or more and that leave indigenous and peasant territories with mortgage liens, that increases the likelihood that these communities will lose their lands. The objectives of these environmental services are to take control of nature reserves and of the territories that are under the control of these communities.

  3. Another initiative of the green economy is to convert plants, algae, and all other organic material (residues, dung, etc.) into a source of energy to substitute for petroleum; what is called “use of biomass”. With agrofuels, this has meant that thousands of hectares that should be covered in forests or producing food are being used to feed machines. If the use of biomass energy is effectivelyexpanded, we will see life in the seas reduced still more because an important segment of marine species will go without food. Our soils will not recuperate the organic material that is essential to conserve fertility and guard against erosion and drought. It will be impossible to feed our animals because the food they need is ever more scarce and expensive. Also, the water shortage will worsen, either directly through the cultivation of agrofuels or because our soils no longer have the capacity to absorb and retain water due to a lack of organic matter.

  4. Then, they speak to us of “climate smart agriculture”, the goal of which is to convince us to accept a new Green Revolution—possibly with transgenics—and that instead of demanding effective support to defend us from the effects of climate change, we accept laughable payments that function the same way as REDD. They also seek to impose systems that are highly dependent on large quantities of agrotoxins—like direct seeding that depends on aerial sprayings of Round Up—that they would call “low carbon agriculture”. That is to say, we are obliged to accept a certain type of agriculture that will jeopardize control of our territories, our ecosystems, and our water.

  5. One of the most perverse aspects of the false solutions that are promoted in international negotiations is the restriction of access to and use of water for irrigation. Using the pretext that water for irrigation is scarce, it is suggested that water be concentrated in “high value crops”; meaning that export crops, agrofuels and other industrial crops are irrigated while food crops are left without water.

  6. The promotion of technological solutions that are not solutions at all is also part of the agenda of the discussions in Rio. Among the most dangerous are geoengineering and the acceptance of transgenic crops. Up until now, none of the solutions proposed by geoengineering have demonstrated any real capacity to solve climate problems. On the contrary, some forms of geoengineering (like the fertilization of the seas) are so dangerous that there has been an international moratorium declared aginst them. To accept Genetically modified organism (GMOs), we are told that crops resistant to drought and heat will be created, but the only thing new in GMOs are more herbicide-resistant varieties, which are bringing back to the market highly toxic herbicides like 2,4-D.

  7. The most ambitious plan and the one that some governments identify as “the major challenge” is to put a price on all the goods of nature (like water, biodiversity, the countryside, wildlife, seeds, rain, etc.) to then privatize them (arguing that conservation requires money) and charge us for their use. This is called the Economy of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). It is the final assault on nature and life, but also on the means of work and the lives of the people whose livelihoods are based on agriculture, hunting, and fishing.

This “green” capitalism has the rural commons, agriculture, land and water particularly in its sights. We are already suffering from its effects in the form of land grabs or monopolization of land, privatization of water, the oceans, of indigenous territories, the national parks and nature reserves; all these processes are being accompanied by the forced expulsions of peasant and indigenous communities.

The real solution: put peasant and indigenous farmers at the center

We, peasants and indigenous peoples, are the ones who are concentrated in the highest levels of poverty because we have been deprived of land and we have been constrained by law or by force so that we cannot cultivate and exchange freely. Nonetheless, we are people who have been resisting expulsion from the countryside, and still we are more than 90% of the rural population. Our forms of agriculture cool the planet, care for ecosystems and secure the food supply for the poorest.

Every real solution happens to impinge upon the unbridled profits of capital, put an end to the complicity of governments and supports forms of production that effectively care for the planet. Food Sovereignty is at the heart of the necessary changes, and is the only real path that can possibly feed all of humanity. Our proposals are clear and introduce real solutions:

  1. We should exchange the industrial agroexport food system for a system based on food sovereignty, that returns the land to its social function as the producer of food and sustainer of life, that puts local production of food at the center, as well as the local markets and local processing. Food sovereignty allows us to put an end to monocultures and agribusiness, to foster systems of peasant production that are characterized by greater intensity and productivity, that provide jobs, care for the soil and produce in a way that is healing and diversified. Peasant and indigenous agriculture also has the ability to cool the planet, with the capacity to absorb or prevent almost 2/3 of the greenhouses gases that are emitted every year.

  2. The land currently in the hands of peasants and indigenous peoples is around 20% of all agricultural land in the world. And yet l, on this land the peasant and indigenous families and communities produce slightly less than half of the world’s food. The most secure and efficient way to overcome hunger around the world is in our hands.

  3. To secure food for all and restore the earth’s normal climate, it is necessaryto return agriculture to the hands of peasant communities and indigenouspeoples. To do this, we must have urgent, integrated, sweeping agrarianreform that ends the extreme and growing concentration of land that affectsall of humanity today. These agrarian reforms will provide the materialconditions for agriculture to benefit all of humanity and thus , the defenseand protection of peasant and indigenous agriculture is up to all of us . In theshort run , it is necessary to halt all transactions, concessions, and transfersthat result in concentration or monopoly control of land and/or thedisplacement of rural communities.

  4. Peasant and indigenous systems of agriculture, hunting, fishing, andshepherding that care for the land and the food supply should be supportedadequately with public resources that are not subject to conditionalities.Market mechanisms—like the sale of carbon and environmentalservices—should be eliminated and replaced with real measures like thosementioned above. Ending pollution is a duty that no one should be able toavoid by paying for the rights to continue the destruction.

  5. The legitimate use of what international organizations and enterprises nowcall biomass is to feed every living being, and then to be returned to theearth to restore its fertility. The emissions that come from wasted energyshould be reduced through saving and eliminating waste. We needrenewable, decentralized sources of energy, within reach of the people.

We are mobilized to unmask Rio+20 and green capitalism

We, peasants, family farmers, landless peasants, indigenous peoples and migrants, men and women, decidedly oppose the commercialization of the earth, our territories, water, seeds, food, nature, and human life. We reiterate what was said at the People’s Summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia: “Humanity faces a grand dilemma: to continue the path of capitalism, predation, and death, or undertake the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”

We repudiate and denounce the green economy as a new mask to hide increasing levels of corporate greed and food imperialism in the world, and as a brutal “green washing” of capitalism that only implements false solutions, like carbon trading, REDD, geoengineering, GMOs, agrofuels, bio-char, and all of the market- based solutions to the environmental crisis.

Our goal is to bring back another way of relating to nature and other people. This isalso our duty, and our right and so we will continue fighting and calling on others tocontinue fighting tirelessly for the construction of food sovereignty, for comprehensiveagrarian reform and the restoration of indigenous territories, for ending the violence ofcapital and restoring peasant and indigenous systems of production based onagroecology.

NO TO THE FALSE SOLUTIONS OF GREEN CAPITALISM

PEASANT AGRICULTURE NOW!

 

Rio+20: Indigenous peoples denounce green economy and REDD+ as privatisation of nature

Rio De Janeiro, June 15, 2012 – Indigenous peoples of the world participating in Rio+20 denounce that the Green Economy and REDD+ privatise nature, sell the air we breathe and destroy the future.

Indigenous Peoples' powerful message to the United Nations summit is eloquently conveyed in the No REDD+! in Rio+20 Declaration launched this morning by of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life. Thea lliance warns that REDD+ constitutes a worldwide land grab and gigantic carbon offset scam.

REDD+ is an UN-promoted false solution to climate change and the pillar of the "green economy" it is promoting. Officially, REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. However, Tom Goldtooth (Dakota/Dine), director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, insists that “REDD+ really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity.”

Just as Chief Seattle over a hundred years ago asked, “How can you sell the air?”, Marlon Santi of the Ecuadorian Amazon condemns carbon trading and REDD+ and asks, “How can you sell Mother Earth and Father Sky?” But apparently someone is trying, as the recently inaugurated Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), a Brazilian stockmarket for forest carbon credits, shows.

“Not only does REDD+ corrupt the Sacred and fuel financial speculation, it also serves as greenwash for extractive industries like Shell and Rio Tinto”, according to Berenice Sanchez of the Nahua People of Mexico.

The Alliance argues that REDD+ is a “new wave of colonialism”. From Peru to Papua New Guinea, carbon cowboys are running amok trying to rip off native communities and grab the forests of the world, 80% of which are found in Indigenous peoples' lands and territories.

“The REDD+ race to take over our land is on. Without our land, we are nothing. The 'green economy' and REDD+ could make money with genocide”, alerts Mr. Santi.

“The environmental crisis is getting worse because of capitalists' false solutions such as REDD+. The real solution to the climate crisis affecting the people of the world, especially Indigenous peoples, is to protect Mother Earth, uphold social justice and respect the Indigenous Peoples’ decisions and right to say no”, said Marife Macalanda of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network.

Human rights activists like lawyer Alberto Saldamando are also concerned about abuses by REDD-type projects. “REDD+ threatens the very survival of Indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Indigenous peoples and local communities are now being subjected to forced displacement and human rights abuses including violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs”, according to the secretariat of the alliance.

As for La Via Campesina, the 300 million-strong international peasant farmers' organisation rejects REDD+ which not only includes forests but agriculture and soils as well. “REDD perverts the task of growing food into farming carbon” and could cause a global “counter-agrarian reform” notes the alliance´s declaration.

“Don´t be fooled“, the alliance urges, the "green economy" and REDD+ constitute “a planet grab”. “Rio+20 is not an Earth Summit, it is the WTO of Life.”

 

Brazil's Indigenous Peoples Terra Livre Declaration at Rio +20 rejects REDD

They produced a Declaration in which they, “reject REDD contracts”. The Declaration is posted in full below (in English and Portuguese). In addition to rejecting REDD, the Declaration opposes large scale infrastructure projects on indigenous territories, including the Belo Monte and Jirau hydropower dams, nuclear power plants, ports, highways, biofuels and mining projects.

The Declaration also condemns the action of financial institutions that finance projects without respecting “the right of the affected populations to be consulted”. The role of Brazil’s National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES) is highlighted in the Declaration, although no mention is made of the Amazon Fund, which is managed by BNDES. The Amazon Fund has so far received more than US$100 million, almost all of which is from the Norwegian government. The Amazon Fund finance is conditional on the reduction of emissions from deforestation.

On 20 July 2012, Indigenous Peoples from Terra Livre took part in a protest march to Rio +20 conference centre – photographs of the march are available here.

(non-official translation into English by Earth Peoples)

PEOPLES’ SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AGAINST THE MERCALIZATION OF LIFE, IN DEFENSE OF THE COMMONS

LETTER OF RIO DE JANEIRO
FINAL DECLARATION OF FREE LAND CAMP IX – LIVING WELL / HEALTHY FULL LIFE
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 15 to 22 June 2012

We, more than 1,800 leaders, representatives of indigenous peoples and organizations present (APIB – Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – COIAB, APOINME, ARPINSUL, ARPINSUDESTE, indigenous peoples of Mato Grosso do Sul and Guasu ATY), COICA – Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations Amazon Basin, IOTC – Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations, CICA – Indigenous Council of Central America, and CCNAGUA – Guarani Continental Council of the Nation and representatives of other parts of the world, gathered in the parallel space of organizations and social movements, the Free Land Camp IX, at the Peoples Summit, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).

After intense debates and discussions held during 15-22 June on the various issues that affect us, the violation of our fundamental and collective rights as a peoples, we express as one united voice our cry of indignation and outrage to the governments, corporations and society in the face of severe crises which beset the planet and humanity (financial crises, environmental, energy, food and social) as a result of the predatory neo-development process of the commodification and financialization of life and Mother Nature.

It is thanks to our resilience that we keep our people alive as a (distinct) peoples, with our rich, ancient and complex knowledge systems and our understanding of all live that guarantees existence, with its currently vaunted Brazilian biodiversity, which explains that Brazil is the host two major conferences on the environment. Therefore, the (Indigenous Peoples) “Free Land Camp” is of fundamental importance in the Peoples’ Summit, the space that allows us to reflect, share and build alliances with other peoples, organizations and social movements in Brazil and the world, who like us, believe in other forms of living than the one imposed upon us by the capitalist and neoliberal development model.

We advocate and defend plural and autonomous forms of lives, inspired by the model of Living Well/ Healthy Life, where Mother Earth is respected and cared for, where humans are just another species among all the other compositions of the multi-diversity of the planet. In this model, there is no room for so-called green capitalism, or to new forms of appropriation of our biodiversity and our traditional knowledge.

Considering the importance of the Peoples’ Summit, we elaborated this Declaration, to clarify in it the main problems that affect us today, and to indicate ways on how to establish new relations between States and indigenous peoples, with the vision to construct a new model of society.

Repudiations

In accordance with the discussions at the Peoples Summit, we repudiate the structural causes and false solutions to the crises which beset our planet, including:

  • We reject impunity and violence, imprisonment and murder of indigenous leaders (in Brazil, where Kayowá-Guarani, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala and Paraguay, among others).

  • We reject major projects in indigenous territories, such as dams – Belo Monte, Jirau and others; transposition of Rio S. Francisco, nuclear power plants; Canal do Sertão, ports, national and international Highways, production of biofuels, the road within TIPNIS in Bolivia, and mining projects throughout Latin America).

  • We condemn the action of financial institutions such as BNDES – National Bank of Economic and Social Development, which finances large projects with public money, but does not respect the right of the affected populations to be consulted, including 400 regions in Brazil, and in all countries that BNDES operates, including Latin America and Africa.

  • We reject REDD contracts, and carbon credits that are false solutions that do not solve environmental problems but seek to commodify nature and ignore the traditional knowledge and ancient wisdom of our peoples.

  • We reject the reduction of indigenous territories.

  • We reject all legislative initiatives that aim to weaken indigenous rights in order to serve the interests of big business, through the relaxation or distortion of indigenous and environmental legislation in several countries, such as the PEC 215 and the Forest Code in the Brazilian Congress and the proposed changes in Ecuador.

  • We condemn the repression suffered by the Bolivian relatives at the Ninth March “Defense of Life and Dignity, Indigenous Territories, Natural Resources, Biodiversity, Environment and Protected Areas, the Compliance of CPE (Political Constitution of the State) and respect for democracy.” We express our solidarity with the relatives killed and arrested in this crackdown by the Bolivian state.

  • We condemn the actions of Marco Terena who presents himself at the international level as a leader and representative of Brazil’s indigenous peoples, since he is not recognized as the legitimate representative of the Terena people according to the Terena leaders present at the Free Land Camp IX.

Proposals

  • We call for the protection of indigenous land rights. In Brazil, more than 60% of Indian territories were not demarcated and ratified. We demand the immediate recognition and demarcation of indigenous lands, including policies to strengthen the demarcated areas, including the removal of farmers and others that are invading other territories.

  • We demand an end to impunity for the murderers and persecutors of the indigenous leaders. Indigenous leaders, women and men are murdered and the criminals continue to be free, and no action has been taken to charge them. We request that the instigators and executors that committed crimes (murder, robbery, rape, torture) against our people and communities are tried and punished.

  • We demand the end to the criminalization of indigenous leaders. That the struggles of our peoples for their land rights are not criminalized by governmental authorities that should instead ensure the protection and implementation of indigenous rights.

  • We demand the guarantee of the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent of each indigenous people – in accordance with the ILO Convention 169, according to the specificity of each people, strictly following the principles of good faith of this binding Convention. We need to be respected and strengthened in the institutional fabric of each of our peoples, to have our own appropriate mechanisms for deliberation and representation, and to be enabled to participate in consultation processes with states.

  • We call for the expansion of indigenous territories.

  • We call for transparent and independent monitoring of watersheds.

  • We call for the recognition and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples in the protection of biomes.

  • We ask for the urgent demarcation of land for the people without assistance and camped in precarious situations, such as on riverbanks, roadsides and areas without sanitation infrastructure. In Brazil alone, there are hundreds of indigenous camps in this situation. 40% of the population of these camps are children.

  • We call for the improvement of health conditions of indigenous peoples, such as in Brazil, to increase the budget of SESAI – Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health, the implementation of financial administrative and political autonomy of DSEIs (Special Indigenous Health Districts), and to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities.

  • We want an Indigenous Education that respects the diversity of each nation and culture, with special and differential treatment for each language, customs and traditions.

  • We demand that states implement effective policies to guarantee appropriate indigenous education, as etnoeducacionais territories in Brazil.

  • We want an indigenous education with components of environmental education that promotes environmental protection and sustainability of our territories.

  • We demand conditions for the development of our traditions and ancient ways of production.

Finally, it won’t be the false solutions that are proposed by governments – the so-called green economy, that will pay off the debts of States with our people.

We reiterate our commitment to unity of indigenous peoples as demonstrated in our alliance within our communities, with indigenous nations, organizations, the Indigenous Caucus and others.

THE SALVATION OF THE PLANET IS IN THE ANCIENT WISDOM OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
RIO DE JANEIRO, 20 JUNE 2012

APIB – Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, COICA – Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, IOTC – Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations, CICA – Indigenous Council of Central America, and CCNAGUA – Guarani Continental Council of the Nation

 

Comments

Draft of Rio+20 negotiating document leaked – and it’s not good

15 June 2012

http://www.wdm.org.uk/blog/latest-draft-rio20-negotiating-document-leaked-not-looking-good

Alex Scrivener, policy officer

With just a few days to go until the start of the Rio Earth Summit, there is still very little certainty about what exactly will happen. But early indications are not great. Back in January, an initial ‘Zero Draft’ of the outcome document was publicised under the title The Future We Want. While this document outlined some generally positive sentiments, we at the World Development Movement found that it was severely lacking in substance.

Crucially, it didn’t define what was meant by a ‘green economy’, which is one of the main themes for Rio, leaving it in danger of being hijacked by corporate interests. This could mean the privatisation of commonly owned aspects of the natural world and the creation of new markets in ecosystem ‘services’.

Last week, the Guardian released the latest version of the document, dated 2 June when the last round of negotiations ended. For the most part, it is not looking too promising. The mainstream media has focussed on the lack of agreement between rich industrialised countries and representatives of the developing countries of the G77 and the worry that the sides won’t be able to come to a ‘deal’ in time. This is manifested in the fact that, while the original Zero Draft was 19 pages long, this latest version is a whole 81 pages with lots of brackets and multiple versions of the same paragraphs where there is disagreement.

While not ideal, this is actually a result of the fact that, so far, poorer developing countries have stuck together and are not allowing the richer countries to bully or bribe them into submission individually (as has happened at recent international climate summits). In fact, no deal may well be a better outcome than an artificially manufactured consensus that paves the way for the financialisation of nature and the corporate takeover of the global commons.

What’s far worse, is the way that the US and EU are blocking any attempt to define the green economy in a progressive way. The G77 wants the document to say that the green economy would “avoid financialisation of natural resources that can result in the excessive concentration of financial resources in developed countries” – precluding any interpretation of the green economy as the creation of new financialised markets in nature. The US and EU are blocking that.

The G77 has also called for the green economy to be more closely linked with poverty eradication and for it to 'avoid increasing the financial burden of developing countries and their people in providing basic needs'. Looks like pretty uncontroversial stuff no? Nope - the US and EU are blocking that too.

As for the G77 proposal that rich countries actually contribute some additional money to finance the move to a green economy for poorer countries, that has also been flatly rejected. Ditto to reforming the global financial system.

And while the efforts of civil society and poorer countries have meant that the right to water will likely be mentioned, the US is still trying to get rid of references to the right to food and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (which is the recognition that rich countries should be more responsible for taking action on the environment than poor countries).

It gets worse. It also looks like the commitment to end fossil fuel subsides is being watered down to say that there will be a “rationalisation and phasing out over the medium term” and there are efforts to get rid of any mention of the need to keep global temperature rises below 2ºC. And early hopes that the document would mark a move away from GDP growth as the central plank of development are being dashed – the current document is full of references to the need for yet more growth.

So, while it’s still early days (the conference hasn’t actually started yet), it is looking increasingly likely that we will get a final document that will leave the definition of the green economy wide open to interpretation by rich countries and corporations who want it to involve ascribing a financial value on nature.

The good news is, of course, that the G77 is still holding most of its ground – it remains to be seen however, whether this will be case on the conference floor itself.

RIO+20

I completely agree that the outcome of the conference is disappointing, I clearly would have preferred the institutional reforms of UNEP and the Sustainability Council to be decided upon, but I find it hard to agree to a complete rejection of the concept of the green economy or the REDD scheme. I think that we need to arrange ourselves with the system as it is and try to improve from the inside, anything else is utopian.

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