Pablo Solon on Rio+20: For an international campaign against the commodification of nature

For a bottom-up international campaign against the commodification and financialisation of Nature

By Pablo Solon

January 28, 2012 -- The document for the Rio+20 conference of the United Nations (June 20-22, 2012) -- entitled The Future We Want -- was published in January 2012. Its main purpose is to promote a “Green Economy”. In the document's "zero draft", this concept of the Green Economy is left deliberately vague: there is no clear definition provided and no clarity on the usage of this term. In reality, however, it aims to promote the further commodification and financialisation of nature by introducing new market mechanisms like the as carbon markets that were first introduced a decade ago through the Kyoto Protocol and REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programs which put a monetary price on carbon storage in forests.

The concept of “Green Economy” is developed in the Green Economy Report published by the United Nations Environment Program. That report concludes that the energy crisis and the climate crisis amount to “the failed allocation of capital” and the solution to these crises is to give a monetary value, a price, to the elements and processes of nature. Indeed, this “Green Economy” agenda attempts to solve the current multiple crises by ushering in a new, more aggressive, stage of capitalism  to recover lost growth and profits!

If we act quickly, there is still time to block this takeover of Rio+20 by the Green Economy agenda. We can succeed if we join the concrete actions of the movements against extractionism, genetically modified organisms, tar sands, forest destruction, climate change, privatisation of water and many others. The key to stopping this new attack on our “Mother Earth” is to build a campaign with the social movements, Indigenous peoples, women, youth, peasants, the Occupy movement, the Indignados and others.

We also need to ensure that those countries that do not want to put a price on nature, or are against the development of markets of ecosystem services, maintain their position against the “Green Economy”. In many ways, we now face a challenge similar to that of the Multilateral International Agreement, which was stopped in 1998 by the first global internet campaign or theFree Trade Area of the Americas, which was defeated by the mobilisation of the movements of the Americas.

The No to the “Green Economy” campaign will target the process of negotiation of the “zero draft” and the Rio+20 Conference (June 20-22, 2012). Instead of trying to impose the rules of the market on nature we must respect nature’s vital cycles through the recognition of the rights of nature. Our common future depends on it!

Nature is not for sale.

The commons must not be privatised.

Life does not have a price.

Porto Alegre, Brazil January 28, 2012

[Pablo Solón is an international analyst and social activist. He was chief negotiator for climate change and Ambassador to the United Nations for the Plurinational State of Bolivia from 2009 until June 2011,]