Tag Archives: UN

Rio Earth Summit: tragedy, farce, and distraction

By Anne Petermann, September 2012.  Source: Z Magazine

As I flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 12 for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)—the 20-year anniversary of the historic “Rio Earth Summit”—I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.” The article explained that Saudi Arabia was urging OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil would not exceed $100 per barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The article pointed out that ensuring the health of the global economy requires expanding oil production. This, as we know, will worsen the climate crisis. The takeaway message of the article, therefore, is that the global economy will only thrive by destroying the life support systems of the planet.

At the Rio Earth Summit, this was also the underlying logic of the so-called “green economy” proposals that have polarized and paralyzed the talks since the first preparatory meeting for Rio+20 in May 2010.

According to Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, who wrote about the Rio+20 summit’s preparatory meetings for the Guardian back in March 2011, “Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries…and suspicions are running high that the…‘green economy’ is more likely to deliver a greenwash economy or the same old, same old ‘greed’ economy.”

At the Rio+20 summit, industrialized countries and multinational corporations, accompanied by institutions like the IMF and World Bank, led the push for development of the green economy—that is, to use the very ecological devastation caused by global capitalism to create markets in so-called “environmental services” by turning them into tradable commodities. These new markets would help prop up the global economy in a greenwashed version of business as usual.

“Environmental services,” provided by intact natural ecosystems—which include such things as the storage of carbon, the purification of air and water, and the maintenance of biodiversity—would be given a monetary value in the market, enabling them to be purchased and supposedly protected. In reality, however, it would allow companies to destroy a biodiverse ecosystem in one area, by purchasing the protection of an equivalent ecosystem.

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

New report to expose how corporations ‘capture’ the U.N.

From Friends of the Earth International

June 19, 2012, Rio de Janeiro – On June 19, 2012, on the eve of a key United Nations Summit due to take place June 20-22 in Rio De Janeiro [1], Friends of the Earth International will launch a new report exposing the increasing influence of major corporations and business lobby groups within the UN. [2]

“Governmental positions have been increasingly hijacked by narrow corporate interests linked to polluting industries and business sectors seeking to profit from the environment, the climate and the financial crises,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International.
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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Rio+20

Indigenous Peoples from around the World agree on solidarity: RIO+20

Note: Rio+20 is the twenty-year anniversary of the historic Rio Earth Summit where the world’s leaders came together to address the growing interlinked crises of environmental degradation and unjust development models–at least in theory.  They emerged from the 1992 summit with new commitments to tackle the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, the desertification crisis and to promote sustainable development.  Twenty years on and things are worse than ever.  As a result, organizations, social movements, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and others are mobilizing for Rio+20–not just to demand real action to address the roots of these crises, but to hold an alternative summit where people can start coming up with the real solutions on their own.  This approach is critical since it is clear that many corporate controlled governments are heavily invested in business-as-usual and have no intention of doing anything but spooning out some greenwashed PR nonsense in the form of the so-called “green economy,” or as some are calling it, the “greed economy.”

This Climate Connections blog will be offering daily coverage of the Rio+20 summit–both the inner machinations of the official negotiations and the highlights of the alternative summit.  Stay tuned for articles, photo essays, videos and interviews as well as scathing critiques of the attempts by the “1%” to maintain their power and privilege at all costs.

–The GJEP Team

Indigenous Peoples Caucus

3rd Intersessional Meeting of the Preparatory Process for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)

March 26-27, 2012

New York

 We, indigenous peoples representatives meeting together as an indigenous peoples caucus during the 3rdIntersessional meeting of the UNCSD, after a thorough discussion of urgent issues and concerns affecting indigenous peoples activities related to the Rio+20 process, resolve and agree to the following points:

1. We will take efforts to build solidarity among the different Brazilian IP organizations and regional networks in Latin America in the spirit of reconciliation, and seek the help of some of our brothers and sisters in this effort [Tom Goldtooth (IEN), Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba) and Miguel Palacin (CAOI);]

2. We uphold and support the messages and agreements of the Manaus Declaration “INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN ROUTE TO THE RIO + 20 CONFERENCE” made during the Global preparatory meeting of Indigenous Peoples on Rio + 20 and Kari-Oca 2 on August 22- 24, 2011 in Manaus, Brazil. This declaration includes the agreement to “organize Kari-Oca 2 as a global conference of Indigenous Peoples where we will share our efforts to implement development with identity and culture or our self- determined development, … and endeavour to reach a consensus on themes and issues of Rio +20.”

3. We appreciate the ongoing efforts and hard work of the Inter-Tribal Council to prepare a site for Kari-Oca 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in accordance with the agreements reached during the Manaus meeting. We therefore urge the Global IP Steering Committee to support this effort and maximize the site being prepared for the Kari-Oca 2 Global Conference of indigenous peoples.

4. We further urge the Global IP Steering Committee to coordinate and harmonize the various indigenous peoples’ initiatives in Rio and come up with a common, unified calendar of activities for indigenous peoples during Rio+20 and Kari-Oca 2.

This will ensure that indigenous peoples will project a strong and united voice on the themes and issues related to Rio +20.

Agreed by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus with representatives from Latin America, North America, Africa and Asia on May 27, 2012, New York.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Rio+20

Critical Information Collective Offers Resources for Advancing Movement for Justice

Note: The following post regards a new organization, Critical information Collective, set up by our friends Joe Zacune and Ronnie Hall (both ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International).  This initiative will be a very useful and powerful resource and clearinghouse for our collective struggle for social and ecological justice.  Check it out!

–The GJEP Team

From Critical Information Collective:

We really hope that you have time to read this short message introducing a new organisation, Critical Information Collective (CIC). It’s been set up by the two of us, Ronnie Hall and Joseph Zacune (ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International), although we hope to expand it to include more researchers and advisors soon.

 CIC aims to be a resource for you all, providing social movements, NGOs and communities campaigning against corporate globalisation with a single ‘one stop shop’ of incisive, political and campaign-oriented analysis, images and tools – as well as more visibility for our collective effort to challenge the prevailing economic paradigm.

We aim to cover a broad range of critical issues related to corporate-led globalisation, including agrofuels, climate change, deforestation, food, GMOs, land, mining, poverty, rights, and trade and investment.

If you want to find the key documents on any one topic, from a range of different organisations (including your own), or easily find relevant and free/cheap images for your publications, or point your members to additional information resources and campaign tools, we hope you will visit/link to us.”

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, Rio+20, UNFCCC, World Bank

Pablo Solón: It’s the time for the Rights of Mother Earth

by Pablo Solón

Cross-Posted from Pablo Solón’s blog

Pablo Solon of the Plurinational State of Bolivia on 7 December 2010 in Cancun, Mexico during the UN climate negotiations. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC (This photo did not appear on the original blog post)

Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables, once wrote: “How sad to think that nature speaks and mankind doesn’t listen.”

Although we often forget it, human beings are a force in nature. In reality, we are all a product of the same Big Bang that created the universe, although some only see wood for the fire when they walk through the forest.

Nature is not a thing, a source of resources. Nature is a system, a home, and a community of living and interdependent beings.

Nature has rules that govern its integrity, interrelationships, reproduction and transformation.

States and society are not recognizing, respecting and making sure that the rules of nature prevail.

The philosopher Francis Bacon said that we cannot command nature except by obeying her. The time for superheroes and superpowers is coming to an end. Nature cannot be submitted to the wills of the laboratory. Science and technology are capable of everything including destroying the world itself.

It is time to stop and reaffirm the precautionary principle in the face of geo-engineering and all artificial manipulation of the climate. All new technologies should be evaluated to gauge their environmental, social and economic impacts. The answer for the future lies not in scientific inventions but in our capacity to listen to nature.

Green Economy is an attempt to put a price on the free services that plants, animals and ecosystems offer humanity: the purification of water, the pollination of plants by bees, the protection of coral reefs and climatic regulation.

For Green Economy, we have to identify the specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity that can be made subject to a monetary value, evaluate their current state, define the limits of those services, and set out in economic terms the cost of their conservation to develop a market for environmental services.

For Green Economy, capitalism’s mistake is not having fully incorporated nature as part of capital. That is why its central proposal is to create “environmentally friendly business” and in that way limit environmental degradation by bringing the laws of capitalism to bear on nature.

Green Economy is absolutely wrong and bad because it thinks that the transfusion of the rules of market will save nature.

Humanity finds itself at a crossroads: Why should we only respect the laws of human beings and not those of nature? Why do we call the person who kills his neighbor a criminal, but not he who extinguishes a species or contaminates a river? Why do we judge the life of human beings with parameters different from those that guide the life of the system as a whole if all of us, absolutely all of us, rely on the life of the Earth System?

Is there no contradiction in recognizing only the rights of the human part of this system while all the rest of the system is reduced to a source of resources and raw materials – in other words, a business opportunity?

To speak of equilibrium is to speak of rights for all parts of the system. It could be that these rights are not identical for all things, since not all things are equal. But to think that only humans should enjoy privileges while other living things are simply objects is the worst mistake humanity has ever made. Decades ago, to talk about slaves as having the same rights as everyone else seemed like the same heresy that it is now to talk about glaciers or rivers or trees as having rights.

Nature is ruthless when it goes ignored.

It is incredible that it is easier to imagine the destruction of nature than to dream about overthrowing capitalism.

Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” We can’t watch the destruction of Mother Earth and our selves. This is the time to begin to recognize the intrinsic laws of Nature. This is the time to respect and promote the rights of Mother Earth.

[1] Based and my speech as Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, on the Occasion of the General Assembly Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, New York, April 20th, 2011.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Rio+20

How Green Is the Green Economy?

Four environmental organizers and researchers examine the ‘green jobs’ buzz.


Cross-Posted from In These Times

Any meaningful definition of “green jobs” should require real evidence of environmental, public health and community economic benefits.

A “green recovery” is being championed as a solution to both ecological and economic crisis, but the sanguine rhetoric has not always been matched by progress toward a more sustainable U.S. economy. Growth in “green jobs” has so far included waste incineration and offshore manufacturing of electric sports cars along with weatherization of homes and expansion of public transit. While the Right and industry lobbyists assail the very notion of green jobs, progressive critics argue that the catch-all term permits corporations to continue business as usual while banking public dollars to “greenwash” their image.

In These Times discussed the green jobs conundrum with four environmental organizers and researchers, including David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership between labor unions and environmental groups; Yvonne Yen Liu, a senior researcher with the Applied Research Center who has examined inequities in the green economy; Joanne Poyourow, a member of Transition Los Angeles, which organizes community-led responses to climate change and shrinking energy supplies; and Ananda Tan, U.S. program manager with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, which mobilizes for clean energy and zero waste.

President Obama’s first campaign ad of 2012 touts 2.7 million jobs in the clean energy economy. Do the realities of green job creation match the hype?

David: 2.7 million is a sound but very conservative number – an awful lot of economic activity isn’t counted in that estimate. This is the section of the economy that’s growing faster than all others.

Joanne: To bank on green jobs as the salvation to bring this economy out of recession is giving people false hope. We’re facing a bio-capacity issue as well as a “greenness” issue. Many of the “green” industries that are being touted by corporations and government officials are really ways of greencasting North Americans’ excessive consumption.

There is no standard definition of a “green job.” Does this impact the ability to hold industries accountable? What should be considered a green job?

David: A green job is nothing but a blue-collar job with a green purpose. The green economy could pick up all the jobs that currently exist if we started using products we already make for different purpose – steel is used to manufacture Hummers, but it could also be used for wind turbine towers.

Ananda: Any meaningful definition of “green jobs” should require real evidence of environmental, public health and community economic benefits. Industry has duped lawmakers into gifting them billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies for false solutions – waste incinerators, biomass incinerators, clean coal and nuclear power – that divert public money, increase pollution and burn materials, which if recycled instead would create 10 times the new jobs.

Many have argued that a clean-energy economy can also be a more equitable economy. How true has this proven so far?

Yvonne: When we talk about green jobs, we often don’t include standards around race, gender and class equity. Less than 30 percent of green jobs are held by blacks and Latinos. Ninety percent of green construction and energy firms are managed and owned by white people.

Ananda: Designs and plans for the green economy need to be made at a community level, where there’s more expertise developing jobs that are not only green but good. In San Francisco, a unionized recycling company has achieved nearly 80 percent recycling while providing those jobs to the poorest in the city.

With fossil fuel production highly subsidized, how can clean energy be competitive? How dependent are clean-energy jobs on federal funding?

David: The failure to pass national clean-energy legislation was a great failure. A regulatory system that mandates targets and timelines on the goals for renewable energy production gives a clear signal to the private-sector economy that we intend to head in a different direction. Without that kind of broad policy, we’re left doing these initiatives piecemeal.

Yvonne: We don’t need to depend on the federal government to bail us out, because they haven’t yet. We can be resilient in our ability to sustain our families and our communities. The Alliance to Develop Power in Western Massachusetts is at the center of an $80 million community economy that started out by facilitating a housing cooperative, and then branched out into contracting and green construction work like retrofits and weatherizing. Community-funded projects like Solar Mosaic here in Oakland allow people to donate money to have solar panels installed, usually at a community center or nonprofit site. After it’s installed, the money gets paid to the investors and generates wealth for the community in the form of energy savings

Ananda: We need to re-localize our political priorities. Start with the governments we can hold accountable to come down on big polluters in our backyards, and shift the local subsidies – utility contracts, waste contracts – that are feeding polluting industries.

Joanne, tell us about your work in Transition Los Angeles.

Joanne: Transition is a network of grassroots groups that are asking: What will climate change mean for our local food supply? What can we do to ensure our energy and water supplies? Six years ago in L.A., five of us started by putting in a community garden in the site where we were meeting. Then we began gardening classes, rainwater harvesting demonstrations and a miniature orchard. We’re working in conjunction with the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) and the mayor’s office to build a new garden at a local middle school that will define some of LAUSD’s models for the entire area. We touch a few thousand people now through eight groups based in different neighborhoods.

How do your organizations build support for this agenda, particularly among groups worried about losing existing jobs?

Ananda: We need to break away from the dichotomy of jobs versus environment. If we doubled our national recycling rate, we could create 1.5 million new jobs, and the climate pollution reduction would be equivalent to taking 50 million cars off the road.

But given continued economic contraction, is the green jobs paradigm an adequate response to either the unemployment or the climate crises?

David: There is a green model of economic growth that can put Americans back to work doing the work that America needs done – the construction of mass transit systems, renewable energy production and infrastructure, the retrofitting of every commercial building and home in America. The fundamental problem has been that the Obama administration’s stimulus package was too small. But it’s given some clear signs about how to use green growth as a way to return us to full employment.

Joanne: To be depending on government dollars to re-float an economy that we saw in the ’80s and ’90s is unrealistic. Faced with a severe curtailment of our energy supplies within the next five-to-10 years, government is not that powerful. The current packaging of green jobs isn’t moving us toward something that is going to make our local communities more resilient. We are facing a future where we will have less ability to transport food, to manage our sewage and to move our waste. The transformation is going to be coming from a lot of much smaller industries.

Yvonne: I like the term “community economy” instead of “green economy” because it doesn’t allow corporations to use the cover of green jobs to continue with their same practices. We’re so naturalized to thinking within the system of capitalism. This moment is giving us a psychic break to think outside of that. I think the long-term solution does lie in community economies.


Rebecca Burns, an In These Times staff writer, holds an M.A. from the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where her research focused on global land and housing rights. A former editorial intern at the magazine, Burns also works as a research assistant for a project examining violence against humanitarian aid workers.

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Filed under Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, UNFCCC

Sustainable Energy For All: The UN’s Trojan Horse for Corporate Energy Control?

gaspipes29 March 2012

Note: Sustainable Energy For All, or SEFA, is a UN initiative focused on “clean” energy development in the developing world.  Coincidentally, it might be a scheme to increase the role that multi-national corporations play in delivering energy services to communities, and to decrease pressure on developed countries (US, Canada, EU member-states) to implement energy efficiency and carbon-neutral projects.  Check out a BiofuelWatch report on SEFA, Sustainable Energy for All-Or Sustained Profits for a Few? for more background information.

-Gears of Change Youth Media

As soon as Morton Wetland, Norway’s representative to the UN, opened his mouth to moderate a panel discussion on public-private relationships for the Sustainable Energy For All (SEFA) initiative, it was clear on which side of the public-private divide the panelists stood.  In a belittling tone he said, “I was informed that the G77 has deleted everything in the text which has not been proposed by the G77,” referring to the attempts of mostly southern countries to defend against the stripping away of all language in the Zero Draft document referring to human rights, social inclusion and equity.  Considering the chummy, smug chuckles this comment elicited from the room, it immediately appeared that this discussion of SEFA would be more concerned with what is good for business than with what is best for human and natural communities.

SEFA may seem to be an initiative with good intentions—to increase global access to clean, “modern” energy sources—but what ultimately plays out on the ground looks to have dire consequences.  The initiative happens to include members from some of the world’s most lovable institutions: Charles Holliday, current chair of America and former director of DuPont, also chairs SEFA.  Statoil, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Riverstone Holdings, represented by former BP CEO John Browne, are all there too.  Mark Moody Stuart, ex chairman of Shell, is also on the board.

What kind of projects can we expect this not-so-motley crew to promote?  According to Rachel Smolker from BiofuelWatch, “The first country commitment for the Sustainable Energy For All initiative is from Ghana, and it is a project which will construct a natural gas pipeline in the country with the assistance of a UK company that has long been seeking to do that.”  Since when is natural gas considered sustainable energy? In this case, the private sector is using the legitimate concern of improving the health of rural women to push through business-friendly mandates at the national and international levels.  Apparently that is the kind of sustainable energy you get when you put the heads of some of the largest energy and finance corporations in charge.

At first glance, it seems like the old regime has just put on new masks.  As Justin Perrettson, a panelist representing biotech giant Novozymes, said, “Business as usual doesn’t work…its all about companies doing what they do better,” and, “Sustainable energy is all about mindset.”  Indeed, so long as stopping business as usual means creating new, more attractive markets to investors and business, and the mindset with which sustainability is defined thinks primarily about profit margins, investment opportunity and increased corporate power instead human rights, environmental impact and community control.

Perrettson’s presentation focused primarily on the new market potentials for biotech (bioenergy, bioplastics, biochemicals) that SEFA can create with proper public investment and backing.  He hopes that the Rio+20 process can be used to initiate, “…a dialogue around…the bio-based economy,” which involves using more of the planets living communities in a more productive way.  What he really means is identifying things like “agricultural residues,” which are often vital to traditional forms of agriculture for maintaining soil fertility, and transforming them into synthetic fuels, plastics and chemical products.  Not to mention his apparent infatuation with corn, which he described as a, “ power plant.”

If industrial-scale biomass and biofuels are considered sustainable—which they currently are—than SEFA will serve as a mechanism to make investments in these dangerous technologies more attractive.  As no less than three panelists pointed out during the hour and a half long session, “Green [as in the Green Economy being promoted at Rio+20] is a good word because it also means the color of money.”

The 800 pound gorilla in the room, of course, was the actual financing for large scale energy projects.  Petter Norre, who has spent decades in the Norwegian oil and gas industry and is now a member of the SEFA technical advisory group, described a subset of SEFA, Energy+.  Energy+ was developed last fall by UN Seretary General Ban-Ki Moon and the Norwegian government, and is focused on creating attractive investment opportunities for renewable energy projects in the developing world.  It is inspired by the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) initiative, which is vehemently opposed by many civil society and indigenous organization throughout the world.  Energy+, like REDD, is all about climate finance and making countries, “Green Fund-ready.”

In Norre’s words, Energy+ is about, “…getting down the country risk for big international investors who live by their spreadsheets and their cost of capital….” In other words, how to get the public sector to subsidize, deregulate or structurally adjust in ways that can make otherwise risky development projects appear attractive to the big multi-nationals.  And what is the real role of the public sector here?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be providing a regulatory framework to ensure equity and rights.  Quite the contrary, according to Norre, the public sector needs to provide, “…a regulatory framework to have a state that functions that somehow encourages investment.”

Just as Energy+ was making me feel warm and fuzzy about the role the private sector would play in what was now being discussed mostly in terms of finance, decoupling risk from investment, and commercial opportunity, the World Bank reared its ugly head.  While I was surprised to hear World Bank Senior Energy Specialist Magnus Gehringer talking about geothermal (I figured they also would have been in the natural gas-as-sustainable energy camp), his presentation came to similar conclusions as Norre’s.  Speaking with a starry-eyed gaze about the potentials of geothermal energy, Gehringer explained the Bank’s new push, coming from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), to access this below ground energy source.  Drill, baby, drill.

While geothermal has a relatively high return on investment, it requires huge upfront costs.  The biggest hurdle for countries lacking access to large amounts of cash is the test drilling required prior to geothermal development.  It is prohibitively expensive and requires drilling 2-3 km below the ground.  And this is to test for geothermal potential.

But high up-front investment costs won’t stop the World Bank.  In fact, nothing short of direct community resistance will.  Magnus showed a map of geothermal hotspots, most of which are in the southern Pacific Ocean, the western coasts of North, Central and South America, and eastern Africa.  While it is true that geothermal is at the “edge of what people think about,” that might be due to the fact that most of the world is looking for solutions that are cheap, don’t require huge amounts of international finance and corporate control, and that won’t result in further ecological destruction.  As Gehringer noted, “Japan has an estimated potential…of 23,000 megawatts….And they didn’t use it because most of their geothermal fields are in national protected parks, and they didn’t want to damage their landscape.”  Well shame on you, Japan, for placing ecological protection before increased energy development.  The Bank will have to see about that.

The scariest piece of what the Bank is proposing, and about all public-private partnerships proposed for Rio+20, are the proposed private sector benefits.  Gehringer described a dream project of his, involving, “…a loan [for geothermal development] to the…east African countries for example, that they could then repay by just, for example, tendering out some of their [developed geothermal] fields to the private sector, and they would get their money back and they could repay the loans and still keep some of it.”  How much of whose fields?  When do they get them back?  And at what cost to local people and the planet?

What is so troubling about this initiative, as Ana Belén Sánchez López from Sustainlabour pointed out in a question to the panel, is that increasing access to safe, reliable, sustainable energy is a crucial issue for women, workers and many of the world’s most marginalized people.  Energy is necessary for survival.  However, it is also imperative that energy is considered in the context of human rights, not market commodities, and that the public sector­—trade unions, civil society organizations, local communities­—have a real seat at the table.

Sustianable Energy For All needs to focus on making projects that work for public utilities, and that really address the needs of local communities in healthy, sustainable ways.  It can’t be used as a Trojan Horse for the corporate world to ride into marginalized urban and rural areas to access newly developing markets.  That is not the future we want.  As the moderator made clear in his response to Sánchez López’s comments, the focus needs to be on the private sector because right now the private sector is a, “four-letter word,” at the UN.  Well, maybe it should stay that way.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Rio+20

Human Rights at Risk at the UN–on the Road to the Rio+20 Summit

Note: Unfortunately, those of us at GJEP who have been working with UN bodies including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Climate Convention and the UN Forum on Forests, are not at all surprised by the attempt by the UN to eliminate human rights to food and water from the draft text for the upcoming UN Rio+20 summit in June.  After all, the UN is run by corporations and their greedy henchmen, just as much as governments are.  Since 2004 we have watched the steady decline of civil society’s ability to participate in these UN fora, while at the same time seeing doors open wide to the profit-makers.  This is yet one more example of why we need a peoples’ process–a truly democratic forum that enables communities to come up with real solutions to the crises we face–and kick these corporate SOBs out of the process and right onto their A##.

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team

We – civil society organizations and social movements attending the call of the UN General Assembly to participate in the Rio+20 process – feel that is our duty to call the attention of relevant authorities and citizens of the World to a situation that severely threatens the rights of people and undermines the relevance of the United Nations.

Remarkably, we are witnessing an attempt by a few countries to weaken, or “bracket” or outright eliminate nearly all references to human rights obligations and equity principles in the text, “The Future We Want”, for the outcome of Rio+20.

This includes references to the Right to Food and proper nutrition, the Right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, the Right to Development and others.  The Rights to a clean and healthy environment, which is essential to the realization of fundamental human rights, remains weak in the text.  Even principles already agreed upon in Rio in 1992 are being bracketed – the Polluter Pays Principle, Precautionary Principle, Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR).

Many member states are opposing prescriptive language that commits governments to actually do what they claim to support in principle. On the other hand, there is a strong push for private sector investments and initiatives to fill in the gap left by the public sector.

Although economic tools are essential to implement and mainstream the decisions aiming for sustainability, social justice and peace, a private economy rationale should not prevail over the fulfillment of human needs and the respect of planetary boundaries. Therefore a strong institutional framework and regulation is needed. Weakly regulated markets already proved to be a threat not only to people and nature, but to economy itself, and to nation states.. The economy must work for people, not people work for markets.

From the ashes of World War II humanity gathered to build institutions aiming to build peace and prosperity for all, avoiding further suffering and destruction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out this collective will, and the United Nations organization was created to make it a reality. Outrageously, this very institution is now being used to attack the very rights it should safeguard, leaving people at the mercy of ?? and putting the very relevance of UN at stake.

We urge member states to bring back the Rio+20 negotiations on track to deliver the people’s legitimate agenda, the realization of rights, democracy and sustainability.

We call on the UN Secretary General to stand up for the legacy of the United Nations by ensuring that Rio+20 builds on the multi-generational effort for rights as the foundation of peace and prosperity.

We urge our fellow citizens of the world to stand up for the future we want, and let their voices be heard.  For that the Rio+20 process should be improved following the proposals we submit below.

On Greater participation for Major Groups

We are concerned by the continuing exclusion of Major Groups from the formal negotiating process of the Rio+20 zero draft.  Unlike in the Preparatory Committee Meetings and the Intersessional Meetings, Major Groups and other Stakeholders have not been allowed to present revisions or make statements on the floor of the meeting.  Nor, we suspect will we be allowed to make submissions or participate fully in the working negotiation group meetings that are likely to follow.  Despite the UN NGLS having compiled a text that shows all the revisions suggested by Major Groups, these revisions to the zero draft have so far not been included in the official negotiating text.

We request that the Major Groups be given the opportunity to submit suggestions and wording which would then be added to the official text for consideration, indication of support or deletion, and potential inclusion by governments.

We appeal to the UNCSD Secretary General to urgently reverse this state of affairs and to ensure that Major Groups have a seat at the table and a voice in the room where the negotiations are taking place.  Please ensure that at the very least, Major Groups are allowed a formal statement at the commencement of the next negotiating session and at every session where a new draft text is introduced.”

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