Less Than Zero

People's Summit
Date de la référence: 
9 May, 2012

As a result of several disagreements around the so called “green economy”, the United Nations was forced to extend another week the negotiations on the final document for the upcoming conference on Sustainable Development, dubbed Rio+20.
The second round of discussions was supposed to end last Friday, 4th May with at least 90% of the work finished, but since many controversial issues were still outstanding they were forced to extend the negotiations taking place in New York from May 29 until June 2.
After the negotiations, there will only be one negotiation phase left, set to start in Rio de Janeiro on June 13, eight days before the beginning of the meeting of Heads of State and Government scheduled for June 20 to 22.
The so called “Zero Draft” was already reduced to around a hundred pages. However, civil society organizations that take part in the discussion at the UN headquarters in New York, have expressed their concerns about the commodification of nature that prevails in the discussion.
Social movements, environmental, indigenous, peasant and workers’ organizations that are preparing the Peoples’ Summit to be held before the official UN Summit in Rio, have low expectations about what states will decide there.
In turn, the Summit will seek that social organizations will be able to reach a common analysis about the “structural causes” of the environmental, food and climate crises, but most importantly to have a common agenda of resistance.
The Coordination group of the Peoples Summit has been working on this. It will meet again this week in Rio. The movements that will participate in the summit will do a demonstration that expects to gather thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro on June 20, besides other demonstrations to demand “real solutions” as opposed to the “false solution” provided by “green economy”.
On June 5, on the World Environment Day, there will be demonstrations around the world with the eyes set on Rio+20.
“Green economy” promoted as the central concept of the document both by the industrialized countries and by the UN, is generally opposed by the Southern countries.
One of the arguments against it is that it implies the commodification of nature without changing the current production and consumption patterns.
The main countries seek to impose a notion that will be a platform to impose market rules in the center of the purported solutions to the environmental issues.
Another controversial issue is the idea of setting up twenty “sustainable development goals” to be accomplished by all countries over a certain period of time.
The goals deal with climate, clean energy, biodiversity, water, sea and oceans, forests, agriculture, urban centers, etc. all from a market perspective.
Brazilian priest Frei Beto has pointed out in a recent article that the idea of commodifying nature as if it were an “enterprise” came from industrialized countries from the North in the 70s, when the environmental crisis began.
“Europe and the US realized that natural resources are limited. The Earth cannot be expanded and it is sick, polluted and degraded. So the promoters of capitalism suggested to put a value on natural resources in order to save them. They estimated the value of environmental services in between 160 and 540 billion USD (the World’s GDP, that is the sum of goods and services, equals 620 billion USD). Beto continued: “Nature has no bank account to receive the money paid for the services it provides. The advocates of this proposal hence claim that someone or an institution should get this payment”.
The UN says 135 heads of State, vice-presidents and Prime Ministers have already confirmed their presence in Rio+20, as well as hundreds of non governmental organizations, businessmen, members of Parliament, mayors, academics and other groups and sectors.
The conference will session at the Riocentro and will be preceded by a preparatory meeting from June 13 to 15 and a so called dialogue of the civil society on sustainable development (from June 16 to 18) without the participation of the movements that will take part in the Peoples Summit.