Sunday, March 04, 2007

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development

Newsletter #36
March 1, 2007


Message from the Editorial Team

Living Planet Report 2006
«It is not good news»

Upcoming events
First US Social Forum
Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy

Message from the Editorial Team

The state of our biosphere and our planet Earth is proving to be extremely alarming. The summary of a 2006 report by the WWF, one of the principal global ecological organizations confirms this fact. Thus, this situation affects the life of populations everywhere on the planet. All local communities are undergoing the effects, either directly or indirectly. The Stern Report on the economic effects of global warming, published by the British government, confirms that the warming is real, and now scientifically proven (the certainty has passed from 70 to 90%).

The nature of life on Earth shows that animal and plant species can disappear, when they proliferate excessively in a too restricted territory. Then, mankind is only a resource on the condition of making a calculated use of natural resources, contained within the limits of the possible. This is not yet an understood fact for everyone. We are becoming more aware in the context of a strongly growing demography and a new era marked by the perception of finiteness. The territoriality of humanity is surrounded by various types of borders. The current challenge is to find forms of governability of territories and to make possible the coexistence of a large humanity, in a universe of finite resources.

We have entered a new historical time: that of alter-localization. The members of our team, our readers, and more and more people, are persuaded that they are the social actors of tomorrow. Why? Because they seek concretely, tirelessly
• how to build concrete answers to the global questions in their territories of life,
• how to combine the capacity of collective action of a civil society which organizes itself, with the powers of territorial management which are exerted by local, traditional, or modern authorities according to their countries.

By the size of the problems, the results are modest, but they are significant as they indicate new approaches based on the everyday life of people. They show the way.

Editorial Team
Francisco Botelho
Yvon Poirier
Martine Théveniaut


The Living Planet Report 2006: « It is not good news. »

Begun in 1998, these reports by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are designed to show the state of the natural world and the impact of human activity. The Living Planet Report 2006 confirms that we are using the planet’s resources faster than they can be renewed.

Acceleration and overexploitation (overshoot) of Earth’s resources
Humanity’s Ecological Footprint has more than tripled since 1961. Our footprint now exceeds the world’s ability to regenerate by about 25 per cent. The Living Planet Index, shows a rapid and continuing loss of biodiversity – populations of vertebrate species have declined by about one third since 1970. The message of these two indices is clear and urgent: we have been exceeding the Earth’s ability to support our lifestyles for the past 20 years, and we need to stop. We must balance our consumption with the natural world’s capacity to regenerate and absorb our wastes. If we do not, we risk irreversible damage.

We are far from respecting the objective of sustainable development!
Comparing the Ecological Footprint with a recognized measure of human development, the United Nations Human Development Index, the report clearly shows that what we currently accept as “high development’’ is a long way away from the world’s stated aim of sustainable development. As countries improve the wellbeing of their people, they are bypassing the goal of sustainability and going into what we call “overshoot” – using far more resources than the planet can sustain. It is inevitable that this path will limit the abilities of poor countries to develop and of rich countries to maintain prosperity. It is time to make some vital choices. Change that improves living standards while reducing our impact on the natural world will not be easy. But we must recognize that choices we make now will shape our opportunities far into the future.

The good news is that a change of course remains possible, but we must want it!
We already have technologies that can lighten our footprint, including many that can significantly reduce climate-threatening carbon dioxide emissions. Leading companies and governments are working to stem biodiversity loss by protecting vital habitats on an unprecedented scale. But we must all do more. The message of the Living Planet Report 2006 is that we are living beyond our means, and that the choices each of us makes today will shape the possibilities for the generations which follow us.

The price of the ecological debt
Unlike financial capital, one type of which can easily be exchanged for another of matching monetary value, ecological assets are not readily interchangeable. Ecological debt is one measure of risk, namely that ecological resources and services will not be available in the future to meet humanity’s demands. The overuse of one ecological asset, such as fisheries, cannot always be offset by decreasing demand on another, such as forests. The Business-as-usual scenario evaluates the consequences of this continuous overexploitation by making the sum of all the annual deficits. By 2050, the debt would equal an amount corresponding to 34 years of the planet’s entire biological productivity – and the years of overshoot would still be far from over and the debt would continue to accumulate.

If we do not measure, we cannot effectively manage.
Without financial accounting, businesses would operate in the dark, risking bankruptcy. Without resource accounting, ecological deficits and overshoot go unnoticed and are likely to persist. By the time the effects of overshoot become apparent, it may be too late to change course and avoid ecological bankruptcy. The collapse of fisheries off the east coast of Canada and the severe effects of deforestation in Haiti are two unfortunate examples.

Focus on slow things first.
Within the framework of a transition towards a sustainable world, it is essential to take into account the delays for implementation. Efforts to stem this rapid escalation of overshoot and avoid ecosystem collapse must take into account the slow response times of human populations and infrastructure. The people born and the infrastructure built today will shape resource consumption for much of the rest of the century.

Report produced by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), experienced independent conservation organization, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries ( with the Zoological Society of London-ZSL, an international scientific, conservation, and educational organization ( and Global Footprint Network (GFN) which promotes a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a tool that makes sustainability measurable (

Summary: Martine Theveniaut


First US Social Forum
Another USA is possible

The first Social Forum of the United States will take place from June 27th to July 1st, 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia. Thousands of progressive individuals and people involved in the alternate globalisation movement will meet in this iconic city, which is so rich in historical ties to the US Civil Rights Movement. As in other social forums in the world, proposals for workshops are being accepted. The question of the war will be important.

For its part, the North American Network for Solidarity Economy (NANSE) is planning to organize workshops. Therefore, two organizations from Canada, GESQ (Solidarity Economy Group of Quebec) and the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) which are involved in the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) plan to participate. (EN and SP)

Announcement prepared by Yvon Poirier

Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy
A first meeting

From October 17th to 20th, 2007, in Manila, (Philippines) a first meeting will take place on the following theme: An interface for socially responsible investors and socially responsible companies.

As indicated in the preliminary program (see the Web site) presentations coming from several Asian countries, including China, are planned.

The meeting is sponsored by CSR EMS Asia (Socially responsible Small and Medium Enterprises - Asia) and the Foundation for Human Progress (FPH).

The person in charge of the event is Ben Quinones. The author of this announcement met with him at 2005 WSF and at the Dakar 2005 meeting.

Announcement prepared by Yvon Poirier

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Special thanks to our translators:
Évéline Poirier (Canada) for the English version, Paul M. Makédonski (Peru) and Brunilda Rafael (France) for the Spanish version, and Michel Colin (Brazil) for the Portuguese version

To contact us (for information, feedback, to subscribe or unsubscribe):
Yvon Poirier