Saturday, April 02, 2011

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #77 – April 1st, 2011
Message from the Editorial Team
Towards shared social responsibilities: A draft European Charter
Earth Summit - RIO+20 –2012

Message from the Editorial Team

The catastrophe that has occurred in Japan, the earthquake, tsunami and risks of nuclear contamination have deeply saddened us all. All three of us have had the opportunity of visiting Japanese organisations working towards a more human kind of development, particularly in the field of healthy food. So we would like to address a special thought to our friends involved in the Teikei system (community supported agriculture) as well as the Seikatsu Club (a consumers’ food co-operative). We wish them strength and courage.

Martine shares information on a very interesting European initiative, that of the idea of a European Charter of Social responsibilities. This is the kind of approach and particularly of the concrete implementation of new regulations that are grounded in human values, applicable at local, regional, national and international as well as European levels, as well as to all the inhabitants of our planet, one that will allow us to work towards a more just and equitable world for all people.

Although at first sight the second article is dedicated to what appears to be a very different theme, the «Earth Summit» that is scheduled to take place 20 years after the first one, held in Rio, it deals with the same fundamental issues. Both address the fundamental question of «living together» on our planet, a planet that is increasingly threatened.
The Editorial Team
Judith Hitchman
Yvon Poirier
Martine Theveniaut

Towards shared social responsibilities: A draft European Charter

On February 28th and March 1st, over 400 people from 40 countries took part in the workshops and a conference in Brussels, to examine the draft of a « European Charter of shared social responsibilities ». It was instigated by the Council of Europe, and more specifically by Gilda Farrell, Head of the Division for Research and Development of the Directorate General for Social Cohesion. This meeting was held under the joint auspices of the European Union and the Council of Europe, aimed at fully including social cohesion as a European objective for Europe as a whole, and not just limited to the 27 member States of the European community. It is also aimed at the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe; a certain number of these countries took part in the two-day programme. Shared social responsibility requires achieving a broad consensus in order to move forward, and achieve the concrete implementation of fundamental rights and the protection of common goods – both material and immaterial – as a source of fulfilment for present generations and a heritage for generations to come. Including the aspect of interdependency of actors and citizens is perceived as a requisite for the success of the project.

All too often citizens and their organisations are still considered as « weak actors » in the decision-making process. What are the mutual commitments do we need to develop to face today’s challenges and live together respecting our diversity and guaranteeing that there is a state of law, and a genuinely democratic society? This is a key question at present, as far as the borders in the South of Europe are concerned, as well as the increasingly frequent way in which the most vulnerable of our fellow European citizens are treated.

An inspiring text aimed at concrete realisation of the guiding principles

The draft project is ultimately aimed at becoming a «recommendation», to be validated by the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. The participants felt it was very inspiring for the following reasons:
- The clarity of the appreciation it makes concerning the «growing gap between the formal recognition and the application of the principles of justice, which undermines confidence in the possibility of improving living conditions, especially for the least advantaged, and fuels feelings of insecurity in the face of these changes».
The broad scope of this text in terms of: principles as well as and perhaps especially:
The perspective of realisation that is applied to the definitions, the objectives, the policies and initiatives that it implies. The members of the ad hoc group that produced this work have hedged their bets that the implementation of shared responsibilities will «be capable of building a future climate of trust and developing social and moral resources to help the people of Europe to jointly work for the well-being of all, for social cohesion and sustainable development».
Both speakers and participants expressed the opinion that the European dimension should not stop the question from being considered at global level, where Europe has certain responsibilities it should assume. The first of these is to work on its ecological footprint in the countries of the South! There was an expression of interest that this text would be written in such a way as to allow the so-called «weak» actors be able to use it for collective construction, for legitimising their action. Reinforcing the text would be a step towards a progressive move from moral to a more binding commitment.
This all bodes well for future work, and our hopes of jointly changing things.
Martine Theveniaut
Earth Summit - RIO+20 –2012
Twenty years after the historical summit of 1992, RIO 2012 will take place June 4th-6th next year in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This conference will be organised by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.
In January 2011 there was an initial meeting of the preparatory working group at the UN headquarters in New York.
The following extract of the conclusions of this meeting are of interest to us all.
« Almost all agreed that we need to be thinking in terms of bottom-up approaches to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, defined by national and local priorities and through national and local stakeholder processes.
Many countries raised concerns and questions about a green economy, which will need to be answered if we are to find a way forward towards an agreed outcome on this theme at Rio 2012. A few of the areas of concern include the relationship between:
(i) green economy and poverty eradication,
(ii) green economy and employment,
(iii) green economy and trade,
(iv) green economy and technology,
(v) green economy and finance.»
here is already much preparatory work being done in different countries and many working groups are already up and running. International NGOs have come together via the « Earth Summit 2012 » initiative.
Yvon Poirier
Official site is in English only. This site has only been on-line since the 23rd of February. Other languages are expected soon.
NGO site (in English)
NGO site (in English)

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Our thanks to:
Brunilda Rafael (France) for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin (Brazil) for the Portuguese translation
Judith Hitchman (France / Ireland) for the English translation
Évéline Poirier (Canada) for proof reading (FR-EN)

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Yvon Poirier