Sunday, July 03, 2011

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #80
July 1st 2010

Objectives of the RIO+20 Summit

Message from the Editorial Team

The 1992 Rio Summit can be credited with putting environmental concerns and principles of sustainable development on the agenda of global policy issues. The representatives of the socio-economic world, states and civil society have been obliged to confront reality: how to transform the production model and consumption to ensure a viable future for both humanity and the biosphere. Twenty years later, we have come to the realization that resources are limited, and we know that the classical solutions of economic recovery will be powerless to solve problems. Globally, the situation has worsened: there is more enduring poverty, and extreme poverty is increasing in less developed countries. Food dependency has risen, social and economic inequalities are more marked. There is a loss of biodiversity, unsustainable pressures on ecosystems, accelerating climate change and global warming.
The question is whether we are now able to break away from the political schizophrenia, with one side promoting fair and sustainable green solutions, and the other demanding strategies and actions that are clearly heading in the opposite direction, in the name of competitiveness and free trade. The real challenge of RIO + 20 will be to redefine the debate on the basis of these realities. The event is scheduled to take place in Brazil, June 4th – 6th 2012. It will indeed be difficult to achieve a political determination to reach consensus. If we, as society, allow ourselves to become trapped in the cacophony of partial or biased views or expert solutions that have no democratic basis, if we do not bring concrete systemic proposals to the negotiation table, who will do so? As we wrote in the Newsletter #78 (May 2011), we believe that alternative approaches are more realistic than the irresponsibility that currently prevails at the top, and that has generated the current crisis. The urgent outcry of "freedom" by people to abolish autocratic and self-proclaimed regimes and the indignation of the world's youth whose future is at stake, are good reasons not to despair. The new generation is taking its place, and asking how it can transform the unacceptable into hope.

This issue of our Newsletter is devoted to initiatives involved in the framework of preparation for the Earth Summit. Until June 2012, we plan to relay those specific dynamics that assert citizens’ participation as a viable political choice. Active participation of communities is an essential aspect if we are to successfully change course. People need to solve the issues that concern them. The global and the local cannot be separated.

RIPESS International will contribute to the intercontinental exchange: The FBES (Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy) is actively involved in the umbrella organization of Brazilian NGOs and social movements that is leading the preparation of a People's Summit to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro from June 4th – 6th 2012. It is a call to join and contribute to "Reinvent the world."

The next issue will be published on September 1st

We are pleased to inform you that our newsletter is now available in Japanese. It is translated by Yuko Wada of the Policy Research Institute for the Civil Sector (PRICS) of the Seikatsu Club Co-operative Union of Japan. The latest available issue is number 78. It is available on request.

Editorial Team
Judith Hitchman
Yvon Poirier
Martine Theveniaut

The Objectives of the RIO+20 Summit
According to the UN resolution A/RES/64/236 - the Conference has three objectives: to obtain a renewed political commitment for sustainable development, evaluate progress and difficulties in the implementation of desired outcomes, and meet new and emerging challenges. The Conference will have two official themes: 1) green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development and, 2) the institutional framework for sustainable development. It is clear that we need to go further than this.
The green economy, a new oxymoron, does not guarantee the fundamental principle of sustainability or the commitment to fight consumerism, individualism or short-termism. The concept does not fit with democracy, the fourth component added to the Curitiba Charter in 1992 to the 3 others (economic, ecological and social). It remains a very weak link, used to launch the implementation of Agenda 21. A critical and constructive assessment at international level would be of great interest to all.
The institutional framework, the principle of national sovereignty and the right to compete for economic activities are inappropriate or contrary to the implementation of the principles of higher interest. We hope to advance this idea by promoting binding agreements.
Finally, how can we establish legitimate authority in a world where interactions are enmeshed? What is our individual responsibility in terms of economy, society, culture and nature? How can we link these major areas with one another and to our own lives?

The unprecedented context requires us to invent new answers.

The creation of the French RIO + 20 Collective

In late 2010, a small group of organizations led by the 4D Association began the initiative of involving as many actors as possible in the transition towards a new state of the world in the twenty-first century. It now brings together many different civil society actors as well as trade unions. It has two objectives:
 Consider possible change and make concrete proposals in 5 working groups. Each group will produce a 10-page discussion paper, highlighting both disagreement and consensus. This will then feed into proposals for formal negotiations aimed at stimulating debate and public discussion.
 Prepare to mobilize by examining events in France from an international perspective, working jointly with our international partners on other continents to input content that is relevant to the general public, as well as on projects that create change and a shift to a different paradigm, that support the transition, and advocate the need for international solidarity.

Since March 2011, the Europeans P'ACTS have joined the Work Group on the green economy.
Their involvement on this subject has enabled the collective to put forward its views to:

1. The French RIO + 20 Collective to illustrate ideas through examples and declarations and to propose Rebuilding the Economy on a territorial basis. :
"Territories perform core functions in the coordination of relations between actors and between different levels and scales in society; they also allow people to invent answers to key issues in the real economy and invent ways for “how to live together”. Territories must therefore be recognized as social and economic actors in their own right.

Organised answers to issues of employment, food, sustainable local development, culture, funding, local services, transportation, and citizenship all exist at territorial level.... These projects already act as a lever for the local economy. The organisations involved have various legal statuses, both for profit and non-profit making; they all reject and work outside the existing economic system that is solely aimed at profit making. They also produce and reinvest profits and create territorial social capital”.

2. The European debate: Priscila Soares, Project Coordinator at In LOCO Association (Algarve, Portugal), a member of P'ACTS, participated in the «Public Consultation on the EU position for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development»

Two proposals she made are of particular interest:

The place of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the transition:
“The Global Compact Initiative mainly involves big corporations (…), but it would be much needed to mobilize the Small and Medium Enterprises too. Nor UN neither one of its bodies can reach them directly but it is possible to approach, to promote and to encourage experiences and movements all over the world that count on the involvement of SME in local and regional processes oriented towards sustainable development and participatory democracy. This option will open to the understanding of how SME serve the communities and territories they are associated with and how they are interconnected with other actors also implied in the same experiences and movements.”

The second is how P’ACTS targets a specific European level:
“The European Union needs to be a more coherent reality – in political, social and economic terms – in order to play a key role at the Summit. Without an intrinsic change in that direction UE will lose the capacity to furnish new ideas and the credibility to mobilize citizens, civil society organizations or states around them. How can Europe ensure a generous financial support for governance and capacity building if there is no common European position in relation to the financing of UN and its bodies?
EU can and should mobilize the European civil society for a deep engagement in the preparation of the Summit, in the event and in the subsequent dynamics.
Following its tradition EU can and should propose and promote a large and deep participation of civil society in the process of achieving Sustainable Development at European, national, regional and local levels. By doing so Europe will pursue this main goal within its territory and will provide examples and models of governance that can be useful and inspiring at international level.
In parallel EU can promote the integration of sustainability responsibilities into corporate social responsibility, improving and enlarging its conceptual and for-action framework.
Equally important it would be to integrate the European Sustainable Development Strategy in the European Strategy 2020, overcoming a fragmented and sectoral approach to sustainable development.
On the other side, it seems clearly necessary to strengthen UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) but the possibility of creating a World Environmental Organisation has to be pondered in order to avoid multiplying the UN bodies without assuring the transversal coordination among them?”

3- The roadmap for the European Network of Social and Solidarity Economy that plans to hold its Foundation Congress in Barcelona, September 9th and 10th 2011. P’ACTS will jointly be leading a work group with the Catalonia Solidarity Economy Network « Xarxa d'economia solidària » (XES) on SSE, territorial development, and food sovereignty: what convergence can we jointly build?
In French:

4- Share useful information through the international Newsletter

Information on civil society mobilisation :

Article 21 of Resolution 64/236 of March 2010: « …Commits all major groups to active participation in the preparatory activities at all stages ». A stakeholder Forum will take place beforehand to promote the participation of civil society organisations with links to the UN. It is worth bearing in mind that the UN considers NGOs, trade unions, companies, Local Authorities, scientific communities, women, youth, farmers, indigenous peoples as these major civil society groups.

Existing mobilisation:

The facilitation Committee of Brazilian civil society was founded on 3rd November 2010 at the instigation of Brazilian environmental and social organisations and Brazilian social movements. It is called « The Peoples’ Summit » and is characterised by « its independence. It aims to combine plurality with the possibility to dialogue with official bodies and other dynamic sectors ».

The Peoples’ Summit has essentially been initiated and supported by IBASE. (Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas) (in Portuguese)
The Foundation for the Progress of Humankind is devoting its resources and those of several of their partners’ to the preparation of the Peoples’ Summit. The following website has been created to « provide an overall vision of international mobilisation. » in 4 languages

Martine Theveniaut

For more information (in French and partially in English) a space to facilitate exchanges between members of the RIO+20 Collective
The following are available in English and Portuguese:
Calendar of events concerning Rio-2012
UNEP Green Economy report:

Our Newsletters are available on the WEB:

Special thanks to:
Brunilda Rafael (France) for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin (Brazil) for the Portuguese translation
Évéline Poirier (Canada) for the English translation
Judith Hitchman for the final revision of the English version.

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

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