Do we really want a green economy?
All the buzz here at the Rio+20, also known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), is about creating a green economy and sustainable development. Sounds good, eh? Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The many-headed hydra is raising its ugly head again and it is hungry for profit über alles. As David Suzuki, Canada’s most prominent environmentalist, said, it is absurd to let corporations profit in name of saving planet. Nature doesn’t care about the economy!
As one who has for many years been a supporter of market based solutions for solving environmental problems I have shifted my position over the past few years, as I have seen massive corruption, reckless misrepresentation and growing greed destroy what originally looked like viable solutions to environmental sustainability. In short, the corporate structures have been driving us in the wrong direction and are offering the same failed strategies that were presented here 20 years ago. Yes, I know the common belief is that we have to work within the economic system. Corporate media propaganda says it will create jobs, innovation and new technological solutions; and provide funding for keeping the ecosystem running properly. But, it is the corporations that have been destroying the environment, shipping jobs overseas and externalized costs of doing business in exchange for profit, power and greed. Global warming, record extinction rates, depleted fisheries, vast economic inequality and eco system destruction continues to grow at an exponential rate. It is time for a new vision!
Rights of Nature: A New Paradigm for Global Sustainability
Instead of putting a price on Nature, we need to recognize that humans are part of Nature and that Nature is not a thing to possess or a mere supplier of resources. The Earth is a living system, it is our home and it is a community of interdependent beings and parts of one whole system.
After the complete failure to produce any viable results, strategies or binding agreement in Copenhagen at the UN’s COP15 Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, called for a People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba. I attended both events and reported back to our listeners, with my colleague, Robin Milam from Cochabamba, as well as covering events in my blog and newsletter. What a difference between the two events. Copenhagen was about carbon credits and market solutions, much like the ones being proposed here in Rio. They all focus on the commodification of “natural capital” into resources for the benefit of corporate profit and the enrichment of a few. Whereas the Cochabamba summit focused on the idea that climate change is inextricably linked to the natural rights of nature. The Cochabamba conference produced a people’s declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which has been presented to the UN. Since this conference many people around the world have been working to create a paradigm shift in the way we relate to the natural world and a to develop a blue print for action. Today the Global Exchange has released an important document called Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change. You can download the pdf here Download the full report. I highly recommend reading this document and sending it on the others…
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Things that are unimportant have distracted most of us humans; we watch TV, engage in Facebook, shop and amuse ourselves with trivialities. With the melt down of our economy we have been faced with the fear of loosing our jobs, our homes and our future. But there is an even greater threat facing all of us and it is coming at us “like a speeding bullet.” Economic development, population growth, expanding consumption and environmental destruction are upsetting the balance between humans and the earth’s natural systems. This is not a spectator sport. You are engaged in the process whether you choose to participate or not. I have great hope as we approach the precipice of global catastrophe that humanity can make a shift to a new life affirming relationship to the earth community. But, it will take a complete transformation in the way we view our place in the world and our relationship to Mother Earth. We are not above nature, we are an integral part of a system that will survive with or without us.
In the next blog I will talk Property Rights vs. Rights of Nature. Stay tuned. It is amazingly chaotic here in Rio and everything takes 5 times longer than you expect.