How Much Sustainability Will the Green Economy Tolerate?

Three are the main actors in Rio+20: the official State and government representatives, the business community, and The Peoples’ Leadership. Each group brings a proposal and a vision for the future.

The Official Representatives, considering the First Draft and the Definitv Text once again propose the empty sustainable development, now colored green. They forgot to acknowledge, however, that sustainable development has failed miserably. Mikhail Gorbachov says: “the present model of economic growth is unsustainable; it engenders crises, social injustice and the danger of an environmental catastrophe” (O Globo 8/6/2012). The Systemic Evaluation of the Ecosystems of the Millennium revealed in 2005 that the principal elements that sustain life are being degraded. That was reiterated in the recent PNUMA Report. The First Draft of Rio+20 recognizes that «sustainable development continues to be a distant goal» (n.13). But with their dogmatic faith in sustainable development that, in fact, is material growth, they continue to propose more of the same.

Gorbachov emphatically states: «twenty years after Rio-92 we are surrounded by cynicism and, for many, desperation». Have the agents of the present world system suffered some kind of lobotomy? They do not feel the urgency of the environmental threat. They prefer to save the financial system and the banks than to guarantee life and protect the Earth. The red light and special check warning are already on.

The Businessmen, important actors, are becoming aware of the limits of the Earth, and of population growth and global warming. They are not waiting for a virtually impossible consensus from the UN and government gatherings. More than a hundred business leaders gathered in Rio before the formal event. They purported to create a G-0, in opposition to the G-2, G-7 or G-20. They confidently declare: «we need to take charge». The agreed collective agenda is in line with green economy, not as a new model, but by lowering the production of carbon and preserving nature as much as possible. However, they comprise only 1% of enterprises with assets of more than a billion dollars, as the Financial Times recently noted. They understand that the problem cannot be solved within the current model: by reconciling sustainability and profit. Those in charge do not want to renounce profit in the name of sustainability. Sustainability ends up being so fragile that it almost vanishes. These businessmen at least have grasped the problem: either they change, or they will go down with everyone else.

The third actor is the Peoples’ Leadership. Thousands have come from all over the world, the altermundisters (those who seek a different world), those who want to show what they are doing with solidarian economy and fair trade, with the preservation of semillas criollas (native seeds), with the struggle against transgenics, with organic family farms, with the ecoaldeas (eco-villages) and alternative energies. Here one sees a different form of production and consumption, more in consonance with the rhythms of nature, the result of a new way of looking at the Earth, as possessing dignity and rights.

To summarize, I would say that in the first group, resignation reigns, in the second, agitation, and in the third, hope.

This is the following outcome of Rio+20: the formal gathering of the UN aproved green economy, with the same basic capitalistic mode of production. This will allow business to trade in the goods and services of nature. A World Organization of the Environment was not created, along the lines of the World Organization of Commerce.

The business community will pressure the governments not to interfere with the business of the green economy. They want a free hand, because it is all about a low carbon economy and therefore it is eco-friendly, even though it retains the current model.

The Peoples’ Leadership  launched  an alternative to Green Economy: the Solidarian Economy. They will create global movements against the marketing of goods and services, such as water, soil, seeds, jungles, oceans and others, which are understood as goods that are common to all humanity.

For now, there will be no steps towards a new paradigm of world society, but it will be a must in the face of the environmental crises that are approaching. Collective suffering will provide bitter lessons. We will learn, from those agonies, a love and caring for life, for humanity and for Mother Earth, all of which are pre-conditions to the future we want.

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