Resources on Rio+20 and the Green Economy

This June, twenty years after the institutionally groundbreaking Rio “Earth Summit” of 1992- which birthed the UN conventions on climate change and biological diversity, the precautionary principle, and the framework of sustainable development- world leaders will once again head to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, informally known as Rio+20.

Building off the shortcomings and failures of sustainable development and within the context of mounting ecological, social, and economic crises, the United Nations, along with international financial institutions like the World Bank, is moving forward with plans in Rio to pass a mandate for a transition to a global “green economy,” which UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has likened to a “free market revolution for global sustainability¹.”

Social movements, global south governments, and networks fighting for social and ecological justice have issued strong notes of caution, and warn that the “green economy” will be a Trojan horse comprised of untested technologies and dangerous market schemes, which together could facilitate a land grab in the south on a scale not seen in 500 years.

Gears of Change has been following the development of the green economy in the halls of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, at events facilitated by the World Bank, and on the streets as people mobilize to defend public goods against a new round of the privatization and enclosure of the commons.  Here we’ve compiled a quick list of resources to learn more about the technologies, market mechanisms, policies, and social movement analyses related to Rio+20 and the green economy.  This page will be updated regularly.

Green Economy Info-hub

Preparations for Rio+20

  • Here’s an analysis of how UNCSD member countries are using the term “green economy” in their submissions to the Rio+20 process, compiled by the Green Economy Coalition.
  • Who will control the Green Economy? a new report from ETC Group “connecting the dots between the climate and oil crises, new technologies and corporate power.”

Carbon trading, ecosystem services and biodiversity market schemes

  • The newly-published “No REDD Papers, Volume 1“- a comprehensive overview on the controversial Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) UN and World Bank forest carbon market scheme.  REDD+ is being used as a template for the construction of various carbon, ecosystem services and biodiversity markets worldwide under the guise of the “green economy.”
  • Here are short and useful fact sheets on cap and trade and carbon offsets, by Carbon Trade Watch.
  • This accessible article by Larry Lohmann entitled “Ecosystem services markets: One neoliberal response to crisis” shows how rather than ‘saving the planet,’ the strategy of ‘pricing’ (aka commodifying) nature is in reality a greenwashed attempt to save and prop up a crisis-ridden and profoundly unsustainable economic model.
  • Global Justice Ecology Project, GEAR’s fiscal sponsor, recently launched a twenty-eight minute video entitled  A Darker Shade of Green, which “documents opposition among Indigenous Peoples, forest-dependent communities and environmental justice groups around the globe, to controversial programs that claim to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) by putting forests into the carbon market.”  Available in English and Spanish.  Three min. trailer here.

The green economy will be a “bio-economy”- Biomass, biofuels, GMO’s and biotechnology

  • The New Biomassters“- a recent report from ETC Group- provides a detailed look at the confluence of emerging fields such as bioinformatics, second-generation biofuels, synthetic biology (often called extreme GMO’s), and nano-scale technologies, mapping out corporate investment in these fields and showing how a transition to a ‘bio-based’ global economy could in reality be a very dangerous idea, with major impacts for ecosystems and agricultural and indigenous communities worldwide.

Climate justice and the rights of mother earth: the Cochabamba peoples’ alternative

  • The World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth brought 30,000 people to Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010, and concluded with the adoption of the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement, a powerful proposal to address the root causes of climate change and build a peoples future based on human rights and the rights of nature.  In the wake of the failure of the UN climate change talks to adequately address the ongoing climate crisis, social movements and networks working for climate justice are upholding the Cochabamba agreement as a clear way forward in a world of greenwashing and misinformation.
  • We highly recommend the Climate Connections blog, hosted by Global Justice Ecology Project, a leading information source which compiles news and resources drawing the connections between climate chaos, global justice, and indigenous peoples rights.

Stay tuned- more to come…

1. UNEP, http://bit.ly/xl1qJ5

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