Instituto Vitae Civilis (Vitae Civilis Institute)
Information
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Instituto Vitae Civilis (Vitae Civilis Institute)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Agenda 21 (2 hits),

General Content

a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

Rio+20 should be a milestone in the process of building a sustainable and fair society worldwide, and for that it should:
Recognize the importance of bringing civil society to the center of debates and decisions, creating innovative ways for effective participation in the multilateral system. For that, not only the formal structure of the UN processes should be revisited, but the empowerment and qualification of civil society worldwide and internationally should be promoted and supported.
Include in its own processes examples of such commitment, organizing a conference were participation is open, flexible and stimulated. It should also include in its agenda the discussion of existing models and mechanisms.
Similar openness should exist regarding sub-national and local governments, which can also play a pivotal role in the new scenario, as far as room for a more effective participation in the multilateral system exists.
Improve transparency and means for direct participation and social control over all processes and activities involving public interests and wellbeing. This includes, among others, corporative activities affecting collective rights.
Set the scene and key concepts to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable and fair economies, fostering the broad use of economical instruments while, at the same time, creating the mechanisms for their governance and accountability, through transparency, public participation and social control,
Strengthen to role of states as planning and public policy promoters, while providing mechanisms for transparent and democratic civil society participation in such processes and their implementation.
As far as possible, the practices in the logistics and organization of the conference and all around it should be examples of the best practices regarding social and environmental care, including not only ecoeficiency, but also social inclusion, transparency, non-discrimination, etc.
Commitment to the policies and targets that provide better quality of life for all, taking into account the ecological limits of the planet.
Meet the UN objective of universal sustainable energy access, doubling energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy in the world´s energy supply by 2030.
End poverty by 2020.
Deliver all ODA commitments on the part of both developed and developing countries by 2015.
Mainstream ecosystem values into central banks, International Financial Institutions, national planning and corporate accounting by 2020.
Produce national green economy roadmaps founded on the principles of sustainable development, including national self-identified targets to double the number of ?green and decent jobs? as a result of sustainable investments and decent work policies.
Improve governance and measurement: green economic governance will redefine ?progress? in light of environmental and societal needs, and make governments, businesses and citizens accountable for their actions.
Commit to the concept of Sustainable Development Goals, including linking ecosystem health (water management, energy, resource efficiency, food production, agriculture and ranching, marine and fisheries, footprint reduction) to development objectives. Any agreed set of SDGs should have universal targets and transparent public indicators for both developing and developed countries, and involve active participation on the part of all stakeholders.
All large private and public enterprises should be required to internalise all external costs, and report on their environmental and social impacts and contribution to wellbeing, or explain why they do not. We call on governments, international bodies and major groups including business to acknowledge the growing practice of sustainability reporting, and that improving corporate management and performance, facilitating stakeholder engagement, driving innovation and competitiveness all represent an essential contribution to the transition towards a Green Economy.
Commit to develop and implement new ways of measuring national ?wealth? beyond money, specifically with new indicators on societal wellbeing and environmental health. A global metric should build on and develop the work already carried out by NGOs and governments including the Stiglitz Report, the OECD's Better Life Index and Genuine Progress Indicator, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the Millennium Development Goals dashboard and the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators, to measure the sustainability of income through access to a range of indicators including health, education, political decision making, security and the fair allocation of resources, all of which should be publically displayed on websites. Beyond the Stiglitz report, GDP itself must subtract externalities and report net incomes per capita. UNCSD should reach agreement on a deadline to endorse common methods and practices, with a view to producing global standards, so that nationally defined indicators can be comparable at the international level and with appropriate tools for monitoring and assessment.
Expand support for certifications that use a balanced multi-stakeholder, science-based approach and operate with a transparent system allowing for certification and trade of goods, and that come with robust, independent and reliable verification requirements. Further, commit to develop certifications based on these principles for goods that are currently not covered, as well as for carbon trading. Ensure these mechanisms bring together governments, business, trade unions and civil society in order to foster certification criteria clearly grounded in science. Ensure that implementation, evaluation and monitoring of certification standards are open and transparent, inclusive and democratic in a way that consumers and producers can trust. Develop and enforce mechanisms for supporting achievement of certification by sustainable producers, including smallholders, in the developing world.
b) What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

If the objective is to revitalize a global partnership for sustainable development, it is crucial to bring back all commitments already made without revisiting them. We still need to advance in the Agenda 21, in the Eco-92 conventions and in many other agreements that have already been signed. Green Economy (or whatever the name of a renewed economy working sustainably to provide good living conditions to all within the limits of one planet) must be framed and operated as an instrument to Sustainable Development, not a replacement to it.
As important as raising concrete proposals for a Green Economy is to build a strong institutional framework and clear processes that will drive change. Economy must serve societal objectives, politically and democratically defined, being an instrument to achieve them, no all the way around.
Sustainable production and consumption, eradication of poverty and reducing inequality must be at the center of the economic agenda. Many governments have been avoiding this discussion, but strong measures for structural changes must be made on this subject to guarantee sustainable development, and these measures must directly address producers.
States must commit to value and price natural resources and services, but always taking due care to avoid privatization of common goods
Priority should be given to innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable development, especially those based in taxation of global economic flows, following the example of proposals such as the international ?Tobin Tax? for financial transactions or taxes on fuel destined to international air and naval navigation. Revenue generated by means independent from the will and priorities of each State ? that shall be managed by transparent and democratic means, involving both governments and civil society ? is a plainly viable economic measure, and would contribute much to the global governance for sustainable development.
Special attention must be given to indexes capable of measuring structural and long-term trends relative to the compatibility of a specific company or business with Green and Inclusive Economy paradigms. One example is measuring the proportion between increasing production and raising the demand and pressure on natural resources (decoupling). Another example is promoting stress tests focusing on the effects a Green and Inclusive Economy model would have in both national and international scopes in the long term.
c) What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

Please refer to input on question ?General - ?a? above, and to inputs on Green Econom and Governance.



d) What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

Cooperation mechanisms:
A revitalized global partnership for sustainable development must empower local governments and civil society. Changes in the UN system must be made to guarantee that these groups will have a bigger role and more active participation.
Coordinated global mechanisms to deal with transnational elements, natural (such as the atmosphere and the oceans) or human (such as multinationals and international networks, being them formal, informal or illegal) must be created. Such scope and functions should be fully taken into account when agreements regarding global governance for Sustainable Development are negotiated and its implementation mechanisms designed.
Innovative, more representative and more effective ways for civil society to participate in the UN System must be implemented. A research on what have worked or not in the past experiences should serve as basis for possible proposals. Also, it should be considered how to seize the full potential of information and communication technologies, specially to enhance transparency and accountability in the process where representatives are operating on behalf of their constituencies. Also, the Major Groups system within UN System should be revisited, so as to make them more capable to reflect their heterogeneous constituency and to be more considered in the official processes. Innovative ways to organize should be explored (such as ad hoc negotiation groups defined according to particular issues, rather than on geographical or social criteria). Quadripartite dialogue chambers (with States, Businesses, Labor and NGOs having equal weight) are also another possibility, for example.
Commitments must be made for effective resources mobilization by developed countries and Bretton Woods institutions to support the implementation of public programs and activities foreseen in the Agenda 21 and multilateral agreements. Ex.: Climate fund defined in Copenhagen, not yet materialized.
It is crucial to strengthen national and international civil society networks and organizations to compensate the growing concentration of corporate power in a global scale. It is also necessary to strengthen the global articulation between sub-national powers, especially networks between big cities, that also concentrate much resources and power and can be an important space for citizenship expression. To support such process, revenue should be raised globally, anchored not in voluntary contributions but mainly in some sort of taxation (in order to guarantee constancy, predictability and autonomy). Such funds should be governed and managed by a global and multistakeholder structure, democratically and transparently defined and elected.
Specific Elements
a) Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.
Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

Inputs included in the answers to other questions of the form. Please refer to those items.


b) Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.


As the Rio+20 Conference approaches, there is growing interest and suspicion of numerous social actors about the possibilities surrounding the so called ?green economy?. While there are many areas of consensus, in particular regarding the perception of the inevitability of change and broad societal aspirations, the differences intensify when discussing how to implement effective actions towards the transition to a new global economy.
The key challenge for green economy is to use the power of the "economic language" to give force and centrality to sustainability proposals with social and environmental justice, while simultaneously avoiding the risks and "side effects" of inappropriate or distorted adoption of such proposals by the hegemonic system. There are numerous challenges that have to be taken in consideration in order to seize the opportunities in the transition towards a green economy.

Challenge: Polarized debates ?in favor of? or ?against? green economy tend to presume a clearly defined and shared concept of the object in debate. However, largely the positions are based on impressions, not reflections due to a general lack of information about green economy. Alternatively, discussions surrounding the definition of a ?real concept? for green economy have also proved fruitless and lead to an absence of a common understanding of the concept. The result is a number of self-proclaimed ?green economies?, with differing perspectives and shades, further deepening the challenge of a common and shared vision of green economy.
Opportunity: Rather than defining green economy, it is important to bring clarity to the kind of economy we want as a society, and what can be done to give it centrality, regardless of what adjectives are given to it. The essence of such economy shall be to provide good living for all within the limits of one planet.

Challenge: Overcome suspicions in the role of the State, social accountability towards governments, business and markets in the transition process towards a green economy. While on the one hand there are those who see the presence of major private actors (global markets and multinationals) as an unacceptable array of hegemonic interests that will convert the transition to green economy in yet another frontier of capitalist accumulation, deepening inequalities and advancing the commodification of nature and all life forms. In parallel, there are those who defend the neoliberal globalization of recent decades, and who praise the hegemony of private actors and markets in direct opposition to the empowerment of social actors or even governmental authority.
Opportunity: Neither of these extreme positions leads to a viable path to undertake the necessary transition to a new economy. It is imperative that prejudices are put aside, and without ignoring the differences, create opportunities for dialogue in order to advance in the development of urgent public policies, for the transition towards sustainability with social and environmental justice.

Challenge: Green economy is an apparently simple and highly attractive phrase that is still imprecise and lacks density. This has meant it has been widely and increasingly used by the media and business marketing groups, appropriating and creating distortions to its intended meaning, as has previously happened with the terms ?ecological?, ?natural?, ?social responsibility? and ?sustainable?. The expectation that such concept will most likely be erroneously presented as a panacea, or used as an opportunity to ?greenwash? old solutions with a renewed image, causes many to oppose the use of green economy as an expression in their proposals and considerations of the new economy we need.
Opportunity: The discussion surrounding green economy is, in part, a competition for a meaning: some prefer to disqualify the term disqualified because its misappropriation is unavoidable, while others believe that despite the inevitable losses and distortions, the final balance can be positive, giving visibility to proposals and debates that would otherwise remain ignored by the media and the general public. For this reason, any reference to ?green economy? shall be inextricably connected to its social aspects, at the least. So, the use of ?green inclusive economy? should be preferred rather than just ?green economy?.

Challenge: One of the major challenges surrounding discussions on green economy pertains to the risk of false solutions that go beyond distortion or appropriation by the business sector. In central publications on green economy, important authors and organizations have chosen not to shed light upon some of the key issues for a profound socioeconomic transition, such as inequality and the paradigm of continuous growth.. For a number of critics, the discussion of a new economy only makes sense upon the acknowledgement that there are limits to growth, and the recognition that a limit to global economic growth needs to be established, thus bringing the need of redistribution and reduction of inequality to the center of the agenda.
Opportunity: The decision to adopt a more pragmatic posture regarding these controversial issues, has enabled the theme to reach audiences it would otherwise not interest, being discussed and assimilated, and increasing its chances of realizing changes in the short term. The recognition and establishment of a limit to global economic growth implies wealth redistribution as a means of guaranteeing, within the support capacity of the planet, decent living conditions to the billions of humans who live in poverty, placing inequality as a central theme in the debate. The transition should happen in stages, and the immediate route combines pragmatic solutions, technological innovation, and social empowerment, public policies, and collective construction of new social aspirations and patterns of production and consumption.

Challenge: Manifestations that see green economy as a potential threat to international trade and developmental aspirations of emerging countries in development in the global arena stand out in multilateral negotiations. An argument, present in discussions of sustainable development is that building an economy within the limits of the planet would mean limiting the possibility of meeting the material needs of the populations in the South, and that the appreciation of "natural capital" and the negotiation of assets and services would tend to keep them as suppliers of primary resources, perpetuating their subordinate position in international division of labor as suppliers of cheap labor, raw materials and as global environmental services providers, such as climate regulation , water production and biodiversity stock. There is also the risk of trade protectionism, which would be limiting the competitiveness of these countries on the grounds of lack of environmental care required by a green economy. In addition, there is the need to overcome the paradigm of national sovereignty, which persists in the notion that countries can solve their problems alone, as though they were not all part of a single global system, inexorably intertwined.
Opportunity: The solution necessarily involves new global terms of trade, by creating mechanisms of reallocation of resources that do not depend on specific bargaining or geopolitical negotiations based on narrow interests. Decades of multilateral negotiations aimed at effective mechanisms for financing sustainable development and redistribution of costs and benefits associated with the transition to sustainability have proved ineffective. Maintaining the status quo is increasingly less feasible, and the creation of innovative solutions ever more pressing. The construction of a global green economy is necessarily linked to the solution of these deadlocks and should include the creation of revenue collection from sources such as the global flows of goods and capital, and redistributed towards the transition to a green economy.

Challenge: Another factor of pragmatic resistance to green economy stems from interests that are thwarted by the transition to a new economic paradigm based on social and environmental justice. There are numerous economic activities that profit from activities incompatible with sustainability, including nascent businesses that might even bring improvements in certain aspects, continue inherently tied to unsustainable models. Even more complex is the resistance of actors with unsustainable long-term investments, such as large investments in projects whose maturity will take many years, and whose projected return depends on factors designed to counter the transition to green economy, starting with the maintenance business as usual in terms of growth, consumption and industry standards or production. The major complication is that these may not be the option for new business or investments, but economic situations previously contracted, and extremely vulnerable to profound changes. These actors tend to oppose profound transformation, or to distort the meaning of green economy, only supporting meanings that meet their own interests.
Opportunity: The redirection of these economic activities that benefit from opposing the transition towards a green economy requires consistent public policies with adequate timeframes and resources, as well as realistic economic-financial mechanisms, capable of protecting even the solvency of such enterprises.

Challenge: Similar concerns also worry workers who depend on these jobs for their livelihoods. The prospect of cutting down on jobs due to a reduction of activities in certain traditional economic sectors has historically proven to be a major obstacle in the approximation between the environmental movements and labor unions and workers organizations. Nowadays, labor movements and leadership worldwide have come to realize the importance of transitioning towards sustainability, while not abandoning their core agendas and constituencies. The positive agenda based on the concept of a just transition aims at creating greater compatibility between workers interests and more sustainable economies.
Opportunity: Policy proposals for the transition to green economies should contemplate the creation of green and decent jobs, that is, in decent work conditions and carrying out activities compatible with sustainability. In addition, labor transition policies should guarantee professional requalification and reorientation, as well as adequate social security conditions meant to support those who will ultimately face greater difficulties in the transition. While the recognition that the lack of resources for this goal will always be a limiting factor, this agenda contemplates the struggle for additional resources that enable the transition along these terms.


Challenge: Another major issue in green economy refers to the predominance of short term criteria, not only in the public sphere but also in the private sector. These criteria apply to the electoral periods, as well as evaluation of business managers, as well as investor expectations.
Opportunity: The creation of public or private management mechanisms capable of incorporating longer-term perspectives are essential in the mission of accelerating the transition to a green economy. In the public sector, the revaluation of planning and the power of State action are identified as possible paths, as well as the development of guidance mechanisms and social control by the citizens, so that state action may serve in the long-term interests of the population. In the private sector, the problem with evaluations in the short term is being looked at by several actors, including the hegemonic sector, as the globalization process and the increase in financial transactions may pose risks not only to the organization, but also for shareholders and investors, as demonstrated by the recent global financial crises. The current challenge is to ensure that these changes are not limited to timing issues, but that they also include aspects relevant to the transition to a green economy.

Challenge: The transition to a green economy must take into account the indulgence of the developed countries, and the needs of the less developed countries, as well as with the developmentalism that characterizes the majority of the emerging countries, given the disparities in production and consumption. A transformation in the patterns of production and consumption is essential, and in some cases, the transition will imply a reduction in the access of material goods, while in others, the opposite is desired, without reproducing or reinforcing the patterns of consumerist aspirations that have already proved unsustainable. The elimination of externalities - which will force product and service prices to be more realistic to their actual costs - is crucial to the development of a green economy. However, the foreseeable elevation of prices needs to correspond to a redistributive policy, in order to ensure that it does not become a mechanism to deepen exclusion and inequality.
Opportunity: A green economy needs to recognize the fact that it is necessary to respect and realize the rights of all human beings to the essential material goods necessary for their dignified existence. A green economy should also enable the reconstruction of social aspirations, substituting consumerism for an existential ideal based on ?well-being? rather than ?having?, that values individual talents and abilities more than their capacity to accumulate money or status symbols. In other words, a green economy should consent to collective well-being and not to individual success and growing inequalities.


Besides the challenges and opportunities above, some measures are envisaged as being also important components of the transition to a more sustainable economy:
Public procurement: states and governments have a great importance in the economy also through their purchases, and the criteria used for that. Programs to include social and environmental sustainability criteria should be promoted, and taken as goals by all governments.
Improvement in energy production, distribution and consumption is key in many aspects. Renewable and decentralized and/or off-grid generation should be promoted in all countries, according to local conditions. Technology for that should be made available in fair conditions, facilitating its use by poor countries and/or communities, while preventing speculation and all other means which may cause excessive burden on users and/or reducing the pace of mainstreaming such innovation.
Food security, in line with social and environmental friendly practices, should be a central concern. Measures to safeguard the interests of the people ? such as priority for food production, guarantee of fair prices, incentive to local/familiar agriculture, organic and other sustainable practices, fair labour and gender inclusive practices, etc - should be promoted.
Water conservation and efficient management, in all scales, should be promoted. This include practices such as: protecting watersheds and river basins, sanitation, access to drinkable water, fight against pollution, treating water as a common good, not privatizing its sources, etc. Also, more sophisticated measures should be more extensively adopted, such as the ?hydric footprint? (measurement and communication of the amount of water embedded in every product or service).
c) Institutional framework for sustainable development: Priorities and proposals for strengthening individual pillars of sustainable development, as well as those for strengthening integration of the three pillars, at multiple levels; local, national, regional and international.

Clear and specific sustainable development goals and indicators must be stablished as management tools for governments and as means for the follow up and control by civil society. There must be goals for each relevant issue, such as renewable energy, access to public transportation, poverty reduction, etc.
Today, only a small amount of public and private investments is effectively destined to activities aiming at transforming the basis of the production and consumption system into really sustainable patterns. The institutional framework must establish means to increase that.
There must be an international commitment to internalize social and environmental externalities in the economic systems, as well as to charge for impacts related to products use and consumption on society (for instance, urban space issues related to the use of particular cars).
Rigorous implementation of the precautionary principle from the Rio Declaration shall be promoted, considering also climate change and the loss of, ecosystem services, as well as the risks brought by new technologies (genetic engineering, nanotechnology, geoengineering, etc.)
The growing and uncontrolled/unaccountable power concentrated in a relatively small number of companies and economic groups worldwide shall be subject to public scrutiny and control. For that, an international convention on corporate social responsibility and accountability should be created, and starting the negotiation process for that should be a decision from Rio+20. Such a convention could also estimulate volunteer positive practices also by organizations from different kinds. The ISO 26000 standard can serve as a good basis for that, as well as the Global Reporting Initiatives guidelines and a number of other existing initiatives and studies.
Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, on the right to information and redress related to environmental and health related aspects, should also be subject of a global convention, building on regional experiences already existing and on a number of proposals from civil society worldwide. The decision to set a negotiation process for such a convention should be taken in Rio+20.
d) Any proposals for refinement of the two themes. Recall that Resolution 64/236 describes the focus of the Conference: "The focus of the Conference will include the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development".

When discussing Green Economy, much has been said about poverty eradication but not so much about reducing inequalities. Poverty eradication is not enough to lead to sustainable development, therefore Green Economy must also bring clear measures to reduce inequalities. Indeed, Green Economy should address multidimensional poverty, and not poverty only in the financial sense.
In order to make clear that Green Economy is not only about environment, we endorse the proposal to change the concept name for ?Green and Inclusive Economy? or ?Inclusive Green Economy?
Many critics to the Green Economy concept point out that it is just a ?new trend, like social responsibility and sustainable development have already been in the past?. It is of great importance to place Green Economy and social responsibility are tools that lead to sustainable development, and all of them are complimentary
More considerations on Green Economy are presented in answers to other questions.


ATTACHMENT: As an additional input, please find attached the ?Brazilian Green Economy Framework?, produced through the Brazilian National Dialogues, involving a broad multistakeholder constituency.
For more info, please contact: dialogosnacionais@vitaecivilis.org.br

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