Associations 21
  • Date submitted: 28 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Associations 21
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Civil society (4 hits),

Full Submission

Input from Associations 21 to zero draft of final document Rio+20 :
Renew our commitment: for a really sustainable world, OKBrussels, October 28, 2011.
Associations 21 for Sustainable Development is a network of associations and organizationsof the Civil society working in different fields: environment, culture, agriculture, social economy, education, gender, social work, North-South relations, human rights, etc.
Cfr founding charter:

Since 2006, we develop together a critical transverse thinking, so as to allow everyone access, here and there, now and later, to quality of life. As part of the major group "NGOs" defined in the Rio Declaration, we contribute to social dialogue in Belgium, in order to integrate sustainable development principles into all policies and, eventually, into society.Facing huges problems...
On one hand, concerns expressed by the visionary heads of the Rio Summit in 1992 have now become urgent and immediate problems: 1. In 20 years, the production of wealth has exploded but these are less and less spread. There are still many hungry (1 billion) while in 2011, global food production could be enough to feed 6 billion people, provided that provided that the global food system is controlled and modified. . Meanwhile, around the world, inequality is still growing.In Belgium, according to the General Report on Poverty published in 1994, between 6 and 7% of people were then living below the poverty line. Now in 2011, they are 15%. In 2015, most of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved.

2.The pressure of human activity on resources has also emphasized; particularly, the ecological footprint of industrialized countries is still growing. Consequently, humanity has exceeded the limits of Earth's biocapacity and the most vulnerable populations are the most affected, especially in developing countries. The three major Rio conventions of 1992 (climate change desertification and biodiversity) have failed to contain global warming, desertification and biodiversity loss.

3.Liberalization has facilitated the globalization of trade without internalizing social and environmental costs. The financialization of the economy has pushed these trends and changed the balance of power in favor of financial institutions, so that it has been more and more difficult to take measures towards sustainability.

4.In this context, repeated crises and austerity programmes cause social conflicts and push numerous people in misery.... Seizing countless opportunitiesOn the other hand, the commitments made in 1992 have led many initiatives across associations, companies, local authorities and States, many of whom have proven their relevance and are now credible solutions to get the humanity out of these multiple crises.There are countless examples in the following fields: agro-ecology & farming in the perspective of food sovereignity, renewable energy, social economy, green building, waste reuse, waste reduction ..., complementary currencies, solidarity-based initiatives...Last but not least, the successfull experiences of participation of those concerned, particularly the poorest, and of involvment of cultural actors in this dynamic of change.The challenge: proactive and courageous policies, effective regulationIt is now time to bring out such initiatives of their niches and to break the "glass ceiling" that prevents them from transforming the world ... and society.To achieve such a goal, proactive policies and effective regulation are crucial, because the market can't regulate itself. It is also possible because for 20 years, the concept of sustainable development made its way into institutions and in minds. Given the crises described above, the biggest part of the world's population is now ready to understand their relevance and emergency.So as in Belgium, it is high time to apply the "durability testing" (impact assessment of decisions on sustainable development), enshrined in law and mandated but not yet implemented. Yet this tool being ?oiled? at different power levels, we could make it effectively inspiring for others countries.Renew our commitment yes, if it is for such a goal!The final declaration of the Rio Conference in 2012 has to be an inspiring and motivating document for all stakeholders invited to renew their commitments for the future, while taking into account not only the "emerging challenges" but also all those who waited too long for the decisive stage of regulation.This commitment will be meaningful only if it is based on:? thorough analysis of the reasons why our development patterns aren't sustainable? an alternative proposal responding to the whishes of the majority, by insuring social justice in the redistribution of the wealth produced? a drastic reduction of the footprint of industrialized countries while preventing runaway in some emerging countries.Renew our commitment: yes, but how?This commitment can be translated into sustainable development Goals (SDG). At first, they should not compromise the continuation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Anyway, for those SDG to be acceptable, relevant, realistic and measurable by all parties, their definition will take some time. It is thusreasonable to agree the SDG to take over the MDGs as from 2015.Managing transition to fair and sustainable ways of lifeThe first theme of the conference -a green economy- is reductive, even though the following clarification was added: "In the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication."By the way, green economy is presented as the main solution. Decoupling is one of the measures but not the only one to allow a real change of paradigm & civilization. The priority is now to put the social pillar in the heart of the debate. Indeed, allowing more fairness in a world with limited resources, requires not only technical changes but also social and cultural innovations.The economy is not a goal but a tool that must be converted so as to allow transition to a fair and sustainable patterns for all.Furthermore, the aim is to fight against inequality and not against poverty (certainly not against the poor!)Why transform the economy?Because since 1992, overall wealth produced by growth), exploded! But translating these gains in economic welfare is less efficient. Between 1990 and 2001, for every $ 100 increase in GDP / person, only $ 0.6 helped reduce extreme poverty ($ 1 / day / person). So, for every dollar allocated to poverty reduction, $ 166 come from production and consumption. The poor performance of the current economic model not only does not contribute to reduction of inequalities, it exacerbates also dangerously environmental degradation.How to transform the economy?

1.Ensuring compliance with social and environmental standards

2.Internalizing in costs all social andenvironment costs.

3.In these perspective, it is necessary to go beyond GDP with a set of indicators, focusing on the ecological footprint (which should be as close as possible to 2 ha / person / year), on employment, inequality (a GINI index as low as possible), well-being and the realization of human rights. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), the minimum level to achieve worldwide minimum = 0.8.Equity, redistribution, participationCurrently, the least developed countries lack the financial means to implement such a policy. However, these countries are in the frontline to face famine and climate change.Meanwhile, in Northern countries, societies are increasingly dual.Therefore, it is urgent to:

1.Ensure, in each State and at the global level, more redistributive policies that reduce inequalities and ensure the realization of basic human rights for all.

2.Protect Social Security where it exists (eg in Belgium) against the austerity policies, and promote it where it remains to be established.

3.Recognize gender differentiated impact of climate change and strengthen the role of women, as agents of change, in the decision-making processes by improving access to resources, land and skills ensuring their right to sexual and reproductive health and education as mentioned in Chapter 24 of Rio Declaration (1992).

4.Consolidate the role of policy as regulators.

5.Control and regulate financial markets, therefore tax havens must be forbidden.

6.Create tax instruments harmonized on global level: financial transactions tax, carbon tax wealth tax, withdrawal from the Agreement of Chicago giving the airline industry an exemption from tax on kerosene.

7.Establish fully participation processes that systematically take into account the views of Civil society on different power levels, particularly in the context of international meetings; for example, the new "Committee for Food Security" (CFS) established within the framework of United Nations (FAO).Reduce the environmental footprintThe drain on natural resources should be minimized, while maximizing the positive social and environmental effects of new production and consumption models.Therefore, the following steps need cooperation rather than competition between States, in order to:

1. Set product standards on global level, so as to ban pollutants on global level as well.

2. Subordinate world trade agreements to treaties on labor, environment, agriculture and human rights, so that it really takes into account needs and potentials of people, preservation and restoration of natural resources. So, prices in B to C exchanges should really internalise the costs of different production processes and marketing patterns so that they become sustainable and in order to stop dumping.

3. Reach a binding, ambitious and fair climate agreement, so that EU is committed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 40% within Europe and to finance the climate fund for developing countries.

4. Ensure greater coherence for all SD policies.This requires:
? a "no harm" procedure so as to avoid conflicting policies or measures (eg, a Belgian or European climate policy inducing land grabs and a netto increase of greenhouse gases beyond our borders).
? Reinforced analysis tools: systematic impact assessments ? including gender among other criteria ? of trade policies, financial, agricultural, climate, cooperation, etc. .... on SD.
? Stated objectives to fight inequalities (not against the poors but with their participation)
? stricter application of the precautionary principle to new technologies.Our ?common's? futureThe international community must now integrate a hierarchy of rights giving primacy to the commons and public interest. Therefore:

1. Basic rights all over the world must be realized with respect for international human rights and environmental conventions. These, like food security, must be above trade laws in the hierarchy.

2. It is time to shift land, agriculture and trade policies by giving primacy to the right of use for soil and natural resources rather than to exchange laws.So as to stop merchandising of commons, the principles related to the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB), should be reviewed. Ultimately, credible alternatives to emissions trading and other ?rights to pollute? should be defined because so as they are, they increase inequalitites.
Agriculture: a priority solution
During Rio UNCSD Summit, a particular attention should be given to the entire food system. On this point, Associations 21 refers to the common declaration of Civil society entitled "Rio +20: time to act" www.timetoactrio20.orgIndeed, agriculture is both a problem and the main solution to feed the world on a sustainable way, while ensuring food sovereignty principles and self-sufficiency.In that perspective, let:

1. relocate production and diversify consumption and food processing by reducing the power of oligopolies..

2.Stop land grabbing.

3. Give priority to the food function in land use including ensuring women?s acces to land.

4. Support farming and agro-ecology.

5. Replenish food stocks at the regional level to ensure the supply of distressed areas and to avoid speculative outbreaks of prices, while ensuring proper management of stocks in order to avoid waste.

6. Improve the local processing, including by women, to increase the added value and therefore the management and control of income on the spot of production.Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development: providing the means to act multilaterallyInstitutional reform considered in the Rio+20 process is an opportunity for adopting within the UN institutions a strategy to integrate the principle of sustainable development into all policies and institutions. To do this:

1. The coordination of different agencies and programs must be provided by an executive body with the authority and resources needed to monitor and sanction, if needed. In that perspective, the "Commission of Sustainable Development" (CSD) must be transformed and eventually merged with ECOSOC.

2. Beside this, it is now time for UNEP to become a true World Environment Organisation, like the WTO and the ILO, the WTO being subject to compliance with social and environmental standards in all economic policies.

3. In order to legitimate taking account of sustainability on all levels, we also advocate the creation of an international panel of experts on sustainability like the IPCC (for climate) and the IAAST (for Agriculture and Food). Such a panel should be balanced regarding to gender and South//North.

4. The recommendations from the Committee for Food Security (UN / FAO) must be applied in the regions and states with the participation of Civil society.

5. Environmental justice must be ensured and the principle 10 of Rio Declaration must be implemented. Therefore Arrhus Convention should be extended worldwide.

6. A multilateral protocol should ensure implementation of the precautionary principle before any use of new technologies.

7. The framework for action should include accountability mechanisms for authorities. They should be accountable to the major groups and create services "ombudsman" for future generations.

ContactAssociations 21, Antoinette Brouyaux c/o Mundo-B, rue d'Edimbourg 26, 1050 Brussels, Belgium ? tÚl. 32.2/893.09.40

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