In order to provide information about the process of discussion and negotiation in the context of the Conference on Sustainable Development of the United Nations Rio+20, I would like to invite the readers to analyze this document. This document is divided into two parts. In the first, I explain the importance of the G77+China, its characteristics and role in the negotiation process; I also analyze the content of the proposal of this group to which Bolivia belongs as well as the members of the ALBA countries; in this part is also evaluated some sensitive and politically highly important issues concerning the elaboration of a new paradigm of sustainable development, and we analyze the green economy approach and the recognition of the diversity of development models that exist in the world.
In the second part, I present a summary of the proposals contained in document G77 on sustainable development and poverty eradication.
The G77+China group
The G77+China is a very heterogeneous group that brings together countries from different continents who share their status as developing countries. Within this group there are influential subgroups with considerable impact and with specific agendas that weigh heavy on the negotiation process. Some of these groups or subgroups are for example the African Group, the Group of Small Island States, and others like the Arab Group.
The G77+China is an important factor in the negotiation process, constituting a group with a primary role in making decisions. The group “negotiates” in meetings with other groups (European Union, for example) and non-G77 countries, with one united voice, led by a Chair, which is actually held by Algeria. Differences in the group, expressed in disagreements of the countries, are resolved internally within the G77 negotiations. Bolivia’s participation in negotiations is done within the G77+China.
To build agreements among so many countries in order to present a vision and a proposal of sustainable development for the world is not easy. But surprisingly the challenge of having a proposal has been achieved and it is expressed in a document that has been enriched and strengthened throughout the negotiation process. A first version was agreed in November of 2011 after several months of complex negotiations. This document was enriched in the following months and will surely be the basis of the document emerging from Rio+20, in June 2012.
The document of the G77+China has, no doubt, proposals that propose significant changes in the world, and that would entail a substantial reconfiguration of the planet. There is no way to think that G77+China is in a defensive position, as if it had surrendered to the avalanche of proposals from developed countries and some agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programm (UNEP) that has developed its own view of a green economy. Bolivia has criticized this view in its presentation in Nairobi (Kenya) on 20 February 2012, in the context of the 12th Special Session of the Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
On the contrary, the proposal of the G77+China, as can be seen in the following pages that summarize it, is a strong objection to a monocultural world model proposed by those who propose a “green economy” tied to privatization , commodification, market deregulation, structural adjustment, openness of countries to private investment, re-editing policy processes experienced in the 80s and 90s.
Until now the G77+China has maintained its unity around its document; a vulnerable and fragile unity that has been threatened many times by the positions of individual countries. But above all a spirit of one unified body has prevailed. The strength of the G77+China is in its political unity and the richness of its proposals that contains very visionary postulates and principles, which are quite different from the contents of the “green economy” of the UNEP or other developed countries’ proposals. While this unity is maintained, we can negotiate more effectively with other countries in the world.
Therefore Bolivia and ALBA have made all possible efforts to keep this strategic unity, since an individualistic attitude that insists on certain positions that do not allow us to reach agreements, would have led to a rift with the group, favouring some actors who would gladly like to see that happening. The Bolivian delegation has worked constructively in order to combine the inclusion of its proposals together with the ALBA (whose political unity is also of strategical importance to the negotiation process) in the documents of the G77+China and accepting, in a concerted way, that what is considered acceptable in the negotiations with subgroups and countries of the G77 + China.
Of course in this process we must find a delicate balance in the context of a strategy that does not leave us marginalized in the debate with no other choice but to act solitary and without any influence on the process of the construction of normative regimes and international agreements, which will undoubtedly continue with or without us, leaving us aside without the possibility of transforming the system from the inside.
Bolivia cannot afford itself the luxury of a senseless opposition strategy, objecting conference after conference, to achieve nothing but the reward of solitude in the international arena. Therefore, we need a smart strategy, strongly articulated with social movements, to advance step by step, in order to build a better world.
Policy changes, visions and approaches are not easy. Nothing is more difficult than changing attitudes and conservative views tied to structures of power, especially when attempting that with the best and most democratic tools of multilateral processes: lines of argument and reasoning, constructive proposals and negotiating rationally. This is certainly a very difficult task.
Of course we are guided by our principles and by the banners of our proposals hoisted through events as prodigal and visionary as events like Tiquipaya´s Peoples Conference. We have the responsibility to encourage them within social movements and civil society, but also among official representatives of other nations.
What we have achieved and what we can highlight of the proposal of the G77 + China?
1. We have included a title of harmony with nature and other cites to this concept developed in several paragraphs stressing the need to link sustainable development and actions to eradicate poverty to harmony with nature and the restoration of harmony with nature.
2. It has been established that to achieve sustainable human development it should be guided by a holistic approach to live in harmony with nature and restore the health and integrity of the ecosystems of the earth.
3. It is defined that in order to achieve development, harmony with nature and holistic approach should allow regeneration and adaptation of ecosystems.
4. There is a paragraph that takes note of the Declaration of Quito approved in the Meeting of Ministers of Environment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC) on February 3, 2012, which among other items set to promote a universal declaration of rights of nature as an instrument to ensure the good life. This achievement has two historical moments, the first precisely at the meeting of CELAC which adopted by consensus without objection, after a hard lobby of persuasion and explanation, and the second in the G77+China where it was also explained the scope of the CELAC´s resolution. This allows us to make substantial step in the negotiations to introduce the topic of rights of nature/mother earth in the negotiations in the coming days.
5. The importance of the right to safe, clean water and the right to basic sanitation as a human right essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.
6. It is established that water is recognized as a critical component of the planet’s life systems and highlights the critical importance of water for the right to development, hunger eradication and poverty, public health, agriculture, food security, hydropower generation, forestry and rural development.
7. We have achieved to establish food security as the main goal in this historical period facing hunger and misery. Unfortunately there has been an inexplicable resistance to include the concept of food sovereignty but we will continue working on this issue with the G77+China.
8. It reaffirms that the right to food and nutrition should be fully met to achieve sustainable development.
9. It has been established that we have to improve sustainable food production particularly by supporting small producers, family farmers and women farmers in developing countries, promoting access and secure land tenure in particular for women and indigenous peoples.
10. The role of indigenous communities and small traditional producers in the provision of seeds and biodiversity conservation in developing countries is recognized, and that policies to promote and strengthen them have to be established.
11. It is recognized that indigenous peoples and small farmers preserve the environment, reduce land degradation, enhancing food security through their production practices.
12. It has been established that access of indigenous peoples to land and legal security of it should be promoted and ensured, respecting the different legal frameworks and legal systems of our countries.
13. It has been recognized the importance and vulnerability of the mountains to climate change and the fact that they are home of indigenous peoples who are in conditions of vulnerability giving the fact that sustainable uses of natural resources are severely affected.
14. It calls for a complete reform of the global financial architecture and the increased participation of developing countries, transforming in an “expeditious and ambitious” manner the institutions created by the Bretton Woods agreements (ie World Bank and International Monetary Fund), changing their governance structures and democratic deficit in the context of a full and fair representation of developing countries, promoting the provision of financial resources to developing countries without conditionalities.
15. It is recognized that the financial crisis has been created by the lack of regulation of the financial system and requires a strong attitude of states and a major reform of the international financial system.
16. It affirms the need to work on the construction of a new international economic order based on principles of equality, sovereignty, common interests, interdependence and cooperation among states. This has also been defined by consensus at the meeting of CELAC, confirming the need of a new world with a new order.
17. It urgently calls upon developed countries to change their unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, changing the reality in which the over-and under-consumption have resulted in large disparities between rich and poor and between developed and developing countries.
18. It is decided to work on new development indicators that overcome the limitations of so-called gross domestic product, for it does not reflect the living well, nor the development and the poverty eradication.
What about the green economy?
The concept of “Green Economy” was officially introduced in a resolution (No. 64/236) of the United Nations General Assembly at its plenary meeting No. 68 of December 24, 2009. The paragraph 20 of that resolution states that the overall objective of the Conference of Rio +20 will ensure a renewed commitment to sustainable development and the focus of this conference will discuss and define two themes: 1) “green economy” in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and 2) the institutional framework for sustainable development. No country was opposed to this resolution and thus gave rise to discuss the issue. Consequently to put a veto to the discussion of the concept is not an appropriate strategy because while we object to open the discussion of what constitutes green economy, others fill the concept with definitions that come to their economic interests and power of control over natural resources, markets, etc.
Many institutions and countries began to work on their own version of the concept and approach of “Green Economy”. UNEP, for example, has presented a very elaborated version of this concept in his essay “Towards a Green Economy”, presenting a vision that takes nature as “natural capital” or as “Stock of natural wealth”. This view leads to erroneously assume that the investment in what they call “capital” or “stock” would solve the socio-economic crisis. Precisely the pattern of current production and consumption is based on this vision and has led to extractive actions of renewable resources and non renewable with serious environmental and social damage, beyond the limits of the biocapacity of regeneration of nature.
UNEP proposes the hypothesis that to achieve sustainable development is essential to locate investments in 10 sectors (Agriculture, Buildings, Energy, Fishing, Forestry, Industry, Tourism, Transport, Waste and Water). 5 of these 10 sectors are related to actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and 5 correspond to what they call natural capital. The intention is to concentrate more than 86% of total planned investment in the 5 sectors as climate mitigation, leaving about 14% for investment in sectors that are related to what is called Natural Capital. The hypothesis is based in the wrong assumption that to overcome poverty and social inequity, it is necessary to invest in climate mitigation. The social dimension is reduced into a “climate” vision of the crisis and development. This approach leads the official development aid focusing on mitigation limiting or restricting the support needed in the integrity of the three pillars of sustainable development: environment (which is more than climate mitigation), social and economic development.
To make clear that this approach of UNEP is not part of the vision of the G77 + China, the group have adopted two paragraphs (88sixt and 112alt b) that says as follows: mitigation commitments made under Conference on Climate Change United Nations are not considered financial solutions to poverty and inequality, and should not replace the official development aid (ODA), establishing that the funds that developed countries use for their climate mitigation commitments should not appear as funds to overcome poverty.
Of course, other developed countries have submitted proposals for the “Green Economy” by promoting the commercialization of natural resources, genetic resources, openness to private investment, the deregulation of markets, carbon markets, etc.
The G77 + China has not followed this approach in any way. If we read carefully the proposal of the group we will be observe that the approach is to build a different Green Economy, so the proposal of the group cannot be linked or assumed a mercantilist and pro privatization of natural resources approach, with suggestions that could imply a vision of promoting carbon markets or something similar. Not a single paragraph of the proposal of the G77 + China is on this line.
The G77 + China document calls for the full respect of the sovereignty of countries to define their policies and plans so that they can interpret in the context of their own models of sustainable development what green economy is for them. In fact some topics listed under the previous question are part of the interpretation that has been included in the vision of green economy. The Agenda 21 is the basis of the sustainable development approach.
It has been included as part of the objectives that could be part of a radically different approach of green economy: the need to eliminate inequities, inequalities and build a new world economic order; profoundly restructure and change the international financial architecture to guide the international financial institutions to the development and not to markets and privates, the empowerment of the poor; the application of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; the obligation of developed countries to provide financial resources and technology to developing countries; respect the right to development of each country according to their own views as part of their sovereignty; the establishment of harmony with nature; changing patterns of production and consumption particularly changing lifestyles of the rich and developed countries; the claim that markets do not solve poverty, inequality, health, education, employment, inclusion and social development.
It has also been established that the green economies, as interpreted by each country, in no way should generate conditionalities to funding, nor to imply that developed countries give up or leave their commitments to developing countries, and that the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in regard to their knowledge, rights, etc. should not be placed at risk and on the contrary should be reinforced.
By this way the green economy is everything and nothing at the same time, that means that it is not a unique set of rules and goals, on the contrary, it becomes green economies (plural) performed by each country considering their own views and models. This of course has made feel uncomfortable to those who want a green economy as a specific model.
Is there only one vision and one colour of the economy, the green one?
ALBA, with a strong support of Bolivia, has recently promoted a further change in order to make absolutely clear the need to respect the diversity of development models in the world. As part of a complicated negotiation within the G77 in March 2012 a new sentence has been introduced in the subtitle of the section 3, and two paragraphs that clearly establish that there are other “visions, models, policies and tools for sustainable development and poverty eradication” defined by each country as part of their sovereignty and their own social realities, economic and cultural rights and that these models are recognized and respected, establishing the obligation of international organizations and developed countries to support such development models without discrimination.
This is an important achievement since the G77+China´s document is now a text that significantly expands the look of the many different models of development in the world. Development models in the world are like a rainbow, do not have a single color, and each model must be respected. This is precisely the implication of the text that has been introduced recently and it was now up to develop a set of paragraphs in which we are working hard.
Obviously in the recent version presented by co facilitators as a proposed summarized document these texts have been eliminated. There is no doubt that ALBA and Bolivia in particular will ask absolute respect to these texts that are now G77 + China, and must have the full support of the group, which gives strength to our impact on the negotiations.
Let us then explain in more detail, some of the relevant proposals of the G77 + China and paragraphs that we consider outstanding achievements promoted by several countries, including Bolivia and the brother countries of ALBA.
Summary document of G77 + China
The document of G77 + China has great virtues and contains material of great value that is essential to keep in the negotiation process. Here are some of the texts that seem representative:
Global Financial System and Architecture
1. It affirms the urgent need to regulate and monitor the financial sector to achieve transparency and financial integrity. It is established that the economic impact of the financial crisis and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production have increased poverty, increased the unequal distribution of incomes and wealth, undermining efforts to implement sustainable development. (25.0ter)
2. It calls for a thorough reform of the global financial architecture and the increased participation of developing countries (25.0ter)
3. It establishes the need to include in a global financial system reform an expeditious and ambitious transformation of the institutions created by the Bretton Woods (ie the World Bank and International Monetary Fund), changing their governance structures and its deficit of democracy in the context of a full and fair representation of developing countries, promoting the provision of financial resources to developing without conditionalities. (54. Bis)
4. It calls on the IMF and the World Bank to urgent redistribution of internal quota of its internal system of government to create an equitable distribution of voting power between developed and developing countries, noting that the distribution of existing votes is against developing countries. (54. Ter)
New World Economic Order
5. It affirms the need to work on the construction of a new international economic order based on principles of equality, sovereignity, common interests, interdependence and cooperation among states. (25. Ter)
Recognition and respect to the diversity of development models
6. It recognizes and respects the existence of different models, visions, policies and tools, sovereignly defined by each country to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. (30bis.2)
7. It calls for international cooperation to support and facilitate the achievement of sustainable development and poverty eradication through different views, policies, models and tools for development defined by each country. (25bis.2)
Market and Development
8. It is argued that economic growth strategies based on the market are insufficient and do not guarantee or ensure equitable economic growth and solve the problems of poverty, health, education, full employment, reducing inequality and promoting social development and inclusion. (25.0bis)
Sustainable Development, Multiple Models of Development and Green Economy
9. The document establishes that it is recognized and respected all forms, views, models and tools for development defined by each country sovereignly within their own cultural visions and priorities, this statement has also been made to change the charter establishing the “frame and context of green economy…”, in which it has been added “among other approaches, visions, models… of sustainable development and poverty eradication…”. This will open the door to full respect for the different and diverse forms of development defined by each country. (30bis.2)
10. It is defined to support and channel financial resources to all forms of economy determined by the countries under their own models of development. (25bis.2)
11. Note the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of the tools chosen voluntarily by each country, making it clear that each country defines its content. (25.quint)
12. It is stated as a basic principle of sustainable development of common but differentiated responsibilities and recognition of the capabilities of each country as well as national priorities. (25.sixt)
13. It is established that the green economy must be developed with respect for the right to development in each country, promoting the eradication and poverty and hunger, achieving social equity, reducing inequalities, environmental degradation with a view to restoring harmony with nature. (25a)
14. The green economy policies can only be implemented if national targets underpinned by economic imperatives, social and environmental nationally defined. (28bis)
15. The adoption of green economy policies may result in risks, challenges and additional costs to developing countries. These challenges must be considered by each country according to their priorities. Developed countries should finance and technology transfer for this purpose in the framework of priorities and definitions of each country. (30.alt)
16. It recognizes the need to develop a clear understanding of the impacts and implications of economic, social and environmental benefits of green economy. (25.bis.2)
17. We must empower the poor by supporting and developing their productive capacities, generating full and productive employment, creating income opportunities. (73)
18. In order to safeguard us from some technologies called “green” (which are linked for example to geoengineering) whose effects on human health and the environment can be hazardous, there is a paragraph (31a) which states that the capacity of the countries to evaluate the new technology should be strengthened; the paragraph states also that countries should receive all necessary information on new technologies and state of the art of new technologies. This paragraph is already a tool to prevent that dangerous technologies are not to be transferred. Additionally, any reference to “green technology” has been deleted. (Comment: Bolivia was very active in promoting respect for the precautionary right of Agenda 21 and even proposing that some technologies such as bioengineering have to be prohibited but some countries of the Group expressed their disagreement and suggested a different paragraph due to the fact that they are developing for research in biotechnology. This is an issue that we must continue working pressing and perhaps more in the framework of the UN Conference on Biodiversity and the Convention, subject to be discussed later this year.)
Changing patterns of production and consumption
19. Promotion of sustainable development models changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. (25.bis)
20. Technology transfer, financing and capacity building within the framework of effective international cooperation. (25.bis)
21. Recognition that in order to achieve environmental sustainability, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, inclusive and equitable global growth, it is necessary to change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. (25.bis)
22. Developed countries should make effective changes in the lifestyles of its people ensuring a sustainable future for all. (25.ter)
23. International policies that promote sustainable development should not create conditions to the financing of official development assistance and other forms of cooperation, should not restrict the policies defined by the developing countries in defining their own paths or roads of sustainable development sovereignty determined, nor impose mandates or legally binding commitments related to the provision of financial resources and cooperation, must endanger or limit the development of indigenous peoples and local communities, their traditions, knowledge and cultures; should not generate gender inequality nor endanger the development and its benefits for young, children and people with disabilities; should not be an excuse for developed countries to renege or deny or limit their commitments to cooperation; should not restrict subsistence, support and development of peasant producers, small and medium enterprises and fishermen among others; may not limit the productive activities of the developing countries within the framework of policies to eradicate poverty. (31)
24. It is agreed to establish a 10-year program on sustainable consumption and production supporting national, regional and local initiatives, including a fund for this program. (97a)
25. All countries should develop sustainable production and consumption but developed countries should take the lead in the framework of common but differentiated responsibility. 97.ter
26. It is recognized that natural resources are limited and that developed countries have made excessive use of them. It is recognized that developing countries need to use natural resources to meet their development needs and improve the low consumption, particularly of the poor. (25.alt aa)
27. The poorest inhabitants of developing countries have no chance of access to food, health, housing, education and other services, the change of the patterns of consumption must also require strategies to increase consumption among the poor by meeting their basic needs. (97.quint)
28. It urgently calls for developed countries to change their unsustainable patterns of consumption and production changing reality in which the over-and under-consumption have resulted in large disparities between rich and poor and between developed and developing countries. (97 quat)
Human right to water
29. The importance of the right to safe, clean water and the right to basic sanitation as a human right essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights is fully recognized. (67)
30. Water is recognized as a critical component of the planet’s life systems and highlights the critical importance of water for the right to development, hunger eradication and poverty, public health, agriculture, food security, hydropower generation, forestry and rural development. (67.0) a
Harmony with nature
31. The main priority is equitable economic growth, inclusive, sustained and sustainable management of developing countries to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving the millennium development goals and restoring harmony with nature. (63)
32. Sustainable development must be promoted with a holistic approach which will guide humanity to live in harmony with nature and restore the health and integrity of the ecosystems of the earth. (16 a)
33. It has been opened a section with the name of harmony with nature whose paragraphs states that it is recognized that among the major challenges of sustainable development and poverty eradication is achieving the right to development by promoting a life in harmony with nature, as part of a holistic approach towards sustainable development, enabling the regeneration, restoration and adaptation of ecosystems. (71.alt)
Rights of Nature
34. Take note of the Declaration of Quito of the Meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean (ECLAC or CELAC) on February 3, 2012, which among other items set to promote a universal declaration of the rights of nature as an instrument for ensure a good life. (86) (Comment: Certainly there is no reference to the rights of Mother Earth, but they have laid the foundation for work on the issue, highly relevant but complicate issue in a negotiating context of many countries with different visions).
Institutional framework for Sustainable Development
35. The new institutional framework must integrate the three pillars of sustainable development (environmental, social and economic). Do not put unreasonable obstacles or limits the right to development and the development of developing countries and should respect their national priorities in the framework of its policies as part of its mandate should be set as follows:
a. Affirm the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
b. Ensure and increase the effective participation of developing countries in decision-making processes globally, particularly in the international financial institutions.
c. Provide access to technology and financing.
d. Overcoming fragmentation, overlap, competition and conflict between agencies and funds programs to promote coherence and consistency of action within the framework of sustainable development.
e. Respect the leadership and national ownership of the process of defining and driving sustainable development policies.
f. Promote the construction of a new international economic order and a new financial architecture by solving the constraints and problems of the current development model.
g. Review, evaluate and monitor the implementation of commitments for the provision of financial resources from developed countries to developing countries and the full realization of the goal of providing 0.7% of gross national product in the form of Official Development Aid. (44)
36. Establish an international mechanism under the UN general assembly to implement and monitor concrete actions to address the technology gap between developed and developing, facilitating technology transfer and capacity building. (62.bis)
37. It is recognized that inequities in access to health are related to poverty. Human health and good living to build an inclusive society should de promoted and strengthened. (72.sept)
38. Universal coverage of national health systems, financing and providing incentives for efficiency of the system and changes in behavior to healthy lifestyles should be promoted as well as commitment to provide univeral access to prevention, treatment, care and support to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease and others. (72 September)
39. There must be an international commitment to finance health and develop national capacities in health systems. (72sept)
40. Investment in education, particularly in educational quality should strengthen and increased, as well as developing links between higher education levels, industry and production systems. (98bis)
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security
41. It is reaffirmed that the right to food and nutrition should be fully met to achieve sustainable development. (64.0)
42. Sustainable food production should be improved by supporting small producers, family farmers and rural women farmers in developing countries, local markets must be reinforced providing access and control of small producers (64.alt). Support to investment in agriculture, microcredit and microfinance is necessary (64.ter) as well as promotion of access and legally secure land tenure in particular for women and indigenous peoples (64quat)
43. The role of indigenous communities and small traditional producers in the traditional seed supply and conservation of biodiversity in developing countries to promote policies that strengthen is fully recognized. (66ter)
44. The document of the group expresses a deep concern about the volatility of food prices and recognizes the need to develop the regulation of markets, volatility and prevent speculation on food prices. (65alt)
Forests and biodiversity
45. The document supports and promotes a holistic approach to sustainable management of forests (90a), promoting financial resources for activities related to sustainable management.
46. Suggests to implement multi-institutional policies and intersectoral mechanisms and actions at all levels to integrate the sustainable management of forests.
47. It recognizes the intrinsic value of biodiversity, which implies that nature has a natural value in itself, and other cultural, social, educational, scientific, educational, recreational and aesthetic. The economic value is not mentioned in any way. (90 alt)
Sustainable Development Objectives
48. The objectives of sustainable development must be guided by the following principles:
a. Integrate in a balanced way the three dimensions: social, environmental and economic
b. Respect the sovereignty of States over their natural resources.
c. Respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibility
d. Take into account different national circumstances, capacities and development priorities.
e. Respect the governments as drivers and responsible of the conduction of the process of sustainable development
f. Contribute to compliance of the commitments of developed countries in relation to the provision and financing and technology transfer.
g. Pay special attention to disadvantaged countries and vulnerable populations.
h. Do not impose restrictions or limitations to developing countries which dilute or facilitate to avoid the compliance of commitments and responsibilities of developed countries to support developing countries for sustainable development and poverty eradication.
i. Contribute to the full realization of the right to development achieving equality at all levels.
49. Respect the priorities and national policies of each country, avoiding the establishment of mechanisms to monitor national policies.
Bolivia, April 15, 2012