I'm on the bus returning from Riocentro to the downtown area.
It takes an hour and a bit more. Quite uncomfortable, but I really need to share these chronicles that, in one way or the other, seem to be interesting, entertaining and motivating for many people. And that gives me enthusiasm to continue writing them ... Outside it's raining a little. Today was a hot day. Even in the morning, in the tents of the People’s Summit, we already felt
oppressed by the heat. There are so many things to tell, it will not be easy. Moreover, I am sure that I will feel a sense of incompleteness than satisfaction. But these spaces are so intense, so much life, so much struggle, such passion... that is difficult to transmit what is happening. We merely narrate what happens. And I think that we should not expect more. Yesterday was a day with many strong messages. Today, an advocacy day.
Yesterday morning, I started listening to Leonardo Boff and Pablo Solón. Two very strong messages. Boff asked "it is not a matter of reaching broad consensus, but at least agree on some small things that are substantive. Otherwise we will move backwards, otherwise, we will be in serious danger.” His deep, consistent and respected message was accompanied by hundreds of people in the tent of Religions and Human Rights. As I listened to him, who was flanked by the Archbishop of Angola sitting at his side, I thought in the Christian organizations that promoted this event.
They were putting Boff, a priest banned and expelled by the Vatican, and in so many years, they had failed to promote a more “adequate” person to speak about these issues. What a paradox! Leonardo said that it is increasingly Celita Eccher, General Secretary of the ICAE, speaks at the final event of the 2nd Journey of Environmental Education for Sustainable Societies and Global Responsibility on 19th June at the People’s Summit, Flamengco Park, Rio de Janeiro http://twitter.com/ICAE2011 http://www.facebook.com/ICAEfbk
clear that it is impossible to speak of "Sustainable Development" concepts because they are two different realities and perspectives. They cannot not be combined and they definitely had to be separated ...
Then Solon talked about the Good Living. After recognizing Boff as his teacher, he pointed out the contradictions of the green economy and their quest to commodify nature and life. He called for a broad coalition of faith movements, institutions and communities, from all religions, to agree on the urgent need to defend life. Later, at the huge Plenary Session 5, a sort of amphitheater filled mostly with young people, the event was held for Youth and the Earth Charter. There, in front of 2000 (?) People, there were several flagships, speaking with
enthusiasm and commitment.
Among them, Suzuki, the young Canadian girl who, in Rio 92, twenty years ago, when she was 12, spoke for six minutes and left flabbergasted all the presidents and heads of state who were there. 20 years later, with two children, she came back to give her new testimony. I never saw an interpreter, who was translating from English into Portuguese, start weeping with emotion without being able to continue ... Suzuki spoke of the need to struggle because this great event actually seemed Rio-20 because, in many ways, we were going backward. (See: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/21/at_rio_20_severn_cullis_suzuki )
The meeting was closed with former Senator of the PT (Working Party), Marina Silva, Environmental leader (Green Party), former candidate for president of Brazil and defender of the jungles and forests of her country. Her speech was very heartfelt and committed. She said that young people had to be the "keepers of dreams," and that we did not need young pragmatists. She continued saying that Martin Luther King had not been pragmatic, nor Mandela. They had
fought for their dreams and convictions. And her reference to two black leaders, coming from a black leader, I think, was not a mere coincidence. She said that at this moment no options had to be made but "escolhas" (choices). And she defined the latter as the ability to choose what does not exist yet. And that was what young people had to do. Keeping dreaming, uphold the
utopias, take a stand, not be the opposition. Very strong words and, above all, supported by a life of struggle and militancy. Okay!
She concluded by saying that today's youth have a stronger way to participate. And she defined this in two words: Activism and Social Work. I could not believe it! Just the two programs that we are pushing for at present at SES: the Young Social Activists and the Latin American School of Youth Social Work. I cannot hide that I was deeply moved ...
All these words were a preparation for what we did yesterday and today. At the official conference, taking place in "Riocentro", about 80 km from Rio, the discussion around the document to be adopted were increasingly “heated”. Tensions are high. In my view, here, the issue of the environment or climate change are not under discussion. Not even "sustainable development". The big discussion is about governance. That is the focus. And it is so strong that it conditions all the other necessary discussions. Who must control the proposed changes? A supranational body? Led by whom? How do developing countries do so as not to fall into spaces that reduce their own sovereignty? The Argentines have our experience in this. United
Nations calling for England to negotiate the problem of the Malvinas and the UK, turning a deaf ear to this call ... Today we had a meeting with several Latin American organizations attending the official conference and the Bolivian delegate in the negotiations. René Orellana told us that the Bolivian government's strategy had been to work in conjunction with the G77 + China. In the previous summit they had decided to do it on their own but this strategy had failed. Therefore, they changed plans. We were told in detail how the negotiations went so far. To our knowledge,
there is document reached by consensus document that will be submitted to the presidents in the coming days. The document, as often happens in these events, has lights and shadows, very clear ones in both cases.
Orellana told us that among the greatest achievements of the document was the recognition of "Mother Earth" and its rights. Not completely universal, because there were several cultures that had difficulty in incorporating this vision, but even with support from Arab countries, which was considered a great achievement.
Furthermore, the document recognizes the existence of different models and views on development. This is another important achievement. This diversity allows us to overcome a single thought contained in the early versions of the document. We can say that, from a conceptual standpoint, that G77 got their own way.... http://twitter.com/ICAE2011 http://www.facebook.com/ICAEfbk
But the shadows can be seen in the operational matters. While the "Green Economy" proposed was watered down, still many of the instruments criticized by social organizations were kept. The predominance of the North is very strong. An achievement was to avoid talking about a supranational agency of control but no further advances were made in terms of operational mechanisms regarding various aspects of environmental protection, mitigation of
damage, etc. Orellana told us that, in fact, the main discussions were kicked forward, that is to say, for the next meetings to be held in two years ahead. But in his opinion, as the aforementioned conceptual aspects were taken, we were in a better position to negotiate from Latin America.
At the same time, the Bolivian expert talked about the great paradox of our countries. "With 5 million and a half of poor people – he said - the Bolivian government cannot do without gas exploitation to address the issue of poverty."
Some environmental NGOs wondered how you can be glad to see that the rights of Mother Earth are recognized and still continue to think in extractive terms ... It's a problem difficult to solve from a political point of view, at this moment.
At the meeting of Organizations, when I was given the floor, I explained my big concern: Too much silence on the issue of enterprises. Many people talk about governments that do not control enough or that do not oppose to extractivism, but little is said of the companies that have huge interests and are influencing on decisions that suit
them. The silence is too obvious. The countries, many of them in crisis and debt, are seeing in the privatization of international cooperation, a way out ... really tricky, but fleetingly attractive.
Nothing is said about this too ... rather they prefer not talk about this. In the negotiations of the document there are other issues at stake. In recent versions, removed references to the politics of youth, basic issues of education, gender issues were eliminated ... Many NGOs are very upset by these things that are removed from the document to "make it shorter." Fortunately, the rights of the aboriginal peoples are mentioned in the final draft document.
In Mexico, the presidents of the BRICS countries have just decided to fund the IMF with 900 Billion dollars. If only 1 billion were earmarked to themes of cooperation ... the current cooperation funds would be multiplied several times. But many of these funds are, at the end of the day, destined, to cover the debts (legitimate or not) held with banks ...
and the financial merry go round goes on! So, we approach the crucial moments of this huge summit. Today, the city of Rio was gradually militarized. There are
two or three police patrols per block. Helicopters overfly everywhere. Soldiers with rifles standing everywhere ... Thefirst presidents and ministers have arrived. Tomorrow, more will come.
In the afternoon I was talking to Silvia Révora, Assistant Secretary of Environment to see if we could meet with argentinean NGOs on Thursday. She said that she was willing to talk to all organizations and it seemed a good idea to make this meeting. Hopefully we will, so as to discuss and reflect on Argentine positions at this summit.
As I write, now in the department where we are staying at, our Flag Day is celebrated. And with light blue and white
colors I start to think that it is time to go to sleep. Tomorrow we will have, like everyday, a busy day! Alberto Croce