Statement of the ILPS Commission 5 and WORKINS on Rio+20
The trade union and worker concern in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle denounces the almost total failure of the decision taken at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago this week, and sheets the responsibility squarely on the neo-liberal capitalist ideology which has dominated our lives these last three decades.
Increased global warming, chronic food insecurity, water stress, biodiversity loss, land and resource grabbing from small farmers and indigenous peoples, extended poverty and war, chronic high unemployment in most countries, and much reduced trade union organisation and worker rights are the legacy of these decades for the great majority of the world’s peoples. Only the 1 per cent has greatly improved their circumstances in this period, which is now dominated by the Great Recession which began with the financial crash in the USA in 2008.
Back in 1992, the US President, George Bush Snr, insisted that the free market would solve the deep ecological challenges, and blocked direct regulation. At the subsequent negotiations on carbon emission cuts at Kyoto in 1997, the US insisted on a free market approach. But then the USA refused to ratify even that weak Kyoto Protocol.
Today the global corporate agenda of the ‘Green Economy’ is being pushed at Rio, while the solutions proposed by global social movements, including the workers’ movement, are sidelined. The ‘Green Economy’ is a plan for public-private-partnerships, putting a price on all of nature, and extending the neo-liberal ‘free trade’ program, to be the main way to deal with the challenge of ecological sustainability. This is the transnational corporate dream agenda.
Expressing this reckless corporate agenda, both the USA and Russia are opposed to any commitment to contain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and will only commit to eradicating ‘extreme’ poverty and hunger.
Rio+20, instead of being about decisive action for the common good, is being turned into a celebration of corporate profits.
The global workers movement has an historic mission to ensure workers’ dignity, freedom and social equality and today this requires that we embrace the cause of a socially-just transition towards a sustainable development model, a transition that must begin without further delay, and a transition that is not achievable under today’s capitalist world order, defined by extremist neo-liberal ideology.
Against the corporate hijack of Rio+20 and its phoney ‘green economy’ declaration, we assert that genuine ecologically sustainable development must be people-centred and democratic, which is only possible with a radical change from the corporate and imperialist present system – our lives must be managed by ourselves, through our unions, our collectives, cooperatives, and public sector agencies, which can assert the principles of fairness, justice and peace already set out in international covenants and charters, and able to set in motion a rights-based transition that secures equality and fairness between and within countries, between generations and across genders.
The global commons, and natural and energy resources belong to the peoples, and must be kept under public ownership, securing their public preservation and administration with democratic social control.
It is this democratic social ownership which can move our planet decisively onto the low-carbon pathway, to hold global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and invest in clean and renewable energy, develop public transport and sustainable mobility, efficient renovation of buildings, promote ecological agriculture, fisheries and forest models, and a life-cycle approach to production of goods.
We in the ILPS Workers Concern / WORKINS commit ourselves to help develop and campaign for alternative economic development models, including socialism, which recognise the need for well-being and social fairness for all, within the bounds of the planetary ecology.
To succeed, this commitment requires a grassroots education and organising campaign.
The draft outcome of Rio+20 has once again proven that the options peddled do not give the world what it truly needs.
Thus, all democratic voices must be raised to denounce these outcomes as a fraud on the world’s peoples and has no legitimacy at all. We must rise to this dramatic challenge with our vision and struggle for a world based on democracy, ecological sustainability and social justice, in which the organised workers play a vital role.
WORKINS Steering Committee: Gustavo Vera (La Alameda, Argentina), Peter Murphy (Philippines Australia Union Link, Australia), Marco Luciano (Migrante-Canada), Nikos Noulas (UWP, Greece), Emelia Yanti (GSBI, Indonesia), Mine Kazuya (ALUI, Japan), Mark Muller (APS, New Zealand), Elmer Labog & Ma. Teresa Dioquino (Kilusang Mayo Uno, Philippines), Ferdie Gaite (COURAGE, Philippines), Analeah Escresa-Colina (EILER, Philippines), Malick Sy (CNTS, Senegal), Melanie Dulfo (Migrante-US), Alexis Adarfio (Venezuela)