The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, from Jun. 20-22, twenty years after the first great Earth Summit in 1992. Dubbed Rio+20, the conference will draw more than 80 heads of state. Discussion will focus on two main themes: the "green economy" in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional context of sustainable development, writes Ignacio Ramonet, editor of Le Monde diplomatique en Espanol.
In this article, Ramonet writes that the central debate will be between the concept of a "green economy" pushed by the champions of neoliberalism, and a "solidarity economy" advanced by movements that believe that unless we overcome the current model of "predatory development", based on the accumulation of private wealth, there can be no environmental preservation.
The "green economy" is the central proposal of the rich countries coming to Rio. This should be recognised as a trap, an attempt to simply "greenwash" what in the majority of cases is simply business as usual. The rich countries want the United Nations to grant them a mandate at Rio+20 to define for the entire world the standards and yardsticks for determining the economical value of the various functions of nature and on this basis create a world market for environmental services. This "green economy" would result in the commodification not only of the material components of nature but even natural processes and functions. In other words, the "green economy", in the words of Bolivian activist Pablo Solon, will try to commodify not only the wood in the forests but also these forests' capacity for absorption of carbon dioxide.
The central objective of this "green economy" is to create for private investment a market for water, for the environment, the oceans, biodiversity, and other elements of nature. In assigning a price to each element of the environment, their goal is to guarantee profits for private investors. In this way the "green economy", rather than create real products, will organise a new virtual market for bonds and financial instruments to be bought through banks. The same financial system that is responsible for the 2008 financial crisis and received billions of euros from governments would thus be granted the use of nature at its whim to continue speculating and raking in massive profits.
* Ignacio Ramonet is editor of Le Monde diplomatique en espanol.
© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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