Report from the Rio+20 Planning Meeting 10/21-25, 2011 by CIndy Wiesner

“Let's Reinvent the World” Slogan from the Rio+20 Organizing Committee

On October 21-25, 2011 GGJ was invited to attend Rio+20 planning meetings in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The meetings were part of building the process towards the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (called Rio+20 for short) in June 2012. 

The meeting was focused on organizing the “People's Summit in Rio+20 for Social and Environmental Justice,” a parallel process to Rio+20, to be held June 1-7.

At Rio+20, the “Green Economy” will be the main subject of debate. It will be lifted up as the solution to eradicating poverty and saving planet earth. Global Movements are very clear that the reproduction of capitalism in the form of a so-called “green economy” is not what is going to save the economy and the environment. In fact, commodification of carbon and nature will further destroy our economy and the environment.

The local struggles that will be highlighted will be the current displacement of people from their homes and communities all over Brazil for both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, the struggle against the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazons, and Vale, the second biggest mining company in the world, which is headquarted in Rio.

The Brazilian Rio+20 People's Summit Organizing Committee includes representatives of civil society and social movements like La Vía Campesina, Friends of the Earth, Jublilee South and the World March of Women, as well as social movement activists and organizers from all over the world, including Egypt, Tunesia, Philippines, France, South Africa, Chile, Mexico and the US.

Some critical debates and agreements that came out of the meeting include: 

  1. We consider a Call for Unity fundamental. We encourage the presence and promote the respect of diversity. We need an anti-systemic framework: anti-capitalist, expressing a class struggle, anti-racist, anti- patriarchal, anti-homophobic. We are against the commodification of nature and are for the defense of common goods.

  2. This is a process of accumulated histories of territorial struggles on local, national and global levels. We see this as a moment like the G20, COP17, G8/NATO meetings and others that are opportunities to express our struggles.

  3. We want to create alternatives and new paradigms, giving visibility to the articulation of real solutions from the people.

  4. We don't want to create a bureaucratic structure of an international network. We want to promote a constructive forum for a political and organizing process towards Rio+20 that will socialize information.

  5. The People's Summit will not participate in the official process as an inside/outside strategy. We want to create a general message to send to the official process.

Methodological components of the Alternative Summit include having self-organized activities in the mornings (eg. actions on corporate polluters), having assemblies on root causes of the crisis in the afternoons, and overall talking about the real solutions coming from the people and developing our collective agenda. Indigenous Peoples and La Vía Campesina will have encampments for the duration of the Summit.

Opportunities for International Coordination:

The mobilization for COP 17 in Durban, from November 28- December 9. Social movements will be organizing an International Tribunal on the Conference of Polluters, a Global Day of Action of 1000 Durbans on December 3, a Day of action on Food Sovereignty lead by La Vía Campesina on December 5 and an Assembly towards Rio+20 on December 6. 

From January, 24-29, 2012 -- Porto Alegre will host a thematic forum on the Capitalist Crises, Social and Environmental Justice. This will be a important space to plan for the Rio+20 Summit.

There will be a Call for a Global Day of Action on June 5

GGJ will continue to play a role on the International Committee, bringing lessons from the campaigns and struggles happening in the US. We are taking a small but powerful delegation to Durban and will be mobilizing a bigger delegation to Rio+20 in June 2012.

For information on the Thematic Forum in January 24-29, 2012: