The proposed “Road to Rio” is not a departure from the general framework of the same greedy system that has pushed the planet to the precipice of destruction. It still looks at nature, people and their products as capital that must be used in the most efficient manner for profit accumulation and capitalist expansion. It has more dangerous twists and turns than before, however, as the commodification of nature becomes quite prominent by relying on getting prices right, eco-tax reforms, greening markets, and infrastructure investments. Private appropriation thus extends to nature, which eventually leads to resource grabs and privatization of the commons.
The proponents of green economy have diluted the whole progressive concept of sustainable development. First they emphasize that green economy does not replace sustainable development, which implicitly shows that indeed the concept of green economy is separate and not framed within sustainable development. Then they argue that achieving sustainability rests almost entirely on getting the economy right, but this was already the conclusion of Agenda 21 that obviously was not implemented right.
Then, they propose to green the economy, aim for growth and decouple growth from waste. But decoupling growth from increasing consumption of energy and resources by innovation of technology that raises efficiency is problematic for two obvious reasons: one, it continues to aim for growth rather than social welfare and people’s needs, and two, it ignores the current consumption pattern as a subset of the current growth pattern. The goal of growth thus will eventually only require more resources, more sinks, more waste. Growth is achievable but the green economy will not address the environmental and social objectives of sustainable development…
The road to Rio must be one that is dominated by the direct producers and grassroots sectors. The calls for the rejection of commodification and commercialization of nature, carbon trading, market-based solutions, TNC technology and biotechnology, and resource grabs should reverberate as the overarching framework to deal with the food crisis, prioritizing small-scale agriculture based on biodiversity and ecology and putting an end to the entire wasteful and unsustainable chain of corporate agriculture; promoting a consumption and lifestyle pattern that covers the basic food and water needs for everyone’s well-being; and supporting research for community conservation and management.
The aspiration for sustainable development brings humanity to basic reflections on society and economy. Both are embedded in the environment, and social and economic well-being is predicated on a healthy environment. The purpose of the economy should be to fulfill human needs and to advance human well-being and development. As such, human activity should be within ecological limits and economic production should be the correct application of human knowledge and technology that preserve ecological integrity and health – an application that takes in consideration cultural diversity as well. Without reflection on these basic principles, the Earth may still survive its worst catastrophe, but humanity will not. (Rio+20 and the Green Economy: More business than usual? – IBON Facts & Figures Special Release, April 15 & 30, 2012)