The "Green Economy" - Promise or Myth?

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 2012 is a busy month for international governmental and civil society meetings on the economy and the environment – and for debating competing definitions of a "Green Economy." International Rivers will be at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, the Xingu+23 Gathering in Altamira, and the People's Forum of the Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

  • From June 13-17, Xingu+23 – on the 23rd anniversary of the historic Xingu Encounter that launched indigenous resistance to the Belo Monte Dam – indigenous leaders from throughout the world stood in solidarity with the people of the Xingu Basin. Actions took place in Altamira and Santo Antȏnio along the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. Amazon Program Director Brent Millikan was on hand – read his blog for more information.
  • The G20 Summit is happening in Los Cabos, Mexico on June 18-19. Governments from wealthy nations are discussing how to respond to the global economic downturn, including the European sovereign debt crisis and the future of Greece's inclusion in the Eurozone. Our Policy Coordinator Zachary Hurwitz is monitoring discussions on the G20's Infrastructure Planning (which falsely heralds large hydropower infrastructure as an antidote to povery), and will be blogging and tweeting from Los Cabos.
  • From June 20-22, the world’s governments will meet in Rio de Janeiro for yet another effort to make progress towards the goals of sustainable development and a "Green Economy" during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. Brent will join Executive Director Jason Rainey in Rio to keep us updated on the various events, protests and actions planned for the week in our effort to put rivers on the agenda at Rio+20.

Sustainable development means meeting our current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Governments have committed to such a development model since the 1970s. Yet their commitments have turned out to be mostly empty promises. Since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, economic progress has largely bypassed the poorest people, climate change has taken on dramatic proportions, and critical ecosystems are closer to collapse.

Rio+20’s guiding concept of transitioning to a "Green Economy" focuses on environmental protections that sustain corporate growth, instead of prioritizing basic human rights and the protection of the Earth's critical natural systems – a worrisome shift away from the intention of the 1992 Earth Summit. Even more disturbingly, several multi-stakeholder initiatives being promoted at Rio to advance the goals of the “Green Economy” include large hydropower dams.

Civil society is organizing in response to Rio+20, to make sure that the demands of the majority of the world's population are not subjugated by the wealth accumulation goals of the Global 1%. International Rivers and our dam-affected communities understand the catastrophic local and planetary impacts of damming the world's rivers. In Rio, we'll be organizing and championing energy, water and food security solutions that reach those left behind in the global economy, and that also protect life-giving rivers.

Learn more about the upcoming meetings and how we're making sure rivers and rights are at the center of solutions.