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“Green Economy” aggravates migration push-factors

Joint Statement of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) and the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) on the Rio+20


The attempts in Rio+20 by developed countries to downgrade agreements reached in the 1992 Earth Summit are acts that reveal the rapacious corporate agenda behind “Green Economy”. It is aimed at paving the way for further economic plunder by MNCs/TNCs of whatever that remains of the Earth’s natural and human resources, and to prop up the sagging façade of neoliberalism that has been throughly discredited by the current global economic crisis.

Migrants the world over should oppose this creeping corporatization of the Rio+20 process, and lend their support to ecological activists who are doing their utmost in Brazil to stop these brazen attacks on earlier advocacy gains by people’s movements for sustainable development.

Whatever the outcome of the negotiations in Rio, there is little doubt that it will not result in any significant divergence from the old recipe of corporate-led “development” that is the prescriptive stock-in-trade of neoliberal globalization. The attempt to financialize, corporatize and marketize even such a hallowed advocacy as ecological sustainability speaks volumes on the bottomless greed of big capital, which seeks to profit unconscionably at both ends of the cause-and-effect equation.

The public-private partnership (PPP) schemes envisioned under Green Economy will only lead to further underdevelopment in sending countries, guaranteeing public funds to corporations even as they profit from investing in sectors of the economy that were once exclusively part of the public domain. What this means for the migrant sector is the exacerbation of push factors behind forced migration, and the perpertuation of labor-export policies that shift development strategies away from real sustainable development.

Not even the rosy prognostications under Green Jobs can hide the ugly fact that neoliberal globalization is only able to provide precarious work, especially those for migrant labor. Green Jobs is nothing but an attempt to paper over unsavory employment realities within the global capitalist system with fantastic promises of long-term jobs creation; an attempt moreover that does not address the root causes of forced labor migration nor those of the global economic crisis.

The often fierce discourses over Rio+20 manifests a polarization of two development paradigms, between a people-centered model and a profit-driven one. This contradiction is bound to intensify in the coming years, and in this ideological face-off migrant workers cannot but side with other marginalized sectors of society who are advocating for sounder economic fundamentals and the elimination of forced migration push-factors in sending countries – such as peasants who are demanding genuine land reform and workers who want national industrialization. The challenge is now set for migrant organizations and advocates to muster their strength and push the boundaries of the development discourse beyond the raucous carnival of Rio+20.