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What now after Rio?

By the Asia Pacific Research Network

As Rio+20 leaves the world’s future in the hands of businesses, APRN echoes system change; vows to struggle with the people in achieving genuine sustainable development

The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) reaffirms the resounding calls that were made in Rio against corporate green economy on the one hand, and for system change on the other, to achieving sustainable development. It joins the call to the suffering majority to build solidarity and intensify collective action against control of the world’s resources by the exploiting few.

It is an undeniable fact that the environmental, social, and economic crises that the world now finds itself in are all caused and continue to be aggravated by corporate greed. Yet, at the recently concluded Rio+20 Summit, the same corporate greed, beautifully packaged as Green Economy, was peddled as the solution to these crises.

Already, there are concrete experiences to prove that green economy will not solve or even slightly alleviate the crises. Asian peasants attest how so-called green and sustainable extractive industry, specifically mining, for example, has enabled corporations in the region to grab lands and earn huge profits, while leaving ordinary people in totally devastated communities. In the water sector, massive foreign capital in the guise of ‘green’ investments are being used to build dams and privatize water resources, which, as experience particularly of women shows, is sure to lead to soaring prices of water and electricity generated from it. According to Asian Peasant Coalition, for example, the Philippine government admitted that the Green Economy-inspired project in Laguna Lake will displace some 82,000 fishing families or roughly 500,000 lake residents, to achieve ‘national development ’ – a situation that is similar to what is happening in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.

Clearly, the green economy agenda is designed according to the prevailing system where economic and natural resources are used to accumulate wealth for the few who control them; a system based on unrestricted exploitation of the poor, women and the environment for corporate profits. Clearly, it will not bring about sustainable development. And as expected, the huge Rio+20 Summit was dominated by world leaders and corporate lobbyists representing their respective countries’ own business interests, leaving no room for meaningful people’s participation, abandonment of state responsibilities and entrusting the world’s future to the culprits of unsustainable development themselves.

But the people will never be silenced and will continue to struggle for they have the real solutions in their hands. Communities have shown extreme resilience and creativity in confronting the spiraling multiple crises through various mechanisms not just to survive, but also to assert their rights. In confronting the food and climate crises, for example, researches by APRN members in Indonesia, China, and Philippines show that smallholder biodiversity-based agriculture not only improves harvest quantity and quality but also protects the environment from destructive chemicals, and strengthens people’s solidarity against exploitative traders and middlemen, among others.

Such sustainable practices and the people, not the destructive businesses and the ruling elites, are what should be at the center of any development agenda – something that will never happen within the current capitalist system. APRN joins the call to the 99% of the world’s affected peoples to end capitalism and fight for our rights, for system change. We will remain alongside the people in continuously exposing and rejecting the current system that kills, and assert for a sustainable development that is based on the fulfillment of human rights norms and standards, including the rights to development, to self-determination, to food, health and water, to education, the rights of women and children, and the right of people to participate in decision-making. APRN will continue supporting people’s struggles through research, advocacy, the promotion of people’s sustainable practices in their respective communities, and the strengthening of solidarity and collective action towards genuine sustainable development.