Social Watch Report 2012 - THE RIGHT TO A FUTURE

Product: 
Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes
Summary: 
Growing inequalities and unregulated finances are expropiating people everywhere from their fair share in the benefits of global prosperity.
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Social Watch around the world

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

THE SOCIAL WATCH INITIATIVE IS PROMOTED AND DEVELOPED BY:


Afghanistan:
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA), admin@cha-net.org, hameedy@socialwatchafghanistan.org, www.cha-net.org; Sanayee Development Organization (SDO), sdokabul@gmail.com, www.sanayee.org.af;  
Organization of Human Resource Development (OHRD); Saba Media Organization (SMO)

Albania:
Human Development Promotion Centre (HDPC), hdpc@hdpc.al

Argentina:
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), lroyo@cels.org.ar, www.cels.org.ar;
Abogados y Abogadas del Noroeste Argentino en derechos humanos y estudios sociales (ANDHES); Centro de Participación Popular Monseñor Enrique Angelelli; Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA); Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN); Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO); Observatorio del Derecho Social de la Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA)

Armenia:
Center for the Development of Civil Society (CDCS), svetaslan@hotmail.com, www.cdcs.am;
"Sociometr" Independent Sociological Research Center, Social Policy and Development Center (SPDC)

Azerbaijan:
Public Finance Monitoring Center (PFMC), kenan@pfmc.az, www.pfmc.az;
Environmental Law Center “Ecolex” (ELC); National Budget Group (NBG)

Bahrain:
Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), bhrs@bhrs.org, anhalekry@gmail.com, www.bhrs.org/arabic;
Bahrain Sociologists Society; Bahrain Transparency Society (BTS); Bahrain Women's Renaissance Society; Bahrain Awal Women Society; Bahrain Women Union

Bangladesh:
Unnayan Shamannay, shamunnay@sdnbd.org, www.shamunnay.org; EquityBD, www.equitybd.org; COAST, www.coastbd.org;
Action on Disability and Development (ADD); Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; Campaign for Good Governance (SHUPRO); Community Development Library (CDL); Education Watch (CAMPE); Ganoshastho Kendro; Manusher Jonno Foundation; People's Health Movement (PHM); Steps Towards Development

Belgium:
Plateforme belge pour le travail décent coordinado por el Centre National de Coopération au Développement (CNCD), cncd@cncd.be, www.cncd.be, and 11.11.11 (North-South Flamish Cooperation), www.11.be

Benin:
Social Watch Benin, swbenin@socialwatch-benin.org, www.socialwatch-benin.org;
Art-Culture Tourisme Sans Frontière (ACT-SF); Action Jeunesse (AJe); Association de Lutte contre le Régionalisme, l’Ethnocentrisme et le Racisme (ALCRER); Association des Bonnes Volontés pour l’Excellence (ABOVE Espoir); Association des Femmes Analphabétiseures du Bénin (AFA-Bénin); Association Femmes et Vie (AFV); Association des Instituteurs et Institutrices du Bénin (AIIB); Association des Jeunes pour le Progrès et le Développement (AJPDE); Association de Jeunes Déterminés et Unis pour un Idéal (AJeDUI); Association pour la Promotion de l’Action Sociale et des Initiatives Communautaires (APASIC); Association des Personnes Rénovatrices des Technologies Traditionnelles (APRETECTRA); Association pour la Promotion et le Développement de la Femme, la Lutte contre le Trafic des Mineurs (AProDeF-LTM); Assistance à la Promotion de la Femme et de la Jeune Fille (APROFEJ); Association pour la Promotion des Initiatives Locales (ASSOPIL); Association Vinavo et Environnement (ASSOVIE); Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Qualité de la Vie & de l’Environnement (ASPRO-VIE Bénnin); Abeilles Volontaires du Progrès (AVP-Afrique); Association Villes Propres Bénin (AVP-Bénin); Bénin Alafia; Caritas-Bénin; Centre Afrika Obota (CAO); Centre Béninois pour l’Environnement et le Développement Economique et Social (CEBEDES); Cercle d’Autopromotion pour le Développement Durable (CADD); Comité Inter-Africain sur les pratiques traditionnelles ayant effet sur la santé de la femme et de l’enfant (CI-AF); Centre de Réflexion et d’Action sur le Développement Intégré et la Solidarité (CeRADIS); Cercle de Réflexion et d'Action pour la Prévention des Conflits (CRAPC); Enfants Epanouis du Bénin (EEB); Eglise Protestante Méthodiste du Bénin (EPMB); Espace & Vie ONG; Espoir Plus; Forces; Nouvelles pour un Développement Humain Durable (FNDHD); Femme Entraide et Développement (FEDe); Fondation Faragel Corp; Flourished Youth Association (FYA-Bénin); Groupe d’Action pour l’Amour du Bien-être Familial (GABF); Groupe d’Appui au Développement Durable et à l’Auto Promotion des Populations (GADDAP); Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour la Protection de l'Environnement et la promotion de l'Assainissement et de l'Hygiène (GRAPEAH); Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour le Bien-Etre au Bénin (GRABE Bénin); Groupe d’Action pour la Justice et l’Egalité Sociale (GAJES); Groupe de Recherche et d’Action pour le Développement de la Femme au Bénin (GRAD-FB); Groupe d’Appui à l’Éducation et à la Santé de Base (GRAPESAB); Groupe de Recherche et d’Action pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture et le Développement (GRAPAD); Groupe de Recherche et d’Appui aux Initiatives de Base pour un Développement Durable (GRAIB); Groupe de Recherche et d’Action pour le Développement Durable (GRADED); Groupe de Sécurité Alimentaire pour Tous (GSAT); Initiative des Communicateurs pour la bonne Gouvernance au Bénin (ICOG Bénin); Institut de Développement et d’Echanges Endogènes (IDEE); Initiatives pour le Développement Intégré Durable (IDID); Jeunesse Sans Frontières Bénin (JSF); L’OEil d’Aujourd’hui; Le Bureau d’Appui Conseils d’Afrique pour les Réalisations (Le BACAR); Le Jour utile; Le Rural; Laboratoire d’Analyse Régionale et d’Expertise Sociale (LARES); Nabouba; Nouveau Défi pour le Développement (NDD); Nouvelles Perspectives Afrique (NPA); Organisation Communautaire pour la Santé, l’Education et le Développement (OCSED); Organisation pour le Développement Economique et Social (ODES); Projet d’Appui aux Producteurs Agricoles du Bénin (PAPA Bénin); ONG chrétienne SINAÏ

Bolivia:
Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario (CEDLA), cedla@cedla.org, www.cedla.org; Unión nacional de Instituciones para el trabajo de Acción Social (UNITAS), direccionunitas@redunitas.org, www.redunitas.org;
Fundación Acción Cultural Loyola (ACLO); Centro de Asesoramiento Multidiciplinario “VICENTE CAÑAS”; Centro de Comunicación y Desarrollo Andino (CENDA); Centro de Estudios Jurídicos e Investigación Social (CEJIS); Centro de Promoción Minera (CEPROMIN); Centro de Estudios Regionales para el Desarrollo de Tarija (CER-DET); Centro de Servicios Agropecuarios (CESA); Centro de Investigación y Apoyo Campesino (CIAC); Centro de Información y Desarrollo de la Mujer (CIDEM); Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado (CIPCA); Defensa de Niñas y Niños Internacional (DNI-Bolivia); DESAFIO; Fundación Social Uramanta; Instituto de Investigación y Acción para el Desarrollo Integral (IIADI); Instituto de Investigación y Capacitación Campesina (IICCA); Instituto de Investigación Cultural para Educación Popular (INDICEP); Instituto Politécnico Tomás Katari (IPTK); Investigación Social y Asesoramiento Legal Potosí (ISALP); Apoyo al Desarrollo Sostenible Interandino (KURMI); Mujeres en Acción, Oficina de Asistencia Social de la Iglesia (OASI); PIDEP; Centro de Comunicación y Educación Popular PIO XII; Promoción de la Mujer Tarija (PROMUTAR); Servicios Múltiples de Tecnologías Apropiadas (SEMTA); Taller de Educación Alternativa y Producción (TEAPRO); Centro de Promoción y Cooperación (YUNTA)

Brazil:
Coordinating Group: Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE), observatorio@ibase.br, www.ibase.br;
Centro Feminista de Estudos e Assessoria (Cfemea); Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania da Universidade Candido Mendes (Cesec/Ucam); Criola-Rio; Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional (Fase); Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc); Rede Dawn; Ação pela Tributação das Transações Especulativas em Apoio aos Cidadãos (Attac); ActionAid; Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras (AMB); Articulação de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras; Assessoria Jurídica e Estudos de Gênero (Themis); Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não-Governamentais (Abong); Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de Aids (Abia); CEN/Fórum de Mulheres do Piauí; Centro de Articulação de Populações Marginalizadas (Ceap); Centro de Atividades Culturais, Econômicas e Sociais (Caces); Centro de Cultura Luiz Freire; Centro de Defesa da Criança e do Adolescente/Movimento de Emus; Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos Bento Rubião; Centro de Estudos de Defesa do Negro do Pará; Centro de Mulheres do Cabo (CMC); Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria (Esplar); Cidadania Estudo Pesquisa Informação e Ação (Cepia); Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT/Fian); Comitê Latino-Americano e do Caribe para a Defesa dos Direitos da Mulher (Cladem); Comunicação, Informação e Educação em Gênero (Cemina); Comunidade Baha’í; Conselho Estadual dos Direitos da Mulher (Cedim); Fala Preta; Fórum da Amazônia Oriental (Faor); Fórum de Mulheres de Salvador; Fórum de Mulheres do Rio Grande Norte; Grupo de Mulheres Negras Malunga; Instituto da Mulher Negra (Geledés); Instituto de Estudos da Religião (Iser); Instituto de Estudos, Formação e Assessoria em Estudos Sociais (Pólis); Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano e Regional (Ippur/UFRJ); Instituto Patrícia Galvão; Laboratório de Análises Econômicas, Sociais e Estatísticas das Relações Raciais (LAESER); Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH); Nova; Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano (Redeh); Rede Mulher de Educação; Rede Saúde; Ser Mulher – Centro de Estudos e Ação da Mulher Urbana e Rural; SOS Corpo; SOS Mata Atlântica

Bulgaria:
Bulgarian Gender and Research Foundation (BGRF), office@bgrf.org, www.bgrf.org;
BGRF Sofia, BGRF Plovdiv, BGRF Haskovo, ATTAC Bulgaria; Bulgarian-European Partnership Association (BEPA); Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB); “Demetra” Association Burgas; Ecoforum for Sustainable Development Association (ESD)

Burma:
Burma Lawyers’ Council, hkuntan1@yahoo.com, www.blc-burma.org

Cambodia:
SILAKA, silaka@silaka.org, www.silaka.org;
NGO Committee on CEDAW; NGO Forum on Cambodia; Gender and Development for Cambodia GAD/C; Women for Prosperity (WFP); Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (COMFREL); Cambodia Development Research Institute (CDRI); Cambodia Women for Peace and Development (CWPD); Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (NICFEC); Women Media Center; CEDAW

Cameroon:
Dynamique Citoyenne (DC) Fédération des Organisations de la Société Civile Camerounaise (FOSCAM), mballamballa2001@yahoo.fr, andelac@yahoo.com, www.foscam.org; www.reseau-dc.org;
AGROFOR; AJESO; ASAD; CADPEN; Centre de Recherche et d'Appui pour le Développement intégré de la Femme (CRADIF); Collectif des ONG pour la Sécurité Alimentaire et le Développement Rural (COSADER); Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement Endogène et Communautaire (CRADEC); Centrale Syndicale du Secteur Public (CSP); CIPI; CIPRE; COMINSUD; DJ/DJPSC; FENASATTRACAM; Fondation Conseil Jeune (FCJ); INTERACTION; Jeudi de Cotonou; Ligue des Droits et Libertés (LDL) NWADO; RACED; ReachOut; SAADI; SNAEF; SWCSON; SYDEV; Un Monde Avenir; UNCAAD
Canada:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), ccpa@policyalternatives.ca, www.policyalternatives.ca; Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Affairs (FAFIA), nbaroni@fafia-afai.org, www.fafia-afai.org; The North-South Institute (NSI), jfoster@nsi-ins.ca, www.nsi-ins.ca; Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), www.wiego.org

Central African Republic:
Groupe d'Action de Paix et de Formation pour la Transformation (GAPAFOT), crosiribi@yahoo.fr, gapafot@yahoo.fr, www.grip.org/rafal/membres/gapafot.htm

Chile:
ACCION, Asociación Chilena de ONG, info@accionag.cl, www.accionag.cl; Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo (CENDA), mpascual@cendachile.cl, www.cendachile.cl

Colombia:
Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo – Secretaría Técnica Fundación para la Educación y el Desarrollo – FEDES, fedes@etb.net.co, plataformaco@colomsat.net, www.plataforma-colombiana.org

Costa Rica:
Red Costarricense de Control Ciudadano, Centro de Estudios y Publicaciones Alforja (CEP Alforja), ciudadania@cepalforja.org, www.cepalforja.org;
Agenda Cantonal de Mujeres de Desamparados (ACAMUDE); Agenda Política de Mujeres; Asociación Centro de Educación Popular Vecinos; Asociación Centroamericana para la Economía, la Salud, y el Ambiente (ASEPESA); Asociación de Profesores/as de Segunda Enseñanza (APSE); Asociación Madreselva, Derechos Humanos y Salud Integral; Asociación para el Desarrollo del Trabajo; Capacitación y Acción Alternativa (PROCAL); Centro para el Desarrollo y Capacitación en Salud (CEDCAS); Colectiva por el Derecho a Decidir; Comisión de Derechos Humanos (CODEHU); Coordinadora de Organizaciones Sociales para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Niñez (COSECODENI); Defensa de Niñas y Niños Internacional (DNI); Dirección de Extensión Universitaria de la Universidad Estatal a Distancia; Federación Costarricense de Organizaciones de Personas con Discapacidad (FECODIS); Fundación Pedagógica Nuestra América; Fundación Promoción; Liga Internacional de Mujeres por Paz y Libertad (LIMPAL); Movimiento Diversidad; Mujeres Unidas en Salud y Desarrollo (MUSADE); Redes Comunitarias de Salud de la Provincia de Puntarenas (Pacífico Central); Servicio de Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ); Sindicato de Empleados/as del Banco Nacional (SEBANA); Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS, UNDECA)

Cyprus:
Centre for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology (CARDET), pambos@cardet.org, www.cardet.org;
KISA - Action for Equality Support and Antiracism in Cyprus; Mediterranean Institute for Gender Studies

Czech Republic:
Ecumenical Academy Prague, ekumakad@ekumakad.cz, tomas.tozicka@educon.cz, www.ekumakad.cz;
Gender Studies; Forum 50 %; Economy and Society Trust; NESEHNUTÍ; Masarykova demokratická akademie; Eurosolar.cz

Ecuador:
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES), cdes@cdes.org.ec, www.cdes.org.ec

Egypt:
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), cpe_eg@yahoo.com, www.mosharka.org;
National Association for Human Rights; New Woman Centre; Research and Resource Centre for Human Rights

El Salvador:
Asociación Intersectorial para el Desarrollo Económico y el Progreso Social (CIDEP), cidep@cidepelsalvador.org, www.cidepelsalvador.org;
Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos de El Salvador “Marianela García Villas” (CODEFAM); Fundación Maquilishuat (FUMA); Centro para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos “Madeleine Lagadec”

Eritrea:
Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), danielrezene@gmail.com

Estonia:
Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation, info@terveilm.net, www.terveilm.net

European Union:
European Solidarity Towards Equal Participation of People (EUROSTEP), admin@eurostep.org, sstocker@eurostep.org, www.eurostep.org

Finland:
Service Centre for Development Cooperation (KEPA), info@kepa.fi, www.kepa.fi

France:
Secours Catholique-Caritas France, gregoire.niaudet@secours-catholique.org, www.secours-catholique.org; Coordination SUD, dupont@coordinationsud.org, www.coordinationsud.org

Germany:
Social Watch Germany, jensmartens@globalpolicy.org, klaus.heidel@woek.de, www.social-watch.de;
Asienhaus; Deutscher Caritasverband; DGB-Bildungswerk; FIAN Section Germany; Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; Global Policy Forum Europe; IG Metall; INKOTA Netzwerk; Ökumenischer Trägerkreis Armut/Reichtum – Gerechtigkeit; Pax Christi; Philippinenbüro; Pro Asyl; Terre des hommes Germany; World Economy, Ecology & Development (WEED); Werkstatt Ökonomie

Ghana:
Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) – Convenor of Social Watch Ghana, netright@twnafrica.org;
Third World Network Africa; ABANTU for Development (ROWA); Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC); General Agricultural Worker’s Union of GTUC (GAWU); Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre); Women’s Initiative & Self Empowerment (WISE); The Coalition on the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana (WMC); Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC); Foundation for GrassRoots Initiatives in Africa (GrassRootsAfrica); Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Civic Response; National Coalition Against Water Privatisation (NCAP); Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG); Save the Children Ghana; Ghana Association of Teachers (GNAT); Ghana Association of the Blind; Consumers Association of Ghana; Christian Council of Ghana; Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA); University of Ghana Students Representatives Council; National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS); Ghana Federation of Labour; Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agricultural & Rural Development (ECASARD); Fataale Rural Foundation; Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL)

Guatemala:
CONGCOOP – Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas, congcoop@congcoop.org.gt, www.congcoop.org.gt;
Asociación de Desarrollo Defensa del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de Guatemala (ACCION ECOLOGICA); Asociación de Desarrollo para América Central (ADEPAC); Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral (ADI); Alternativa para el Desarrollo Ambiental (APDA); Centro de Documentación y Educación Popular (CIEP); Centro de Investigación, Estudios y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CIEPRODH); Coordinadora Cakchiquel de Desarrollo Integral (COKADI); Coordinadora Mesoamericana para el Desarrollo Integral (COMADEP); Consejo Cristiano de Agencias de Desarrollo (CONCAD); Federación de Cooperativas Agrícolas de Guatemala (FEDECOAG); Fundación para el Apoyo Técnico en Proyectos (FUNDATEP); Fundación para el Desarrollo Comunitario (FUNDESCO); Asociación (IDEAS); Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IEPADES); Proyecto de Desarrollo Santiago (PRODESSA); Servicios y Apoyo al Desarrollo de Guatemala (SADEGUA); Servicios de Capacitación Técnica (SERCATE)

Honduras:
Centro de Estudios de la Mujer Honduras (CEM-H), cemhhonduras@yahoo.es, anmfech@yahoo.es, www.cemh.org.hn;
Articulación Feminista de Redes Locales; Centro de Estudios y Acción para el Desarrollo de Honduras (CESADEH); Centro de Hondureño de Promoción para el Desarrollo Comunitario (CEHPRODEC); Marcha Mundial de la Mujeres - Capítulo Honduras; Mujeres Sindicalistas (Sindicato de la Educación SIEMPE); Red de Mujeres Colonia Ramón Amaya Amador; Red de Mujeres Colonia Cruz Roja; Red de Mujeres del Municipio de La Paz; Red de Mujeres Jóvenes del Distrito Central; Red de Mujeres Positivas de Honduras; REDMUNA

Hungary:
ATTAC Hungary, benyikmatyas@gmail.com, http://attac.zpok.hu;
Foundation for the Hungarian Social Forum Movements; Hungarian Antifascist League; Karl Marx Society; Worker's Free Time Association of Ferencvaros

India:
National Social Watch Coalition (NSWC), info@socialwatchindia.com, nationalsocialwatch@yahoo.co.in, www.socialwatchindia.net;
Adivasi Sanghamam; Agragati; Asian Development Research Institute; Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR); Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON); Centre for Policy Studies (CPS); Centre for World Solidarity (CWS); Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD); Community Development Foundation (CDF); Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union (DBSU); Ekta Parishad; Forum of Voluntary Organisations (West Bengal, Kolkata); Gene Campaign; Gramin Yuva Abhikram (GYA); HOPE; Institute of Development Studies; Institute for Motivating Self Employment (IMSE); KABIR; Karnataka Social Watch; Kerala Social Watch; LJK; Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Action Network (MPVAN); Mayaram Surjan Foundation (MSF); National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS); Oxfam Novib; People's Campaign for Socio-Economic Equity in Himalayas (PcfSEEiH); Pratham; PRS Legislative Research; Rejuvenate India Movement (RIM); RTDC- Voluntary Action Group (RTDC- VAG); SAFDAR; Samarthan Centre for Development Support; South Asian Network for Social and Agricultural Development (SANSAD); SPAR, Swaraj Foundation; Tamilnadu Social Watch (TNSW); Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Action Network (UPVAN); Vidyasagar Samajik Suraksha Seva Evam Shodh Sansthan, Vikas Sahyog Pratisthan (VSP); Youth for Voluntary Action (YUVA)

Indonesia:
Women Headed Household Empowerment Program (PEKKA), naniz@centrin.net.id;
Alfa – Omega; ASPPUK; FITRA; Formasi Indonesia; Forum Keberdayaan Masyarakat Bengkulu; Forum LSM DIY; Forum Perempuan; Kalimantan; INFID; LP2M Padang; Nurani Perempuan; PCSSF – Papua; Peningkatan Keberdayaan Masyarakat (PKM) Sultra; Perekumpulan Sada Ahmo, Perkumpulan Panca Karsa; PERSEPSI; PKBI Bengkulu; PKM Nasional; Seknas Walhi; Swara Parangpuan Sulut

Iraq:
Iraqi Al-Amal Association, baghdad@iraqi-alamal.org, www.iraqi-alamal.org;
Iraqi Council for Peace and Solidarity; Iraqi Women Network; REACH org

Italy:
Social Watch Italian Coalition, info@socialwatch.it, jason.nardi@socialwatch.it, www.socialwatch.it;
Amnesty International - Italy; Associazioni Cristiane Lavoratori Italiani (ACLI); Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana (ARCI); Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM); Fondazione Culturale Responsabilità Etica; Lunaria; Mani Tese; Sbilanciamoci; Oxfam Italia; World Wildlife Fund – Italy (WWF)

Jordan:
Jordanian Women's Union, jwu@go.com.jo, www.jordanianwomenunion.org;
Jordanian Association to Combat Illiteracy

Kenya:
Social Development Network (SODNET), sodnet@sodnet.org, www.sodnet.org;
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC); Kituo Cha Sheria; Huruma Social Forum; SEATINI; Daraja-Civic Initiatives Forum; Kenya Organization for Environmental Education (KOEE); Sustainability Development Watch (SusWatch-Kenya); Migori Clan; Social Watch/Futa Magendo Chapters; Bunge La Mwananchi; Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN); Undugu Society; Reality of Trade (Kenya); Haki Elimu; Makueni Residents Association; Logolink; Kenya Land Alliance; KETAM; Child Fund Africa; Rarieda Social Watch; Nyeri Social Watch; Release Political Prisoners (RPP); BEACON; Kenya-Cuba Friendship Association; Mazira Foundation

Korea, Rep.:
Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ), iccej@ccej.or.kr, www.ccej.or.kr

Lebanon:
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), annd@annd.org, www.annd.org;
Ecole Sociale-USJ; Lebanese Development Forum; Lebanese NGO Network; Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU); Najdeh Association; Secours Populaire Libanais

Lithuania:
Centre for Civic Initiatives, girvydas@pic.lt, www.pic.lt

Malaysia:
Third World Network (TWN), twnkl@twnetwork.org, www.twnside.org.sg; Consumers Association of Penang, meenaco@twnetwork.org, www.consumer.org.my;
Cini Smallholders' Network; Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association; Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia); Teras Pengupayaan Melayu

Malta:
Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali (KOPIN), info@kopin.org, jmsammut@gmail.com, www.kopin.org

Mauritania:
Réseau des organisations de la société civile pour la Promotion de la Citoyenneté (RPC), resrpc@gmail.com, dogoli56@yahoo.fr;
Association pour la Promotion de la Démocratie et l'Education Citoyenne (APDEC)

Mexico:
DECA Equipo Pueblo, pueblodip@equipopueblo.org.mx, www.equipopueblo.org.mx; ESCR Civil Society Coalition (Espacio DESC);
DECA Equipo Pueblo; Casa y Ciudad de Coalición Hábitat México; Cátedra UNESCO de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos (CAM); Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (PRODH); Centro de Investigación y Promoción Social (CIPROSOC); Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral (CEREAL) de Fomento Cultural y Educativo; Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH); Consultoría Especializada en Justiciabilidad de los DESC (CEJUDESC); Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud; FIAN Sección México; Instituto Mexicano de Democracia y Derechos Humanos (IMDHD); Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC); Liga Mexicana de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH); Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe de la Coalición Internacional del Hábitat; Radar-Colectivo de Estudios Alternativos en Derecho

Moldova:
National Women’s Studies and Information Centre “Partnership for Development”, cpd@progen.md, www.progen.md

Mongolia:
Democracy Education Centre (DEMO), demo@magicnet.mn, www.demo.org.mn;
Center for Sustainable Development; Mongolian Federation of Disabled Persons’ Organizations

Morocco:
Espace Associatif, contact@espace-associatif.ma, www.espace-associatif.ma;
Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM); Association Marocaine des Droits Humains (AMDH); Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (OMDH); Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT); Transparency Maroc; Réseau pour le droit à la santé; Association de Développement Local Rabat (ADL); Association Professionnelle des Tapissiers; Association Chantier Jeunesse; Association Marocaine pour l’Education de la Jeunesse; Confédération Démocratique du Travail; Organisation Démocratique du Travail; Forum des Economistes Marocains; Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Aziz Blal (CERAB); Coordination contre la cherté de la vie; Said SAADI; Abderrahim DIAB

Mozambique:
Liga Moçambicana dos Direitos Humanos, cnesta@gmail.com, www.ldh.org.mz;
Grupo Moçambicano da Divida; Associacão dos Parlamentares Europeus para Africa (AWEPA); Rede de Organizações Contra Sida (MONASO); Sociedade Aberta; Jornalistas Para os Direitos Humanos

Nepal:
Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), rrn@rrn.org.np, akarki@rrn.org.np; WWW.rrn.org.np;
National Alliance for Human Rights and Social Justice; Campaign for Climate Justice Network, Nepal (CCJN); Child Workers Concern Centre (CWIN); NGO Federation of Nepal; General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions; South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE); LDC Watch; Jagaran Nepal; Children-Women in Social Service and Human Rights (CWISH); Right to Food Network (RtFN)

Netherlands:
OXFAM NOVIB Netherlands, www.oxfamnovib.nl;
National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO)

 Nicaragua:
Coordinadora Civil (CC), voceria@ccer.org.ni, www.ccer.org.ni;
Acción Ciudadana; Asociación de Mujeres Nicaragüenses Luisa Amanda Espinoza (AMNLAE); Consejo de la Juventud de Nicaragua (CJN); Coordinadora de ONGs que trabajan con la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CODENI); Federación de Organismos No Gubernamentales (FONG); Federación de Organizaciones por la Rehabilitación e Integración (FECONORI); Foro de Educación y Desarrollo Humano (FEDH); Mesa Agropecuaria y Forestal (MAF); Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN); Movimiento Pedagógico Nicaragüense (MPN); Red de Mujeres contra la Violencia; Red Nicaragüense de Comercio Comunitario (RENICC); Red Nicaragüense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local; Red de Vivienda; Unión Nacional de Agricultores y Ganaderos (UNAG)

Nigeria:
Social Watch Nigeria: Socio Economic Rights Initiative (SRI), onyegur@yahoo.com;
Africa Youth Growth Foundation; Campaign for Child’s Right and Survival (CCRS); Care and Action Research (CaRE-NGO); Chiamaka Cooperative Union; Christian Foundation for Social Justice & Equity; Community Conservation Initiative; Community Health and Development Advisory Trust (COHDAT); Community Life Advancement Project (CLAP); Conscientizing against Injustices and Violence (CAN); Credit & Thrift Society; Daughter of Virtue and Empowerment Initiatives (DOVENET); Destiny Daughters of Nigeria (DEDAN); Federated Ebonyi Women Association (FEWA); Friendly Environment and Human Development Foundation (FEHDF); Initiative Development Now (IDN); International Centre for Youth Development (ICYD); Kanewa Women Group; Life Intervention Project (LIP); Methodist Diocese of Enugu; Mindset and Community Advancement Operations (MICADO); National Council of Women Societies (NCWS Abia State Branch); National Productivity Centre Coop; Natural Resources Development Motivators; Nigerian Concerned Group for Environment, Population and Development; NOB Movement for the Less privileged; Oasis of the Elderly, Youth & Family Development (OEYFAD); Osa Foundation; Otia Development Foundation; People’s Rights Organization (PRO); Rural Life Improvement Foundation (RULIF); Safe Motherhood & Child Survival Organization of Africa (SMACS); Safe Motherhood Ladies Association (SMLAS); SEDAFRICA; Survival Foundation Network (SUFON); Volunteer Societies of Nigeria Organization on AIDS (VOSONOA); Women Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation (WEPA); Women in Nigeria (WIN); Women in Nigeria (WIN), Imo State; Women of Virtue; Women Survival and Development Association; Women United for Economic Empowerment (WUEE); Youth Resource Development Education and Leadership Center for Africa (YORDEL AFRICA)

Pakistan:
Civil Society Support Programme (CSSP), csspsindh@yahoo.com, soonharani@yahoo.com; Indus Development Foundation, qureshiaijaz@yahoo.com

Palestine:
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), pngonet@pngo.net, www.pngo.net;
Arab Association for Human Rights; Bisan Center for Research and Development

Panama:
Centro de la Mujer Panameña (CEMP), mujeres_panameas@yahoo.es, http://www.fotolog.com/cemp_panama

Paraguay:
Decidamos, Campaña por la Expresión Ciudadana, direccion@decidamos.org.py, www.decidamos.org.py;
Educación Comunicación y Tecnología Alternativa (BASE - ECTA); Centro de Documentación y Estudios (CDE); Centro de Estudios Paraguayos Antonio Guasch (CEPAG); FE Y ALEGRÍA Movimiento de Educación Popular Integral; ÑEMONGUETARA Programa de Educación y Comunicación Popular; Servicio de Educación y Apoyo Social (SEAS - AR); Servicio de Educación Popular (SEDUPO); Servicio Paz y Justicia Paraguay (SERPAJ - PY)

Peru:

Comité de Iniciativa, Grupo de Acción Internacional de la Conferencia Nacional sobre Desarrollo Social (CONADES), cedep@cedepperu.org, hecbejar@gmail.com, www.conades.org.pe;
Asociación Nacional de Centros de Investigación; Promoción Social y Desarrollo; Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Participación (CEDEP); Grupo de Economía Solidaria; Grupo Género y Economía; Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Comité Perú; Red Jubileo 2000

Philippines:
Social Watch Philippines, sowatphils@gmail.com, info@socialwatchphilippines.org, www.socialwatchphilippines.org;
Action for Economic Reforms (AER); ALAGAD-Mindanao; Albay NGO-PO Network; Alliance of Community Development Advocate; Alliance of Community Development Advocates Provincial NGO Federation of Nueva Vizcaya; Alliance of Concerned Teachers(ACT); Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM); Alternative Community-Centered Organization for Rural Development (ACCORD); Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC); Bantay Katilingban; Banwang Tuburan; BAPAKA; Bataan NGO-PO Network; Bisaya Alliance Growth and Sustainable Sugar Estate (BAGASSE); Bohol Alliance of Non-Governmental Organizations (BANGON); Broad Initiative for Negros Development (BIND); CARET Inc.; Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODENGO); Caucus on Poverty Reduction; CCAGG; CCF Reconciliation Center; Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines (CMA - Phils.); Center for Policy and Executive Development (CPED); Centro Saka, Inc.; Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net); CMLC; COMPAX - Cotabato; Co-Multiversity; Convergence; Daluyong Ugnayan ng mga Kababaihan (National Federation of Women’s Group); DAWN-Southeast Asia / Women & Gender Institute; Earth Savers Movement; Ecowaste Coalition; ELAC - Cebu; Emancipatory Movement for People’s Empowerment; Focus on the Global South – Philippine Program; Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC); Global Call to Action Against Poverty – Philippines; Health Care without Harm; IBASSMADC; Iloilo Code of NGOs; Indicative Medicine for Alternative Health Care System Phils., Inc. (INAM); Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID); Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD); Institute for Social Studies and Action (ISSA); Institute of Public Health Management (IPHM); Integral Development Services, Phils. (IDS-Phils); Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center; Jihad Al Akbar; Justice for Peace and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center (JPIC-IDC); KAMAM; Kaisampalad; Kalipunan ng Maraming Tinig ng Manggagawang Inpormal (KATINIG); Kasanyagan Foundation Inc. (KFI); Kinayahan Foundation; Kitanglad Integrated NGO’s (KIN); Konpederasyon ng mga Nobo Esihano para sa Kalikasan at Kaayusang Panlipunan; La Liga Policy Institute; Labing Kubos Foundation, Inc.; Lubong Salakniban Movement; Management & Organizational Development for Empowerment (MODE); Medical Action Group (MAG); Micah Challenge; Midsayap Consortium of NGOs and POs; Mindanao Land Foundation (MLF); Mindanawon Initiative for Cultural Dialogue; Multi-sectoral organization of CSOs for environmental and development in Marinduque (KASAMAKAPA); Nagkakaisang Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa at Magsasaka sa Niyugan (NIUGAN); National Council of Churches in the Philippines(NCCP); NATRIPAL; NEGRONET; Negros Oriental Center for People’s Empowerment (NOCFED); NGO-PO Network of Quezon; NGO-PO of Tabaco City; Oxfam Great Britain; Paghiliusa sa Paghidaet-Negros; Panaghugpong sa Gagmayng Bayanihang Grupo sa Oriental Negros (PAGBAGO); Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education towards Struggle for Self Reliance (PROCESS Bohol); Partido Kalikasan; Partnership for Clean Air; Peace Advocates Network; Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA); Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ); Philippine Human Rights Info Center; Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes (PhilNet-RDI); Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas -Davao; Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM); Phil-Net Visayas; Piglas Kababaihan; PIPULI Foundation, Inc.; Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI); Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLink); Research and Communication for Justice and Peace; Rice Watch and Action Network (RWAN); Rural Development Institute of Sultan Kudarat (RDISK); Rural Enlightenment & Accretion in Philippine Society (REAPS); SAMAPACO; SARILAYA; Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMO); Silliman University; Social Action Center of Malaybalay Bukidnon; Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE); Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP); Sustainability Watch; Tambuyog Development Center; Tanggol Kalikasan; Tarbilang Foundation; Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP); Tebtebba Foundation, Inc.; Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (TACDRUP); The Community Advocates of Cotabato; Third World Studies Center (TWSC); U.S. Save the Children; Unity for the Advancement of Sus Dev and Good Governance; Unlad Kabayan; UPLift Philippines; Womanhealth Philippines; Youth Against Debt (YAD)

Poland:
Social Watch Poland, social.watch.polska@gmail.com, social_watch_pl@yahoogroups.com;
Amnesty International Poland; Association for Legal Intervention; ATD Fourth World Poland; Campaign Against Homophobia; Democratic Union of Women; Feminist Think Tank; KARAT Coalition; Panoptykon Foundation; SOS Children's Villages Association in Poland; The Network of East-West Women (NEWW - Polska)

Portugal:
Oikos - Cooperação e Desenvolvimento, jjfernandes@oikos.pt, Pedro.krupenski@oikos.pt, catarinacordas@gmail.com, www.oikos.pt;
Portuguese Network of Local Development Associations (ANIMAR) and the Portuguese National Platform of Development NGOs (Plataforma Nacional de ONGD)

Romania:
Civil Society Development Foundation (FDSC), fdsc@fdsc.ro, valentin.burada@fdsc.ro, www.fdsc.ro;
Asociatia pentru Dezvoltarea Organizatiei (SAH ROM); Asociatia Specialistilor in Resurse Umane (AUR); Confederatia Caritas Romania

Senegal:
Association Culturelle d'Auto Promotion Educative et Sociale (ACAPES), acapes@orange.sn, www.acapes.org; Association pour le Développement Économique Social Environnemental du Nord (ADESEN), adesen@yahoo.com; Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde (ENDA Tiers-Monde), enda@enda.sn, www.enda.sn;    
Action Jeunesse Environnement (AJE); Coalition des Associations de jeunes contre la Faim (AYCAH Sénégal); Democratic Union Teachers (UDEN); Enda Graf Sahe; National Association of Invalid persons in Sénégal (ANHMS); Sénégal's Union teachers (SYPROS)

Serbia:
Association Technology and Society, mirad@eunet.rs, www.tehnologijaidrustvo.org; Victimology Society of Serbia, vds@eunet.rs, www.vds.org.rs

Slovakia:
Slovak-European Cultural Association (FEMAN), director@feman.sk;
University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik in Košice

Slovenia:
Humanitas, info@humanitas.si, www.humanitas.si

Somalia:
Somali Organization for Community Development Activities (SOCDA), socda@globalsom.com;
Banadir University; Baniadam relief and development organization; Civil society in Action; Elman Peace And Human rights; Hamar University; Islamic University; HINNA; Horn relief; Humanitarian Agency for Relief and Development; IIDA Women Development Organization; Iiman women Development Organization; Indian Ocean University; Iniskoy Human Rights Organization; Isha Human Rights Organization; Kalsan Voluntary Organization For Women; Mogadishu University; Coalition of Grassroots Women Organization (COGWO); Network for Somali NGOs; FPENS; North and South Somali Women Widows Group; Community for Relief and Development; Peace Action Society Organisation for Somalia; Peace and Human Rights Network; Somali Pen Network; Resource Management Somali Network; Saacid Voluntary Organization; Schools Association for Formal Education; Sifa Women Voluntary Organization; SIRWA; Somali Women Business Association; Somali Consultant Association; Somali Engineering Union; Somali Health Care Organization; Somali independent Newspaper Association; Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development; Somali Journalists Network; Somali Law Society; Somali National Network of Aids service Organization; Somali Peaceline; Somali Rehabilitation Relief And Development Organization; Somali Scout Organisation; Somali Young Women Activist; Somali Youth Council; Somalink for Relief and Development Organization; SSWC; Subiye Development Volunteer Organization; Tadamun Social Society; Talawadag Network; Ummo Ruman Women Organization; Umul Kheyr; Wanle Weyn Human Rights and Development Organization; We are Women Activist; Women care Organization; Youth Anti AIDS/HIV; Youth Movement for Democracy; Dr. Ismael Jumale Human Rights Organization; Somali Women Journalist; Network for Somali NGO

Spain:
Plataforma 2015 y más, coordinacion@2015ymas.org, www.2015ymas.org; Intermón Oxfam, info@intermonoxfam.org, www.intermonoxfam.org;
ACSUR-Las Segovias; Asamblea de Cooperación por la Paz; Asociación de Investigación y Especialización sobre Temas Iberoamericanos (AIETI); Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR); Cooperación; Economistas sin Fronteras; Fundación CEAR; Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina y África (IEPALA); Instituto de Promoción y Apoyo al Desarrollo (IPADE); Instituto Sindical de Cooperación y Desarrollo (ISCOD); Liga Española de la Educación; Movimiento por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL); Observatorio DESC; Paz y Solidaridad; PTM-Mundubat; Solidaridad Internacional

Sri Lanka:
Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), monlar@sltnet.lk, www.monlar.net;
Law & Society Trust (LST)

Sudan:
National Civic Forum, h_abdelati@hotmail.com;
Al Amal Social Association

Suriname:
Equality & Equity, gitanyaligirja@hotmail.com;
Foundation Double Positive; Ultimate Purpose; ProHealth; The Network of Marroon women; Women's Rights Centre; Culconsult; Institute for Public Finance

Switzerland:
Alliance Sud - Swiss Alliance of Development Organisations, pepo.hofstetter@alliancesud.ch, www.alliancesud.ch;
Bread for All; Caritas; Catholic Lenten Fund; Helvetas; Interchurch Aid; Swissaid

Tanzania:
Southern Africa Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRiNGON) -Tanzania Chapter, sahringontz@yahoo.com, info@sahringon.or.tz, www.sahringon.or.tz;
Ekenywa Poverty Eradication Foundation; Laretok – Le-Sheria Na Haki Za Binadamu Ngorongoro (LASHEHABINGO); Kituo Cha Maadili Kwa Jamii (CENTRE FOR SOCIAL ETHICS); Action For Relief And Development Assistance (AFREDA); African Youth Development Foundation; Association For The Prevention Of Torture (APT); Campaign For Democracy And Human Rights; Campaign For Good Governance (CGG); Centre For Widows And Children Assistance (CWCA); Chama Cha Walemavu Tanzania (CHAWATA); Chiara Children’s Centre (CCC); Children’s Diginity Forum (CDF); Children’s Education Society (CHESO); Counselling And Family Life Organization(CAFLO); Development Peace And Human Rights Centre; Disabled Organization For Legal Affairs And Social Economic Development (DOLASED); Environmental Human Rights Care And Gender Organization (ENVIROCARE); Environmental & Human Rights Organization (ENVIROHURO); Hakielimu; Helpage International; Human Rights Centre For Disabled Persons; Journalists’ Environmental Association Of Tanzania (JET); The Leadership Forum; Legal And Human Rights Centre (LHRC); Mocuba Community Devlopment Foundation; National Organization For Legal Assistance (NOLA); PCNW; Social Economic, And Governance Centre (SEGP); Taaluma Women Group (TWG); Tanzania Centre For Conflict Resolution; Tanzania Citizen’s Information Bureau (TCIB); Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP); Tanzania Home Economics Association (TAHEA); Tanzania Self Development Association (TSDA); Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA); Tanzania Women Of Impact Foundation (TAWIF); Tanzania Women For Self Initiatives (TAWSEI); Tanzania Women Lawyers’ Association (TAWLA); Tanzania Women Volunteers Association (TAWOVA); Tanzania Women And Children Welfare Centre (TWCWC); Tanzania Network Of Women Living With Hiv/Aids; Tanzania Youth Awareness Trust Fund (TAYOA); Tanzania Girls Empowerment And Training Centre; Trainning For Sustainable Development (TSD); United Nations Association Of Tanzania (UNA – Tanzania); Upendo Women’s Group; Winners National Association (WINA); Women Advancement Trust (WAT); Women And Children Improvent Agency (WOCHIA); Women In Action For Development (WADE); Women In Law And Development In Africa (WILDAF); Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC); Women’s Research And Documentation Programme; Centre For Human Rights Promotion (CHRP); Women Wake Up (WOWAP); The Community Support And Development Network (CSDN); Biharamuro Originating Socio-Economic Development Association (BOSEDA); Community Participation Development Association (COPADEA TZ); Matumaini Mapya; Kigoma-Kasulu Non Governmental Organization Network (KIKANGONET); Kigoma And Ujiji Non Governmental Organization Network (KIUNGO-NET); Free Ambassadors Women And Children Mission Tanzania (FAWACM); Health And Medicare Foundation For The Albinism (HEMFA); Kikundi Cha Wanawake Kilimanjaro Cha Kupambana Na Ukimwi (KIWAKUKI); Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange And Consultancy Company Limited (KWIECO); Moshi Paralegal Organization; Huruma Social Development Action; Lindi Womens’ Paralegal Aid Centre (LIWOPAC); Nachingwea Organization For Social Development (NASODE); Babati Paralegal Centre (BAPACE); Tanzania Mineworkers Development Organization (TMDO); Community Volunteers Development Support (CVDS); Wasaidizi Wa Sheria Na Haki Za Binadamu Serengeti (WASHEHABISE); Ileje Enviromental Concervation Association (IECA); Mbozi Biogas Energy And Environmental Protection Association (MBEPA); Tushiriki; Morogoro Paralegal Centre; Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization; Kuleana Center For Children’s Rights Profile: Kuleana; Mwanza Women Development Association (MWDA); Woman And Child Vision (WOCHIV); Centre For Environment And Health (CEHE); Community Development For All (CODEFA); Development Vision And Mision Group (DEVMI);Kibaha Paralega Centre; Youth Partinership Countrywide (YPC); Vijana Vision Tanzania; Economic And Social Organisation (ESO ORGANISATION); Tanzania Disabled Persons Movement; Wazee Na Ukimwi Singida (WAUSI); Mategemeo Group Mlalo (MGM); Muungano Wa Vikundi Wa Wafugaji Kanda Ya Korogwe Magharibi (MVIWAKOMA); Orphans And Vulnerable Children Care Centre (OVCCC); Paralegal Aid Scheme For Women And Children; Society For Women And Aid In Africa Tanzania Chapter (SWAATKORO); Tanga Aids Working Group (TAWG); Umoja Wa Walemavu Zanzibar (UWZ)

Thailand:
Social Agenda Working Group (Social Watch Thailand), suiranee@yahoo.com;
Chulalongkorn University Research Institute; Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion (HomeNet Thailand); Drug Study Group; Focus on the Global South Thailand; Foundation for Children’s Development; Foundation for Women; Peace and Conflict Study Centre; Peace and Culture Foundation; Political Economy Centre; Women Network for the Advancement and Peace; Sustainable Development Foundation

Tunisia:
Tunisian League for Human Rights, sjourchi@yahoo.fr; Tunisian Association for Democratic Women, bochra.bhh-avocate@voila.fr

Uganda:
Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Association (DENIVA), info@deniva.or.ug, www.deniva.or.ug;
Acoke Rural Development Initiatives (ARDI); Action Aid Uganda; Action for Development (ACFODE); Action for Slum Health and Development; Action for Youth Organization Uganda; Action Line for Development (ALFORD); Action to Positive Change on People with Disabilities; Adult Education Centre; Adyaka Orphan Development Initiatives (AODI); Africa 2000 Network Uganda; Africa for Christ International; African Child Care Foundation; African International Christian Ministry (AICM); Agency for Promoting Sustainable Development Initiative (ASDI); Agriculture and Rural Development Programme; Akiika Embuga Women’s Self Help Association; Akwata Empola Women Development Association; Anaka Foundation Gulu; Anthony Youth Development Association (AYDA); Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU); Arua District Farmers Association; Arua District Indigenous NGO Network (ADINGON); Awake Bushenyi; Bagya Basaaga Orange Freshed Potato Growers and Processors (BBOFPGAP); Bahai Faith International National Spiritual Assembly of The Bahai of Uganda; Bakatawamu Information and Development Empowerment (BIDE); Bakonzo Culture Association; Balyalwoba Rehabilitation and Development Agency (BARDEA); Banyo Development Foundation; Basic Needs UK in Uganda; Bedmot Child and Family Programme; Benevolent Support Child Programme Kampala; Bidhompola Community Development Association Mayuge (BICODA); Bileafe Rural Development Association (Arua); Blessings Christian Rehab Ministries; Blind But Able Self Help Project; Budde Women’s Development Association; Budongo Forest Community Development Organization (BUCODO); Bugiri District Literacy and Adult Education Network (BLAEN); Bugisu Civil Society Forum (BUCINET); Build Up Again Ex Prisoners Association (BAP); Bukogolwa Widows and Orphans Care Centre; Bundibugyo Association of the Disabled; Bundibugyo District NGOs/CBs Forum; Bunyoro Youth Development Network; Bushenyi District Civil Society Organization Forum (BUDCOF); Buso Foundation; Buwagi Rural Development Foundation; Ceazaria Complex Public Library; Centre for Community Enterprise; Centre for Conflict Resolution (CECORE); Centre for Environmental Technology and Rural Development (CETRUD); Centre for Peace Research (CPR); Centre for the Integrated Development; Child Aid International Lyantonde; Christian Children’s Network International; Community Action for Rural Development Association (CARD); Community Based Rehabilitation Alliance (COMBRA); Community Development Resource Network (CDRN); Community Effort for Women Development Concerns (CEWDCO); Community Empowerment Partnership; Community Health and Development Association-Uganda (COHEDA-Uganda); Community Integrated Development Initiatives; Concern for the Girl Child; Cultural Agency for Social and Environment Development (CASRDEN); Development and Rehabilitation Organization (DABO); Development Training and Research Centre (DETREC); Ebnezer Rural Ministries Uganda (ERIMU); Engabu Za Tooro Tooro Youth Platform for Action; Enhance Abilities Initiatives (EAI); First African Bicycle Information Office (Fabio); Forum for Women in Democracy; Foundation for Development and International Links (FODILI); Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI); Foundation for Rural Development (FORUD); Foundation for Rural/Urban Poverty Alleviation (FORUPA); Foundation for Urban and Rural Advancement (FURA); Foundation for Young Orphans (FYO); Fountain of Hope Ministry Pader; Friends in Need Association (FINA); Friends of Orphans Pader; Friends Orphanage School; General Community Development Association; Genesis Microfinance Bureaux Ltd (Genefina); German Development Services; Goal Uganda; God’s Mercy Uganda (Traditional Herbs); Good Hope Foundation for Rural Development; Gospel Pace-Setting Ministries (GPM); Grass Root Women Development Organization (GWODEO); Green Pasture Christian Outreach; Gukwatamanzi Farmers Association Ltd; Gulu Community Based Management Network Project (GCBMNT); Gulu District NGO Forum (GDNF); Gulu Foundation Community Based Rehabilitation; Gulu Women Empowerment Network; Gwosusa Emwanyi Women’s Association; Habitat for Humanity; Hamukungu Women Association Group; Hewasa Health through Water and Sanitation Programme; HIV/AIDS Care and Support Project; Holistic Services for Uganda; Hope after Rape; Hope Association; Huys Link Community Initiative; Ibanda Rural Development Promoters; Ibanda Zero Grazing Association (IZGA); Iganga District NGO/CBO Forum; Ikongo Rural Development Association; Initiative for Women Equation (IWE); Integrated Care and Development Initiative; Integrated Environmental Defence (INED); Integrated Family Development Initiatives (IFDI); Integrated Rural Development Initiatives; International Anti Corruption Theatre Movement; International Child Welfare Organization; International Institute for Cultural and Ethical Development; Jamii Ya Kupatanisha; Jinja Diocesan Coordinating Organization (JIDDECO); Jinja Mothers’ Savings and Credit Scheme; Joint Energy and Environment Project (JEEP); Joint Energy to Save the Environment (JESE); Jonam Development Foundation; Kabaale District Civil Society Organizations Network; Kabale Civil Society Forum (KACSOF); Kabale Farmers Networking Association; Kabarole Intergrated Women’s Effort in Development (KIWED); Kabarole NGOs and CBOs Association (KANCA); Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC); Kabbo Women’s Assistance Finance and Project; Kabongo Women’s Group / Dodoth Community Based Development Association; Kakuuto Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (KANIVA); Kamengo Business Institute; Kamuli Lutheran Church; Kamuli Lutheran Church HIV/AIDS Care and Support Project; Kamuli Network of NGOs (KANENGO); Kamwenge Bee Keepers Cooperative; Kamwenge District Indigenous Voluntary Development Organizations Network (KADIVDO); Kanyenze Rural Women’s Organization; Kapchorwa Civil Society Organizations Alliances (KACSOA); Karambi Women’s Association; Kasangati Orphans Fund Society; Kasawo Namuganga Development Association; Kaserengethe Rural Development Initiative Women Group; Kasese District Development Network; Kasilo Christian Youth Association; Katakwi Evangakinos People Living with AIDS (HIV/AIDS (KEPLWA); Kayunga District Farmers Association; Kibaale District Civil Society Network; Kibuku Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd; Kicwamba Nyankuku Rural Development; Kigezi Health Care Foundation; Kigulu Development Group; Kiima Foods; Kiira Adult Education Association; Kinawataka Women Initiative; Kinyamaseke United Women Club; Koboko Civil Society Network; Koka Women Development Programme; Kumi Network of Development Organizations; Kumi Pentecostal Assemblies of God; Kyakulumbye Development Foundation; Kyebando Associates Club; Lira Community Development Association; Literacy and Adult Basic Education; Little Sister of St. Francis; Makindye Multipurpose Youth and Vendors Group-CBO; Malukhu Youth Development Foundation; Masindi District Education Network; Matilong Youth Mixed Farming Organization; Mbarara District Civil Society Organizations Forum; Mengo Child and Family Development Project Ltd; Mpigi Widows Entrepreneurs (MWEA); Mpigi Women Development Trust (MWODET); Ms Uganda; Mt. Rwenzori Initiative for Rural Development; Mukono Multipurpose Youth Organization (MUMYO); Musingi Rural Development Association; Nabinyonyi Development Group; Namutumba District Civil Societies Network; Nangabo Environment Initiative (NEI); National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (Nacwola) Kamuli; National Foundation for Human Rights in Uganda (FHRI); National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDIPU); National Women Association for Social & Education Advancement; Ndiima Cares Association (NDICA); Network of Ugandan Researchers and Research Users (NURRU); Ngeye Development Initiative (NDI); Nile Vocational Institute (NVI); Northern Uganda Rural Association; Northern Uganda Vision Association; Ntulume Village Women's Association; Ntungamo District Farmers Association; Ntungamo District Local Government CBO; Ntungamo District NGOs/CBOs Forum; Ntungamo Rural and Urban Development Foundation; Nyabubare United Group; Nyio Development Association; Organization for Rural Development; Osia Integrated Farmers’ Cooperative; Palissa Development Initiative; Pallisa District NGOs/CBOs Network; Pamo Volunteers; Participatory Initiative for Real Development (PIRD); Participatory Rural Action for Development; Peace Foundation; Plan International Kampala; Poverty Alert and Community Development Organization (PACDO); Poverty Alleviation Credit Trust; Prayer Palace Christian Centre Kibuye; Protecting Families against HIV/AIDS (PREFA); Rakai Children Trust; Rakai Community Strategy for Development (RUCOSDE); Redeemed Bible Way Church Organization; Riamiriam Moroto Nakapiripiriti Civil Society Network; Ruhama Bee Keeping Group; Rural Initiative for Community Empowerment; Rural Initiatives Development Foundation (RIDF); Rural Productivity for Development Africa; Rushenyi Youth Drama Actors; Rushooka Orphans Education Centre; Rwenzori Agriculture Diversification Promotion Organization; Rwenzori Information Centre (RUCNET); Rwenzori Organization for Children Living Under Difficult Circumstances; Rwenzori Peace Bridge of Reconciliation; Rwoho Bakyara Twimusyane Tukore; Samaritan Partners for Development; Saving and Credit Society; Single Parents Association of Uganda; Small World Counselling Health Education Association; Soroti District Association of NGOs/CBOs Network; Soroti Rural Development Agency; South Eastern Private Sector Promotion Enterprise Limited; Spiritual Assembly of Uganda; St. Francis Tailoring Helper Programme; Sustainable Agriculture Society of Kasese; Sustainable Agriculture Trainers Network; Talent Calls Club; Tecwaa Child and Family Project Bweyale-Masindi; Temele Development Organization (TEMEDO); The Aged Family Uganda; The Forestry College at Nyabyeya; The Modern Campaign against Illiteracy; The Organization for the Emancipation of the Rural Poor; The Uganda Reach the Aged Association; The United Orphans Association; The Youth Organization for Creating Employment; Tirinyi Welfare Circle; Tororo Civil Society Network; Tororo District NGO Forum; Trinita Rural Integrated Community Development Association; Tripartite Training Programme; Triple B Kasese Community; Tukole Women’s Group; Tusubira Health and Research Foundation; Twezimbe Rural Development Organization; Uganda Change Agent Association; Uganda Christian Prisoners Aid Foundation; Uganda Church Women Development Centre; Uganda Coalition for Crisis Prevention (UCCP); Uganda Development Initiatives Foundation; Uganda Environmental Education Foundation; Uganda Environmental Protection Forum (UEPF); Uganda Gender Resource Centre; Uganda Human Rights Activists; Uganda Indigenous Women’s Club; Uganda Joint Action for Adult Education; Uganda Martyrs Parish; Uganda Media Women's Association; Uganda Mid Land Multipurpose Development Association; Uganda Mid Land Multipurpose Development Foundation; Uganda National Action on Physical Disabilities (UNAPD); Uganda Orphans Rural Development Programme; Uganda Project Implementation and Management Centre (UPIMAC); Uganda Restoration Gospel Churches Organization; Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme; Uganda Rural Self Help Development Promotion (SEDEP); Uganda Support for Children and Women Organization; Uganda Women Foundation Fund; Uganda Women Tree Planting Movement; Uganda Women’s Finance and Credit Trust Limited; Uganda Women’s Welfare Association; Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans; Uganda Young Men’s Christian Association; Uganda Youth Anti AIDS Association; UN Association of Uganda; United African Orphanage Foundation; United Humanitarian Development Association; United Orphanage School; Urban Rural Environment Development Programme; Victoria Grass Root Foundation for Development; Voluntary Service Team Mubende; Voluntary Services Overseas; Voluntary Services Trust Team; Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns; Vredeseilanden Coopibo-Uganda; Wakiso Environment Conservation and Development Initiative; Wera Development Association; Women Alliance and Children Affairs; Women Together for Development; World Learning Inc; World Light Caring Mission Initiative; Youth Alliance in Karamoja (YAK); Youth Development Foundation; Youth Development Organization - Arua; Youth Initiative for Development Association; Youth Organization for Social Education and Development

Ukraine:
Liberal Society Institute, okisselyova@voliacable.com, okisselyova@yahoo.com

United States of America:
Global-Local Links Project, tanya.dawkins@gmail.com; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), iatp@iatp.org, www.iatp.org;
Action Aid USA; Center of Concern; Hunger Notes

Uruguay:
Social Watch Secretariat, socwatch@socialwatch.org, www.socialwatch.org;
Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre el Desarrollo (CIEDUR); CNS Mujeres por Democracia, Equidad y Ciudadanía; Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM); Instituto Cuesta Duarte PIT-CNT; Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU)

Venezuela:
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA), provea@derechos.org.ve, www.derechos.org.ve

Vietnam:
VUFO-NGO Resource Centre, director@ngocentre.org.vn, www.ngocentre.org.vn;
Animals Asia Foundation; ActionAid Vietnam; Agricultural Cooperative Development International / Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance; Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Vietnam; Aide et Action International in Vietnam; Academy for Educational Development; Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific; Aida Ayuda, Intercambio y Desarrollo; Allianz Mission e.V; American Red Cross; Union Aid Abroad APHEDA; The Atlantic Philanthropies; Australian Volunteers International; Bread For The World; BirdLife International in Indochina; Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association; CARE International in Vietnam; Caritas Switzerland; Christian Blind Mission; Centre for International Studies and Cooperation; Center for Educational Exchange with Vietnam of the American Council of Learned Societies; CESVI Fondazione Onlus; CHF - Partners in Rural Development; Children's Hope In Action; ChildFund in Vietnam; Compassion International; Clear Path International; Catholic Relief Services; Challenge to Change; Church World Service; Danish Demining Group; DKT International in Vietnam; Development Workshop France; Enfants&Developpement; Eau Agriculture Santé en milieu Tropical au Vietnam; Eye Care Foundation; Education for Development; East Meets West Foundation; Environment and Development in Action; Friedrich Ebert Stiftung; The Fred Hollows Foundation; Family Health International; Foundation for International Development/Relief; Fundacion Promocion Social de la Cultura; Global Community Service Foundation; Good Neighbors International; German Red Cross - Vietnam Country Office; Research and Technological Exchange Group; Glocal Ventures, Inc.; Habitat for Humanity Vietnam; Hagar International in Vietnam; HealthBridge Foundation of Canada (formerly PATH Canada); Heifer International Viet Nam; HELVETAS, Swiss Association for International Cooperation; HUE HELP; Holt International Children's Services; Handicap International Federation; Handicap International Belgium in Vietnam; Helen Keller International-Vietnam; International Development Enterprises; Institute of International Education; Lien Aid; LCMS World Mission; Loreto Vietnam Australia Program; Mines Advisory Group; Maryknoll; Mennonite Central Committee; Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam; Medecins du Monde France; Medical, Education, Development Resources, International Exchange; Malteser International; Management Sciences for Health; Marie Stopes International in Vietnam; Nordic Assistance to Vietnam; NGO Fontana; The Norwegian Mission Alliance Vietnam; Norwegian People's Aid; Oxfam Great Britain; Oxfam Hong Kong; Oxfam Quebec; ORBIS International; Operation Smile Vietnam; Oxfam Solidarity Belgium; Pact; Partage; Program for Appropriate Technology in Health; Population Council in Viet Nam; Prosperity Initiative C.I.C; Pathfinder International Vietnam; Plan in Vietnam; Pearl S. Buck International Vietnam; Population Services International, Vietnam; PeaceTrees VietNam; Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung; Room to Read; Rutgers WPF; Save the Children in Vietnam; Saigon Children's Charity; Netherlands Development Organisation SNV; Samaritan's Purse International Relief; Spanish Red Cross; The Asia Foundation; Terre des hommes Foundation - child relief (Lausanne, Switzerland); Triangle Generation Humanitaire; Vredeseilanden - VECO Vietnam; Volunteers for Peace Vietnam; Volunteers In Asia; Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped; Voluntary Service Overseas in Vietnam; Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation; Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; Vets With A Mission; World Concern Vietnam; Woolcock Institute of Medical Research Vietnam; The William J. Clinton Foundation; World University Service of Canada; World Vision International - Vietnam; Worldwide Orphans Foundation; Xin Chao Kinderhilfe Vietnam; Youth With A Mission, Mercy, Relief and Development Asia.

Yemen:
Human Rights Information and Training Center, hritc@y.net.ye, www.hritc.net

Zambia:
Women for Change (WFC), wfc@zamnet.zm, www.wfc.org.zm;
Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ); Zambia Institute of Environmental Management (ZIEM); Non-Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC); 2410; Gallant Youth of Zambia

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Social Watch: promoting accountability

Publication_year: 
2012
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Yes

Social Watch, a network that today has members in over 70 countries around the world, was created in 1995 as a “meeting place for non-governmental organizations concerned with social development and gender discrimination.” This network was created to respond to the need to promote the political will required for making the United Nations promises come true. Social Watch, which is continually growing both qualitatively and quantitatively, has published 16 yearly reports on progress and setbacks in the struggle against poverty and for gender equality. These reports have been used as tools for advocacy on a local, regional, and international level.

From its number 0, published in 1996, to this present issue, the 16th, the Social Watch Report has complied more than 670 national reports from civil society organizations, all of them with the common aim of reminding governments of their commitments and tracking their implementation, both country by country and at the international level.

Memorandum of Understanding between national groups and the Social Watch network

  1. Coalitions must be based in the country and be active in social development issues in that country (not exclusively as academics or consultants).
  2. Their basic commitment to the international network is to provide a national report, with their own conclusions and determination of priorities, to be included in the annual publication.
  3. They are expected to use their national report and the global report in lobbying activities at a national level.
  4. They must be open to the incorporation of other organizations, work actively to broaden awareness of Social Watch and encourage the participation of other organizations.
  5. They are responsible for raising funds for their activities. National coalitions are not dependent for funds on, or financially accountable to, the Secretariat or any other international Social Watch entity.
  6. Each coalition determines its own organizational structure.
  7. Social Watch membership and the exercise of governmental functions are absolutely incompatible.
  8. Cooperation with other national platforms should be encouraged at sub-regional, regional and global levels.
  9. In cases of conflicts between members/participating organizations of a coalition on issues related to Social Watch (e.g. nomination of the focal point, contribution to the Social Watch Report, nomination of delegates to the Social Watch Assembly) all parties involved have to demonstrate their willingness to solve the problems at national level. If, in exceptional cases, an agreement cannot be reached, the Coordinating Committee can take the necessary decisions.
  10.  In order to demonstrate their affiliation to the network all coalitions are encouraged to use the Social Watch logo for national activities directly related to goals and objectives of Social Watch. They are requested to inform the International Secretariat about these activities. In other cases they have to seek permission from the International Secretariat or the Coordinating Committee in advance for other uses of the Social Watch name and logo.

NOTE: The Memorandum of Understanding was adopted during the 1st General Assembly, Rome, 2000. Available from: .

The present issue, featuring contributions from more than 65 national Social Watch coalitions, carries forward the idea that brought the network into existence in 1995: the need to generate tools and strategies to rectify the lack of accountability mechanisms and ensure compliance with international commitments related to social policies and development goals.

In the decade Social Watch was created, a series of high-level United Nations conferences, starting with the ‘Children’s Summit’ in 1990 and ending with the Millennium Summit in 2000, redefined the global social agenda. In 1995, the Social Summit (Copenhagen) and the Women’s Conference (Beijing) defined, for the first time, gender equality and the eradication of poverty as common universal objectives, setting concrete targets and timelines to achieve the goal vaguely formulated in 1946 in the UN Charter as “dignity for all”. To promote the political will needed for those promises to become a reality, the Social Watch network was created as a “meeting place for non-governmental organizations concerned with social development and gender discrimination” (Social Watch No. 0, 1996), by a group of civil society organizations.

Thus, the Social Watch Report was formulated as a powerful tool for the presentation of internationally available statistical information and for reporting on qualitative aspects of the issues addressed through analyses by social organizations working at a national level. A yearly publication, the Report is devoted to progress and setbacks in the struggle against poverty and for gender equality, two largely overlapping objectives, since the absolute majority of people living in poverty are women.

The Social Watch yearly reports, while adding an international dimension to local efforts and campaigns, became the first sustained monitoring initiative on social development and gender equity at a national level, and the first to combine both in one international overview.

The report Nº0, published in 1996, featured contributions from 13 organizations; since then, the network has been growing steadily. Currently, Social Watch has members (“watchers”) in over 70 countries around the world, and membership increases each year.

The local, the global and the Report

Every year Social Watch chooses to analyze a different topic in depth through its Report, usually focusing on issues under discussion on the international agenda that can be addressed from a local perspective. Experts from diverse origins and disciplines contribute alternative views on the issues through thematic articles. This international perspective is complemented with national and regional reports through which member organizations contribute with a local perspective, reporting on the state of affairs in their countries in relation to each year’s specific theme.

In addition, Social Watch produces index and tables with comparable international information, presenting a macro-perspective of the situation related to certain dimensions of development while also providing national level readings. Social Watch has developed alternative indicators to measure progress or setbacks in gender equity and the meeting of basic human capacities, which are now used as reference points for both civil society and international institutions. These are: the Gender Equity Index (GEI), and the Basic Capabilities Index (BCI).

Although members use the document for advocacy work in diverse situations, report launches, as well as index launches, are key opportunities for dissemination of its contents, both taking place in relevant spaces for international and national debate and decision-making. The report is published by the Secretariat in several languages: Spanish, English, French, Arabic and Russian. Some national coalitions also publish their own versions of the report: Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Europe, India and Brazil. Other coalitions publish an array of materials. The Czech and Italian Social Watch coalition, for instance, publish the Gender Equity Index, while Ghana’s Social Watch has published a compilation of its national reports and the Beninese Social Watch coalition issues a quarterly, Social Watch Bénin. Also, in December 2010 the European report was launched: Time for Action Responding to Poverty, Social Exclusion and Inequality in Europe and Beyond.
In addition, Occasional Papers are published, mainly to help build the capacity of member coalitions, regional training workshops are organized, and position papers are produced[1]. For example, in 2011 Social Watch published the Occasional Paper 7 entitled “Centroamérica y la sociedad civil – Desafíos en común – Derechos humanos, desarrollo sustentable”, which offers thematic reports on problems the region is facing, and national reports.

Through communications methods via website, e-newsletter and its Facebook page, Social Watch utilizes new multimedia and tools to disseminate information on gender, development and human rights issues, generate discussions among fellow civil society practitioners, and conduct outreach to policymakers and journalists. Advocacy, communications and campaigning strategies complement each other to achieve its goals.

On several occasions, Social Watch spokespersons have addressed the UN General Assembly and other intergovernmental bodies on behalf of the network or wider civil society constituencies. The network has kept national coalitions informed about global decision making processes and enabled members to participate in these developments.

A flexible network

As the “meeting place” has grown, several aspects of it have evolved, but the founding ideas and objectives remain. In preparing for their participation in the Copenhagen Social Summit, civil society organizations adopted flexible and ad hoc ways of organizing as a network. No formal governing structure or steering committee was created and no stable coordinating group was established. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) preferred to inform each other and coordinate activities in horizontal open spaces, an approach that some analysts regard as a forerunner of the organizational format later adopted by the World Social Forum. Many of the NGOs that took part in the Social Summit later formed the backbone of Social Watch. As a result, the structure and functioning of the network preserves much of the original flexibility and openness.

In addition to national coalitions, the network is structured around three bodies: the General Assembly, the Coordinating Committee and the International Secretariat. In recent years, some regional and sub-regional coordination structures were established as a space for discussion - not as a necessary intermediate body to link the national with the global.

The Social Watch network is not an incorporated entity and it did not start by drafting its governing bylaws. Instead, a short Memorandum of Understanding between national groups and the network (see box) became the basic framework establishing mutual expectations, respecting both the autonomy of national coalitions and democratic, horizontal decision-making. A key principle that distinguishes Social Watch from other international civil society networks is that no central body provides funds for its members. These operational principles help avoid the tensions associated with donor/recipient relationships within the network – since there aren’t any – and also the loss of energy that could result from lengthy discussions about money, budgeting and reporting, as well as procedural matters. It has also resulted in members’ strong sense of tenure over the network.

National coalitions organize the way they want – or can – according to the conditions in each country. The membership of Social Watch coalitions is very diverse, including research institutes or centres, NGOs, grassroots organizations, trade unions, women’s groups, rural organizations and others.

Vice President of The Phlippines, Jejomar Binay, with members of Social Watch network at the
official inauguration of the Social Watch Global Assembly, Manila, July 2011.

Global Assembly

The Global Assembly is the Social Watch network’s highest directive body. Policy discussion and medium- to long-term strategic planning happens in its realm, which serves as a decision-making forum. However, it is also a space for reinforcing the sense of belonging and strengthening the network’s identity and unity. In addition to setting medium- and long-term priorities and identifying potential alliances in advocacy strategy, the Assembly elects members of the Coordinating Committee to whom coordination and political leadership between assemblies are delegated. It takes place every three years and has been held five times: in Rome 2000, Beirut 2003, Sofia 2006, Accra 2009, and most recently, in 2011[2], in Manila. The Manila Assembly concluded that the current growth-led economic model is economically inefficient, socially unjust, environmentally damaging and politically unsustainable and pledged to challenge the prevailing economic paradigm based on GDP growth worldwide. Social Watch will also contribute to the current climate negotiations and advocate for innovative sources of financing for poverty eradication and gender equality.

Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee (CC) is the key political body for the ‘daily’ work of the network, with an organizational structure which requires fluid communication, facilitated principally through an email list, plus biannual face-to-face meetings and regular telephone conferences to discuss specific issues.

As the CC’s task is to “ensure the political visibility and participation of the network in relevant spaces and processes,”[3] its composition endeavours to represent a geographical and gender balance, as well as considering the contribution, in terms of experience and capabilities, that members can provide to the whole network. In general, the CC’s decisions are adopted by consensus, and every single decision (and discussion) is communicated to the watchers in a timely manner. The constant participation of two Secretariat members as ad hoc members of the CC ensures coordination between the two bodies, with the function of the Secretariat being to support and implement the strategic decisions made.

International Secretariat

The Secretariat is the main executive body of Social Watch. The first external evaluation of the network (1995-2000) noted that, “Of the various roles in the Social Watch network, that of the Secretariat has changed the most” (Hessini and Nayar, 2000). Originally the Secretariat’s function was limited to responsibility for the production of the Report, but due to the network’s growth it has subsequently incorporated a series of new functions, including research, capacity building, campaigning, promotion of the network and its representation in international forums.

Promoting accountability

The Accra Assembly, held in October 2009, endorsed the concept of “mutual accountability” among members and among the different bodies of the network (Secretariat, CC, members). Social Watch believes that the key action to achieve poverty eradication, gender equality and social justice happen primarily at the local and national level and, therefore, its international activities and structures should be accountable and at the service of national and local constituencies, and not the other way around.

Social Watch will achieve its objectives through a comprehensive strategy of advocacy, awareness-building, monitoring, organizational development and networking. Social Watch promotes people-centred sustainable development. Peace is a precondition for the realization of human rights and the eradication of poverty. But also poverty and lack of respect for human rights are at the root of many armed conflicts. Therefore the devastating impact of conflict and post-conflict situations on people is of particular concern for Social Watch.

Social Watch’s key role

Message by Director-General of International Labour
Organization (ILO), Juan Somavia,  on the occasion of
the Social Watch Global Assembly, Manila, July 2011.

Juan Somavia[4]

As many of you know, I am a great supporter of Social Watch. I believe that this accountability movement that you initiated within, and after, the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen has certainly proven its worth and my civil society soul is fully, fully with you. Thank you for the magnificent job you have done in monitoring the commitments of governments. You have persistently reminded them, as well as international organizations, business, and NGOs of the need to act on them.

The major conferences of the 1990s defined agendas for transformation from the UN. It was a time when governments began to question prevailing dogmas with a sustainable development vision. Many governments were then ready to give leadership in shaping new approaches. But the commitments of the 1990s became increasingly subordinated to the demands of a model of deregulated globalization that has become increasingly unbalanced, unfair, and I believe politically unsustainable. Today the courage, the resolve, and the space to think and act differently are much, much weaker. So this puts a premium on the role of civil society and social movements as agents of change. And today Social Watch is more necessary than ever before.

Dear friends, tempting as it is to look back, we must take stock of the current reality and move forward. The reason: financial and economic crises are clear manifestations of an inefficient growth pattern that has created indecent levels of income and wealth concentration. Not surprisingly, there has been a distinctive weakening of a human rights approach. We know that the transformations we wish to see in our societies must be driven by the force of social movements and of social struggle. Social progress demands constant vigilance and constant activism. The Millennium Development Goals helped to bring a certain focus and a means of measuring progress and we can chalk off some successes in the reduction of absolute poverty since 1990. But at the same time, the facts are that globally 3.5 billion people have the same income as the top 61 million people.

Even here in dynamic Asia we see rapid growth in output, but slow growth in decent jobs and wages. Also more than 200 million are officially unemployed worldwide, including nearly 80 million young women and men, and youth unemployment rates are sometimes seven to 10 times higher than the rate for others. And the number of workers in vulnerable employment, 1.5 million, and those working but surviving on less than two dollars a day, some 1.2 billion, are on the rise again. This is certainly not the path to sustainable development. People are rightly demanding more fairness in every aspect of their lives. In three quarters of the 82 countries with available information a majority of individuals are getting increasingly pessimistic about their future quality of life and standards of living. Too many feel squeezed, including the middle classes. At the same time, they see many governments with either too little strength or too little will to reign in the unaccountable power of financial operators who have come to wield so much negative influence on our societies. On the one hand, we have financial institutions deemed too big to fail, and on the other many people who feel they are treated as if they are too small to matter. This can’t go on.

The financial and economic crises shocked the world into realizing that change was essential. Yet there are many, too many, indications of a return to business as usual, and this is a recipe for disaster. So how can we move forward? To begin with, by putting decent work and social protection as key objectives of sustainable development growth patterns. Many, perhaps most of the tensions we are experiencing come together in the world of work. Decent and productive work is central to human dignity, to the stability of people’s lives and families, to peace in our communities, as well as in our societies and to strong, sustainable economic growth. Let me quote: “Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere”. This principle of the ILO’s constitution reflects, as you have said, the right of all people not to be poor. And every person living in poverty knows that working out of poverty, a productive job, is their best chance at a life of dignity. Labour is not a commodity, work is central to human dignity, if you want peace you must cultivate social justice, these are the operating principles of the ILO. And the labour market is a gateway to social justice when it respects human dignity, guided by the notions of freedom, of equity, and equality.

The ILO and its agenda are at the heart of real social processes. We were born as an institution in 1919 out of the social struggles at the end of the 19th century. In the unfolding Arab revolt and revolution we have heard impassioned calls for jobs and social justice, freedom and democracy, all embodied in decent work. Moving towards a different pattern of growth with social justice is technically possible, yet we know politically difficult -- too many entrenched interests. And that’s where you are key.

Social Watch can play a major role in driving this agenda. It requires, for example, a new policy mix that generates higher levels of investment in the real economy, in particular, small enterprises, and not in financial products that do not create value or jobs; yields a fairer relationship between productivity gains and salaries; produces income led growth and strikes a balance between export led strategies and domestically driven demand; enables all to participate through relevant training and educational opportunities; allows for balance and synergy through policy coherence -- for example, in the creation of green jobs; places rights at work and social dialogue at the heart of policy making, and this policy mix must be guided by the objective of sharing the benefits of globalization equitably in a context where voice, participation and democracy flourish.

This year at the International Labour Conference, which is our annual conference, we had two major breakthroughs that can be important elements in the new paradigm for growth with social justice. First, the new convention on domestic workers brings the system of rights to the informal economy. Domestic workers have long mobilized to get the protection and respect to which they are entitled and now we must ensure that the convention is ratified and implemented. And secondly, we are moving towards approving next year in ILO standards, on a universal social protection floor to promote social security strategies that are protective and empowering, productive and sustainable, and which stimulate aggregate demand. Today we must remember 80 percent of workers have no access to social security. This is set within the framework of broader national strategies to reduce poverty and formalize informal employment. These I believe are strong building blocks of social justice and I invite you to mobilize around them and your support can be invaluable. I also want to mention that there is a nascent decent work movement that coalesces around the 7th of October each year, which has been declared by the International Trade Union Confederation as International Decent Work day and you may wish to join in.

Dear friends, let me conclude; we have all been inspired by the courage, the clarity, the energy of Arab youth, but turning dreams into reality is a task for all of us. And the direction of change is never guaranteed, we must all be watchful. We must drive change towards balanced and just outcomes. And we must all be held accountable. The current growth model that has evolved since the early 1980s has become economically inefficient, socially unstable, environmentally damaging and politically unsustainable. So it must be changed. But getting there will probably lead to increased social conflict. But as we know, history tells us that out of social struggle can come positive change. And as you know, when you choose to challenge prevailing dogmas, when you choose to defend human rights, gender equality and other values that are under assault, when you want to make societies better, you also make another choice: the choice to swim against the tide of entrenched interests. So it is difficult, and will always be difficult. And that is why commitment, conviction, persistence, the positive energy not to be discouraged is so essential. And you all have that. And that is the spirit of Social Watch. What you are doing is vital. I wish you the strength and imagination to carry on your invaluable work and invite you to work with the ILO towards a new era of social justice. Thank you so very much.

References

Friedlander, E. and Adams, B., Social Watch external evaluation 2001-2005, (2006), <www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/SW_Evaluation_report.doc>.
Hessini, L. and Nayar, A., A Movement Toward Social Justice. An Evaluation Report, Strategic Analysis for Gender Equity (SAGE), (New York: 2000).
Social Watch No. 0, The starting point, (Montevideo: Instituto del Tercer Mundo 1996), <www.socialwatch.org/node/11328>.
Social Watch, Strategy and Framework of Activities 2007-2009, (2006), <www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/2006/about/cambiarSW_Strategy_Framework_2007-2009.doc>.
Van Reisen, M., The lion’s teeth. The prehistory of Social Watch, (Montevideo: Instituto del Tercer Mundo, 2001), <www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/ZOOM-01-eng.pdf>.

 

[1] The first Occasional Paper by Mirjam Van Reisen, The Lion’s Teeth, examines the political context in which Social Watch was created. The second, by Ana María Arteaga, Control Ciudadano desde la base, analyzes the democratization of international human rights instruments experience in Chile in 1997. The third, a compilation by Patricia Garcé and Roberto Bissio, introduces the experience of monitoring Copenhagen goals through the concrete example of Social Watch. Papers 4 and 5, coordinated by the Social Watch Social Sciences Research Team, address poverty and inequality in Latin America and the links between poverty and human rights. The Paper 6 Beijing and Beyond – Putting Gender Economics at the Forefront launched during the review of the Committee on the Status of Women marking the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Occasional Papers available from: <www.socialwatch.org/taxonomy/term/459>.

[2] Final reports, working papers and other materials from these five Assemblies available from: <www.socialwatch.org/node/62>.

[3] The document describing the nature and mandate of the Coordinating Committee was agreed upon at the 2nd General Assembly in Beirut 2003. Available from: <www.socialwatch.org/node/9388>.

[4] Speech from General Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the General Assembly in Manila, Philippines 2011, <www.socialwatch.org/varios/manila/videos.htm>.

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Table of contents

Publication_year: 
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Annual report: 
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The right to a future
Roberto Bissio

Human rights should be at the core of economic recovery
Civil Society Statement

Rio+20 and beyond: no future without justice
Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development

Rio+20: implementation is the key
Chee Yoke Ling
Third World Network

Sustainable development and a renewed role for the State in the Arab region
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

Switching paradigms: the only way out
Alejandro Chanona
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives

Nigeria: keys for sustainable poverty reduction
Prof. Edward Oyugi
Social Development Network (SODNET)

How to assess the sustainability of development: lines of European intervention
Gianfranco Bologna, Giulio Marco
Social Watch Italy

Current practices are threatening our very existence
EUROSTEP

Green and equal: financing for sustainable and equitable development
Kate McInturff
Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA)

From aid effectiveness to tax justice
Barbara Adams
Global Policy Forum

Intergenerational justice: satisfying needs instead of greed
C.J. George
terre des hommes Germany

The indignados are asking the right questions about Europe’s future
Mirjam van Reisen, Tilburg University
Simon Stocker and Georgina Carr, Eurostep

Housing, land and sustainable development
Miloon Kothari and Shivani Chaudhry

MEASSURING PROGRESS

Basic Capabilities Index

Gender Equity Index

Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment Index (SERF)

From the grassroots:
NATIONAL REPORTS

 AFGHANISTAN
ARGENTINA
ARMENIA
AZERBAIJAN
BAHRAIN
BANGLADESH
BELGIUM
BENIN
BOLIVIA
BRAZIL
BULGARIA
BURMA
CAMBODIA
CAMEROON
CANADA
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
CHILE
COLOMBIA
CROATIA
CYPRUS
CZECH REPUBLIC
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
ECUADOR
EL SALVADOR
ERITREA
FINLAND
FRANCE
GERMANY
GHANA
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
HUNGARY
INDIA
IRAQ
ITALY
KENYA
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
MALAYSIA
MALTA
MEXICO
MOROCCO
MOZAMBIQUE
NEPAL
NICARAGUA
NIGERIA
PAKISTAN
PALESTINE
PANAMA
PARAGUAY
PERU
PHILIPPINES
POLAND
SENEGAL
SERBIA
SLOVENIA
SOMALIA
SPAIN
SRI LANKA
SUDAN
TANZANIA
THAILAND
USA
VENEZUELA
VIETNAM
YEMEN
ZAMBIA

 

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An overview of the Social Watch Report 2012: The right to a future

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Roberto Bissio
Social Watch International Secretariat

The General Assembly of the United Nations has convened a summit conference to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city that 20 years ago hosted the historic UN Conference on Environment and Development. Popularly known as the Earth Summit, the Rio 1992 conference endorsed the notion of sustainable development and approved the international conventions on climate change, desertification and biodiversity.

« Sustainable development » was defined at that time by the Brundtland Commission[1] as a set of policies that « meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It has been commonly understood as providing for the requirements of the social sphere (by eradicating poverty), while allowing for the economy to grow and respecting the environment.

The 1992 Rio summit did not provide a definition of what precisely the « needs of the present » are, but in the subsequent series of UN conferences of the 1990s several social commitments were defined, including those of eradicating poverty and achieving gender equality and several indicators and targets were identified. Each country should decide on the policies that would allow for the achievement of these universally agreed goals and targets. Yet, after the collapse of the Warsaw pact and the desintegration of the Soviet Union, there seemed to be a widespread consensus that free trade and economic liberalization were the way to go.

Thus, the World Trade Organization, created in 1995, announces in its homepage that “the opening of national markets to international trade (…) will encourage and contribute to sustainable development, raise people's welfare, reduce poverty, and foster peace and stability.” Similarly, the first of the Articles of Agreement of the World Bank, as amended in 1989, establishes as a major purpose “to promote the long-range balanced growth of international trade and the maintenance of equilibrium in balances of payments by encouraging international investment for the development of the productive resources of members, thereby assisting in raising productivity, the standard of living and conditions of labor in their territories.”[2].

These two powerful international institutions have shaped the economic policies of the developing countries in the last two decades through their rulings on international trade and through the loan conditionalities imposed on indebted economies. Both clearly agree on trade and economic growth as the key objectives of their policies and the most important contributions to the sustainable development of their member countries.

And they have met these objectives: Total world exports multiplied almost five times in 20 years, growing from a total value of USD 781 billion in 1990 to USD 3.7 trillion in 2010. Over the same period, the world’s average inhabitants more than doubled their income, from USD 4.08 a year in 1990 to USD 9.12 in 2010.

 

The dignity deficit

These indicators suggest a global abundance of resources, which are sufficient to guarantee for the essential needs of all of the world's 7 billion inhabitants. And yet, too many of these inhabitants suffer from hunger. According to the 2010 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization, 850 million people are undernourished in the world, and that number is increasing due to rising food prices.

To monitor trends in global deprivation, Social Watch has developed a Basic Capabilities Index[3], which combines infant mortality rates, the number of births attended by trained personnel and enrolment rates in primary school. Together these indicators of basic well-being provide elements of what should be considered a « minimum social floor. » They should add up to 100%, meaning that no children should be out of school, no women should deliver their babies without assistance and no kids born alive, or at least less than 1% of them, should die before their fifth birthday, since the major cause of those avoidable deaths is malnutrition and poverty.

The indicators computed in the BCI are part of internationally agreed goals that reflect what a minimum social floor should achieve. Below that, there is a dignity deficit. Dignity for all is what the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights set out to achieve and what world leaders committed themselves to achieve in the Millennium Declaration.

But the world is far from achieving these basic targets. The BCI moved up only 7 points between 1990 and 2010, which is very little progress. And over this period, progress was faster in the first decade than the second – increasing over four percentage points between 1990 and 2000 and of barely three percentage points between 2000 and 2010. This trend is the opposite for trade and income, both of which grew faster after the year 2000 than in the decade before (see figure). It is surprising that progress on social indicators slowed down after the turn of the century, despite steady growth in the global economy and despite international commitment to accelerate social progress and achieve the MDGs. This slowing trend of social indicators can only get worse as the impact of the global financial crisis that started on Wall Street in 2008 is not yet registered in internationally comparable statistics. The processing of social aggregated data always lags two to three years behind the publishing of the economic indicators.

The glaringly obvious reason for the divergence between the trends on economic and social indicators is the growing inequality within and between countries. According to the September 2011 issue of “Finance and Development”, a publication of the International Monetary Fund, “in 2010, real per capita income in the United States was 65 percent above its 1980s level and in the United Kingdom, 77 percent higher. Over the same period, inequality in the United States increased from about 35 to 40 or more Gini points, and in the United Kingdom, from 30 to about 37 Gini points. These increases reflect significant adverse movements in income distributions. Overall, between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s, inequality rose in 16 out of 20 rich OECD countries ». The Gini coefficient is the most used measure of inequality and ranges from 0, when everybody has the same income, to 1 when a single individual receives all the wealth of a society. Brazil is one of the few countries where inequalities have diminished in the last decade from over 60 to nearly 55. The world as a whole is more unequal than any country, with a Gini value of around 70.

Thus, the hard numbers prove that prosperity does not « trickle down.» It used to be common sense that a growing economy benefits the poor, that a rising tide will lift all boats, big or small, or that the pie has to grow first before we can share it, but the trends in terms of the indicators of social progress seem to show the opposite. And that is also what many  members of the Social Watch network around the world report.

Growth at any cost

Economic growth is a priority for all governments. Some identify growth as the key policy priority because it has been very slow or even declined during the global financial crisis that started in 2008. Other have lots of it; including a number of African countries such as Zambia and Cameroon, helped by increasing commodity prices. But that growth is not benefitting the majorities. In Zambia and Mozambique, as also in countries as diverse as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Vietnam, extractive industries are the main motor of growth. In an effort to attract investors, safeguards and performance requirements have been waived and the result has been environmental deterioration without social benefits. The description of the situation in Vietnam is echoed in countries in all regions : “The country's rapid economic growth is placing tremendous strains on the natural environment, but while legislation protecting the environment is strong, its implementation is often weak.”

“As the population, economy and process of urbanization all grow,” the Vietnam report continues, “the main threats to the environment include overexploitation of forests, loss of arable land, water and air pollution, soil erosion due to unsustainable land practices, loss of biodiversity through – among other factors – poaching in national parks and environmental damage due to mining.”

The same is true elsewhere. In Thailand, for example, unrelentless pursuit of economic growth has induced at village level “a movement away from subsistence livelihoods to an increased focus on monetary income.” Thus, the Thai now face “the challenges of rapid degradation of marine and coastal resources and the multiple consequences of urbanization and industrial and tourism development.”

And in Mozambique : “The benefits of economic growth have not reached the people who need them most and the poor are getting poorer.”
Not surprisingly, the watchers are alarmed. In Argentina, for example, they find  it « paradoxical » to promote investments “at any cost” in order to insure growth, while at the same time approving environmental protection policies. The watchers in Finland go even beyond and suggest that ”it is time for an open discussion on the fundamental issues of well-being, equality and development, including forsaking the unending quest for material growth.”

Inequality is the reason why, against all theories and models, poverty is not receding, or doing so very slowly, even in countries where the economy is growing fast. By giving corporations more rights without corresponding obligations, globalization exacerbated inequalities between and within nations.

Inequality is the predominant concern in the reports from Hungary and the Dominican Republic, but the issue appears in a majority of the national contributions of this Social Watch 2012 global report. In rich and poor countries alike, only a small minority benefitted from the excellent economic performance of the world up to the financial crisis of 2008. And then, those that did not benefit from the boom were asked to pay for the bailouts of  banks  in the richest countries of the world that had become “too big to fail.”

Not surprisingly the economic crisis and its social and environmental costs is a major issue in most of the European reports, particulalrly those of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.

Economic growth requires energy, and energy is at the heart of many of the problems denounced by the Social Watch country coalitions in this report. Oil extraction is easily identified with pollution but supposedly « cleaner » energy sources; such as hydro-electrical dams appear as problematic in several testimonies.    

In Malaysia, where the official national goal is to achieve developed country status by 2020, an entire area of rainforest is being flooded and at least 15 communities relocated in order to construct a huge dam for hydro-electrical power. This is considered unsustainable and “irresponsible” by the Malaysian watchers, who warn about “loss of endemic species, increasing social discontent and environmental threats.” In Brazil and Mexico huge hydroelectric megaprojects are being planned or constructed. In Cameroon the Lom and Pangar dam project will displace thousands of people and ruin one of the richest ecosystems in the world.

Biofuels, often labeled as “green,” are a major cause of environmental disruption in Colombia, where the governmental support for agro-industrial mono-cultivation (which provides the input for biofuels) is causing the displacement of entire populations of small scale peasants. To add insult to injury, this does not even result from domestic demands but from the needs of the United States, subsidized by loans from multilateral development banks.

In Guatemala the monocrop is sugar cane, also a major source of biofuels, and its industrial cultivation has similarly led to population displacement, human rights violations and deforestation.

Coffee is the culprit in Nicaragua. The country depends on its exports for cash and the expansion of this crop is depleting soil fertility, polluting water resources and promoting deforestation as peasants are displaced from their traditional lands.

In Sri Lanka deforestation is another consequence of armed conflict and in the Central African Republic the loss of 30,000 hectares of primary tropical forest has been registered due to the pressure of farmers, which in turn results from droughts in the north, northeast and eastern regions, which in the past were known for their agricultural production.

Desertification appears again and again in the reports as a major problem, particularly in Africa. In Nigeria “almost 350,000 hectares of arable land are being lost annually to the advancing desert, as a result of droughts and human overexploitation, overgrazing, deforestation and poor irrigation,” practices that derive from the extremely hard socioeconomic conditions in which the people live.

Climate change is also the root cause of the opposite disaster, catastrophic floods that devastated Central America in 2011 and Benin in 2008 and 2010, where crops were destroyed and outbreaks of cholera, meningitis and yellow fever were registered.

In Ghana, the impact of climate change is reported by the local watchers as: “hotter weather, reduced or increased seasonal rainfall, changes in rainfall patterns, flooding, sea surges, tidal waves and a rise in sea-level causing inundation and coastal erosion. The result is a reduction in food security, increased transmission of vector and water-borne diseases, significant economic losses through weather crises and the displacement of the population.”

Even governments that have been leaders in acknowledging the problem find it difficult to sustain coherent policies. Bolivia, which champions the combat against climate change among developing countries, relies heavily on oil and gas production to fund its antipoverty strategies. In Germany, as part of the strategies to contain the European financial crisis, subsidies for solar energy are being reduced and the item for economic compensation to countries affected by climate change has been deleted from the 2011 draft budget.

Carbon and space

One of the countries most severely affected by climate change is Bangladesh, where rainfall and flooding is already leading to food shortages and millions of people risk becoming “climate refugees.”
Paradoxically, Bangladesh is one of the countries which has contributed least to the problem, since its per capita carbon emissions are among the lowest in the world.

The graph in page 46 shows, precisely, the ranking of countries by CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, in the horizontal axis, and by their Basic Capabilities Index in the vertical axis.

This graph shows that while 50% of carbon emissions are generated by 13% of the population, 45 countries with a total population of 1.2 billion people have managed to achieve social indicators that are better than the world average with per capita emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels below the world average. And none of them are labelled as “high income.” Yet, the members of that group of the “clean and virtuous” have no recognition or compensation for their achievement. Quite to the contrary, similar to other middle-income countries and those considered as “least developed,” they often find their space for making domestic policy choices to achieve sustainable development squeezed by external demands, conditionalities and impositions that press them to take steps such as  slashing tax rates and spending on social services.

The graph also shows that there is no direct relation between better progress on social indicators and CO2 emissions. With carbon dioxide emissions of three tonnes of per capita a year, Costa Rica and Uruguay have managed to lower their infant mortality rates to the same level as  a country that emits 20 tonnes  a year: the United States. At the same time, with the same level of emissions as Norway, South Africa has a set of social indicators similar to that of Indonesia, which consumes five times less fossil fuels.

Between 1990 and 2000 the world’s index of basic capabilities improved five points (from 79 to 84) while the world per capita emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels actually decreased from 4.3 tonnes of coal equivalent to 4.1. In the first decade of the 21stcentury, the social indicators  moved uponly  3 points in the global average, but world CO2 emissions moved up to 4.6 tonnes per capita.

The amount of global warming-causing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2010, and the rate of increase has accelerated, reports the World Meteorological Organization. Scientists attributed the continuing rise in levels of carbon dioxide, which is responsible for two thirds of climate warming, to fossil fuel burning, deforestation and changes in land use.

Countries with CO2 emissions way below the world averages and low rankings on social indicators argue that they need a certain “space” for more emissions in order to ensure an improvement in well being of their populations. This argument is sound, particularly since OECD countries countries have already used up more then their fair share of “atmospheric space” for emissions. However, empirical evidence shows that some countries have managed to reach social indicators at levels comparable to the average of the OECD countries with less than half the world emissions average. OECD members, in turn, not only consume much more than the world average, but have historically contributed to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and thus used up their share of the atmospheric space.

If fulfilment of basic dignity levels of enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights is not incompatible with sustainability and achievable with existing resources, not doing so is not just an ethical fault but also a threat to the global system, increasingly perceived as unjust, unfair, designed to create more and more inequality  and therefore illegitimate.

Rights as the basis of sustainable development

When basic civic and political rights are absent civil society is unable to organize peacefully, people cannot make their voices heard and the quality of government  policies suffers. In Eritrea, “the hell of Africa” and Burma, the need for some democratic governance as prerequisite is clearly spelled out, while in  Palestine it is inescapable  that no development is possible under foreign occupation and in Yemen it is evident that  “little progress can be made towards sustainable development because the country is teetering on the edge of civil war and faced with widespread famine and social catastrophe.”

Yet, civil society shows amazing resilience and displays creativity as soon as it is given a slight opportunity. In Iraq the demonstrations that shook the country in February 2011, calling for the elimination of poverty, unemployment and corruption illustrate the new role that Iraqi citizens are beginning to play in a society where democratic participation was formerly violently repressed or silenced altogether. Although still amidst a backdrop of insecurity and highly deficient civil liberties, civil society organizations are growing and playing an ever-increasing role in the nation’s development and joining the regional “Arab Spring” democratic insurgency.

In Kenya, after many years of struggle for true sovereignty and citizenship, citizens finally managed to negotiate a groundbreaking Constitution in 2010. Its focus on basic rights, participation, and accountability to citizens provides the basis for defining the role of the State as central to constructing an economy that fulfils the promise of equity and basic social and economic rights. In environmental terms, the new Constitution is also a step forward since it establishes the right of every Kenyan to a clean and healthy environment.

In Bolivia and Ecuador constitutional reform processes similarly backed by big majorities have strengthened the rights of indigenous peoples and, instead of using the language of “sustainable development” found inspiration in their cultures to establish at constitutional level the rights of Pachamama (Mother Earth). However, as watchers make clear, the protection of those rights from the ravages of the relentless quest for economic growth demands constant struggle.

Environmental struggles, Bulgaria watchers recall, , were extremely important in the country’s struggle for democracy. Now, after years of increasing apathy, more and more people are becoming involved in environmental issues. The introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the market and several flaws in the implementation of the NATURA 2000 programme for conservation of natural areas have become two major issues in the political debate and the mobilization of citizens.In Italy, even when sustainable development was never part of the Berlusconi Government’s priorities, four successful referenda promoted by civil society (against nuclear power, forced privatization of water and other public services and against the exemption of the Prime Minister from the rule of law) brought almost 27 million Italians to vote, and succeeded in pushing the country in a more sustainable direction.

In some countries, Serbia and El Salvador among them, civil society organizations are vocal in supporting sustainable development policies that they have actively contributed to formulate through open consultations. Yet, success is not taken for granted, as it depends on “implementation, monitoring and enforcement, raising awareness and securing political support.”

Sustainable development:  goals or rights?

By monitoring antipoverty efforts and development strategies at national and international level, Social Watch has found, as summarized above, that economic indicators and social well- being indicators do not correlate. It is therefore urgent to revise economic strategies to achieve the internationally agreed sustainable development goals and make the enjoyment of human rights a reality for all.

At the Earth Summit, the leaders of the world stated that “the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries (...) aggravating poverty and imbalances.” This is as true today as it was in 1992.

Global public goods cannot be provided by any single state acting alone, and they include the preservation of the life supporting functions of the atmosphere and the oceans (threatened by global climate change) or the reliability and stability of a global financial system, indispensable for trade and development but threatened by unhindered speculation, currency volatility and debt crises. The failure to provide those public goods impacts the livelihoods of billions of people around the world and threatens the one public good that inspired the creation of the United Nations: global peace.

Further, in spite of the recommendations formulated by the Earth Summit to develop sustainable development indicators and all the work done in this area since then, the international community still lacks agreed indicators to measure the sustainability of the global public goods under its surveillance.

The report of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission[4] clearly suggests that well-being indicators and sustainability indicators are of a different nature and likens them to  the dashboard of a car, with separate displays for speed and remaining gas. One informs about the time needed to achieve a destination, the other one refers to a required resource that is being consumed and may reach a limit before the destination is reached.

The human rights framework sets clear goals for well-being indicators. The rights to food, to health, to education impose the mandate to achieve universal attendance of all girls and boys to education, the reduction of infant mortality to less than 10 per thousand live births  (since all mortality above this figure is related to malnutrition and poverty), the universal attendance of all births by trained personnel, the universal access to safe water and sanitation and even the universal access to phone and internet services.[5] Basically all of the first six t goals of the MDGs can be read as a request to fulfill existing rights in accordance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs). And human rights demand other goals, not included among the MDGs, such as the right to social security (article 22 of the Universal Declaration), now recognized as the basis for a “minimum social floor”.

The national and international development discourse should not be about picking certain goals as a priority, since all have already been agreed upon, but about when they will be progressively achieved. The realization of those rights is a responsibility of governments “individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of available resources,” according to the Covenant on ESCRs. The prioritization of ‘maximum available resources’ also applies to international assistance. In order to monitor the effective use of the maximum available resources (including those of international cooperation) the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council should be strengthened to perform this task. Further, the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on ESCR should be ratified, so as to allow citizens to claim their rights in court, and the bilateral and multilateral development agencies have to be made accountable for their human rights impact.

Sustainability indicators, on the other hand, refer to the depletion of certain non-renewable stocks or assets. When those are part of the global commons international agreements are required to ensure sustainability. Contrary to human well-being, which can be formulated in terms of goals, sustainability needs to be addressed in terms of limits. Limits can be formulated as an absolute ban on certain activities, such as the ban on whaling or on the emission of ozone depleting gases (Montreal Protocol), or they can establish quotas to ensure non-depletion, which can be assigned to economic actors through different market and non-market mechanisms respecting the equity and solidarity principles.
Internationally, more work needs to be done, for example, on fisheries in order to avoid further depletion of species that are vital to feed millions of people. But above all, an ambitious agreement is needed on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that limits temperature rise to well below 1.5º to prevent catastrophic climate change and ensuresjust and fair sharing of drastic emission reductions, in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities and historical responsibility.

Ecology and Economy
Two modern sciences carry in their names the Greek word oikos (house). Ecology is the science that studies the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Ecology can establish the limits above which a certain activity may cause irreversible damage. The science that deals with the relation between finite resources and infinite human wants is economics. In 1932  Lionel Robbins defined economics as "the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."
It is not the notion of limits that is new. The « novelty » – and the urgency – is that human activities have reached global limits and thus globally agreed strategies are needed.

Any formulation of “sustainable development goals” that does not include adequate climate change targets or does not address the human rights aspects and the sustainability aspects simultaneously and in a balanced way, risks derailing the comprehensive sustainable development agenda without any compensatory gains.

Instead of the establishment of new goals, what is needed is a monitoring and accountability system that can actually make all governments, North and South, subject to review for their obligations at home and simultaneously creates an entitlement for support when those domestic obligations are met but the available resources are still not enough.

The principle of “special and differential treatment” for developing countries enshrined in the WTO agreements is there because of that same logic, but in practice this principle is seldom applied. The notion of “historic responsibility” mentioned in the preambular paragraph of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change goes one step beyond.

In the current international trade system, when a country fails to meet its obligations, the affected country cannot impose a change in the offending tariffs or subsidies (as that would violate sovereignity) but is allowed to impose a retaliation up to levels determined by an arbitration panel. A similar construction can be imagined, where a country that is unable to get from “international assistance and co-operation” the additional resources needed to fulfill its human rights obligations, can carve exemptions in its trade and investment obligations to the level required, by for example raising trade tariffs beyond what would usually be allowed in WTO agreements, impose additional obligations on foreign investors without risking being sued under investment agreements, deferring debt-related payments, or any other measures the affected government might deem necessary. These arbitration formulas are not completely different from those proposed for countries facing difficulties in their external debt payments.

In fact, such a principle was already enunciated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005 in his “In larger freedom” report when he proposed that debt sustainability be defined as the level of debt that allows a country to achieve the MDGs by 2015 without an increase in its debt ratio.

Financial and technical assistance is only one aspect of the obligations of developed countries (and, in fact, of all countries, including middle-income countries, once they have achieved a satisfactory level of fulfilment of basic ESCR obligations). Countries also have a collective international responsibility to ensure that the governance of the global economy is consistent with human rights. Cambodia, for example, is receiving currently some USD 700 million  in ODA a year, but it has accumulated reserves of USD 2.5 billion  in the last few years, most of them in US Treasury bonds, which amounts to an LDC providing a soft loan to one of the world’s richest countries.

Can the Cambodian Government be blamed, on this account, for diverting precious resources in this way instead of allocating them to essential social services? While this is a description of what actually happens, those reserves are needed as an insurance against even greater risks derived from speculation and financial volatility. The G7 and perhaps even the G20 governments are much more responsible for having created those risks, by liberalizing financial flows and de-regulating the financial industry. By not meeting their responsibility to create  a sustainable global financial system, the most powerful countries are also not allowing poor country governments to use their available resources properly.

New rights and institutional mechanisms need to be established with regard to sustainability. The civil society Reflection Group on sustainable development, comprised of members of  Social Watch, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Terre des Hommes, Third World Network, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, DAWN and the Global Policy Forum has incisively identified the deficit in this regard and proposes explicit recognition of the rights of future generations and mechanisms to defend them. (See pages 9-16 of this report).
This « right to a future » is the most urgent task of the present. It is about nature, yes, but it is also about our grandchildren, and about our own dignity, the expectations of the 99% of the world's 7 billion men and women, girls and boys that were promised sustainability two decades ago and have found instead their hopes and aspirations being melted into betting chips of a global financial casino beyond their control.
Citizens around the world are demanding change and this report is only one additional way to make their voices heard. The message could not be clearer: people have right to a future and the future starts now.

[1]             The World Commission on Environment and Development, known for its Chair, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, issued the report titled Our Common Future that inspired the deliberations of the Earth Summit.

[2]    IBRD Articles of Agreement, (16 February 1989), <siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTABOUTUS/Resources/ibrd-articlesofagreement.pdf>.

[3]    See more about the Basic Capabilities Index in pages 45-49 of this report.

[4]             Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, (2009), <www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr>

[5]    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

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Human rights should be at the core of economic recovery

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

The world is still experiencing the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, with no real recovery in sight. Only an enduring commitment to respect, protect and fulfil legally binding human rights obligations enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and core international treaties can provide the basis for reforms to ensure a more sustainable, resilient and just global economy. The G20 leaders must enforce reforms aimed at preventing speculative activity in financial markets from undermining the enjoyment of human rights; also, they should agree to increase relative fiscal pressure on the banking sector and to cooperate to promote transparency and mutual accountability in revenue mobilization.

Civil Society Statement[1]

More than three years after the onset of the global financial crisis the world economy faces an uncertain future scenario. The continuing economic malaise calls into question the real extent of the recovery that was highly celebrated last year. In addition, the world has at no point been close to a “recovery” from the human rights toll of the financial crisis. Poverty and inequality have increased and economic growth, where it has taken place, has not led to more jobs or higher wages but has been unevenly distributed to the wealthiest sectors of society.

As the world braces for another economic downturn, countries and households barely able to cope during the last recession are now in an even worse situation, with negative consequences for fundamental human rights in rich and poor countries alike.

States’ human rights obligations embedded in the International Bill of Rights require that governments carefully assess their various choices and courses of action against the human rights consequences in transparent, participatory, non-discriminatory and accountable ways. Only an enduring commitment to respect, protect and fulfil legally binding human rights obligations enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and core international human rights treaties can provide the basis for reforms that ensure a more sustainable, resilient and just global economy.

Large-scale deprivations of human rights stemming from the financial and economic crises are not inevitable, natural phenomena. The Group of 20 (G20) agenda outlined at Cannes provides several actionable opportunities for governments – individually and in concert – to choose alternative, human rights-centred paths to sustainable economic recovery.

Issues and recommendations

The seriousness of problems threatening the world economy today warrants a cohesive and coordinated response from G20 countries to stimulate their economies. The premature move to pursue austerity policies, and the consequent reduction in aggregate demands, have been the main reasons why the world is falling back into an economic crisis. These policies threaten to continue to deprive people of access to finance, jobs and services while their governments for the most part refuse to establish fair systems for the private sector to share the burden of public debt restructuring.

Human rights standards and principles provide a framework for the design and implementation of economic stimulus measures that are participatory, transparent, accountable and non-discriminatory, and the G20 should enforce the implementation of measures designed within such a human rights framework. Introducing stimulus measures without adequately assessing their effects is not desirable, especially when they may place new strains on public budgets to benefit private risk-taking. Gender- and environmentally sensitive public infrastructure programmes are among the measures that should be undertaken to ensure that any recovery benefits those most in need.

Governments’ obligations to take steps to fulfil their responsibilities for economic and social rights cannot be upheld without a thorough evaluation of the contribution that the financial sector makes to public budgets through taxation. In general, the liberalization of capital over the last two to three decades has meant more indirect and regressive taxes, disproportionately raising fiscal pressure on poorer and middle-income households.

The scale and complexity of financial institutions is another pressing issue. Large financial firms, some of them operating in dozens of jurisdictions, have successfully resisted calls to reduce their complexity or size. They are able to profit from tax and regulatory dislocations that such a position makes possible, while their complexity and size limits the chances that the resulting risks can be successfully resolved without disrupting vital banking activities in the event of a collapse. The G20 should undertake measures to address this problem as it relates to systemically important financial institutions, including through direct regulatory intervention to break up large firms. It is especially important that G20 members agree to adopt and impose a tax on financial transactions and make a clear commitment to use this newly generated revenue to fulfil their human rights obligations. Governments should take decisive steps to cooperate internationally in order to ensure transparency and mutual accountability in domestic revenue mobilization.

In addition, governments should enforce banking regulations that fully recognize the duty of States to prevent, protect against and provide effective remedies for human rights infringements by private actors, including the financial sector. In the short to medium term, governments must be fully empowered to consider regulation of banking services as an essential tool to enhance the enjoyment of human rights for all.

[1] Adapted from the Joint Civil Society Statement to the Group of 20 Leaders on Embedding Human Rights in Financial Regulation (October 2011). For the complete statement and list of signing organizations see: < www.coc.org/rbw/g20-asked-uphold-human-rights-responsibilities-finance-n....
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Rio+20 and beyond: no future without justice

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development

Over the last 20 years, little has been done to change patterns of production and consumption that pollute, erode biodiversity and lead to climate change, while commitments to human rights and gender justice have not been fulfilled. We are facing societal and ecological disaster. The State can respond quickly to this, if based on democratic legitimacy and accountability. In times of growing global interrelationship between societies, economies and people, universally agreed principles are the precondition for living together in justice, peace and in harmony with nature. Here we propose eight principles as the foundation for a new sustainability rights framework.

The world is in need of fundamental change. We live in a world in turmoil; too many people are tossed around in a global boom and bust, a global casino gambling with our livelihoods, our security, our futures and our planet.

We live in a world where the top 20 percent of the population enjoy more than 70 percent of total income and those in the bottom quintile get only two percent of global income. Gains from economic growth and globalization have been unevenly shared. In most countries, the rich have become richer at the expense of the middle class and low-income groups. Unfettered economic growth has further increased social inequalities even though it has generated the resources to do the opposite and finance more equitable access to public and essential services. Persistent poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and higher levels of inequality are threatening care systems, social cohesion and political stability.

We live in a world where 50 percent of carbon emissions are generated by 13 percent of the population. Fast spreading unsustainable production and consumption patterns have been linked to the rapid depletion of natural resources, including clean water, as well as to unequal sharing of the promised “benefits” of economic growth and expanding trade. They have led to global warming that produces rising sea levels, higher frequency of extreme weather conditions, desertification and deforestation. For bio-diversity, the loss of environmental heritage is permanent. We have exceeded the ecological limits and ignore the planetary boundaries. With the climate change threat we are already living on borrowed time. However, we refuse to cut back on emissions and allocate the scarce resources to those who have not yet benefitted from their exploitation.

All too often national and international policies have not aimed to reduce inequalities. Their dedication to stimulating economic growth has provided the incentives to exploit nature, rely on the use of fossil fuels and deplete biodiversity, undermining the provision of essential services as countries compete in a race to the bottom offering lower taxes and cheaper labor as incentives.

Persistent discrimination locks women in precarious reproductive work and violence. Women, especially the poor, remain socially discriminated and in many places are deprived of their bodily, reproductive and sexual rights. This makes them more vulnerable to exploitation and violence inside and outside their homes. Care work which is often undertaken by women within households, is given no value or recognition. Women’s livelihoods and productive activities that include all forms of health care work are often left unprotected and unsupported. All these are made more distressed during times of economic crises and by policies that favor profit over social provisioning.

Biodiversity and the bounty of nature, while cherished, are not respected, protected or valued. Communities and populations that seek to live in harmony with nature find their rights ignored and their livelihoods and cultures jeopardized.

Why has this happened? Certainly it is not because of a lack of awareness or attention of policy makers at the highest levels. The climate change danger, cited in the mid-1980s at a conference of the WMO, was brought center stage in 1987 by the Brundtland Report, as was the urgency of biodiversity loss. The momentum carried to the Rio conference in 1992, which launched framework conventions on climate change and biodiversity as well as on desertification. It also adopted the Rio Declaration principles, the Forest Principles and a plan of action, Agenda 21. The global conferences of the 1990s focused on issues of human rights and social equity and adopted blueprints to tackle injustices from social exclusion and gender discrimination. In the Millennium Declaration of 2000, member states committed themselves “to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level” as “a duty to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs”.

Over the last 20 years, however, the ideals and principles of Rio have been overshadowed, as implementation has mostly not occurred. Similarly, a host of international commitments to human rights and gender justice have not been fulfilled. World product per capita has more than doubled in the last two decades, yet with widening disparities. Globalization has yielded millions of poor quality jobs. Financial and commodity speculation has undercut food security and turned millions of hectares of land away from growing food and into unsustainable uses. Little has been done to change patterns of production and consumption that pollute, erode biodiversity and lead inexorably to climate change. 45 countries with a total population of 1.2 billion people have managed to achieve social indicators that are better than the world average with per capita emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels below the world average. And none of them are labeled as “high income”. Yet, similar to other middle-income countries and those considered as “least developed”, they often find their space for making domestic policy choices to achieve sustainable development squeezed by external demands, conditionalities and impositions that press them to take steps such as to slash tax rates and spending on social services.

Economic policies have on many occasions contradicted the commitments made to rights and sustainability as they and their related national and international institutions occupy the apex of governance domains. They have relied too much on markets to allocate societies’ resources and distribute their wealth, singling out GDP growth as the ultimate measure of well-being. The result has been increased concentration and bigger market share ratios of a few transnational corporations, including in the food and medicine sectors.

This deliberate policy choice of hands-off came to a head when, ignited in the USA, it exploded into the global financial crisis in 2008, intensifying inequalities further as the resulting job losses and income cuts hit low-income groups disproportionately. Yet, relentlessly, the policy responses squeezed societies and communities further, relying on the same market actors that had been wrong before, paying little or no heed to the already fragile human and ecological systems, and pushing societies and communities to the breaking point.

Despite evidence that counter-cyclical policies acted as effective shock absorbers and enhanced resilience, many governments have sacrificed social expenditures to neo-liberal orthodoxy and a stronger dependence on financial markets. The costs of inaction and the mal-action of business as usual are amassing a mountain of social and ecological liabilities. High unemployment especially of young people, increasing food prices and widespread unfairness have created a climate of social and political tension and unrest in many countries. In countries around the globe, from Cairo to Manhattan to New Delhi, people take to the streets to express their anger with the status quo and their unwillingness to accept it any longer. Their motives and goals may differ according to the unique circumstances they live in – but their demands are all similar: greater justice and more freedom from the pressure of the “markets” and their faithful agents.

Why is governance failing us so badly? States have reneged on their democratic values and governments have become less accountable to the people. Universal norms and standards are being ignored or side-stepped by new rules that favor markets. Risks are being borne by those who had no role in taking them while a new classification of “too-big-to-fail” has re-ordered the distribution of public resources. We are confronted with a hierarchy of rights with those protecting human and eco systems relegated to the lowest rungs. This situation finds its parallels in governance at the national and international levels. Further, the fragmented global governance has led to missing the big picture and setting low demands that treat symptoms not causes.

Decades of wrong-headed policies and the impact of multiple policy failures have inevitably highlighted the role of the state and how important it is. Responses to the failure of the financial system show that the state can act and will act quickly in the face of perceived disaster with money and policies. But, the required stronger role of the state must be based on democratic legitimacy and accountability and be balanced by effective participation of civil society.

We are living in a period of turmoil, facing societal and ecological disaster. We demand of states that they act now promptly and effectively in the face of this disaster.

Reconfirming the foundation of sustainability: The framework of universal principles and rights

The need for universal principles. Every concept of development, well-being and progress in societies is based on a set of fundamental principles and values. These values are rooted deeply in our culture, our ideologies and our belief systems. We are convinced, that there is a set of universal principles and values that is shared by most of us. Common principles and values build the foundation of societies. We acknowledge the diversity of cultural expressions as a value in itself that has to be protected and promoted. In times of globalization and growing global interrelationship between societies, economies and people, universally agreed principles are the precondition for living together in justice, peace and in harmony with nature.
A set of existing principles as common ground. There is no need to invent principles and values of this kind. In national constitutions as well as in various international treaties, declarations and policy statements of the United Nations, governments have agreed upon certain fundamental principles, which are essential to societies and international relations. We propose the following set of eight principles as the foundation for a new sustainability rights framework:

The essential values of freedom, equality, diversity and the respect for nature. In addition to the core set of universal principles, there are fundamental values, which are also essential to international relations. Governments referred to some of them in the Millennium Declaration. They include, inter alia:

Failure to translate the principles into practice. While all governments agreed to these principles in general, they have mostly failed to translate them into enforceable obligations and specific policies. If governments had taken the solidarity principle seriously, poverty and hunger could have been reduced dramatically; if they really accepted the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the Copenhagen climate summit would not have ended in such a disaster; and had they complied with the precautionary principle, nuclear catastrophes such as those of Chernobyl and Fukushima could have been avoided.

Turning principles into rights. In order to ensure the functioning of a society and create safeguards against tyranny, values have to be translated into law, rights and legally binding obligations. At international level, the human rights system plays a key role in turning moral values into legal rights. Of particular importance is the International Bill of Human Rights that includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Equally significant are the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. More recently, these key documents have been complemented by the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). Together with the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) and complemented by the core set of principles we mentioned above, these documents can form the normative framework of a holistic concept of sustainability, well-being and societal progress.

Rebalancing rights. While the norms of the international human rights system are generally accepted and ratified by most countries of the world, there is still a huge implementation gap. Even worse: while states and their organs at national and international levels too often failed to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, over the last two decades they have strengthened corporate rights and the rights of capital. They promoted the free movement of capital, but restricted the free movement of people; they strengthened the rights of transnational investors, but weakened the rights of people affected by these investments. Transnational corporations may nowadays sue governments at international fora for any change in the rules, including health regulations, that affect their actual or planned profits, but people are hindered from suing companies for the pollution and other harmful practices inflicted upon them. There is an urgent need to rebalance rights, i.e. to reclaim human rights as the normative foundation of policy, and to roll-back the rights of capital in relation to the rights of people.

Filling the gaps in the rights system. There are not only gaps in the implementation of rights but also gaps in the international rights system itself. Certain principles and values, such as the principle of intergenerational justice and the respect for nature are not explicitly translated into (codified) rights yet. There is a need of intensified debate and research on how to include the concepts of the rights of nature and intergenerational justice in the international normative system and turn them into practice.

From theory to practice: Translating principles and rights into strategies, goals and policies. To translate fundamental principles into internationally agreed rights and obligations is only the first step. The next is to formulate political goals and strategies to implement these rights. Here, public policies play a crucial role. Democratically legitimized public authorities, particularly governments and parliaments, have the main obligation to implement a rights-based approach of sustainability, well-being and societal progress. They must not transfer this obligation to the private sector or to civil society.

 

Redirecting policies towards present and future justice

 

Consequences from the failure to translate principles and rights into policies. In the past decades governments agreed formally on an almost comprehensive set of sustainability principles and human rights, but they failed to bring their policies effectively into line with them. Instead, policies are still too often sectorally fragmented and misguided with an overreliance on economic growth and self-regulation of the “markets”. New concepts like “green growth” are at best attempts to treat the symptoms of the problems without tackling their root causes. What is therefore needed are fundamental changes at three levels: in the mindset, the guiding concepts and indicators of development and progress; in fiscal and regulatory policies (at national and international levels) in order to overcome effectively social inequalities and the degradation of nature and to strengthen sustainable economies; and in institutions and governance mechanisms (at national and international levels).

Changing the dominant mindset. The mindset of many opinion leaders and political decision-makers worldwide is still focused on economic growth and market-driven solutions as the panacea for all economic, social and environmental problems in the world. Governments are not (and should not be) in a position to change the dominant mindset by command and control. But they are obliged to draw lessons from the failures of the past and reformulate the overall objectives of their policies and related concepts and metrics that guide them. Instead of subordinating their policies to the overarching goal of maximizing GDP growth, the leitmotif of their policies should be to maximize the well-being of the people without compromising the well-being of future generations by respecting the planetary boundaries.

Urgent Appeal to Change the Mindset

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio 2012-- must change the dominant mindset by:

Restoring public rights over corporate privileges;
after 30 years of strengthening the power of investors and big corporations through deregulation, trade and financial liberalization, tax cuts and exemptions, and weakening the role of the State in mediating this power; and after the market-driven financial meltdown.

The principles and values of the Rio Declaration and the UN Millennium Declaration, adopted by heads of State and government, are threatened and urgently need to be re-established. These principles and values include Human Rights, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Diversity, Respect for Nature, and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. Corporate interests do not uphold these principles and values.

Taking equity seriously;
after 30 years of policies that have further widened the gap between rich and poor and have exacerbated inequities and inequalities, not least regarding access to resources.

Unbridled market forces have favoured  those already in a position of power, thereby widening the economic divide. This requires the state to redress the imbalance, eliminate discrimination, and ensure sustainable livelihoods, decent work and social inclusion. Intergenerational justice requires restraint and responsibility by the present generation. It is urgent to establish more equitable per capita rights towards the global commons and to the emission of greenhouse gases, taking fully into account historical responsibility.

Rescuing nature;
after more than 60 years of global warming, loss of biodiversity, desertification, depletion of marine life and of forests, a spiraling water crisis and many other ecological catastrophes.

The environmental crisis is hitting the poor much harder than the affluent. Knowledge-intensive solutions including technologies are available to restore natural systems, and dramatically reduce pressures on climate and the global environment while improving human well-being. A "green economy" is attainable but must be embedded in a holistic concept of sustainability. What we need is a change of lifestyles.

The Rio 1992 Summit adopted legally-binding instruments and embraced civil society. The Johannesburg Summit 2002 celebrated partnerships relying on a self-regulated Private Sector. The Rio 2012 Summit must re-affirm the State as the indispensable actor setting the legal frame, enforcing standards of equity and human rights, and fostering long-term ecological thinking, based on democratic legitimacy.

New metrics for sustainability and societal progress. Consequently, governments should recognize the need for new metrics for sustainability and societal progress beyond GDP to guide their policies. They should actively promote the research and discourse on alternative metrics at national and international levels, within a specified timeframe, and with broad participation of civil society. The discourse should build upon existing initiatives, for instance the report of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, Measuring Australia’s Progress (MAP), and the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan. It should also take into account the current revision of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) coordinated by the Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat.

Sustainable development goals. The 1992 Rio Summit demanded further work on the definition of indicators of sustainable development which would be the basis both for defining the concept and establishing common international goals. Two decades later, more progress has to be achieved. Links have to be established to the human rights framework which sets clear goals, for instance on the rights to food, to health, and to education. Therefore, the debate should not be about these goals, as they have already been agreed upon, but about the “when” and the “maximum available resources” (including those of international cooperation) to ensure their progressive realization. Any formulation of Sustainable Development Goals that does not adequately address the human rights aspects and the sustainability aspects simultaneously and in a balanced way risks derailing the comprehensive sustainable development agenda without any compensatory gains.

Commitment to policy coherence for sustainability. In order to translate the universal sustainability rights framework outlined above into practical policy at national level, governments and parliaments should adopt binding commitments to policy coherence for sustainability as well as strategies for implementation and monitoring. Based upon the core set of universal principles, such as the precautionary principle, the “do no harm” principle, and the solidarity principle, all public policies should be redirected towards human rights and sustainability and subject to sustainability and human rights impact assessments.

A new Charter on the Right to Sustainable Development. In order to bundle the core set of fundamental principles and human rights to a normative framework of sustainability, well-being and societal progress, we propose to adopt a new Charter on the Right to Sustainable Development. This Charter should also refer, inter alia, to the World Charter for Nature (1982) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), and update and upgrade the Declaration on the Right to Development from 1986. The new Charter should emphasize the commitment of governments to policy coherence for human rights and sustainability. It should reconfirm the obligation to progressive realization of human rights using the maximum available resources and expand it to the right to sustainable development and the rights of future generations. It should acknowledge the concept of planetary boundaries. And finally, it should confirm the principle of fair burden sharing and equitable per capita rights towards the global commons and to the emission of greenhouse gases, taking fully into account the historical responsibilities of societies.

Redirecting fiscal policies towards sustainability. Fiscal policy is a key instrument of governments to turn the rights-based approach of sustainability, well-being and societal progress into practice. The actual priorities of governments are reflected more clearly in public budgets than in government declarations and action programs. Moreover, the composition of state budgets allows inferences to be drawn about the political influence of different interest groups: Is the military dominant? Are business interests pushed through? Or is public spending focused on the needs of the majority in a society and correcting gender imbalances? In recent decades, we witnessed the erosion of public finance in many countries, which resulted in a growing inability of governments to provide the necessary public goods and services in support of people’s welfare and care systems, thus failing to respond effectively to the aggravated social and environmental problems. Therefore, there is an urgent need to strengthen and redirect public finance.

Reallocation of government spending. Parallel to the necessary changes on the revenue side of the budget, any effective eco-fiscal reform requires fundamental changes on the expenditure side as well. Too often public money has been spent for harmful or at least questionable purposes. By redefining priorities public spending policy can become a powerful tool to reduce social inequalities and remove discrimination and to support the transition towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. This includes the following steps:

A new global system of financial burden sharing beyond ODA. Even with a fundamentally strengthened system of public finance with increased tax revenues and reallocated public expenditures, in many countries the maximum available resources will not suffice to fulfill the social, economic, cultural and ecological rights of the people. External funding will therefore still be required. The current system of financial transfers is based on the concept of aid (Official Development Assistance - ODA). It is characterized by paternalistic relationships between rich donors and poor “partners”. Despite all attempts to increase “ownership” and “aid effectiveness”, these financial flows are often unpredictable, volatile, tied to products and services from donors and subject to conditionalities. This concept of aid is misleading, as its justification is charity instead of rights. Governments have to overcome this concept of aid and establish a new normative framework of burden sharing between rich and poor countries based on the solidarity principle, e.g. in form of a universal fiscal equalization scheme. Models for this type of compensation or equalization already exist on the national and regional level. In Germany, for example, regional inequalities are to be compensated by a concept of financial adjustment between the federal states. In the European Union cohesion and economic equalization are financially supported by a compensatory structural policy. Such a model would be consistent with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR). The realization of those rights is a responsibility of governments “individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of available resources.” The prioritization of resources for ESCR also applies to international assistance.

A compensation scheme to pay off climate debt. The second pillar of a new normative system of financial transfers should build on the polluter pays principle and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This is particularly relevant in order to allocate the costs of climate change. In accordance with these principles, those countries, that are responsible for the damage that the excessive emission of greenhouse gases is causing – and will be causing in the future – have to compensate for the costs. They have accumulated climate debt that they will have to pay off over the coming years and decades. The compensation schemes should be guided by the principles of fair burden sharing and equitable per capita rights, taking fully into account the historical responsibilities of societies.

Beyond the 0.7 percent target. Changes in the normative framework of financial transfers will also affect the so-called 0.7 percent target. In 2010 the 0.7 percent target experienced its 40th anniversary of non-fulfillment, since the governments in the UN General Assembly set the target in 1970. The decision was based on the then dominant concept of modernization. It was felt that a “big push” in foreign capital was needed to allow so-called developing countries to “take off” towards enduring economic growth. At that time, experts from the World Bank estimated the capital gap at around ten billion dollars, equivalent to around one percent of the GDP of the so-called industrialized countries. In 1969 the Pearson Commission recommended giving so-called developing countries 0.3 percent of the GDP in form of private capital and 0.7 percent in the form of ODA. This marked the birth of the 0.7 percent target.
Today, this 0.7 percent figure has only symbolic political importance as an “indicator of solidarity”. The 0.7 percent target cannot explain what the fulfillment of the sustainability rights framework will actually cost, how much the respective countries could contribute themselves and how much external capital would be needed to fill the gap. All estimates of the external financial needs along with the new and additional resources required for climate mitigation measures and climate change adaptation show, however, that the financial transfers needed go well beyond the 0.7 percent of the GDP mark. The justified criticism of the original context on which the 0.7 percent target was based in no way legitimizes turning away from international obligations.
We need to change perspectives, to move away from an aid-based approach to a rights-based approach of external public finance. Further development of the UN General Assembly resolution from 1970 to adjust the normative framework of financial transfers to the realities of the present is long overdue. This could take place in the context of the proposed Charter on the Right to Sustainable Development.
Proposals for new and more predictable forms of financial transfers are not new. The North-South: A Programme for Survival report, issued in 1980 by the international Brandt Commission proposed to raise revenues for development by ‘automatic’ mechanisms, which can work without repeated interventions by governments. “We believe that over time the world must move to a financial system in which a progressively larger share of such revenues is raised by these means. The fact that revenues are raised automatically does not, of course, imply that their transfer should be automatic; on the contrary, they should be channelled through an appropriate international agency or agencies (…).” More than 30 years after this visionary report, it is time to turn these ideas into reality.

Strengthening the rule of law to promote sustainability. Setting rules and standards is a central task of responsible governments and a key instrument of active policy-making. Over the past 30 years however, governments have too often weakened themselves by policies of deregulation and financial liberalization. Instead, they trusted in corporate voluntarism and self-regulation of “the markets”. Public standard-setting and regulation have often been denounced as command and control policies. But only unfettered financial markets made the current financial meltdown possible, weak antitrust laws allowed transnational banks to become too big to fail, and the inadequate translation of the precautionary principle into mandatory technology assessments led to the catastrophes of Fukushima and elsewhere. In response to the recent financial and food crises governments started to introduce new rules and standards, as in October 2011 the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which has set modest rules to limit excessive speculation in commodities. But much more remains to be done to restore public rights over corporate privileges and to strengthen the rule of law in the interest of present and future generations.

 

Towards inclusive, accountable governance

 

The need to overcome fragmentation. To date the approach to sustainable development governance has been one of governing the three pillars of sustainable development in their own zone, complemented by coordination across them. This is attempted at all levels – global, regional, national and sub-national – and in cooperation with non-state actors, primarily civil society, indigenous peoples and the private sector.
Sustainable development has been viewed as a linking concept designed to facilitate a dialogue between those whose primary concerns relate to the environment and those who see their role as promoting growth and development. This approach has emphasized coordination and dialogue, but does not have a strong institutional basis for decision-making and policy change across the three pillars. Nor has it addressed human rights, inequalities and social exclusion. In practice, the environmental pillar dominates the dialogue, the economic pillar dominates impact and the social one is largely neglected apart from the limited way it is addressed through the MDGs.
Decision-making and policy development are severely handicapped by this hierarchy among the three pillars as global economic governance does not adhere to the mandates of the human rights regime or the requirements of sustainable development. The hierarchy among the three pillars is also reflected in the measures used for policy prescriptions and budget allocation. These have low-level social goals; the progress metrics count only dollars and externalize social and environmental costs. These metrics favor the private sector and penalize the public purse. We are not measuring sustainable development, but mainly economic growth.
To overcome the fragmentation of governance for sustainable development and ensure policy coherence, it is essential to re-arrange and re-configure the institutional arrangements that cover all aspects of the policy cycle: agenda setting, policy analysis and formulation, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation.

Towards a Sustainable Development Council. Adopting sustainable development as an overarching concept requires an apex institution that subsumes all other notions of development and can infuse the essence of rights and sustainability into the agenda of all developmental and environmental bodies.
This institutional configuration of sustainable development must guide the work of global institutions in integrated decision-making, policy action, implementation and review. It cannot be left to ECOSOC. Many recommend a Sustainable Development Council directly reporting to the General Assembly on the lines of the Human Rights Council. This Council would have a remit that extends to all three pillars of sustainable development - the environmental, the economic and the social.
The council’s jurisdiction would extend to all multilateral bodies, including the international financial institutions. The new council would be charged with overseeing the reporting process supported by an enhanced Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

A Universal Periodic Review on Sustainability. The new Sustainable Development Council should be equipped with a Universal Periodic Review mechanism so that all countries report on measures to achieve sustainable development, covering all relevant issues linked to human rights, trade, macroeconomic policy, the environment, financing and political participation. The UPR concept should be enhanced to consider information provided not only by governments, but also by other stakeholders, such as civil society and the private sector. Information on reports and Universal Periodic Review findings would be made widely available through information channels that actively target all relevant stakeholders.

Upgrading the Committee on Development Policy. As presently constituted, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). It provides inputs and independent advice to the Council on emerging cross-sectoral development issues and on international cooperation for development, focusing on medium- and long-term aspects. The 24 members of the Committee are nominated by the United Nations Secretary-General in their personal capacity, and are appointed by the Council for a period of three years. Membership is geared to reflect a wide range of development experiences as well as geographical and gender balance. The CDP should be upgraded to undertake research and provide independent advice on policies of sustainable development that fully integrate the three pillars and on emerging issues that require inter-governmental attention and action. It should establish ad hoc working groups or task forces to deepen and supplement its work and include members from organizations with a proven commitment and track record in the relevant issues including from civil society and indigenous peoples.

International Ombudsperson and Special Rapporteurs. There are some key areas of sustainable development and intergenerational justice where the international governance system lacks the appropriate normative standards and oversight. We support the recommendation to establish the institution of an Ombudsperson for intergenerational justice/future generations. In addition, the function of Special Rapporteurs should be used to examine, monitor, advice and publicly report on problems, such as land rights, technology access and use, and fisheries, and develop recommendations not only on specific cases but also for new or upgraded norms. This could be a special procedure of the newly constituted Council for Sustainable Development.

Overcoming the governance gaps at national level. A major challenge for more effective governance at the global level is the lack of coherence at the national level.  Effective international arrangements cannot be determined or strengthened without commitments and coherence at the national level, and in all countries. Restructuring ECOSOC or creating a new Council will be a futile exercise if it is not “owned” by effective national counterparts and placed in an influential governance position vis-à-vis other ministries and interests. The new governance mechanism at national level could include, for example:

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Rio+20: Implementation is the key

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Chee Yoke Ling
Third World Network, Malaysia

Across the world, social marginalization, and even exclusion, is on the rise. The disenchantment of young people, women, indigenous peoples, rural and urban poor and other marginalized populations, as well as a middle class now under threat, constitutes an unprecedented challenge for governments and the UN. The ecological crisis – from resource depletion to pollution and climate change – has worsened since 1992.  The Declaration of Human Rights provides a cross-cutting dimension for sustainable development: Rio+20 must therefore focus on its implementation. There is an urgent need to strengthen institutional arrangements in accordance with the Rio principles.

Institutional framework for sustainable development

The UN is the primary forum in which to agree on an Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) for the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development and the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. In this context, there is an urgent need to strengthen institutional arrangements on sustainable development at all levels in accordance with the Rio principles, especially that of common but differentiated responsibilities.

To accomplish this integration of the three pillars and achieve sustainable development, the IFSD should at least carry out the following functions:

  • Identify specific actions to fulfil the sustainable development agenda;
  • Support regional structures and national mechanisms in developing and implementing their national sustainable development strategies;
  • Support developing countries to participate meaningfully at the international and regional levels of decision making;
  • Provide global guidance on specific actions needed in order to fulfil the sustainable development agenda;
  •  Monitor progress in implementation, including on the commitments to provide expertise and technology for implementation and recommend actions to correct and address challenges;
  • Assess the balanced integration of the three pillars in the international system and establish the needed mechanisms to follow up on commitments and to identify gaps or weaknesses that affect the full implementation of the sustainable development agenda;
  • Promote the participation of civil society in the sustainable development agenda.

The IFSD requires the Secretariat to: (a) provide research, analysis and reports and recommendations, to alert governments and the public of emerging trends and problems; (b) provide technical assistance and advice in general; (c) make arrangements for convening meetings, disseminating their reports and following up on the outcomes. It is important that for all of these, it consider the implications for all three pillars, so that each one is equitably developed in concepts, outcomes and actions.

Expectations for the Rio+20 outcome document are inextricably linked to the unfulfilled commitments and promises of the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development, and subsequent conventions and action plans. The commitment to make a paradigm shift from unsustainable economic growth models to sustainable development was made at the highest political levels but to date has not taken place.

Today income inequalities between and within States are pervasive. World exports have increased almost five-fold while world per capita income has more than doubled. However, the top 20% of the population enjoys more than 70% of total income and those in the bottom quintile gets only 2% of global income.

That distorted distribution of economic wealth has come about at the high price of a deregulated and destabilized international financial system, and a multilateral trade system that is largely characterized by rules that are not balanced, operating to the disadvantage of developing countries. When financial and economic crises hit, the majority— especially the poor— bear vastly disproportionate impacts.

Developed countries also agreed at Rio 1992 to take the lead in shifting from unsustainable consumption patterns. But these have remained largely unchanged, and instead have spread to developing countries with the wealthy adopting similar lifestyles while poverty eradication continues to be elusive. With income inequalities sharpening in all countries, over-consumption and unsustainable consumption dominates production choices (and hence natural resources use and financial resources allocation) while the poor and marginalized are deprived of a dignified standard of living.

Reaffirming the Rio 1992 principles

Sustainable development principles and frameworks have already been adopted, first at Rio 1992 and subsequently in action plans, programmes and measures agreed at annual sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). They have also been agreed to in all of the relevant treaties and conventions.

Components of the sustainable agenda are also contained in the outcomes of the UN Summits and Conferences since 1992. The elaboration of human rights as a cross cutting dimension for sustainable development too has ample precedent, going back as far as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.  Rio+20 must therefore focus on implementation.

Today the implementation gaps of the sustainable development agenda are widely acknowledged. It is therefore crucial for Rio+20 to acknowledge the fundamental causes for the implementation failure. These include:

       
Thus there is an urgent need to:

First,  reaffirm the internationally agreed principles contained in the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992, in particular the fundamental principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as the political framework for sustainable development.

Second, renew political commitment to implement the agreed sustainable development agenda, building on accumulated knowledge and experiences over the past 20 years.

Third, undertake a “revitalized global partnership for sustainable development” based on States resuming their responsible role and asserting policy autonomy as a counter to the unfettered market forces that are causing instabilities at all levels.

Fourth, in any private-public sector collaboration, ensure independence of public policy and governance from undue influence by the private sector, especially transnational corporations and large enterprises.

Fifth, recognizing the importance of appropriate technology for sustainable development establish an intergovernmental body that facilitates technology transfer and innovation (and deals with barriers such as intellectual property rights) and builds capacity for technology assessment. The CSD in its first session in already stressed the need for technologies to be assessed for their health, safety, environmental, economic and social impact.

Rebuilding confidence

Confidence building is needed due to the retreat by most developed countries from their international sustainable development commitments, and even rejection by some of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It is clear from the preparatory process and numerous related discussions that there is still no universally accepted definition or common understanding on the term “green economy.” While parts of the UN system such as ESCAP have assisted Member States in arriving at some common understanding of green growth, its details and operationalization remain unclear to most governments.

At the level of national and local governments, communities and enterprises and civil society organizations, a wide range of policies, programmes, projects and measures are developed and implemented that all concerned regard as “green” in accordance with their respective interpretations and descriptions.

However, it is also emerging strongly from the preparatory process, especially the regional meetings, including most recently the High Level Symposium on Rio +20 in Beijing and the Delhi Ministerial Dialogue on Green Economy and Inclusive Growth, that there is a growing consensus on reaffirming the Rio principles and sustainable development framework at the international level and allowing national strategies to be formulated that can refine the three pillars in line with the best principles, approaches and practices.

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Sustainable development and a renewed role for the State in the Arab region

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes
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Switching paradigms: the only way forward

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Alejandro Chanona
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives

The attempts to implement sustainable development have failed due to the fact that the dominant economic paradigm was not modified, as unregulated capitalism is at odds with any model of sustainability. It is up to the State to become sustainability’s  main promoter, promoting a broad coordination  with civil society and the business community (the market) to decidedly foster a viable development model. Dignifying labor and special attention to women economics, must be key elements in any viable paradigm of development.

The difficulty in achieving the development and human well-being goals lies in the failure of the prevalent economic paradigm, which poses for us the issue of changing capitalism from the inside or from the outside. Our response is from the inside. The weakness of the principles that sustain the neoliberal model has been shown by the recurring economic crises. However, these principles continue to be imposed as the only way forward to development.

In the last two decades, the world economy has been marked by constant crises with a common denominator: speculation in financial markets that leads to investment in speculative, high-risk instruments. At the end of the day, excess capital and lax regulations created bubbles and overheating that turned into crises.

The gap between discourse and actions

Beginning with the publication of the World Commission on the Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in 1987, the term “sustainable development” became a reference point for the international community. With the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the Report by the Commission on International Development Issues (Brandt Commission) as its precedents, the Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as: “development that can meet [the] needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The definitive impetus for the concept came with the 1992 Earth Summit, with the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Agenda 21. In these two documents, signatory countries committed to seeking economic growth based on sustainable development guidelines. Later, the Sustainable Development Commission was established in the UN Economic and Social Council as a body that would follow up the accords.

The concept of sustainability explores the relationship among economic development, environmental quality and social equity. It includes a long-term perspective and an inclusive approach to action, which recognises the need for all people to be involved in the process. According to the Brundtland Commission, “sustainable development is a dynamic process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent in future as well as present needs.”

However, a balance sheet of this paradigm’s advances shows a large gap between discourse and actions. A review of the documents that came out of the different UN development summits shows that since the Rio Summit, the discourse in favor of sustainable development has been maintained, accompanied by notions like human development and human security.

This does not mean the notion has been strengthened or that it is a priority on international agendas. Quite to the contrary: the promotion of this paradigm has suffered serious ups and downs due to factors ranging from the differences in perceptions between the North and the South about priorities and financing, or the reduction of goals to “a minimum acceptable to all,” to the preeminence of the traditional security agenda since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York in 2001.

At the same time, the developed countries have omitted the notion of “sustainable” to favor their economic expansion and the maintenance of their populations’ excessive consumption patterns. Meanwhile, in the developing countries, protecting the environment has not necessarily been a priority, while the logic of first seeking growth and only after that, development, has held sway. Thus, despite the fact that in the framework of the United Nations, states have declared themselves in favor of sustainable development, the political will has not existed to carry forward a comprehensive program that would make it possible to implement it over the entire planet.

At the same time, the breadth, multidimensionality, and scope of the sustainable development paradigm in economic, social, and environmental terms are still far from being understood, either by government decision-makers and the population in general. While the United Nations has insisted on the three pillars of the process and different NGOs are working to promote its multidimensional character, the idea of sustainability has been associated fundamentally with environmental protection. This vision has been given new impetus in recent years by natural disasters, global warming, and the challenges to energy transition. Thus, for example, the issue of a green economy has been positioned as one of the priorities on the sustainable development agenda itself.

These circumstances should be understood in the framework of the international system that took on board neoliberal postulates as the paradigm for development. According to this vision, electoral democracy and free markets would bring with them the longed-for well-being, and for that reason, states should limit their functions and let market forces act. This model displayed its limits very early on with recurring economic crises and the widening social gaps that have brought globalization to a true ethical crisis.

From Rio to the Millennium Declaration: good intentions, poor results

The precedents of the movement for sustainable development and to put the individual at the center of developmental concerns date back to the 1970s and 1980s with the establishment of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, and the aforementioned Brundtland Commission.

It would be in the first half of the 1990s when development issues would take on particular importance, reflected by the series of summits held and the emergence of the concepts of human development and human security, intimately linked to the idea of sustainable development. The end of the Cold War made it possible to broaden the international agenda and incorporate the so-called “new issues” that covered both the development and security agendas.

Actually, these were phenomena that had been around for decades, but the bi-polar ideological struggle had pushed them into the background. From the perspective of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the gap between North and South had deepened because of the paradigm that considered that economic growth would automatically bring about greater benefits for society and that emphasized structural adjustment over the issue of development.[1] Thus, from within the United Nations, a new development agenda was fostered with the aim of dealing with the great inequalities reflected, for example, in the humanitarian crises in Africa and the legacy of the “lost decade” in Latin America. The curious thing is that, despite these criticisms of the neoliberal model, it gained even more strength, and it was in that framework that the attempt was made to implement the sustainable development paradigm.

In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All and the Second UN Conference on Least Developed Countries were held. That same year, together with a group of experts like Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen, the UNDP proposed an alternative concept: the human development approach, defined as a process of enlarging people’s choices and enhancing human capabilities (the range of things people can be and do) and freedoms, enabling them to: live a long and healthy life, have access to knowledge and a decent standard of living, and participate in the life of their community and decisions affecting their lives.[2]

The notion of sustainable development took on definitive impetus in 1992 with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. With the attendance of 108 heads of state, the conference resulted in the adoption of three general documents (the Declaration of Rio, Agenda 21, and the Forest Principles); the establishment of the UN Sustainable Development Commission; and the signing of conventions about climate change, biological diversity, and desertification.

The Declaration of Rio includes 27 principles of action about sustainable development, touching on such substantive topics as prevention policies, common but differentiated responsibilities, and the “polluter pays” principle. Also the inclusion of the principle of the right to development (Principle 3) for the first time meant affirming that right in an international instrument approved by consensus. For its part, the 40 chapters of Agenda 21 provide an ample framework of action to achieve the transition toward sustainable development and to measure progress toward that goal.[3]

It should be pointed out that one of the conference’s most important aspects was the decision to foster a broad-based social movement in favor of the model. The summit was conceived to have an impact on international institutions, national and local governments, the private sector, and organized civil society around the world. Thus, the UNCED was the first international conference that allowed total access to a good number of social organizations and contributed to the development of an independent summit.[4]

Continuing with the tendency of situating human beings as the central axis for development, in its 1994 Human Development Report, the UN Development Program proposed a new vision of security that challenged the traditional perspective centered on the state and its military component. Human security means safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease, and repression, and protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns off daily life.[5] The concept is based on the logic of human development and spans economic, political, food, health, environmental, personal, and community security.

That same year the Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held in Bridgetown, Barbados. This was the first conference to translate Agenda 21 into a programme of action for a group of countries. The Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) and the Declaration of Barbados set forth specific actions and measures to be taken at the national, regional and international levels in support of the sustainable development of SIDS.[6]

Thus, in the early 1990s, we saw emerge within the United Nations a movement for development centered on human well-being and dignity. The international community’s interest in these issues was reflected in its holding several international meetings on food (the 1992 International Conference on Nutrition and the 1996 World Food Summit), human rights (the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights), population (International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, and the ICPD+5 in 1999), housing (the 1996 Second UN Conference on Human Settlements, or HABITAT II), and gender equality (the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, and Beijing+5 in 2000).

Among the outstanding aspects the declarations, and action plans that came out of these conferences share are: a) an insistence on the importance of putting people at the center of the development process; b) the need to foster a comprehensive program to fulfill basic human needs; c) the commitment to reduce inequalities and facilitate sustainable possibilities for living; and d) promoting environmental sustainability, particularly in the population and housing summits.

Thus, for example, the declaration that came out of the Copenhagen Summit on Social Development recognizes that “economic development, social development, and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development, which is the framework for our efforts to achieve a higher quality of life for all people.”[7]

In compliance with the agreement reached at the Rio Summit, in 1997 the Special Session of the UN General Assembly was held in New York (Earth Summit+5).[8] The session was called for to assess progress since the Rio Summit and to set future priorities. Based on reports prepared for the session, Governments acknowledged that the global environment had continued to deteriorate since Rio, renewable resources continued to be used at rates that are clearly unsustainable, the number of people living in poverty had increased and gaps between rich and poor have grown, both within and between countries.

Furthermore, North-South differences dominated in the debates. Pledges made at Rio by donor countries to increase official development assistance (ODA) and make environment-friendly technologies available on concessional terms had not been kept.
Rather, ODA had declined from an average 0.34 per cent of donor country gross national product in 1991 to 0.27 per cent in 1995.[9]

As a result of these divisions, the final document of the meeting (Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21) included a minimum of new commitments to action. Although no new specific financial commitments were made, Governments agreed to a general statement that developed countries should fulfil their commitment made in Rio related to ODA and that "intensified efforts" should be made to reverse the downward trend since 1992.[10]

At the end of the 1990s, the ethical crisis of neoliberal economic globalization became clearer. Deepening social inequalities, both between North and South and within countries, the weakening of the state as a guarantor of the common good, and recurring economic crises became the new Leviathan.

Hand in hand with the crises came the social justice movements who claimed “another world is possible.” Their first big public demonstrations took place in Seattle in the framework of the World Trade Organization’s Millennium Round in November 1999. From that moment on, all the summits of the world’s great economic powers, as well as its international financial institutions, became the target of movement demonstrations. Their presence at international summits, like the one in Bangkok and the G-7 Summit in Okinawa in 2000, put the social justice movement on the map as a new actor on the new, complex international stage.

In 2000, the 189 nations gathered at the Millennium Summit expressed themselves again and again on the issues of world inequality, poverty, health, and nutrition. They also touched on central issues like UN reform, the fight against AIDS, education, preserving the environment, international security, and, specifically, the inter-ethnic wars in Africa. The summit’s final declaration itself manifested the ethical crisis of the international politics and economy of the new millennium. According to the Declaration of the Millennium, world leaders would spare no effort in liberating humanity from war, extreme poverty, the threat of environmental disaster, and in promoting democracy and the rule of law.

In theory, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their 21 targets obey the logic of fostering human development. Actually, the goals were reduced to “minimums acceptable by all.” This is the case of poverty reduction based on income, by considering that someone is no longer poor if he/she lives with US$1 per day, or education, by limiting the goal to covering primary school education.

The seventh MDG is “to ensure environmental sustainability.” However, integrating the principles of sustainable development into national policies and plans, as well as reverting the loss of natural resources (Target 7A), were commitments set from the time of the 1992 Earth Summit. At the same time, Target 7B, dealing with biodiversity loss, deforestation, and CO2 emissions, among other things, established no specific commitment about concrete reduction levels.

From Johannesburg to Rio+20: torn between War on Terrorism and environmental calamity

In 2001, the first World Social Forum was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, bringing together the world social justice movement. This was an exercise carried out parallel to the “For a Citizens’ Construction of the World” Forum in Paris. In both cases, the aim was to analyze the current situation and propose alternatives to the prevailing forms.[11] Civil society has contributed decisively to promoting sustainable development. Mutual exchange of ideas and knowledge make it possible to join efforts internationally at the same time that these movements foster changes from the local level through working directly working with people.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York meant the return to the terms of real politik for the international agenda. The struggle against terrorism became the priority, not only for the United States, but for all the international agendas, eclipsing the development agenda.

The world became polarized based on the George Bush administration logic of “you’re either with me or you’re against me.” The United States reconfigured its security and defense systems, and, with United Nations support, launched the war against Afghanistan. Thus, the ethical crisis of neoliberal globalization was joined by the momentary crisis of security.[12]

A year later, the International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Monterrey, Mexico. The Monterrey Consensus calls on developed countries to adopt concrete measures to funnel 0.7 percent of their GDP to official development assistance (ODA) for developing countries, and to earmark between 0.15 percent and 0.20 percent of their GDP for least developed nations, objectives that were reaffirmed at the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. The document did not establish clear goals about the amount of resources that should be used to foster development through foreign direct investment and other flows of private capital.[13]

The United Nations General Assembly, for its part, recognized that the advances in sustainable development during the 1990s had been disappointing. Poverty and social exclusion increased on a par with environmental degradation. For this reason, in addition to developing its usual balance sheet about the advances of Agenda 21, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) held in Johannesburg was conceived as a “summit centered on applying measures.”

However, once again, no concrete agreements about new treaties were arrived at, nor was the Agenda 21 renegotiated. For example, a few targets were established, like reducing by half the number of people without basic sanitary services by 2012, and achieving a significant reduction in the loss of biological diversity by 2010. Meanwhile, topics linked to ODA and technology transfer from North to South continued to generate greater divisions among countries.

That year at the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the world’s most developed countries committed to increasing ODA funds from US$80 billion in 2004 to US$130 billion (at constant 2004 prices) by 2010, the equivalent of 0.36 percent of their combined national domestic product.

While chiaroscuros were the constant in the development meetings and the traditional security agenda linked to issues of terrorism and international organized crime were the priority, particularly due to the deepening of the war in Afghanistan and the disastrous Iraq War, the system’s different crises began to converge.

On the one hand, the ecological crisis began to be increasingly evident with the rise in the number of natural disasters and conflicts over resources such as in Darfur, all a product of global warming. In 2007, on the initiative of Great Britain, the UN Security Council debated the issue, which took on noteworthy importance since it was irremediably linked to security issues on all levels. To this must be added the challenges of the energy transition —between the exhaustion of fossil fuel resources and the need to foster alternative fuels in order to cause no further damage to the environment— and the food crisis related not only to access to food, but also to the quality of food, whose prices on a world level have increased considerably since 2005.

Finally, we are witnessing what is considered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929; the current crisis originated at the very center of capitalism with the mortgage bubble and the collapse of financial institutions as emblematic as Lehman Brothers. It soon expanded to the entire world, as did its social repercussions. However, since it originated directly in the center of the world economy, it opened up an important reflection about the need to redefine the relationship between the state and the market, as well as to regulate the economy. In direct opposition to the economic crises of previous decades, this time the way out of the crisis and the responses to its challenges have once again been found in the state.

It should be pointed out that, in addition to putting at risk the fulfillment of the Millennium Goals because it threw millions of people around the world into poverty and unemployment, the economic crisis had an impact on the already affected ODA figures. The amount earmarked for ODA by the 23 members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee in 2009 was US$120 billion, a 2.2 percent nominal drop with regard to 2005. As a result, the deficit for 2010 vis-à-vis the Gleneagles target was US$18 billion. Only five countries (Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden) have a ratio between ODA and gross national income that is higher than the UN’s 0.7 percent assistance target.

Conclusions

The lack of ethics in the international economy, particularly in financial markets, is also fed by the absence of norms and regulations, which in turn feeds speculation. The neoliberal model favors the search for easy, short-term profits, a situation that is also the root of the different economic crises, the unequal distribution of wealth, and the increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty.

The socio-economic model prevalent in the world today has narrowed its vision of human development, which undoubtedly was richer when it started out at the time of the Brundtland Report and the goals of the Earth Summit. Today, it has shrunk to a minimum that is closer to a moral excuse than a real will to solve the problems.

Thus, the advances of the sustainable development agenda have been gradual and limited. They depend directly on the political will of the states, not only for coming to agreements on goals, resources, and schedules, but also for their implementation, evaluation, and follow-up. The developed countries have bet on minimum goals and targets, at the same time that they avoid establishing specific, much more ambitious, inclusive targets and commitments.

Economic growth and monetary stability per se are not equivalent to less poverty. As long as the structural problems of inequitable distribution of income and wealth are not solved, it will be very difficult to advance in the fight against hunger and to reduce poverty, lessening the capacity to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals or any other, for that matter. It should also be pointed out that it is imperative to increase ODA; if what is really wanted is to reduce current inequalities; more precise indicators are required for evaluating poverty in the world. The problem is that the entire system of monitoring and indicators is part of the current economic growth paradigm and jibes with its discourse.

The liberal community that today’s world is part of, and its vision of the world economy, have generated a narrative with which individuals interpret their surroundings and assign meaning to their particular and social living conditions. This is why it is important to change that narrative, to allow world leaders, heads of state or government, to reformulate their interpretation of reality and therefore the way they design and evaluate public policies.

This is why a change of paradigm must be accompanied by a renewed discursive-conceptual framework, as well as new indicators to measure social well-being. Any measurement of advances in development and social well-being must go beyond the methodology limited to the economic-monetarist vision that reduces complex, multidimensional phenomena like poverty to a narrow conceptual construct from which minimal indicators are derived. For this reason, the discussion about defining new development goals must continue, so they can go beyond the categories of economic growth. A new set of indicators for poverty and other issues is needed which would mean a profound redefinition of international society, the state, and humanity itself.

The current crisis of the international system as a whole opens up the possibility of rethinking the relationship between state and market, and the neoliberal paradigm that has held sway for several decades. As the Brundtland Report pointed out at the time, “Sustainable development in the final analysis must rest on political will of governments as critical economic, environmental, and social decisions have to be made.”

United Nations Development Program (UNDP), “Origins of the Human Development Approach,” <hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/origins/>.

Ibid.

Cfr United Nations, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: application and implementation Report of the Secretary-General,  (E/CN.17/1997/8), Commision on Sustainable Development, Fifth sesión, (7-25 April 1997).

The summit provided full access to a wide range of nongovernmental organizations and encouraged an independent Earth Summit at a nearby venue. Cfr. Robert W. Kates, Thomas M. Parris, and Anthony A. Leiserowitz, “What is sustaibable development?, Goals, Indicators, Values and Practice”,  Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, volume 47, number 3, (2005).

UNDP, “New dimension of human security,” Human Development Report, (UNDP, 1994).

Both documents listed fifteen priority areas for specific action: climate change and sea level Climate change and sea-level rise; natural and environmental disasters; management of wastes; coastal and marine resources; freshwater resources; land resources; energy resources; tourism resources; biodiversity resources; national institutions and administrative capacity; regional institutions and technical cooperation; transport and communication; science and technology; human resource development and implementation, monitoring and review. Cfr. UNESCO, Intersectoral Platform for Small Island Developing States, From Barbados to Mauritius, <portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=12117&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html>.

Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development, adopted at the World Summit for Social Development, (Copenhagen: 1995), <www.un.org/documents/ga/conf166/aconf166-9.htm>.

UN General Assembly, Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, adopted at the special session of the General Assembly Earth Summit + 5, New York, (September, 19, 1997).

UN Department of Public Information, Earth Summit Review Ends with Few Commitments, Press Release, (New York: 27 June 1997).

Ibid..

Through the World Social Forum, the social justice movement has managed to define the aim of its activism translating it into “the model of an alternative society, whose bases are the respect for the dignity of every human being; the defense of humanity’s common  patrimony; fostering democracy, environmental sustainability, the exercise of non-violence, respect for the identity and diversity; placing the economy at the service of human beings; defending the right to culture; solidarity among peoples and individuals; and the creation of social structures that make it possible for the individual to live in conditions of liberty, equality, and fraternity. “Charter of Principles of the World Social Forum” in Foro Social Mundial, (June 8, 2002), <www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.php?id_menu=4&cd_language=4.>.

Alejandro Chanona, “El sistema internacional: viejos dilemas y nuevos retos. La crisis de septiembre de Estados Unidos y su gran oportunidad,” in José Luis Valdés-Ugalde and Diego Valadés, comps., Globalidad y Conflicto. Estados Unidos y la crisis de septiembre, (México City: Editorial UNAM, CISAN, IIJ, 2002), pp. 65-73.

United Nations, Proyecto de documento final de la Conferencia Internacional sobre Financiación para el Desarrollo, International Conference on Financing for Development, (Monterrey, Mexico: March 18-22, 2002), <www.un.org/spanish/conferences/ffd/ACONF1983.pdf>.

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Nigeria: Keys for sustainable poverty reduction

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Edward Oyugi
Social Development Network, Nairobi, Kenya

Nigeria is blessed with many natural resources like bauxites, gold, tin, coal, oil, tin, forest, water land, etc. It has the largest mangrove forest in Africa, third in the world, covering a total of 1.000 km2 along the West Atlantic Coast of Africa (for environmental issues in the country, see national report). However, 70% of Nigerians wallow in want. In 2002 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked Nigeria as the 26th poorest nation in the world, and the situation is still unchanged.

Factors and causes of this situation are multiple, including inappropriate macroeconomic policies, negative economic growth, effects of globalisation, corruption, debt burden, low productivity and low wages in the informal sector, unemployment or deficiencies in the labour market, high population growth rate and poor human resources development. Other involved factors are the rise in the rats of criminality and violence, environmental degradation due to climate change, retrenchment of workers, the weakening of social safety nets and changes in family structure. Traditional family, in particular, is very important in Nigerian culture, but is currently an institution falling apart due, among other reasons, to migrations from rural villages to cities[1].

This multiplicity of challenges cannot be confronted with simplistic or reductionist solutions. To address poverty it is important to empower the poor people and to give them an opportunity in managing the environment and natural resources. As explained by the International Fund for Agricultural Development: “Empowerment is defined as the ability of people, in particular the least privileged, to: (a) have access to productive resources that enable them to increase their earnings and obtain the goods and services they need; and (b) participate in the development process and the decisions that affect them. These two aspects are related; one without the other is not empowerment”[2]. With this in mind, it is clear that global strategies and policies for sustainable poverty reduction should integrate economic and environmental considerations.

See: <family.jrank.org/pages/1210/Nigeria-Families-in-Nigeria.html">Nigeria - Families In Nigeria>.

International Fund for Agricultural Development, Empowerment of the Poor, <www.ifad.org/events/past/hunger/empower.html>.

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How to assess the sustainability of development: lines of European intervention

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Gianfranco Bologna
Giulio Marco

Social Watch Italy

The route to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, twenty years after the famous 1992 Earth Summit, is building an “exciting opportunity for a constructive confluence of the best scientific production, theory and practices dedicated to sustainable development. In these twenty years there has been deepening and consolidated research on Global Environmental Change (GEC), the central theme for all the sciences of the Earth system and its prestigious research programs (converging in the Earth System Science Partnership[1], sponsored by the world's largest scientific organization, ICSU - International Council for Science[2]). The Sustainability Science has also been created, with two international conferences which have been already realized and have brought together the confluence of numerous advanced disciplines (ranging from Ecological Economics and Industrial Ecology to Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology, all the way to Earth System science.[3]

Moreover, the important collaboration between scientists of the natural systems and scholars of the social systems has produced important international relations, sponsored by the United Nations, such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment[4] and TEEB, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity[5], which have assessed the state of health of the Earth's ecosystems, the services they provide to human welfare and the economy, the evaluation of natural capital and so on. Four reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[6] were also produced, taking stock of the knowledge of our climate system, the effects of our actions on it, on future scenarios, the policies needed for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and so on.

Which indicators of wealth and well-being?

The gross domestic product (GDP) is the most well known measure of macroeconomic policies. It was formulated in the 30s by economists such as Simon Kuznets, and then turned into an actual indicator of wealth and prosperity of a country. It has been used by policy makers around the world to indicate positive or negative performances of policies in general and to determine rankings among the different countries.

The reflection and actions aimed at revising our indicators of wealth and prosperity are now well under way, since it has been demonstrated that the ones used today are clearly not able to "photograph" the reality of humankind as well as the fact that, unfortunately, they ignore the health of ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet. Finally it seems now time to integrate the classical economic accounting with ecological accounting. Moreover, there is an extensive process to define a new economy that will also be part of the discussion in the UNCSD of Rio de Janeiro.
On these issues of central importance for the future of us all, official institutions like the United Nations, the European Commission, Eurostat, the OECD have produced much analysis. Non-governmental organizations as well have been involved, such as the Club of Rome and WWF, with the publication of the report, "Taking Nature into Account" (1995) and the organisation of the first major conference with the same title in Brussels in 1995, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament and subsequent initiatives, including the last major conference with the European Commission and European Parliament in Brussels in 2007[7], which have strongly triggered world political and economic forces to realize a transition towards environmental accounting, in conjunction with economic activity. Naturally, significant contributions were also provided by the report of the committee wanted by French President Sarkozy with 5 Nobel Economics Prizes among its members and coordinated by Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean Paul Fitoussi[8] and the OECD's work on the global project on new indicators of progress for society.[9] 

In addition to all this, besides the work the OECD, the UN, the European Union and other international institutions and organizations are doing in creating a framework and a set of proposals, other international initiatives and practical experiences are underway through the work of research and development matured in recent years. In Canada (with the Canadian Index of Well Being) and Australia (through the work of the Australian Bureau of Statistics), there have been concrete advancements using indicators measuring well-being and supplementing GDP. 
Among the many indicators used, there is the ISEW (Index of Sustainable Welfare), which calculates the environmental costs and income distribution: it has has already been adopted in several national and local contexts. Social budgeting practices, gender auditing and similar assessments are spreading more and more in  local areas (but there are examples of central government such as New Zealand), and cover many hundreds of municipalities and local governments all over the world.

In some of these local experience, specific indicators such as ecological footprint or QUARS (Quality of Regional Development) are used as a tool to address economic and financial policies. In Italy, this is the case of regions such as Lazio and Tuscany. In particular, the QUARS[10] with the identification of 7 domains and 41 indicators of social, environmental and cultural dimensions, has become an increasingly popular tool in assessing the effects and impacts of specific policies. It is used in the town of Arezzo, in provinces such as those of Trento, Ascoli Piceno and Rome, where it is taken as a reference for the implementation of the strategic plan of development of the province[11]. There are also many local authorities in Italy who are working on the implementation of public policies on the basis of territorial welfare indicators, such as the Network of Virtuous Townships[12] and the Network for a new municipality.[13]

Networking cities that use new indicators in their public policies

Many concrete experiences have been carried out by municipalities and local governments – and at the international level - within the framework of Agenda 21.

Among the European capitals, there are the significative examples - inspired  by Agenda 21 - of Dublin and Helsinki (<www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21>). The movement of the "Covenant of Mayors" must also be mentionned: it has undertaken to translate into concrete commitments local policies on energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, in accordance with the goals of 20/20/20. It networks more than 2,600 mayors, representing over 126 million people (<www.eumayors.eu>). These are only a few examples, some linked to an organic application of welfare indicators, others limited to certain sectors, which reflects the growing importance of the debate and the elaboration of practical means using indicators for public policy making. In this way, from a confined use as broader statistical and articulated representation and well-being,  these indicators are becoming instruments that impose constraints, objectives, audits on public policies, at the same level of other indicators of macroeconomic nature.

GDP is still today considered a proxy indicator for overall development of society and progress in general. However, given its nature and its purpose, the GDP can not be the key to understanding all issues subject to public debate. In particular, the GDP does not measure environmental sustainability or social inclusion, and these limitations should be considered when it is used in the analysis or in policy debates.
Significant policies, from this point of view, are collected within the European Union. It is no accident that the European Commission's Communication to the Council and the European Parliament dated August 20th, 2009 and titled "GDP. Measuring progress in a changing world", foresees that by 2013 for all EU countries physical environmental accounts will be available, along with the classic economic accounts.
The attempt that the Commission is making is to also summarize in one indicator the status of global environmental health to be summed to the GDP. It is believed that indicators that summarize important issues in the single digits are essential communication tools that trigger public debate, allowing people to see if progress has been actually achieved. GDP and unemployment rates and inflation are significant examples of such summary indicators, but their purpose is not to take stock of the situation on issues such as environment or social inequalities.

Four lines for European intervention

In recent years, in conclusion, we have tried to translate the welfare indicators in public policy and good practices. Regarding the relationship between indicators and policies, there are the four lines that could be followed by governments, parliaments and local authorities on a European scale.

The first is the adoption of the indications made by the "Stiglitz Commission”, which could be appropriately used in financial, budgetary laws and in the economic and financial planning documents.

The second is the definition of a "economic, social and environmental stability pact, setting objectives and constraints for public policies related to the chosen indicators.

The third is the use of welfare indicators in the Economic and Financial Planning: depending on the countries and territories, there are several tools, areas and fields of application which can usefully be referenced to help build the identified indicators.

Finally, there is the point of so-called "satellite accounts": with environmental budgeting, social and gender auditing it is possible to build instruments to measure well-being and to assess the effects and impact of policies, and which are able to help indicate the choices and verify the results.

One point that emerges in the debate between indicators and public policies is the legitimacy of the choice of indicators[14]. In this context, the public process of building participatory and shared indicators with all stakeholders concerned becomes a crucial point in defining a set of domains and indicators that have institutional and social legitimacy.

In this context, an example is the progress in Italy, where on the initiative of ISTAT (National statistics agency) and CNEL (National Council for Economy and Labour), a "steering committee on the inter-institutional initiative to develop indicators of progress and prosperity" began its work in 2011 and will conclude in 2012, with the aim to "develop a shared definition of the progress of Italian society, to express the economic, social and environmental major areas (...) Furthermore, we intend to select a set of high quality statistical indicators and representative of the various domains (...) these indicators will then be disseminated to citizens through a widespread distribution of the evolution of these indicators.[15]

For Italy, this could be a decisive step towards the widespread use of indicators in public policy at national and local levels.

 

<www.essp.org>.

<www.icsu.org>.

<www.sustainabilityscience.org>.

<www.maweb.org>.

<www.teebweb.org>.

<www.ipcc.ch>.

See: <www.beyond-gdp.eu>.

<www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr>.

<www.oecd.org/progress>.

<www.sbilanciamoci.org>.

<capitalemetropolitana.provincia.roma.com>.

<www.comunivirtuosi.org>.

<www.nuovomunicipio.org>.

On the dimension of the relationship between indicators and public policies, an important reference is the document "Health and solidarity" of the campaign Sbilanciamoci (www.sbilanciamoci.org) operating in Italy.

See: <www.cnel.it/19?shadow_comunicati_stampa=3090>.

 

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Current practices are threatening our very existence

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Eurostep

The development path pursued by the wealthiest nations is ravaging the planet’s natural resources. There is need for a radical change in the current economic system that continues to produce and reflect sharp economic and social inequalities around the world. If structural imbalances are to be addresses successfully, the introduction of democratically managed control and regulatory mechanisms that seek to enhance and protect public rights as opposed to corporate privileges is of crucial importance.Eradicating poverty, diminishing inequalities, striving for more inclusive and just society and respect for the environment should be core pillars and goals of such strategy.  

The future of the world, its 7 billion people and the generations to come will be determined by the way in which we respond to the significant challenges that confront our planet. Our current practices are threatening our very existence.

The international community adopted a set of principles and obligations at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, endorsing sustainable development. Unfortunately, implementation of these principles has been limited. Industrialized countries have failed to provide the means (financial resources and technology transfer) to implement the Earth Summit agreements, and also to provide the leadership needed to change production and consumption patterns, particularly in their own countries.

Human activity has been the major cause of environmental degradation, climate change and economic and social disparities, which are threatening our very existence. The development path pursued by the world’s wealthiest nations has drawn disproportionately on the planet’s non-renewable natural resources, and continues to do so. Actions to achieve a far-reaching transition to sustainable development models must be undertaken, and this requires radical and urgent transformation in current approaches to economic growth and stability and to patterns of production and consumption.

Countries have common but differentiated responsibility for contributing to current unsustainable practices, and for the consequence of unsustainable use of the world’s natural resources. Since the actions of industrialized nations have contributed most to creating the global environmental problems we collectively face, they should actively assist developing countries in migrating and adapting to the adverse effects they now face, not least to climate change that is one of the results.
The limits of the “green” economy

Taking the actions necessary to put in place effective mechanisms for the sustainable management of natural capital and resources will inevitably impact on economic actors. The creation of a green economy is likely to create new “green jobs,” but will also destroy “brown” ones; thus, during the process of transformation towards a green economy some individuals, groups, communities and countries will lose whereas others will win. Sustainable development is about improving the well-being of both present and future generations, and is concerned with not only environmental but also social, economic and intergenerational justice: greening the economy alone will not bring about sustainable development.

Eradicating poverty, diminishing inequalities, striving for a more inclusive and just society, along with respect for the environment and ensuring accountability should be core pillars and goals of any sustainable development strategy; a green economy, while it may be less dependent on natural resources, will continue to promote inequity unless other fundamental changes are also made.

The idea of rethinking the conventional model of economic progress is envisaged by the European Union in its position towards the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit, but despite valuable proposals for policies and strategies, much emphasis is placed on technological innovations as a means to achieve further resource efficiency. Innovations such as geo-engineering techniques, nano-technology or synthetic biology do have the potential to contribute to sustainability, but undoubtedly must be subject to rigourous systematic impact assessments.

Furthermore, sustainable development is a concept that goes beyond resource efficiency: radical reforms dealing with production and consumption patterns, social and political rights and economic practices are needed if the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainability are to be properly addressed.

Equity, empowerment, human rights and democratic participation

The first principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.” In this perspective, promoting social, gender, economic and environmental equity, the reduction of inequality and the observance of human rights should be the basis of any development strategy. This can only be achieved by engaging citizens in the process of making the changes necessary to ensure sustainability, changes which have to be pursued with full transparency and accountability. Ensuring access to information, raising awareness about sustainable development issues and improving participation of citizens and stakeholders in decision-making processes are key elements for sustainable development.

A sustainable economy cannot be achieved without involving all parts of a society. Social protection needs to be extended to all members of society as a right, and not just to those in formal employment. A human-rights based approach should be taken to addressing poverty in financing for development strategies with a particular focus on women. Regarding food security, for example, the role of women (who produce 60-80% of food in agricultural societies) should be recognized.

Financing for sustainable development

Significant levels of financing will be required from developed countries in order to advance the implementation of effective global strategies to achieve sustainability. The commitment to provide new and additional finance towards tackling climate change also needs to be recognized within this context.

New forms of innovative financing that have been under discussion for more than a decade can also be an important contribution towards the implementation of sustainable development strategies. The proposal for a financial transaction tax (FTT) should be taken forward, and most local and national taxation systems need to be revised so that they promote sustainability. New systems must be based on the principle that polluter pays, and all subsidies that undermine sustainable development must be eliminated.

Conclusions

The recent crises have shown the limits of current economic models. Increased liberalisation will not deliver development, understood as a multidimensional concept encompassing economic, environmental and social progress. This model has led to increased instability, the emergence of multiple crises, an over emphasis on personal accumulation of wealth, increasing social inequalities and environmental degradation.

The structural imbalances in the global economic system that perpetuates inequalities and trap millions in cycles of poverty must be addressed, redistributing power and putting in place democratically managed control and regulatory mechanisms. People should be put at the centre of any strategy devised to ensure social, economic and environmental security.

Rio 2012 is an important opportunity to build on past commitments and secure their implementation. Adopting binding internationally agreed time-bound commitments and strategies must be its ultimate objective, and to achieve this requires the involvement of the highest level government leaders.

The future of the world, its 7 billion people and the generations to come, will be determined by the way in which we respond to all these challenges that confront our planet: our current practices are threatening our very existence.

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Green and Equal: Financing for Sustainable and Equitable Development

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Kate McInturff
Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA)

Men and women play dissimilar roles in areas such as food production and resource management. Climate change funds that overlook women’s role in those fields miss an opportunity to make a significant impact on both food security and mitigation efforts. Gender budgeting can make a significant contribution; in fact, placing women’s empowerment in the centre of climate change strategies is the most effective way to go. Special attention to women economics must be a key element in any viable paradigm of development.

An essential element in ensuring the substantive implementation of any international agreement is adequate financial and political support.  Civil society organizations have begun to track not only political commitments to address climate change, but also the financial resources that underwrite them.[1]  The gap between promised funds and actual funds allocated is itself a key measure of the durability of political commitments.  Following the money, however, is not sufficient to ensure that climate change funds are being directed in an equitable and sustainable manner.  Climate funds must also integrate a gender budgeting approach in the design and disbursement of those funds in order to address and mitigate the differential impact of climate change on women.  Moreover, the administration and design of the funds must be conducted in a gender equitable manner, including by involving women and women’s rights organizations in decision-making at every level.
The Climate Funds Update project, supported by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation and the Overseas Development Institute, has led the way in tracking and analysing financing in this area.  The Climate Funds Update charts:

Across twenty-three climate funding mechanisms, the gaps are significant: $31,896 million (USD) pledged, $13,199 million (USD) deposited, $6,569 million (USD) approved and $2,162 million (USD) dispersed.  The gap between the amount of support pledged and the amount actually given over to climate funds demonstrates a failure of political will that has the potential to further damage the credibility of the ongoing process of negotiation among state actors.  It suggests that there is not only a gap between the commitments of different state actors, notably between high-income countries and low-income countries, but also a gap between the stated and the actual financial commitments of those actors in practice.

The Global Gender and Climate Alliance brings together civil society and multi-lateral actors “to ensure that climate change policies, decision-making, and initiatives at the global, regional, and national levels are gender responsive.”[3] Analysis has demonstrated, however, that there continues to be a significant gap between the statement commitments of fund administrators, such as the World Bank[4], to gender equitable development policies and a near total absence of gender-based analysis of climate change fund policy and programming by the World Bank.

The consequences of this absence are significant, not only for closing the gap between the well-being of women and men, but for the overall success of any climate change strategy.[5] This is because men and women play distinct roles in areas such as food production, fuel consumption, resource management, disaster response, and in the care economy. As a result they are affected in unique ways by climate change and are positioned to make unique contributions to adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Women make up the majority of small-scale food producers.  They are far more likely than men to be responsible for cultivation, food preparation and managing the distribution of food to their families and communities.  For example, in the Philippines, women make up 70% of the agricultural labour force engaged in rice and corn production.[6]   As elsewhere, farmers in the Philippines must now respond to shifting weather patterns and increased food production costs. However, in Montalban, Rizal, women have responded to the impact of changing weather patterns and increased fertilizer costs by changing their methods of cultivation and the variety of rice that they grow—resulting in lower GHG emissions, less fertilizer use, and crops that are better adapted to the shifts in weather patterns.[7] As this example demonstrates, climate change funds that overlook the role women play in food production miss an opportunity to make a significant impact on both food security and adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Gendered climate funding

Gender equality at the core of sustainable societies
Women around the world work longer hours, participate less in formal labour markets, receive lower incomes and have fewer social protection benefits than do men. Feminist economics demands a new development paradigm that is not based exclusively on economic growth and which is not measured by per capita GDP – which conceals the half of the economy that is non-monetary.
In the classic model, activities that are essential for the existence of the family and community are ignored as they take place outside
markets. These include maintaining a household, child rearing, caring for the elderly and a large part of food production and crop maintenance. Since these activities are carried out informally, without contract or exchange of money, they are considered “noneconomic activities,” not only in the economics textbooks but also the in the international System of National Accounts.
In the current economic paradigm growth equals economic development and GDP is the most used indicator to measure the “wealth” generated. However, feminist economics has shown that over 50% of all work hours are unpaid and therefore are not recorded in GDP. If this invisible work were considered we would see that nearly two thirds of wealth is created by women. The traditional divisions of tasks by gender, such as
women’s “specialization” in domestic and caregiving work, do not take into account the fact  that this “specialization” is a social construction
based on gendered power relations that have an impact in the economy. Therefore, it is necessary to redefine macroeconomics and recognize that the monetary economy is just the tip of the iceberg that rests on an extensive care economy in which the main work force is female, and that women account for at least half the total work force.
In response to the global economic crisis, as many countries have emphasized the need to stimulate employment as central to economic recovery, the resulting programmes are typically “blind” to gender differences, both in paid and unpaid employment. The provision of support to poor households, through Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes (income granted to poor households conditional upon children going to school and having health care), while important in helping poor families to weather the shock of job and income losses nevertheless fail to consider the impact they may have on women’s work time, even though their success depends on this very factor.
From what has been learned from previous crises, it is clear that the maintenance of public social expenditure is of vital importance, but we also know that social indicators take twice as long as economic ones to recover and many people are left by the wayside. This means that human capital is lost, and that the equation “when the economy recovers, the social indicators will recover” is not valid.
Women, in their strategies to cope with the crisis, typically give priority to the family’s survival; they take on additional part time jobs, usually in the informal economy, accept lower wages, and do more unpaid hours It is important to know which sectors of the economy women work in, and not to fall into generalizations as if they were all in one uniform category called “workers”. For example, government spending cuts will always tend to cause an increase in unpaid work.
Gender discrimination is not just a matter of poverty, it is also a question of equity and citizenship, and the problems that emerge from inequality cannot be solved by these Conditional Cash Transfer Programs alone. To go further, we need systems of social protection that are universal and holistic.
Sustainable, inclusive and equitable development requires a change in economic theory and this must be reflected in practice. It is not a question of aiming for growth and formulating some policies for women, but of designing and implementing a new development paradigm with equal rights and equal opportunities for everyone without any kind of discrimination whatsoever.

 

Source: Social Watch Occasional Paper 06: Beijing and Beyond. Putting gender economics at the forefront, (2010), < www.socialwatch.org/node/11571>).

Climate change funds must also address the broader structures of inequality, or risk widening the gap between women and men. Although women make up the majority of small-scale farmers, and are best positioned to respond to food insecurity, they are far less likely to hold formal title to the land they cultivate.  They are less likely to have property rights, including rights of inheritance.  Research has also demonstrated that in times of food scarcity women often allocate more food to male family members than female family members. A gender-sensitive evaluation of climate change funds must consider not only how the funds are distributed, but the extent to which funding is allocated to address the structural impediments to women’s full participation in adaptation and mitigation efforts. To return to the example from the Philippines, it is not enough simply to ensure that funds go to female as well as male farmers, it is also necessary to ensure that female farmers have control over the resources that go into food production and that the food produced benefits women as well as men.

A gendered analysis of climate change funds must also be attentive to the division of paid and unpaid labour.  This is an area where gender budgeting can make a particularly significant contribution to understanding how to improve climate change financing. Women continue to perform a disproportionate amount of unpaid labour, much of which is directly impacted by climate change. This labour includes care for family and community members, who may experience increased negative health effects from climate change. It includes labour performed in the cultivation and preparation of food and water, which is made more difficult by drought and other changes in weather patterns.  It includes collecting and using fuel to clean, cook, and sterilise. All of these burdens are increased by the negative impact of climate change.  Yet, much of this work is not part of the monetized economy.  Thus, climate change financing mechanisms that measure impact in terms of paid work and GDP or GNP do not capture either the growing burden of unpaid work on women or the impact of mitigation strategies in decreasing that burden.  For example, a survey of rural women’s energy use in India allowed women to identify their priorities for reducing energy use.  Their priorities were directly tied to time use. They identified more sustainable sources of energy production.  Higher energy efficiency reduced their burden of unpaid labour, which has, in turn, provided more opportunities for participation in income-generating activities.[8] Funding for this kind of gender-specific programming has multiplier effects.  Lower burdens of unpaid work not only increase women’s capacity to engage in paid work and, thus, potentially increase their economic independence, a lower burden of unpaid work may also increase educational opportunities for women and girls. Increased education levels for women, in turn, have demonstrated positive impacts on their health and the health of their families. None of these impacts, however, can be measured without measuring the nature and effect of unpaid work on women and their communities.

The example of unpaid work raises a more fundamental tension in climate change fund monitoring efforts. Gender and climate budgeting are both based on the premise that budgets are statements of values, not simply mechanical responses to market and other economic dynamics. Gender and climate budgeting assumes that spending is an opportunity for change for the better – for a macroeconomics that is sustainable and equitable, that measure progress in terms of well-being and not GDP, that captures change in quality of life, not just the monetized economy. As such, this kind of monitoring and analysis is a radical reframing of neo-liberal economic theory. In practice, however, gender and climate budgeting projects often invoke both the ideas of fairness or justice and traditional economic arguments regarding cost-effectiveness and growth. In times of global economic crisis it is difficult to make arguments that do not attend to the cost and productivity. However, when state actors begin to step back from international commitments to climate change and gender equity they often do so by citing the cost of meeting those commitments. In the face of the argument that justice and equality are too expensive, proponents of the values that underwrite climate and gender budgeting projects must face the contradiction within their own tactics—they must consider whether or not they are willing make claims for justice and equality even when those end goals are antagonistic to market growth and productivity.

See: <www.climatefundsupdate.org>; <www.faststartfinance.org>; </www.climatefund.info>; </www.globalclimatefund.org/>.

“Chart: Pledged v deposited v approved v disbursed.” Climate Funds Update, (2011), <www.climatefundsupdate.org/graphs-statistics/pledged-deposited-disbursed>.

Global Gender and Climate Alliance, “Welcome”,  <www.gender-climate.org>.

Rooke, Anna et al. Doubling the Damage: World Bank Climate Investment Funds Undermine Climate and Gender Justice. Gender Action and Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, (2009).

Ibid

A.Peralta, Gender and Climate Change Finance: A Case Study from the Philippines, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, (2008).

Ibid.

Power Surge: Lessons for the World Bank from Indian Women’s Participation in Energy Projects, Bretton Woods Project, (2011).

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From aid effectiveness to tax justice

Publication_year: 
20212
Annual report: 
Yes

Barbara Adams
Global Policy Forum

Looking at one source of development financing – ODA, it is clear that fewer countries are now dependent on ODA and the traditional donors are becoming more explicit about securing their own interests as donors – through trade, property rights and support to their own economic actors in the private sector. The picture is now further complicated by the emergence of new sources of development financing, both public and private. The shifting financing picture challenges all players to ask whether sustainable development requires a whole new approach – beyond FFD to FFSD.

Transparency about aid and investment flows has long been demanded by women’s groups and CSOs as they monitor who benefits from ODA flows and procedures, and advocate for greater fairness. Their advocacy has contributed to securing more, albeit limited,financing for constituencies that are socially excluded and whose rights have been identified through UN processes and promoted in legal instruments.

The international and multilateral terrain has been very valuable for advancing women’s rights and has generated legal commitments, programmes of action and institutional support to carry the struggle to the national governance domains.

The process, engaged over the years since 1975, the International Women’s Year and the 1st UN Conference for Women in Mexico City, has
also generated a number of challenges, not least how to operationalize the human rights approach and the universalization of women’s rights, how to move beyond the proclamation in communiqués and legislation to specific outcomes and targets, implementation and financing.
Fiscal policy is a key instrument of governments to turn the rights-based approach into practice. Governments priorities are reflected more
clearly in public budgets than in government declarations and action programmes. Gender equality advocates have impressed upon the FFD process the importance of public finance management for gender equality and of fiscal policy for establishing a universal social protection floor.
Even with a strengthened system of public finance with increased tax revenues and reallocated public expenditures, the maximum available
resources will not be sufficient in many countries to fulfill the social, economic, cultural and ecological rights. External funding will still be required and this calls for a new global system of burden-sharing. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) offers a model for developing a global financing regime as the realization of those rights is a responsibility of governments  individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of available resources.”

Today we are not only economically independent, but also ecologically and socially connected. The ability of a government to provide its
peoples with economic security, through decent work and social protection has to be negotiated and brokered through a myriad of rules that are all too often not accountable to national political processes. ODA should be governed by a process of restoring that accountability to the people. Not of choosing winners and losers and placing some peoples’ rights higher than others.

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Credits

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

SOCIAL WATCH

COORDINATING COMMITTEE

Leonor Briones (Philippines) and Tanya Dawkins (USA), co-chairs. Barbara Adams (New York), Abdulnabi h. Alekry (Bahrain), Gustave Benjamin Assah (Benin), Susan Eróstegui (Bolivia), Yao Graham (Ghana), Himanshu Jha (India), Martina Mnenegwa Kabisama (Tanzania), Milena Kadieva (Bulgaria), Kate McInturff (Canada), Kinda Mohamadieh (Lebanon), Norayda Arabella Ponce Sosa (Guatemala), Mirjam van Reisen (Brussels) and Roberto Bissio (Uruguay, ex officio).
The International Secretariat of Social Watch is based in Montevideo, Uruguay, hosted by the Third World Institute (ITeM).

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Intergenerational Justice: satisfying needs instead of greed

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

C.J.George
Regional Coordinator - South Asia
Terre Des Hommes, Germany

Intergenerational justice is an integral part of such concepts as sustainable development, social justice, children’s and youth rights, global warming and climate change. It is the concept of fairness or equitable rights between generations, children, youths, adults and survivors and also between present, past and future generations. Rio 2012 must reiterate that sustainable development based on social, equity, economic growth and environmental preservation is in contradiction with development based purely on economic growth and bring governments back into action. Sustainable development must get a political endorsement that can be achieved only through transparent governance and regulation – and not through a free market regime.

The search for justice is as old as human civilization itself. This search has been becoming more inclusive over the centuries. Moving from the struggle for rights of underdogs like slaves, it has progressed to include all sections of humanity irrespective of caste, gender, race, religion and age. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) of 1989 is the latest human rights convention oriented towards guaranteeing just and fair treatment to all children and is now ratified by almost all countries to include the future generations as well. In the process of operationalizing the UNCRC the global community has asserted its commitment to the future generations. This commitment however is still far from being adequate.

Conceptual Overview

The concept of intergenerational justice which underlies various theories of justice was put forth in 1974 by economist James Tobin, who  wrote: “The trustees of endowed institutions are guardians of the future against the claims of the present. Their task in managing the endowment is to preserve equity among generations.”[1] The unsustainable use of natural resources leads to intergenerational injustice.

Perceiving ourselves as a collective whole, it is easy to argue that we are obliged to be concerned about the fate of people in future generations. But the question is how and to what extent our present actions and decisions must be oriented to the future. Theoretical discussions on these aspects have been mainly a concern of the post human rights declaration era, as political philosopher John Rawls made clear. Rawls considered political constitutions and the principles of economic and social arrangements as major institutions and defined justice as the way in which these institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties and regulate the sharing of advantages from social cooperation. Having accepted the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, he combined them with the principles of justice. Equality then becomes equality of fair opportunity and fraternity the principle of difference.[2] What is essential however is agreement on “the proper distributive shares”: “The principles of justice simply are the principles for regulating distribution that will be chosen by people in a society where the circumstances of justice hold.”

Does this principle extend to the future generations? Each generation must put aside a suitable amount of capital in return for what it received from previous generations, that enables the latter to enjoy a better life in a more just society. “It is a natural fact that generations are spread out in time and actual exchanges between them take place only in one direction. We can do something for posterity but it can do nothing for us. The only reciprocal exchanges between generations are virtual ones.”[3]

Redefining posterity

Is this intergenerational reciprocity practical or real? Since only posterity can bring to fruition our projects or our contributions, this cannot be done on the basis of contractual relationships. While the present generation can bind itself to do something for the future, the future is not yet there to be party to the contract. This is where the idea of community becomes useful. A community is constituted by members of a collective that understand themselves as having certain continuity over time and who see “their own interest as bound up with those of future members of that collective.”[4] It is in a community where members of a collective find “a sense of identity that spreads across time.” As this community exists at local, national, regional and global levels, concern for its future members must also exist at all these different levels.

Hence justice considerations apply to relations which are beyond the present one. This is particularly true in the case of distributive justice. In some sense the present generation exercises power over the future ones, and has the possibility of using up resources in such a way that it negates the rights of the future ones. The future has no way of controlling the present. Moreover the present generation even has power over the very existence of the future ones. This could be an even greater influence than that on the current generation, where the influencewould at most affect the survival of the people. This is enough ground for asserting rights to future persons, though there could be contrary arguments.

Another attempt to define future generations has been made by the University of IDWA in an attempt to reconcile human interests with those of Nature, which are  distinguishable but not separable. Sociologist Elise Boulding has proposed that ‘future generations’ can be defined in terms of “the 200 years present” that is a period of time beginning from 100 years in the past and ending with 100 years in the future, from any point of the present:

“A continuously moving moment, always reaching out one hundred years in either direction from the day we are in. We are linked with both boundaries of this moment by the people among us whose lives began or will end at one of those boundaries, three and a half generations each way in time. It is our space, one we can move around directly in our lives, and indirectly by touching the lives of the linkage people, young and old, around us.”[5]

This approach and understanding makes the idea of community more real and concrete. If one lives at any moment she/he is continuously in relation directly or indirectly with a 100 year span of time in both directions of past and future. This concept of time-space helps to understand the inheritance from the past and relations or interconnections with the future. It cannot be doubted that we are essentially linked to other generations, past and future because these linkages are in the realm of our personal experiences. A similar approach helps one to see the linkages with children as they need their rights to be represented, which becomes the obligation of the adults (duty bearers). So also the rights of the future generations become the obligation of the present one.

Environmental poverty as our legacy

The idea of intergenerational considerations was taken up by political leaders in Stockholm at the UN Consultation on Human Environment (UNCHE) in 1972 and has since been debated on various occasions, often reaching agreement. But in practice, progress has not been so steady, rather the contrary. In 1972 the UNCHE put forward 26 principles and 129 recommendations, but no legally binding outcomes were agreed upon.

United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE)

The World Commission on Environment and Development report (Brundtland Report), ‘Our Common Future’ of 1987 was a milestone, as it introduced the concept of sustainable development, defining it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.”[6] According to this report the pursuit of sustainable development was an important goal for all the nations in the interest of the future generations.

The Rio 1992 Earth Summit adopted several legally binding environmental treaties, particularly, the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. In a certain sense the Earth Summit was a starting point. It was attended by 108 heads of State, 172 governments and some 2400 NGO persons and reflected the concerns of the 1980s particularly those from the WCED report of 1987, referred to above.  

World Commission on Environment and Development

The Earth Summit highlighted intergenerational justice or equity as an underlying principle of all environmental and developmental concerns. This was accepted by all participating nations. It was recognized that the rights of the future generations have to be respected while pursuing the needs of the current one. These recognitions were to be brought into the realms of policies and laws by conceding nations.

The 3rd principle, “the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of the future generations,”[7] summarized the spirit of the commitment to the future. The 21st principle “the creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and better future for all”[8] calls for an action plan involving the young people towards creating a better future for all.  

Much has happened since Rio, the essence of which was in reaching binding commitments and creating consequent obligations on the part of the nations across the world. The same spirit prevailed in the deliberations at Kyoto five years later and the adoption of the Kyoto protocol in December 1997.The protocol, which finally came into force in February 2005, has been signed by 195 countries. Under it 37 countries agree to reduce emissions of greenhouse and other gases to prescribed levels. Despite legally binding provisions regarding reduction, the efficacy of the measure were neutralized through the flexible mechanisms.

In the final analysis the protocol and related mechanisms has had only marginal effect in reducing global gas emissions. The absence of binding levels of reduction for developing countries was used as the reason that the USA did not ratify this Protocol. Australia, though it ratified the treaty, has not implemented it. Moreover the practices of legally binding responsibilities and the role of national governments have been greatly eroded by new economic policies based on trade liberalization and a lean state. This was further accentuated by the geo-political security concerns of the first decade of the new century. 

Subsequent meetings such as those in Johannesburg  2002 and in Copenhagen in 2009 have not inspired much confidence among people world the over. The latest conference, in Cancun, even risked negating whatever gains remained out of the Kyoto protocol agreements. These agreements had binding targets for the developing countries to reach regarding the emissions of green house gases (GHG) based on climate service. It also took into account the historical fact of the developed countries having used up much of the carbon absorptive capacity of the biosphere and therefore being more liable to reductions as against the poor economies.

Last year’s Climate Change Conference in Cancun was seen by most participants and the media as an improvement over Copenhagen. While it did adopt an outcome document, which is viewed as positive for the multilateral climate system, it did little to pave the way to save the planet from climate change. It instead passed the burden of climate mitigation to developing countries, threatening to abandon “the legally binding and top down Kyoto protocol system and to replace it with a voluntary pledge system.”[9]

Nevertheless it is urgent to strike a sustainable relationship between nature and humans for the benefit of future generations including children. As pointed out by Rio +20 conference Secretary General Sha Lukang, two decades have not brought the world closer to eradication of poverty; on the contrary the world has moved further into environmental crisis and climate change. It is this environmental poverty that the future generation will inherit.

Challenges Ahead

Rio 2012 must reiterate the conviction that sustainable development based on social, equity, economic growth and environmental preservation is in contradiction with development based purely on economic growth. It is often said that Rio 92 was all about bringing civil society and the corporate sector to sustainability issues. Rio 2012 must now bring governments back to take action. Sustainable development including the rights of the future generations can be achieved only through transparent global governance, not through a free market regime.  

Over the same period a concern with intergenerational justice has surfaced in other international human rights instruments, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which came into force in 1990 and now has 194 States Parties. The declaration on the survival, protection and development of children, agreed to at the World Summit for Children that year concludes: “We do this not only for the present generation but for all generations to come. There can be no task nobler than giving every child a better future.”[10]

Twelve years later, the declaration at the UN General Assembly and Special Summit [United Nations General Assembly Special Session]  (UNGASS) on Children in May 2002 reiterates that the nations have obligations to the future generations: “We must safeguard our natural environment with its diversity of life, its beauty and its resources, all of which enhance the quality of life, for the present and future generations.”[11]  The plan of action agreed by 190 world leaders recognized the urgency of acting on various environmental problems and trends to ensure the well-being of children and committed to measures to manage, protect and conserve our environment in a sustainable manner: “A number of environmental problems and trends, such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, air pollution, hazardous wastes, exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides, inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene, unsafe drinking water and food and inadequate housing, need to be addressed to ensure the health and well being of children.”[12]

The wealth of knowledge and experience that has emerged since the UNCRC needs to be understood in the context of children’s rights. The much discussed phenomena of anthropogenic global warming and climate change, aggravated by loss of biodiversity threaten the earth to an unprecedented degree, and will directly affect future generations, including children living today and those yet to be born. This demands global instruments which are binding and geared to defending the ecological rights of the present and future generations. This includes the call for recognition of ecological rights of children and much more. 

 It is relevant to quote from a Memorandum to the UNEP High Level Expert Meeting on the New Future of Human Rights and the Environment presented by Burns H. Weston on 30 November 2009:

“Anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change that, together with accelerating biodiversity loss worldwide, now pose threats to life on Earth as we know it, and to a degree unparalleled since the dinosaurs. Building on the pioneering work of Georgetown University law professor Edith Brown Weiss, the project set out to answer intriguing and, indeed, generally unexplored legal questions: Is it possible for US law, the law of other countries, indigenous peoples’ law, and/ or international law to define the rights of future generations to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment?”[13]

Opportunities at Rio 2012

While concerns of sustainability and commitment to future generations have been an integral part of the advance of justice and human rights understanding for two decades, this has not been matched by the necessary actions. So the challenge now is not only to reiterate these commitments to future generations from the position of justice but also to rebalance the economic and social concerns. Rebalancing would mean bringing the State back to the social and regulatory realms of political action by assuming responsibilities both to make services equitably available and to regulate free-market approaches.

Markets are inherently competitive and follow the logic of survival of the fittest which is contrary to the concept of equity that is a necessary condition for sustainability. Mahatma Gandhi’s assertion that the “earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed” still holds true. Thus regulation of the free market economy and transparent governance are urgently needed. Rebalancing would further involve reaching a consensus on development as the measure of well-being of all people. This will demand a new kind of economic planning focusing on the well-being of the poorest person on the earth, as Mahatma Gandhi envisioned, and based not on altruism but on rights and justice. If Rio 2012 contributes to this it will be one step forward.[14] 

Further any step that would be taken must be followed through with binding instruments. The future needs to be enabled, as stated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “As for the future your task is not to foresee it but to enable it.”[15] This enabling can be achieved only through creating appropriate mechanisms and in this regards the proposal from World Council for Future to appoint a “legal representation or a Guardian” is interesting.[16] Some of the countries have such institutions already. Setting up of an international Ombudsperson or calling for such arrangements nationally, can be a concrete outcome of Rio 2012 towards sustainability and enabling of the future, which amounts to guaranteeing intergenerational justice.

J. Tobin, “What Is Permanent Endowment Income?” American Economic Review 64, May 1974.

J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).

J. O’Neill, Ecology, policy and politics: human well-being and the natural world (London: Routledge, 1993), cited in ibid.

  E. Boulding, “The Dynamics of Imaging Futures,“ World Future Society Bulletin 5, Sept-Oct 1978, p.7.

Brundtland report to Rio 2012: Sustainable development forum. Available from: <www.rio 2012/ trademarks.org/node/3423>.

Available from: <www.unep.org/Documents.multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=78&ArticleID=1163>.

 

8 See: M. Khor, “Complex Implications of the Cancun Climate Conference,” Economic and Political Weekly XLV, no.52.

9 Available from: www.unicef.org/wsc/declare.htm >.

10 UNGASS Declaration, “A World Fit for Children,” New York, 2002. Available from: <www.unicef.org/specialsession/wffc>.

11 Ibid., p 23.

12 B.H. Weston, “Recalibrating the law of humans with the laws of nature: Climate change, human rights and intergenerational justice,”2009. Available from: <www.vermontlaw.edu/cli >.

13 See: Rio 2012, Another opportunity to making progression in climate change. Available from:
<www.stakeholderforum.org/st/outreach/index.php/day9item6>.

14 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , Citadelle (The Wisdom of the Sands), Paris, 1948.

15 Cited in World Future Council, “Guarding our future: How to include future generations in policy making,” <www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/brochure_guardian3.pdf>.

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The indignados are asking the right questions about Europe’s future

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Mirjam van Reisen, Tilburg University
Simon Stocker and Georgina Carr, Eurostep

The questions the indignados are posing should be taken seriously and change the EU’s discourse. The current prominence given to so-called “self-interest” in business and trade must shift to issues that really matter such as the future of our planet. Development, if truly sustainable, needs to take place for and through people; human rights have to be placed at the core of any developmental approach. At the same time living conditions and general well-being have to be improved in a sustainable manner. In this regard emphasis should be placed on promoting gender equality, advancing women’s rights and empowering women.

In October 2011 the indignados from Madrid went to Brussels to share their concerns and raise serious questions. They were joined by people from other European countries who were also inspired by Stéphane Hessel’s book Time for Outrage! (Indignez-vous! in the original French). Hessel, a 93-year-old man who was in the resistance during World War II, urges his readers to defend the values of modern democracy and reject the “selfish” power of money and markets.[1] These values are embodied in the setting up of the United Nations as a way of mediating conflicts, the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the establishment of the European Union.

The indignados came to ask what Europe had to offer them. With one out of two young people in Spain unemployed it was natural that they were seeking answers. European Commission President José Manuel Barosso recognized that times were especially difficult in his 2011 State of the Union speech to the European Parliament, saying: “We are now facing the greatest challenge our Union has ever seen, I believe, in its history.”[2] He warned that countries could leave the EU and that there would be a reversion to nationalism. Two weeks earlier the Polish Finance Minister had cautioned the Parliament that a Eurozone collapse would probably lead to the break-up of the Union and the real prospect of war in Europe within 10 years.[3]

The indignados are correct to wonder whether our leaders are asking the right questions or are asking the questions in the right way.

Trapped in conservative discourses

Europe is currently trapped within two primarily conservative discourses. One of them stems from the anxiety of citizens and national leaders who regard the EU as no longer to their benefit and want to return to the primacy of a national identity and policy framework. The second, led by a corporate sector badly in need of an EU that can compete at the global level, is fear of the devastating consequences a breakdown could pose.

Missing in both of these discourses is a concept of an EU that benefits its citizens and contributes to greater understanding among countries in the region and to peace and prosperity for all. While the EU was based on an approach that integrated the economic and social dimensions, the social dimension is no longer part of a discourse dominated by “self-interest,” Europe’s “needs” and Europe’s “competitive power.” The emphasis on short-term profit rather than long–term economic sustainability betrays Europe’s heart and soul. It also sacrifices the goal of an economic policy that can be sustained and can benefit everyone.

Increasingly Europe’s economic development has been fuelled by both the consumption and depletion of global resources,[4] resulting in wealth generation for the region but environmental degradation inside and abroad. Much of this development has relied on acquiring resources in third countries and acting with self-interest in terms of business and trade. The Lisbon Strategy was adopted in 2000 with the stated aim of making the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” by the end of the decade.[5] It sought to enhance economic growth through better policies for the information society, structural reform for competitiveness and innovation and increased investment in research and development. Modernizing the European social model, investing in people and combating social exclusion were also set as objectives.

By the end of the decade however economic growth had further declined, and while employment rates were slightly higher than at the beginning they were far short of the target of a 70% overall employment rate. In overall terms the strategy was widely acknowledged to have failed. The 2008 global financial crisis was a contributing factor, but even before the financial meltdown it was clear that the Lisbon Strategy would not deliver on its ambition to make the EU the most competitive knowledge-based economy.

Although the European Commission argued that the Strategy had prepared the ground for pursuing needed structural economic reforms, by then the global environment was significantly more challenging than it was 10 years earlier. Regenerating the EU’s economy became even more urgent, particularly in the face of competition from the emerging economies. It was in this context that the EU adopted the Europe 2020 strategy[6] in 2010 as a follow up to the Lisbon Strategy. Europe 2020 also places economic growth at the core, prioritizing smart growth (knowledge and innovation), sustainable growth (efficient, greener and more competitive) and inclusive growth (employment, social and territorial cohesion). This strategy is to be implemented through seven “flagship” initiatives, including promoting resource efficiency and focusing on poverty. The new strategy seeks to “fully mobilize” all of the EU’s instruments to achieve its goals, including external policy tools,[7] and this has been a central topic in current reviews of EU policies.

Sustainable development policies

In relative terms the EU has been fairly progressive in sustainable development policy, with the Lisbon Treaty creating new legal obligations that it must fulfil in its relations with third countries.[8] In addition to making poverty eradication the overarching goal in its relations with developing countries, the EU also has a duty to foster sustainable development in the region and contribute to that of developing countries as set out in the General Provisions on the Union’s External Action (Title V) of the Treaty.[9] Moreover the legal basis for the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), which was formally put in place in 2005 in the European Consensus for Development, was strengthened in the Treaty amendments. This ensures that synergies are found between the 12 policy areas[10] and development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Sustainable development has also been identified as a fundamental and overarching objective of the EU, most concretely in its Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) in 2006 and the subsequent SDS review in 2009. The SDS aims at mainstreaming the principles of sustainable development in a wide range of EU policies, with a particular focus on climate change and renewable energy. Yet despite these promises a number of inconsistencies between legislation and practice can be identified.

The EU is currently reviewing these policies as it plans its budget and work plan for the 7–10 years starting in 2014. While the outcome of the current Eurozone crisis will have a significant impact on the EU’s future, the nature of its future policies is being driven by the economic objectives of the 2020 strategy. Although the papers from the Commission for the policy reviews are all set within the context of sustainability, inclusion and the promotion of equality, they are also rooted in the current short-term profits approach to the economy. Greater emphasis is given to access to energy, investing in agriculture and the role of the private sector but strategies for pursuing this are not well defined.

A striking example of the profits approach is the detrimental effect the EU’s renewable energy target, or more specifically biofuel policy, has had on developing countries. In April 2009 the EU adopted the Renewable Energies Directive, which set individual targets for each member country in order to achieve the goal of sourcing 20% of the EU’s energy needs from renewable sources including biofuels. However the target has been widely criticized since it has led to land grabbing by large agri-businesses, which not only displaces local communities but also contributes to food insecurity since land formerly used for food production is now used to provide energy security for the EU: in one case 20,000 people were at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods.[11] The views of local communities are not considered and no compensation is provided. Clearly this is not in line with either the PCD or the EU’s obligations as laid out in the Lisbon Treaty. "EU leaders have got the policy wrong. Under no circumstances should communities be evicted to grow fuels to meet the EU's energy needs," David Barissa, ActionAid Kenya’s biofuels expert, recently stated.[12]

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has also been widely criticized for encouraging vastly unequal business relations between farmers in Europe and in the global South. In particular EU dependence on imported animal feed, especially soy, has contributed to the growing demand for land abroad, leading to deforestation, the displacement of communities and an expansion of genetically modified soy in South America[13] and thus both environmental and socially detrimental effects. In addition EU export subsidies encourage overproduction of certain crops, which leads to the dumping of excess agricultural commodities on the world market – that is, selling at prices below those that would prevail in undistorted markets and in many cases at prices below the cost of production. This has contributed to the general downward trend of world market prices for agricultural commodities over the past several decades, creating little opportunity for equal inclusion of farmers in developing countries in the global agricultural market.

The CAP will be reformed in the coming period, and the 5,600 papers and commentaries received during the consultation process reveal widespread concerns about the environment, biodiversity, climate change and the viability of rural communities. The European Commission’s new policy on biodiversity is actively addressing these problems at home but highlights the need for a coherent global European policy in this respect. The competition for investment in land in Africa and elsewhere, including security in response to financial volatility, is driving production for the European market to developing countries and displacing the livelihoods of small farmers. Recently 300,000 hectares of land were acquired in Ethiopia for intensive agricultural production for export at the same time as humanitarian organizations were raising funds to fight spiralling hunger there due to the loss of livelihoods in rural areas. It is clear that only an integrated policy approach to energy, biofuels, agriculture, finance and climate can reverse such perverse trends.

The focus on energy, emphasizing increasing renewable sources, coincides with the EU’s own need to secure reliable energy supplies from outside the Union. Prominent in the Africa-Europe Energy Partnership are goals that increase European access to both electricity and gas from Africa.

A recently published Commission Communication sets out plans for a resource-efficient Europe as one of the initiatives under the Europe 2020 strategy.[14] This initiative aims to increase economic performance while reducing resource use, boost EU competitiveness and growth, ensure security in accessing essential resources and reduce carbon emissions. It provides a long-term framework for action in many areas, supporting policy agendas for climate change, energy, transport, industry, raw materials, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity and regional development. The strategy aims to reduce the link between economic growth and resource use, acknowledging that the economy is on an unsustainable path. However the Commission recognizes that, despite the wide range of policies in place that aim at improving resource efficiency, the EU’s objectives are failing to be achieved.

Strategies on social exclusion and protection

The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion, one of the 2020 strategy flagship initiatives, aims to establish a “platform for cooperation, peer review and exchange of good practice” that helps “foster the commitment of public and private players to reduce social exclusion.” It envisages “an assessment of the adequacy and sustainability of social protection and pension systems” and identifying “ways to ensure better access to health care systems.”[15] The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) welcomed the multi-dimensional approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion but regarded the lack of recognition of the negative impact of increasing inequalities as a major weakness.[16]

EAPN stresses that poverty and social exclusion cannot be sustainably reduced, nor inclusive growth achieved, without tackling inequality and discrimination. It also points out that employment alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty. Priority needs to be given to building a more socially responsible economy that provides access to decent jobs and defends social rights and services. It calls for the EU financing on poverty and social exclusion to be a binding priority to ensure a more holistic delivery model, increased transnational exchange and the enablement of stakeholder involvement and access to finance by community-based NGOs.[17]

Green jobs but no justice

From the very beginning the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy has been hit by the deepening Eurozone crisis. The policies of austerity being rolled out across Europe are undermining the strategy’s objectives as governments cut public expenditure and social benefits, lay off public sector workers and squeeze incomes. Although the Commission promotes itself as the staunchest promoter of a social economic approach, there is growing concern that its liberalization tendencies will increase demands on national governments to impose further cuts in public expenditure as part of increasingly stringent monetary discipline. This has been made possible by recent decisions supported by member countries and the European Parliament to give increased powers to the Commission over the management of national public accounts.

The publication of the EU position before the June 2012 UN Sustainable Development Conference should be seen in this context. The EU will wish to avoid making new commitments in Rio unless it strengthens its own ability to deliver. This is disappointing given previous EU commitments to sustainable development in international fora. In the European Commission’s Communication “Rio+20: Towards the green economy and better governance,” the green economy proposed does not constitute the significant break from the current macroeconomic model that many critics believe is needed. The definition of a green economy focuses on green growth and job creation.[18] This is not necessarily a social market economy,[19] which is problematic if the notion of justice (which is at the core of sustainable development) is to be taken seriously. If the concept is to truly contribute to sustainable development, the current definition must be broadened to place the characteristics of a social market economy and protection of the environment at its core.

Self-regulation of the private sector is also an approach pursued and encouraged by the EU in common with other industrialized partners. In addition there is a growing trend to promote a greater role for the private sector in EU development strategy. This is due to the need to levy investment outside of the public domain, which is unsurprising given the air of austerity now prevalent. That this is clearly misguided can be seen from the disastrous results of having a self-regulated private sector, examples of which include food price spikes, environmental and social ruin as a result of private sector activity in developing countries and of course the 2008 financial meltdown.

Moreover proper environmental and social regulations or tax systems are too often not in place in developing countries (at the encouragement of donors in order to stimulate foreign direct investment) and render it near impossible for the population to benefit from the growth generated by private sector activities. Developing countries must be able to capture the gains of private sector activity within their borders instead of disproportionately suffering due to irresponsible business practices. Reducing shocks (in their various forms) requires private sector activity to be environmentally and socially responsible – current proposals for an EU-wide financial transaction tax (FTT)[20] are encouraging in this respect. However for the most part a responsible private sector is not encouraged in EU strategy.

Moreover the green economy as outlined in current EU strategy does not fundamentally address imbalances in the economy. Greening the economy, for the EU, is the investment in and proper management of natural capital. Natural capital is essentially the stock of natural ecosystems that yields the flow of valuable ecosystem goods or services into the future. However placing natural capital within the current economic system and therefore under the same economic management mechanisms will ultimately lead to power remaining with the few and billions disproportionately exposed to financial shocks. This will not bring about sustainable development, at least if we adhere to the Brundtland definition.[21] Encouragingly the EC Communication does acknowledge the need to rethink the conventional model of economic development.[22] However it is unclear how the strategy outlined in the remainder of the document achieves such a rethink.

It is also striking to note that the Commission does not stress in any part of the Communication women’s particular vulnerability to natural disasters or the need to protect and empower them against these. Women have a crucial role to play in sustainable development and a particular emphasis should be put on advancing their rights and promoting gender equality. In any truly effective approach to sustainable development, structural and societal discrimination against women must be eliminated and the necessary policy instruments to redress these imbalances put in place.

 

Conclusion

To be truly sustainable, development needs to take place for and through people; human rights have to be placed at the core of any approach to development while living conditions and general well-being have to be improved in a sustainable manner. As the indignados of Europe march to Brussels, our hope should be that the questions they raise will be taken seriously and will change the EU discourse from one that is focused only on so-called “self interest” into one that focuses on issues that really matter such as the future of our planet.

[1] J. Lichfield, “The little red book that swept France,” The Independent, 3 January 2011. Available from: <www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-little-red-book-that-swept-france-2174676.html>.

[2] J. M. Barosso, President of the European Commission, “State of the Union Address 2011,” 28 September 2011. Available from: <ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/state-union-2011/index_en.htm>.

[3] L. Phillips, “Poland warns of war ‘in 10 years’ as EU leaders scramble to contain panic,” 14 September 2011. Available from: <euobserver.com/18/113625>.

[4] WWF has said that the EU and other high-income regions are using five times the amount of natural resources as low-income countries (“WWF contribution to public consultation on the EU position for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development,” April 2011).

[5] ESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe, “The Lisbon Agenda: An Introduction,” Brussels, 2006. Available from: <www.esib.org/documents/publications/official_publications/lisbonhandbook.pdf>.

[6] European Commission, “Communication from the Commission: Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth,” 3 March 2010. Available from: <eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2010:2020:FIN:EN:PDF>.

[7] Ibid., “Executive Summary.”

[8] “Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community,” entered into force 1 December 2009.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Trade, environment and climate change, security, agriculture, bilateral fisheries agreements, social policies (employment), migration, research/innovation, information technologies and transport and energy.

[11] ActionAid, “Fuelling Evictions: Community Cost of EU Biofuels Boom,” 2011. Available from: <www.actionaid.org/eu/publications/fuelling-evictions-community-cost-eu-biofuels-boom>.

[12] Cited in M. Banks, “EU energy policy could push world’s poor ‘further into poverty,’” The Parliament, 9 May 2011. Available from: <www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/eu-energy-policy-could-push-worlds-poor-further-into-poverty>.

[13] European Parliament, “Opinion of the Committee on Development for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the CAP towards 2020: meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future,” 13 April 2011. Available from: <www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0202&language=EN#title2>.

[14] European Commission, “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe,” 20 September 2011. Available from: <ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/pdf/com2011_571.pdf>.

[15] European Commission, 2010, op. cit.

[16] European Anti Poverty Network, “EAPN First Response to the European Flagship Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: A European Framework for social and territorial cohesion,” 17 January 2011. Available from: <www.europolitique.info/pdf/gratuit_fr/286638-fr.pdf>.

[17] Ibid.

[18] The EC definition of a green economy is “an economy that generates growth, creates jobs and eradicates poverty by investing in and preserving the natural capital upon which the long-term survival of our planet depends.” See: <ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/pdf/rio/com_2011_363_en.pdf>.

[19] A social market economy may include combining private enterprise with government regulation to establish fair competition and maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions and social welfare.

[20] PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Flash News: The EU Financial Transactions Tax Draft Directive and the Implications for the Global FS Industry,” 30 September 2011. Available from: <www.pwc.lu/en/tax-consulting/docs/pwc-tax-300911.pdf>.

[21] The Brundtland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as meaning that humanity “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” See: <www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm>.

[22] “There are compelling reasons to fundamentally rethink the conventional model of economic progress: simply working at the margins of an economic system that promotes inefficient use of natural resources, will not be sufficient in bringing about change” (EC, “Rio 20: towards the green economy and better governance,” 20 June 2011, p. 5. Available from <register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/11/st11/st11845.en11.pdf>.)

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Housing, land and sustainable development

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes

Miloon Kothari and Shivani Chaudhry[1]

One of the pillars of sustainable development is the right to adequate housing and land. However some 1.6 billion people are currently living in sub-standard housing, 100 million are homeless, and around a quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be landless. In ‘developing’ countries the number of people living in slums is 828 million; all of them lack access to ‘improved’ water sources and adequate sanitation and live in distressed housing conditions without sufficient space or secure tenure. More than 60 million new slum dwellers have been added to the global urban population since 2000.

Civil society organizations and social movements worldwide are articulating the “right to the city,” promoting land as a human right and stressing the need to recapture the social function of property. These movements and campaigns provide the beginnings of the radical rethinking necessary to challenge the neo-liberal economic policies that have been institutionalized around the world.

The adoption and implementation of the human rights approach is essential if sustainable development is to become a reality for all, especially the world’s marginalized. Failure to embrace this approach will lead to more hunger, dispossession, homelessness, landlessness and environmental degradation across the globe. The impact of rights violations will be particularly severe for women, children, indigenous peoples, coastal communities, forest dwellers, small farmers, landless workers, and the urban poor.

Sustainable development and the indivisibility of human rights

The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 marked a significant moment in the history of international law and policy. It affirmed the progress made at the Stockholm  Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 and further established, through legal and moral commitments, the inextricable link between human beings and their environment and between nations and peoples. Using the framework of key principles such as sustainability, inter-generational equity, common but differentiated responsibility, polluter pays, and the precautionary principle, UNCED helped launch an international campaign to meet our responsibilities towards protecting not just the rights of the less fortunate and marginalized but also of future generations and the planet.

A significant outcome from Rio 1992 was the affirmation of the indivisibility of human rights and the inseparability of human rights and environmental rights. While stressing the inter-connectedness and inter-dependence of nations and peoples,  Agenda 21 also helped establish the different responsibilities and duties of more advanced nations including the principle of international cooperation. [2]

Sustainable development is often invoked as a means of reconciling important objectives that include respect for human rights, promotion of socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth and protection and wise use of the natural environment. All mainstream definitions of sustainable development share three characteristics: first, achieving sustainable development requires integrating policies related to social justice, environmental protection and economic development; second, the interests of future generations must be taken into account; and third, transparency and public participation at all levels of decision-making from local to global are essential.[3]

The concept of environmental justice is useful for integrating equity, social justice and environmental principles within the framework of sustainable development. Environmental justice has been defined as the right to a safe, healthy, productive and sustainable environment for all, where “environment” is considered in its totality including ecological (biological), physical (natural and created by human labour), social, political, aesthetic and economic conditions.[4]

Environmental degradation and the denial of human rights exacerbate poverty and unleash a cycle of human rights violations. Poverty and marginalization further impede equitable access to resources and the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and to a healthy environment. Implementation of the indivisibility of the human rights approach is therefore the only way to ensure that the health and well-being of the planet and its people are maintained and that sustainable development becomes a reality for all.

Where we are, 20 years after Rio 1992

Significant advances have been made globally since Rio 1992 in the articulation and deepening of commitments towards protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development. International standards that have been adopted include the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Action and a host of guidelines, declarations and principles.

UN Habitat has reported that the population of slum dwellers around the world continues to grow at around 10% every year. In a worst-case scenario the number of slum dwellers will rise from 1 billion in 2005 to 1.6 billion by 2020. According to the World Health Organization, 884 million people worldwide do not have access to an improved water source while an estimated 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation (more than 35% of the world’s population). In 2006, 7 out of 10 people without access to improved sanitation were rural inhabitants.[5] Up to one quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be landless, including 200 million people living in rural areas, and approximately 5% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty.[6]

This grave situation poses significant risks to the lives and health of a large majority. It also impacts a range of human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to a healthy environment. Globalization policies, including trade and investment agreements, have adversely impacted the urban and rural poor, especially women and indigenous peoples.

Given the fact that sustainable development still eludes the majority of people despite the existence of strong international legal provisions and a progressive body of soft law, it is imperative to review the situation and propose a radical alternative to the way these issues are being addressed. While the challenges to the realization of human and environmental rights continue to rise, there is hope in holistic, integrated and durable solutions that use the human rights approach.

Human right to adequate housing and land

The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has defined the human right to adequate housing as: “The right of every woman, man, youth and child to gain and sustain a safe and secure home and community in which to live in peace and dignity.”[7] The realization of this right is crucial to achieving sustainable development including environmental security and the right to a healthy environment. Unless all citizens of the world are able to live in safe and secure housing that is affordable, ecological and enables them to live in dignity, and unless they have legally recognized rights to own, control and manage the natural resources on which they depend for their lives and livelihoods, the principles of sustainable development cannot be realized. It is therefore essential not just to realize the important link between the rights to adequate housing and land and environmental sustainability but also to ensure that laws and policies protecting these rights are drafted and implemented using the indivisibility of rights approach.
Linkages among human rights
The rights to adequate housing and land are integrally linked to the human rights to health, food, water, work/livelihood, development and the environment. Access to adequate and nutritious food, clean and potable water, a secure livelihood and the highest attainable standard of health are critical to promoting sustainable development and maintaining the health and well-being of people and the planet.
General Comment 14 (2000) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) provides a holistic interpretation of the right to health.[8] It has been recognized that housing conditions have direct consequences for enjoyment of this right.[9] In environmental terms the right to health implies the absence of pollution and protection against natural hazards.
The right to water is clearly articulated in General Comment 15 (2002) of the CESCR. Unless this right is guaranteed and provided, the right to adequate housing is not realized.  

The right to adequate, nutritious and affordable food for all is critical to ensuring sustainable development and environmental protection. For the millions of the world’s citizens who live in self-built housing and rely directly on natural resources to meet their food and housing needs (fuel, fodder, water, building materials, medicine), the lack of a safe environment (free from water and air pollution) and environmental resources (forests, water bodies) threaten the rights to housing and food.[10] Hunger is closely linked to landlessness and homelessness. The realization of the right to food also implies the need for sustainable agriculture and agrarian reform, and presupposes the existence of a clean and safe environment conducive to the sustainable development of food resources.[11]
The right to a healthy environment is an expansion of the legal interpretation of the right to life and is therefore binding on all States. The environment must be understood as the broad physical environment on which human well-being depends. The right to a healthy environment implicitly emphasizes adequate access to “vital needs,” which are those that provide the necessary conditions for reaching and maintaining a decent standard of living.[12] This right also includes the right to chemical- and toxic-free food, soil, air and water. The link between the environment and development is also evident in article 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which states: “All people shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development.” Over the years, the right to development has been established as meaning the right to environmentally sound, sustainable development. Under the concept of sustainable development, both the right to development and the right to a healthy environment must be viewed as interdependent.
Integral to human survival and the right to life with dignity is the right to work. Violations of human rights to housing, land and natural resources often violate the right to work and result in loss of livelihoods and development opportunities.
Meaningful participation in decisions that affect one’s life is a human right as well as a means to ensure enjoyment of other human rights including the right to adequate housing. Denial of the right to participation has adverse effects on the right to adequate housing. Where participation in housing design, plans and policies is ensured, the housing provided is more likely to meet the criteria of adequacy[13] and sustainability. Most violations of human rights occur because people are not consulted in decisions that directly affect their lives and livelihoods. Meaningful participation mandates that the process of consultation be ongoing. It must also guarantee the right to adequate information.[14]  
Environmental and human rights principles need to be integrated and implemented with a gender perspective to ensure that women are equal beneficiaries and enjoy equal protection of their rights. While there are many social, economic and political situations that render people insecure, homeless and without a sustainable source of livelihood, women are particularly vulnerable given the low socio-economic status accorded to them in most societies. Rising poverty resulting from unjust and unbalanced “development” policies and projects has had a devastating impact on women and their right to adequate housing. Poverty and environmental degradation particularly affect women as they face greater risks of homelessness, landlessness, loss of livelihoods, violence, and adverse health impacts.

Human right to adequate housing: using the lens of sustainability

The scope of the right to adequate housing, guaranteed by Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, was defined by the CESCR in its General Comment 4 (1991). In order for housing to be adequate, it must at a minimum include the following seven core elements: legal security of tenure, availability of services, affordability, accessibility, habitability, location and cultural adequacy.[15]

When the elements of adequate housing are provided in consonance with environmental principles, the simultaneous realization of the human rights to adequate housing, land, a healthy environment, and sustainable development is warranted. This includes ensuring access to natural resources necessary for communities’ survival and livelihoods; the use of ‘green’ technologies and adherence to ecological building codes; construction of disaster-resistant housing; location of housing on environmentally safe sites in proximity to places of work, education and healthcare; use of culturally appropriate and indigenous materials and designs for housing; provision of tenure security and protection against violence and eviction; and guaranteeing the prior informed consent of affected populations.

It is also important to link the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the ongoing effort to realise sustainable development and human rights. For instance, target 11 of MDG 7 calls for a significant improvement in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. A global initiative has sought to achieve this by creating “slum-free cities.” However the ironic result has been an increase in the number of slum dwellers evicted in cities across the world. Efforts to improve the living conditions of some must not encroach on human rights of others, such as through forced evictions or the rampant phenomenon of land-grabbing.

Guaranteeing access to drinking water is another key focus of the MDGs and cannot be isolated from other goals. A human rights approach must inform the normative discussion and also guide the MDG process in order to prevent the collateral erosion of other human rights. Such a strategy, coupled with existing international human rights and environmental treaties, declarations and guidelines, provides a framework by which the rights to adequate housing and land – as key components of sustainable development – can be realized.

 

Obstacles to the realization of the human rights to adequate housing and land

Given the mutual inextricability of all human rights, the current failure to secure the rights to adequate housing and land has resulted in a cycle of deprivation that has impeded the enjoyment of several related human rights, including the rights to food, water and health, which are fundamentally linked. A number of structural and related global phenomena continue to serve as obstacles to the full realization of the rights to adequate housing and land in the context of sustainable development. It is difficult to conceive of implementation of these rights for the majority of the world’s people without tackling these issues.

Economic globalization
While rapid global economic integration continues to create new and unprecedented sources of wealth, offering the promise of reducing poverty and alleviating want, the fact remains that deepening inequalities of income and opportunity between and within nations have led to an increase in the number of people living in inadequate and insecure conditions without access to potable water and sanitation. Policies of economic globalization tend to impair the ability of States to provide adequate resources, services and other provisions critical to the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights. There is thus a crucial need to ensure the consistency of trade and investment agreements with human rights obligations, keeping in mind the primacy of States’ responsibilities to protect and promote human rights as recognized at the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights.[16]

Processes of increased economic integration have lent further momentum towards privatization of basic services.[17] This phenomenon, coupled with the inability of governments to provide their citizens with affordable access to human rights such as water and housing, tends to disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society. The continuing deterioration of living conditions that confront the majority of the urban and rural poor around the world calls for a re-examination of the presumptive arguments of “trickle-down benefits” and poverty reduction that continue to be used to justify neoliberal economic policies.

Land grabbing and land speculation
Spiralling land and property speculation across the world is contributing to the displacement  of the urban and rural poor. In addition, increased competition among cities to attract capital and business has led to widening inequalities between cities, with consequent discrepancies in the quality of essential services provided to citizens. In large cities the growing takeover of central spaces has witnessed increased gentrification and residential segregation, further polarizing society and resulting in a new form of “apartheid.” Coupled with soaring property values, processes of gentrification continue to push low-income families into increasingly precarious situations including homelessness. In rural areas the growing thirst for minerals and energy has led to unprecedented grabbing of land for mega development and mineral extraction projects, severely threatening livelihoods and food security.

The trend among governments to invoke powers of “eminent domain” to justify seizure of public and private property is also cause for alarm and has grave implications on the rights to adequate housing and land. This doctrine imparts sweeping and ill-defined powers to the State to seize land under the pretext of the “public good.”

 Loss of common property
The failure of States to recognize the importance of common property resources in urban and rural areas as well as their failure to legally recognize collective and community-based property rights[18] leads to the demise of institutions and cultural patterns that protect and sustain these resources. This also results in the destruction of the natural resource base on which indigenous and other local communities depend through changes in land tenure and agricultural systems, and by undermining local economies, skills and identities. Such an assault on local resources severely impacts the ability of rural communities to sustain their housing and living conditions including as an expression of cultural identity.

Unplanned and forced migration
The lack of adequate investment in rural development, housing and livelihoods – coupled with growing displacement and an acute agrarian crisis – poses serious threats to the viability of rural livelihoods, forcing people to migrate for survival on an unprecedented scale. Owing to a lack of affordable housing, rental alternatives or investment in social housing, many of these migrants end up living in precarious or inadequate housing conditions, often with little or no access to basic amenities such as water and sanitation. Countless others are rendered homeless with limited access to social and civic services. This has an adverse impact on the health and economic security of affected populations. The need for human rights-based agrarian reform and land reform and wealth redistribution in urban and rural areas is acute and warrants immediate attention.

Forced evictions
The practice of forced evictions has assumed alarming proportions around the world. A large number of these take place in the name of “development” and include evictions due to urban renewal, city beautification, large infrastructure projects (including mining, roads, ports and dams) and acquisition of agricultural land for industry. Many instances of forced eviction arise out of situations of violence such as those resulting from armed conflict, civil or political dislocation and communal or ethnic strife. Globally, resettlement policies for those who have been evicted are either non-existent or not based on human rights standards. The continued lack of recognition of customary rights to tenure in rural areas[19] as well as rights to a place to live in cities has led to insecure living conditions for millions.[20]

Climate Change
The impacts of global climate change and measures taken to mitigate or adapt to these impacts are already affecting individuals and communities around the world, and “will potentially have implications for the full range of human rights.”[21] Most affected are poor people living in the ‘least developed’ States, arid and semi-arid regions, arctic regions, and small-island States, where climate change will have its most negative impacts and where adaptive capacity is low.[22]  Climate change is likely to result in widespread displacement and forced relocation of vulnerable communities. States must take adequate measures to protect human rights when working to mitigate climate change or adapt to its impacts. It is also important to link climate change negotiations and structures with existing human rights law and norms.[23]

A practical way forward

Given the continued failure of State and non-State actors to respect, promote and fulfil the human rights to adequate housing and land, there is an urgent need to rethink “business as usual” and chart a new way forward. We propose the further development and practice of two approaches – the right to the city and the right to land and natural resources – as conceptual bases for the articulation of the indivisibility of human rights and the promotion of the human rights to adequate housing, land and sustainable development.

Underlying both approaches must be environmental and human rights principles. Critical among these is the principle of non-discrimination, which calls for special protection of and priority to the rights of the most marginalized groups. These include the homeless, landless, persons belonging to historically discriminated groups, single women, victims of violence, domestic workers, migrants, persons with disabilities, mental illness or HIV and AIDS, religious and sexual minorities, workers in the informal sector, internally displaced persons, refugees, coastal communities, forest dwellers, small farmers and those living in precarious conditions. Within each of these groups, special attention must be given to children, women and older persons.

Right to the city

The development and renewed articulation of the “right to the city” presents an opportunity for a durable solution, one that uses a holistic and sustainable approach to realizing both human and environmental rights.

The movement for the right to the city has been launched by social groups and civil society organizations in an attempt to ensure better access to and opportunities for everyone living in cities, especially the most marginalized and deprived sections.

The right to the city is “the equitable usufruct of cities within the principles of sustainability, democracy, equity, and social justice. It is the collective right of inhabitants of cities, in particular of vulnerable and marginalized groups, that confers upon them legitimacy of action and organization, based on their uses and customs, with the objective to achieve full exercise of the right to free self-determination and an adequate standard of living.” [24]

The right to the city is not to be viewed as a new legalistic right but merely a demand for multiple human rights to be realized within cities, towns and villages. It is a means to combat the rampant paradigm of exclusionary development, selective benefit sharing, marginalization and discrimination.

While implementing the right to the city, the principle of mutual responsibility and sustainability is critical – especially with regard to the environment and use of land, water, electricity and other resources. There need to be enforceable checks and penalties on excess use. This could include taxation of consumption of certain critical resources such as water and other energy resources beyond a certain amount to enable minimal levels of consumption for all and to ensure environmental security.

This principle also calls for the sustainable and responsible management of natural resources, including energy. Urban areas must not grow at the cost of rural areas or other cities. The right to the city should be expanded to include the right to the village/town. It should also imply the right to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. Given the threat of climate change and the rise in natural disasters, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response must be components of city planning and development. When people have to be relocated in order to protect their life and health, their right to adequate resettlement must be respected and guaranteed.[25]

The right to the city must be defined as the right to an inclusive and gender-sensitive political, social, cultural and spiritual space and must include a strong commitment to poverty reduction. This includes removing discriminatory provisions in laws and policies that negatively affect the poor and economically weak. Financial incentives, subsidies, credit, land and priority housing must be provided to the homeless, landless, and those living in inadequate conditions.

States must recognize diversity in all its forms and promote a culture of tolerance and mutual respect that enables all individuals and groups to realize their full potential.

Right to land and other natural resources

Legal recognition and protection of the human right to land and other natural resources are critical for promoting sustainable development and environmental justice. The right to land needs to be upheld to ensure equality in land ownership and use of land and public spaces. This includes the right to collectively own and manage land, property and other natural resources such as forests and water bodies. Legal recognition of community-based property rights is important to help ensure sustainable use and management of natural resources as well as protect the right to an adequate standard of living.

The right to land is also integrally linked to the provision of legal security of tenure over housing and land. Recognition of the human right to land would ensure protection against forced evictions and dispossession; check against land aggrandizement; enable sustainable development of settlements; promote agrarian reform, environmental protection, collective agriculture and community-based natural resource management; and prioritize social uses of land such as public housing and playgrounds.

Land laws and policies should define “public good/interest” to prevent the takeover of land for undemocratic purposes and should revoke the principle of eminent domain since it is largely misused by States.

The social function of property

In both urban and rural areas the principle of “social function of property” should guide land use planning to ensure that land is not diverted to meet the interests of the rich at the expense of the poor. The social function of property should ensure ecological use of land and also implies that there should be limits on the size of landholdings to promote equality in land ownership. Where land is not meeting its social function, provisions should be available to either redistribute it – as in national constitutions such as Brazil’s – or to institute penalization provisions. The promotion of the principle of social function of property is integral to the realization of environmentally sustainable and equitable development.

The human rights principle of non-retrogression must be upheld. States, including local governments, must not regress on their human rights commitments including progress made in improving housing and living conditions.

BOX: Recommendations for urgent action

Some global policies must be urgently implemented in order to immediately improve habitat conditions for the most disadvantaged members of the human population. The most important of these measures for States are:

  1. Implementing human rights and environmental principles and legal commitments;
  2. Stopping land grabbing, forced evictions and property and land speculation;
  3. Putting measures in place to check against rampant growth of the market and privatization of housing and basic services;
  4. Reviewing the operation and regulation of the housing and tenancy markets and, where necessary, intervening to ensure that market forces do not increase the vulnerability to forced eviction of low-income and other marginalized groups;
  5. Harmonizing local and national laws with international human rights and environmental standards;
  6. Introducing human rights-based urban and agrarian reforms;
  7. Developing consolidated plans to ensure the simultaneous and collective development of all groups, with a special focus on the immediate realization of rights for the most marginalized;
  8. Ensuring strong gender equality provisions in laws, policies and practice;
  9. Providing communities and individuals with equal access to legal and other remedies, including judicial redress, for violation of human rights and environmental harm (effective grievance redress mechanisms could help to promote environmental justice and sustainable development);
  10. Taking seriously commitments, as articulated in international environmental and human rights instruments, to extra-territorial obligations.

[1] Miloon Kothari is the former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, UN Human Rights Council; Shivani Chaudhry is Associate Director of the Housing and Land Rights Network, India.

[2] See <www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=52&ArticleID=87>

[3] “One Species, One Planet: Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development,” Center for International Environmental Law, (Washington, DC: 2002), <www.ciel.org/Publications/OneSpecies_OnePlanet.pdf>.

[4] Ibid.

[5] A. Prüss-Üstün et al., Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits and sustainability of intervention to protect and promote health, WHO, (Geneva: 2008).

[6] UN-Habitat and Global Land Tools Network, “Secure Land Rights for All,” (2008), <www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5698&catid=503&typeid=24&subMenuId=0>.

[7] M. Kothari, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing,” E/CN.4/2006/41, (21 March 2006).

[8] General Comment 14, ‘The right to the highest attainable standard of health,’ UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (2000). See, in particular, paragraph 11.

[9]World Health Organization, Health Principles of Housing, WHO,Geneva, 1989. See also the work of WHO on the Social Determinants of Health.

[10] See statement made by the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, on the occasion of five years after the World Food Summit, (June 2002).

[11] General Comment 12, ‘The right to adequate food,’ UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (1999),  establishes the link between the right to food and other human rights.

[12] “One Species, One Planet: Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development,” Center for International Environmental Law, (Washington, DC: 2002), <www.ciel.org/Publications/OneSpecies_OnePlanet.pdf>.

[13] As expounded in CESCR, “General Comment 4, ‘The right to adequate housing’ (Art. 11.1 of the Covenant),” 1991; see also section below on “Human right to adequate housing.”

[14] See also the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) of 1998, which guarantees rights of access to information and to participation in decision-making and includes strong provisions for access to justice in environmental matters, including the enforceability of rights conferred by the Convention.

[15] These elements of adequacy have further been expanded by civil society organizations as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, to include, inter alia: participation and information; access to land, water and other natural resources; freedom from dispossession, damage and destruction; resettlement, restitution, compensation; access to remedies; education and empowerment; and, freedom from violence against women.

[16] For an articulation of what the primacy of human rights means for international cooperation obligations of States see ‘Maastricht Principles on Extra Territorial Obligations, adopted at Maastricht in September 2011. Available from: http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/show/id=596286/langid=42.

[17] For a longer discussion on privatization and human rights, see M. Kothari, “Privatizing human rights: The impact of globalization on adequate housing, water and sanitation,” Social Watch Report 2003: The Poor and the Market. Available from: <www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/en/privatisinghumanrights2003_eng.pdf>.

[18] For more information, see, O. Lynch and S. Chaudhry, “Community-based Property Rights: A Concept Note,” Center for International Environmental Law, 2002. Available from: www.ciel.org.

[19] In this context the work of the FAO on Voluntary Guidelines for Good Governance in Land and Natural Resource Tenure is promising. See: <ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/ak280e/ak280e00.pdf>.

[20] For an operational instrument to safeguard people’s rights prior to, during and after displacement, see “UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Displacement,” Annex 1 of the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, A/HRC/4/18. Available from: <www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/ForcedEvictions.aspx>.

[21] Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, A/HRC/10/61, January 2009.

[22] See M. Orellana, M. Kothari and S. Chaudhry, “Climate Change in the Work of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” 2010. Available from: http://www.fes-globalization.org/geneva/documents/CESCR%20Climate%20Chan...

[23] “Climate Change and Human Rights: A Primer,” Center for International Environmental Law, 2011. Available from: http://www.ciel.org/Publications/CC_HRE_23May11.pdf

[24] “World Charter on the Right to the City.” Available from: <www.globalgovernancewatch.org/resources/world-charter-on-the-right-to-the-city>.

[25] M. Kothari and S. Chaudhry, “Taking the Right to the City Forward: Obstacles and Promises,” paper for UN Habitat, State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011.

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MEASURING PROGRESS

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2012
Annual report: 
Yes
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Basic Capabilities Index 2011 (pdf)

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2012
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Yes
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Gender Equity Index 2012 (pdf)

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2012
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Yes
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Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment Index (SERF) (pdf)

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2012
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Yes
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From the grassroots: NATIONAL REPORTS

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2012
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Yes
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A Green New Deal

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The Government favours a neoliberal model of development that has led to growing social stratification and rising pressure on the environment. An alternative could be the Green New Deal, which aims to address global warming and global financial crises by implementing a set of policy proposals intended to secure global sustainable development. Green Growth and environmental protection programmes must act as catalysts to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods for the most disadvantaged Polish citizens.

ATD Fourth World Poland
Pierre Klein
Monika Kalinowska
The Green Institute
Dariusz Szwed

The Government favours a neoliberal model of development that has led to growing social stratification and rising pressure on the environment. An alternative could be the Green New Deal, which aims to address global warming and global financial crises by implementing a set of policy proposals intended to secure global sustainable development. Green Growth and environmental protection programmes must act as catalysts to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods for the most disadvantaged Polish citizens.

Introduction

Poland is one of the very few countries that have introduced the concept of sustainable development at a constitutional level. According to Article 5 of the Polish Constitution: The Republic of Poland shall safeguard the independence and integrity of its territory and ensure the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens, the security of the citizens, safeguard the national heritage and shall ensure the protection of the natural environment pursuant to the principles of sustainable development.”

Paradoxically Poland is also a country where any reference to the concept of sustainable development is rather difficult to find in public debate. In July 2000, for example, the “Poland 2025 – Long-term strategy for sustainable development” was adopted by the Council of Ministers with the clear objective to “improve the welfare of Polish families.” According to some experts, however, its overall impact is extremely limited: “[It] has met with no response from society and today hardly anybody seems to remember its existence. The average citizen does not know about the concept of sustainable development, nor does he or she have even the vaguest notion of it.” The authors go on to say that even people who have heard of sustainable development often consider it to be synonymous with environmental protection.[2]

In July 2009 the Government issued Poland 2030. Development challenges,[3] intended to be the mainstream analysis and strategy line for development over the next 20 years. Written in hard-to-understand jargon it favours the “polarization and diffusion model” as opposed to that of sustainable development. Developed by the Board of Strategic Advisors to the Council of Ministers led by Minister Michal Boni, the report was not discussed in its initial phase and no alternative projects were commissioned, which made consultations impossible. The power to set the direction for the future of the country was thus given to a narrow group.[4] Moreover in an interview for Polska one of the co-authors said that the departure point for the creation of this new model was the observation that “in reality, sustainable development is only a myth.”[5]

Unsustainability and the neoliberal model

The lack of implementation (or rather comprehension) of the principle of sustainable development inscribed in the Polish Constitution can be illustrated by the fact that subsequent governments have implied the existence of a conflict between environment and economy or between environment and society. Ways of addressing the current state of affairs, as presented by key politicians, seem to have been poorly prioritized. “The economy first, my reasonable Pole,” said Bronisław Komorowski, incumbent President of Poland, during a debate on the future of the Polish and European economies.[6]

In explainingthe “polarization-diffusion model,” Poland 2030 states that “apart from boosting growth polarities (i.e. polarisation processes), we have to primarily create conditions for diffusion – anything and everything which might support the process of equalizing education-related opportunities, improve transport accessibility in all parts of the country, eliminate the threat of digital exclusion, improve social integration levels, structure and support intergenerational solidarity, and offer a sense of capacity to follow individual ambitions.”[7] However the authors also define economic growth as a solid foundation for Poland’s development, along with “efficient administration and demographic potential,” and state that “current EU policy, as regards energy and climate security, is heading towards the reinforcement of Europe as a world leader in sustainable development. This, however, cannot occur at the cost of the Polish economy.”[8]

Here lies the biggest trap of the Government’s development strategy: Poles ought to tighten their belts in order to achieve a state of economic and social balance in 20 years time. But this model has led instead to increased social stratification, decreasing social capital and rising pressure on the environment measured by the total use of energy and non-renewable resources.[9]

The prevailing ideology was aptly described by Edwin Bendyk in the afterword to Ecology: Guide for Political Criticism. Noting that the dominant development discourse rested on neoliberalism and postcolonialism, he writes, “The former means the primacy of growth policy using free market instruments understood as a space for negotiations of private preferences that are only protected and not shaped by the state which is withdrawing from the management of interpersonal relations to the maximum extent. If at all, this can happen only under the influence of external commitments. This dictate, expressed in ideas like the climate and energy package or Natura 2000, is treated like divine retribution, a cost of membership in the club of developed countries. In fact, we are a postcolonial, developing country that was harmed by history and is still being damaged by the hegemonic centre that tries to enforce solutions detrimental to aspirations reflected in a desire to maintain economic growth.”[10]

Neoliberal notions of the unfettered free market and of endless economic growth measured by GDP are wearing thin. The GDP does not reflect reality for it does not consider the country’s low level of social capital, unpaid housework (done mainly by women) and increasing income stratification. Nor does it take into account environmental devastation, extinction of plants and animals, growing populations or the greatest challenge of the 21st century – the need to implement a global climate deal, which is a critical investment in our common future, as noted by the economist Nicolas Stern.[11]

The Green New Deal: an alternative

The concept of the Green New Deal appeared first in a July 2008 report by the New Economics Foundation[12] in response to the economic crisis driven by credit bubbles, global climate change and increased oil prices. The authors stated that in order to avoid a deep recession comparable to the Great Depression it is necessary to undertake key structural changes both in the national and international financial systems, including the tax system, as well as make stable investments in energy savings and the production of energy from renewable sources.

The Green New Deal puts forward a set of policy proposals that aims to address issues such as global warming and financial crises by securing global sustainable development and creating a low emission economy. It also supports the development of modern technologies that are human-, environment- and climate-friendly, enhancing energy efficiency and greater use of renewable sources of energy, modernizing the building sector and promoting autonomous and sustainable buildings, developing environmentally friendly railway systems on the continent and changing the priorities of the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Like the reforms of the 1930s, the Green New Deal involves an active role for public authorities in the implementation of policies, in this case, for sustainable development.

In March 2009 prior to the European Parliament elections, the European Green Party issued its manifesto, A Green New Deal for Europe, which significantly develops this concept. The summary states: “As the economic, social and environmental challenges currently facing the EU are closely interrelated, they must be tackled together as part of a comprehensive package which for us is the Green New Deal. … [This] is the only way of really delivering the changes to the way we live and work that will result in the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which science shows will be necessary if we are to avoid the most disastrous impacts of climate change.” It goes on to say that the benefits will go beyond the environment “ to provide a major boost to the economy, lead to sustainable economic development and result in the creation of millions of new ‘green collar’ jobs in renewable energy and other future-oriented technologies.” It adds that the Green New Deal will ensure that social and labour rights are not sacrificed in the name of competition and that public goods and services are provided so that all citizens can enjoy a good quality of life. “Greens will continue to defend equal rights for all within and outside the workplace, fight all forms of discrimination and intolerance and take the urgent action required to help the most disadvantaged in society.”[13]

The Green New Deal in Poland also states that “business as usual” is no longer possible since it merely continues to push economic growth at the cost of the degradation of society and the environment.[14]

Building sustainable development

It is generally accepted that people living in extreme poverty are the most vulnerable to dangerous environmental conditions. One main issue for the poorest in Poland, for example, is housing quality. Roofs Over Heads,[15] a coalition of 15 NGOs led by Habitat for Humanity Poland, launched a campaign in 2008 to raise awareness about poor housing conditions in the country. There is no national policy dedicated to building homes for low-income groups, nor for assisting them with home improvements. Nearly 12 million Poles – almost a third of the population – live in overcrowded homes. More than 60% of apartments need serious renovation and more than half of the housing stock is more than 40 years old. Low-quality building materials and poor insulation are resulting in high monthly energy bills, making funds even scarcer for families that need to improve their living conditions.

People facing extreme poverty are often seen as responsible for environmental damage and thus an obstacle to sustainable development. This has to change; in fact, people living in extreme poverty should be included in all levels of policy making. Thus the Polish and international response to the challenge of sustainable development must ensure that new technologies and mitigation and adaptation programmes benefit the most vulnerable populations and build on their capacities and efforts. People in extreme poverty are often at the frontline of development initiatives that aim to transform their living conditions by improving water, sanitation or heating facilities.

Conclusion

Some authors believe that in seeking an alternative development model, “ it is essential to accurately define the goals of economic development, environmental improvement and social cohesion.''[16] This gets to the essence of sustainable development.  Amartya Sen argues that eliminating poverty and preserving the environment could be considered as “different parts of an integrated task.”[17] This means that environmental protection programmes could be used to obtain decent work and training for the most disadvantaged groups while maintaining respect for local cultures.

Green Growthmust act as a catalyst for creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods for the most disadvantaged populations, building on efforts they are already undertaking. This is in line with the priority theme of a “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” of the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012 in Brazil.

[1] This report is partly based on D. Szwed, “Green New Deal in the World, in Europe, in Poland?” in D. Szwed (ed.), The Green New Deal in Poland, (2011), <zielonyinstytut.pl>.

[2] K. Kostrzewa and R. Piasecki, “Approaches to Sustainable Development in Poland,” L’Europe en formation nº 352, (2009).

[3] Available from: <www.polska2030.pl>.

[4] E. Charkiewicz, “Rozwój społeczny – próba diagnozy,” Raport Krajowy Polskiej Koalicji, (Social Watch, 2009).

[5] A. Koziński, “Wojnarowski: Zrównoważony rozwój kraju to tylko mit,” interview in Polska, (29 June 2010), <www.polskatimes.pl>.

[6] At the opening of the Second European Economic Congress in Katowice, (31 May 2010).

[7] Board of Strategic Advisers to the Prime Minister, Poland 2030. Development challenges: Report summary, p. 4., <www.kprm.gov.pl>.

[8] Ibid.

[9] One indicator of total energy use is the ecological footprint. In 2007 there were 1.8 global hectares (gha) of biologically productive space for each inhabitant of Earth. Between 2003 and 2007 usage in Poland rose from 3.3 to 4.35 gha – i.e., an average of 241% of globally available ecospace for each Pole. If everyone consumed this way humanity would need 2.5 planets.

[10]  E. Bendyk, “Ekologia Polityczna dla Polski, czyli w stronę Zielonego Okrągłego Stołu,” in Ekologia: Przewodnik Krytyki Politycznej, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, (Warsaw: 2009).

[11] N. Stern, Globalny Ład. Zmiany klimatu a powstanie nowej epoki, postępu i dostatku, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, (Warsaw: 2010).

[12] Green New Deal Group, A Green New Deal, New Economics Foundation, (2008), <www.greennewdealgroup.org/?page_id=53>.

[13] European Green Party, A Green New Deal for Europe (Summary of Manifesto, <europeangreens.eu/menu/egp-manifesto/>.

[14] For a full analysis of the Green New Deal and the possibilities for its implementation in Poland, see <zielonyinstytut.pl>.

[15] See the coalition’s website: <www.dachnadglowa.org>.

[16] X. Godinot, Th. Viard and H. de Courtivron, “Extreme Poverty and World Governance,” Proposal Paper Series, Forum for a New World Governance, (December 2010), <www.world-governance.org/spip.php?article662>.

[17] A. Sen, “Environment and Poverty: One World or Two?” address at the International Conference on Energy, Environment and Development, (Bangalore, India: 16 December 2006), <www.institut.veolia.org>.

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A call for climate justice for everyone

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Current environmental policies in the country are far from satisfactory. Belgium will face major challenges related to climate change in the immediate future, including rising temperatures and severe disruptions in the annual distribution of rainfall. However it is not putting into practice the commitments made by the international community. The dialogue among the different regions of the country, the industrial sector and civil society has become paralysed, and this can only be overcome through massive campaigns raising public awareness of the urgent problems threatening the environment and endangering the welfare of society.

CNCD-11.11.11
Nicolas Van Nuffel

Current environmental policies in the country are far from satisfactory. Belgium will face major challenges related to climate change in the immediate future, including rising temperatures and severe disruptions in the annual distribution of rainfall. However it is not putting into practice the commitments made by the international community. The dialogue among the different regions of the country, the industrial sector and civil society has become paralysed, and this can only be overcome through massive campaigns raising public awareness of the urgent problems threatening the environment and endangering the welfare of society.

Between 1993 and 1997 Belgium established a Federal Council for Sustainable Development. This is made up of representatives of employers, unions, various NGOs and the scientific community, while all the federal ministers and the various regional governments are represented as observers.[1] In the context of a strong tradition of social dialogue, however, Belgium is missing the step between institutional mechanisms and effective implementation of a proactive policy towards sustainable development.

A clear example of this is the challenge posed by climate change, which brings social and economic repercussions of significant environmental importance. While one could argue that the impact of global warming will affect Belgium to a lesser extent than developing countries or countries with weaker economies, it is undeniable that the consequences will be far from insignificant. These will, in fact, depend on the extent and orientation of measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and combat the effects of ongoing changes and the speed with which they are implemented.

Heat, rain and social inequality

According to a report co-directed by Professor van Ypersele, Vice-President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Philippe Marbax, temperatures in Belgium could increase by up to 4.9°C in winter and 6.6°C in summer during the twenty-first century.[2] This will have important consequences for the environment, including a significant loss of biodiversity.[3] In terms of the impact on water resources, “projections of the evolution of precipitation, by the end of the century, show an increase between 6 and 23% for winter and a (decrease) for summer (...) that would reach 50%.”[4]

These disrupted rainfall patterns, and the resulting rise in more extreme phenomena such as floods and droughts, could have serious effects on the country’s economy. Furthermore, the negative impact of rising temperatures will have profound impacts on the health of the population, with heat waves likely to lead to increased mortality and morbidity.[5]

Belgium has the necessary means to address these negative consequences, especially since other effects of a positive nature could in part compensate for the magnitude of the damage. For example, an increase in agricultural productivity is expected – especially for some crops (including wheat) – provided that temperatures do not rise by more than 3°C.[6] However not everyone has the same ability to deal with these changes: “The real impact of climate change on the health of a population depends largely on its vulnerability, which in turn depends strongly on the level of life, access to health and the ability of that population to adapt to new climatic conditions.”[7]

Moreover global warming is not the only environmental challenge that Belgium will face in the near future. Since domestic energy resources are limited to nuclear energy and the small (though growing) sector of renewable energy, the country has become extremely dependent on imported fossil fuels such as natural gas from the Netherlands, Norway and Algeria.[8] For this reason, the impact of depletion of these resources may make energy prices soar and become unaffordable for less affluent populations.

The obstacle of institutional complexity

The Lessons of Fukushima
The nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011, was the most serious accident since Chernobyl and caused some governments around the world to re-think their nuclear power policies. Following in the steps of Germany, which decided to phase out its nuclear power stations between 2011 and 2020, the Belgian Government announced that it would significantly reduce its own nuclear programme by 2015.
This policy includes closing two reactors in the city of Doel and a third at the Tihange nuclear station. These are three of the oldest reactors still in operation in the country. The other reactors will be progressively shut down over the next ten years and the nuclear energy programme will cease completely in 2025.
However, the current administration has said these closure dates are “flexible”, and in the interim the Government will consider the nuclear programme as a “provisional” source of power. It also reaffirmed its commitment to make every effort to develop alternative energy sources and put them to work. It has also been suggested that nuclear power could be taxed more heavily as a way of bolstering research into alternative energy technologies.[11]

Sustainable development cannot be analysed outside an international context. The 1992 Rio Summit on Climate Change established the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities between the most industrialized and contaminating countries and the less developed countries. Belgium, which is on the list of countries that must reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, has not stopped producing alarming amounts of these gases nor has it instituted programmes to reduce emissions. In fact, in the European debate on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases after 2012, Belgium seems to be paralysed by the challenge. While a number of countries in the EU voted to move unilaterally to a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases, Belgium has not yet made any clear decision.

In this respect the institutional complexity of Belgium is not a positive factor. Since the environment is a theme shared between the federal State and the regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels), these four entities must reach agreement in order to take a position in international discussions. However, in terms of the specific problem of reducing emissions, a lack of agreement results in the implementation of de facto vetoes exercised against the proposals needed to at least advance in the debate and take on commitments seriously.

Unfortunately Belgian civil society is not unanimous in demanding the acceptance of the EU recommendations. Thus the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB) is mounting a strong lobby against any unilateral attempt to bring about an increase in Europe’s commitments and therefore those of Belgium. In a notice published shortly before the Cancun climate change conference in 2010, the FEB considered that “Europe is alone with its unilateral commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Obviously this has a negative impact on competitiveness. (...) At this point, the Belgian business world does not favour continuing the reduction target of -30% because the conditions defined by the EU are not yet in place.”[9]

But is it true that these conditions do not exist? A study by Climate Action Network-Europe published in February 2011 shows that Belgium could lose significant sums if Europe refuses to move to a 30% reduction in emissions: USD 2,800 million in revenues from the auction of emission rights, as well as USD 1,260 million in savings in health care could be lost.[10]

Furthermore, investing in the transformation of the Belgian economic and energy model would also have a long-term positive impact on the country’s economy. It is clear that this transformation would require adjustments to some sectors that emit a great deal of greenhouse gases, such as the steel and auto industries, and that such adjustments should be accompanied by strong social measures, particularly in terms of job losses.

Resistance to change

While climate changes and measures to address them are good indicators of Belgium’s commitment to the path of sustainable development, they are by no means the only ones. Measures to help improve access to housing and the redevelopment of public transport are also badly needed. Suggestions have been made by both the social and environmental movements, but the political decision-makers are slow to come forward with answers. These measures would also contribute to the collective welfare of humanity by reducing pollutant emissions, especially greenhouse gases, and would help combat inequality by reducing costs for low-income users and developing quality alternative transport other than cars.

Proposals are not what is missing on the desks of those responsible for decision-making, and Belgium is the site for many collaborations between North-South movements, environmental NGOs, peasant movements and trade unions that could develop alternatives to the current model. However it should be noted that resistance to change is still strong in many sectors of society. This is why it is not enough to question those responsible for decision-making but it is also necessary to launch campaigns targeting the general public. These should raise people’s awareness of the social and environmental impact of their behaviour and show them that an alternative model of development is possible.

Conclusion

Belgium’s attitude in international and European discussions on the reductions of greenhouse gas emissions contributes to keeping the whole of Europe below the commitments recommended by the scientific community. While the alternative model of development is still to be defined, it is clear that it should be more respectful of the rights of the population as well as of those of the populations of the least well-off countries. For this reason a campaign that brings together NGOs and trade unions to reinforce this awareness in all sectors of society will be launched in 2011 under the slogan “climate justice for all!”

[2] P. Marbaix and J.-P. van Ypersele, Impact des changements climatiques en Belgique, (Brussels :Greenpeace, 2004), <www.astr.ucl.ac.be/users/marbaix/impacts/docs/GP-rep04-Sum_2-EN.pdf>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] European Commission, Belgium Energy Mix Fact Sheet, <ec.europa.eu/energy/energy_policy/doc/factsheets/mix/mix_be_en.pdf>.

[9] Federation of Enterprises in Belgium, European and international climate policy: state of the art and current challenges, (Brussels: 21 October 2010), <vbo-feb.be/media/uploads/public/_custom/NoteClimatCA_21102010.pdf>.

[10] Climate Action Network Europe, 30%. Why Europe Should Strengthen its 2020 Climate Action, (Brussels: February 2011).

[11] Jonathan Benson, “First Germany, now Belgium: nuclear energy to be phased out b 2015”, Natural News, (November 4, 2011), <www.naturalnews.com/034059_nuclear_energy_Belgium.html>.

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A path to nowhere

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
In recent years the country has made considerable progress in human rights and sustainable development. These gains are now in peril. The Government is pushing ahead with hydroelectric and highway mega-projects that violate agreements and legal restrictions, cause serious environmental damage and displace thousands of people from their land. These policies are irresponsible and absolutely devoid of any holistic human rights perspective. Nevertheless, the State appears determined to follow a development path that is totally unsustainable, despite the protests of the Mexican people and civil society organizations

DECA Equipo Pueblo
Areli Sandoval Terán
Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario - IMDEC
María González
HIC-AL
Silvia Emanuelli
With the support of: ESPACIO DESC

In recent years the country has made considerable progress in human rights and sustainable development.These gains are now in peril. The Government is pushing ahead with hydroelectric and highway mega-projects that violate agreements and legal restrictions, cause serious environmental damage and displace thousands of people from their land. These policies are irresponsible and absolutely devoid of any holistic human rights perspective. Nevertheless, the State appears determined to follow a development path that is totally unsustainable, despite the protests of the Mexican people and civil society organizations

Mexico subscribed to Agenda 21, an action plan that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.The Agenda calls for a sustainable development strategy based on human needs, affirms the right to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature, and declares that protection of the environment should be an integral part of the development process.

To promote sustainable development, the State must first establish a solid environmental, economic and social foundation, and then design and implement coordinated policies, programmes and projects that guarantee the well-being of present and future generations. The Mexican State, however, is promoting projects that violate human rights, including the right to development and a healthy environment. Its policies contravene Agenda 21 and obligations under international law, as well as the country’s own Constitution and environmental protection regulations.

The El Zapotillo dam

The El Zapotillo dam project in the Altos de Jalisco region is one of many projects proceeding in the face of protests from local communities and civil society organizations. The sponsors – the Federal Government through the National Water Commission(CONAGUA), and governments in the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato – assert that the dam will promote local and regional development and supply potable water to the city of León in Guanajuato, 10 municipalities in Altos de Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara.
No strategy that respects people’s right to development can assume that the end justifies the means, but this is precisely the State’s premise at El Zapotillo. The project involves building a concrete curtain 105 meters high that will store 911 million m3 of water in a reservoir with a surface area of 4,500 ha. It will also include the construction of 145 kilometres of aqueduct. The estimated total cost will be 8,010 million Mexican pesos (approximately USD 680,000,000).

Critics note that the useful life of the dam is only 25 years. They point out that project will destroy the natural valley of the River Verde and flood three communities that date back to the sixth century – Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo. Around 700 people currently live in these communities and a high proportion of the population is women and older adults. If the project is carried out, they will be expelled from their ancestral lands and their culture and history will be irretrievably lost.

These communities declared their opposition to the project when it was announced in 2005 and organized to fight for their human rights by peaceful means. Despite harassment and threats, they have continued to denounce the project as an irreparable violation of their fundamental rights and demand that the project be cancelled. They are also insisting that experts be brought in to make an independent evaluation of the social, cultural and environmental impacts of this mega-project.  The pressure from the authorities and the threat that their ancestral homes will disappear have severely damaged their psycho-social health.

The negative impact of the project would extend far beyond these communities. It would promote lead over-exploitation and pollution throughout the region, and aggravate current social conflicts and disputes over water. The dam would devastate the River Verde biological corridor, wipe out large swathes of cultivated land, increase saline levels in the soil, and damage areas rich in flora and fauna.

As in other hydro-infrastructure mega-projects in Mexico, federal and state authorities have violated the people’s right to information and communities’ right to prior consultation.They have not undertaken any evaluation of the social impacts of the project’s utter disregard of the affected communities’ rights to a healthy environment, adequate housing, water, health, land, work, or any other economic, social and cultural rights.

The residents of Temacapulín have won several legal battles in their bid to stop construction, but the authorities have ignored court rulings and continued construction work. Last March the local community organized further resistance and finally, on 1 April 2011, more than six years after construction began, the Federal Government and the National Water Commission agreed to begin a dialog with the Committee to Save Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo.[1] Two months later, however, authorities confirmed at a so-called resolution committee that the project could go forward and be completed in 2012. Convinced that they had exhausted their options under Mexican law, the residents took the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The impact of mega-dams

More than a decade ago the World Commission on Dams[2] warned against the serious impacts on the environment and on communities that big dam projects are causing all over the planet. The United Nations Committee for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Rights (UNESCO), as well as many NGOs worldwide, had expressed concerns to Mexico concerning the La Parota dam since 2003. This hydroelectric mega-project has also been criticized by the Latin American Water Tribunal, and three UN Special Rapporteurs have issued reports and recommendations noting its potential deleterious impact on the right to housing, the right to food and the rights of indigenous people.

If completed, La Parota, on the River Papagayo in the state of Guerrero, would flood 17,000 hectares of cultivated land, as well as roads, bridges and communities, and displace 25,000 people in the immediate vicinity, along with 75,000 more downriver. As with the El Zapotillo dam, the State has neither divulged information to or engaged in consultations with threatened communities, or issued an evaluation of the project’s potential impact on the environment, development, or the human rights of tens of thousands of people living in the area.

In spite of the international recommendations against pursuing this mega-project, and a long and arduous social and legal struggle by the communities affected and organizations allied with them, the Government of President Felipe Calderón has refused to cancel La Parota. The affected communities have continued the fight and in April 2011, they won their fifth legal battle, a court ruling that overturned an agrarian assembly decision of 2010 that authorized the Federal Government to take possession of the land earmarked for the dam. Since May 2011, a coalition of social organizations and networks has been pressing the recently-elected Governor of Guerrero to make a commitment to the threatened communities and lobby the Federal Government to cancel the project.[3]

Unsustainable development in the Federal District of Mexico

Dangers to the environment and human rights are not limited to rural areas. The Federal District of Mexico (GDF), which encompasses Mexico City and the surrounding urban areas, is also suffering from policies and projects that conflict with sustainable development. Large cities put enormous pressure on natural resources. In addition to their direct impact as a massive concentration of people, they also create an environment in which public policy decisions at the local level are unlikely to maintain a holistic human rights perspective. This poses an increasingly serious threat to present and future generations. One of the most worrying situations for Mexican civil and social organizations is the development model being pursued by the current government of the Federal District (GDF – for its initials in Spanish).

First, it must be said that since it was established 14 years ago, the GDF has promoted citizen participation and made great progress in recognizing human rights and introducing public services to support them. The Federal District is the only one of the country’s 32 states with a Human Rights Diagnosis Programme (PDHDF). This initiative, promoted by the Mexico Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and set up between 2007 to 2009 with popular participation, has a mandate to review progress toward achieving each of the basic human rights, including the right to a clean environment, the right to water, the right to health services and the right to housing.[4]

In 2010 the GDF became the only public institution in the country with an inter-sector Follow-up and Evaluation Mechanism. This programme created a structure in which different sectors, including civil society organizations, have set up systems to monitor compliance with the PDHDF.The GDF is also the only public body with a PDHDF law, passed in May 2011, which requires all public bodies in the city to pursue policies that respect human rights. In addition, at the instigation of urban popular organizations and with wide popular participation, the GDF drew up a Charter of the City of Mexico that embraces a vision of sustainable, liveable and healthy urban environment, and contains a series of commitments subscribed to by the local executive, legislative and legal branches.[5]

At last year’s World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, the head of the GDF, Marcelo Ebrard, described a broad range of Mexico City initiatives to mayors from other countries. These included  programmes in the areas of security, citizen protection, non-motorized transport, citizenship and the environment, as well as housing and urban development projects, all of which, he noted, are elements in the city’s progress “in the seven principles of action of the environment agenda: soil conservation,liveability and public spaces, water, transport, air quality, waste management and climate change measures … a work agenda that reflects an environmental situation that makes it essential to start implementing changes that will make the development of the city sustainable again.”[6]

Despite this impressive rhetoric, this “avant-garde city” is full of contradictions and they are getting worse. In February 2011, 3,500 people took to the streets chanting “Marcelo, you must understand, the city is not for sale."[7] They were expressing their opposition to various mega-projects that would entail destruction of trees and green spaces, irreparably damaging the lungs of the city, as well as land of great ecological value. The building work involved would also have a very negative impact on the subterranean water sources that the city depends on.

One of these large-scale projects is the so-called Western SuperHighway. In January 2011 the PDHDF submitted a report detailing human rights violations in the areas of legal protection, information, citizen participation, healthy environment, and water and adequate housing associated with this mega-project.

The Ombudsman of Mexico City asked the head of the GDF to halt superhighway construction work pending thorough and wide-ranging public consultations to consider the concerns, views and proposals of the people affected. He also urged the authorities to research sustainable transportation alternative for the city’s southwest, and change its environmental impact and risk regulations to bring them into line with the Federal District Environment Law provision making a public consultation process mandatory in evaluations of the environmental effects of construction work.[8]Civil society organizations and the people living in the affected areas have gone even further, demanding that the entire project be cancelled.

What these civil society and social organizations are demanding is that the GDF strictly adhere to the commitments it made in the PDHDF and its enabling law, as well as the Mexico City Charter, and cancel all legislative and public policy measures that have a negative impact on human rights. They note that by unilaterally imposing projects like the Western Super Highway, the city authorities are not only exposing the population to serious environmental and social dangers, they are dismantling carefully constructed democratic structures and weakening institutional channels for communication, dialogue, debate and proposals.

Mega-projects promoted by federal and local authorities throughout the country represent gross State irresponsibility. Rather than being based on a holistic human rights approach, the policies these projects represent are leading Mexico down a dangerous path of unsustainable development.

[1]See: <noalapresaelzapotillo.wordpress.com>.

[2] Set up by the World Bank and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998 in response to increasing opposition to big dams. For further information available see: <www.internationalrivers.org/files/wcdguide-s.pdf>.

[3]The organizations that have signed up for this campaign include Espacio DESC, the Tlachinollan Centre for Human Rights, Fundar, Serapaz, WITNESS, and the Mexican Centre for Environmental Rights. For further information, see: Tlachinollan, Organizaciones refuerzan llamado a Gobernador de Guerrero para un No a la Parota, (2011), <www.tlachinollan.org/Noalaparota>.

[4]See: <www.derechoshumanosdf.org.mx>.

[5] See: <derechoalaciudaddf.blogspot.com>.

[6]See: <ciudaddevanguardia.com/medio-ambiente>.

[7]See: <www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/747578.html>.

[8] For further information see: <www.cdhdf.org.mx/index.php/boletines/999-boletin-212011>.

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A social and ecological time bomb

Publication_year: 
2012
Annual report: 
Yes
Summary: 
Senegal has been hit hard by the world economic crisis and it is faced with serious difficulties including a lack of transparency in State institutions and a lack of long term planning. This has made the country more vulnerable to natural disasters, but the Government has no effective plans to cope with these or to protect the population. Another serious challenge is deforestation, which is mainly due to the demand for fuel, and it is an ecological time bomb. Social unrest is on the increase and in the last year various sectors of society have taken to the streets in demonstrations calling for adequate governance.

Cultural Association for Educational and Social Self-Promotion (ACAPES); National Associations for the Disabled of Senegal (ANHMS); Democratic Union of Teachers (UDEN); Youth and Environment Action (AJE); Enda Graf Sahel; Pan-African Youth Organizations (OJP), a member of the African Youth Coalition against Hunger; Syndicate of Professors of Senegal (SYPROS); Collective of Pikine Ouest Associated Groups (COGAPO); Association for the Economic, Social and Environmental Development of the North  (ADESEN); AGIR/SEN; ECO/PN; MARSA-FOOT; AJAPPO; CLJ/PO; ASC; CITE; SOTIBA; AES; PENCOO; JECK PENC.

Senegal has been hit hard by the world economic crisis and it is faced with serious difficulties including a lack of transparency in State institutions and a lack of long term planning. This has made the country more vulnerable to natural disasters, but the Government has no effective plans to cope with these or to protect the population. Another serious challenge is deforestation, which is mainly due to the demand for fuel, and it is an ecological time bomb. Social unrest is on the increase and in the last year various sectors of society have taken to the streets in demonstrations calling for adequate governance.  

In 2003 the Government began implementing its Strategy Document for the Fight against Poverty (DSRP), which is the reference framework for an economic and social policy aimed at national growth, reducing poverty and achieving the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The world crisis hit Senegal very hard and the negative impacts reached a peak in 2010 when the economy and public revenues were seriously hurt by problems with energy, food and finances, and this laid bare the country’s basic vulnerability. GDP growth in 2011 has been estimated at 4.2%,[1] but to overcome the economic crisis and reach the poverty eradication targets that have been set, it is vitally important to maintain a 10% growth rate, and the means that are used to achieve this should be in line with the principles of sustainable development.

The economic situation has certainly worsened. For example, there have been power cuts because of a lack of funds to maintain and run the power stations, and this has hampered economic growth so much so that in 2010 the rate was an estimated -1.4%.[2] One effect of this is that social inequity and vulnerability have become more serious.

Confusion in governance

The MDGs are a new reference framework that can be used to measure countries’ development and to set parameters for evaluating progress towards sustainable development.

Judged from the MDG perspective, Senegal’s development policies and strategies are not effective enough, particularly as regards maintaining essential social services and promoting gender equity. This constitutes a challenge, and the Government and all the actors involved will have to redouble their efforts and gear their action to concrete objectives that are shared and focalised.

When we analyse the Human Development Index (HDI), which like the Basic Capabilities Index (BCI)[3] gives ratings for gender inequality and for poverty, it emerges that Senegal has not laid solid foundations for sustainable development. In fact, in 2010 it ranked only 144th out of 169 countries.[4] The way towards establishing a sustainable development model is plagued with difficulties and up to now the Government has not been able to tackle them effectively.

Official data show that since 2006 progress has been made towards reducing monetary poverty, but there is another indicator we should consider, non-monetary poverty, which gauges access to basic social services, adequate food, unpolluted water, decent housing and the overall conditions for a healthy life, and by these criteria the country is moving far too slowly to reach its MDGs by 2015.

The programmes to improve in these areas suffer from problems of governance. There are many institutions and agencies involved and different ministries that have overlapping responsibilities, and this makes for a very confused institutional governance framework. The way the public sector is structured is not geared to making effective development possible. The State today does not have good governance, it is not transparent and it does not have a culture of combating corruption, but these are essential if the country is to achieve decisive results and make genuine progress.

Large sectors of the population are still living in poverty not only in rural areas but also in the cities, and households headed by women are particularly vulnerable. In recent years public spending on social protection and security has been around 1.16% of GDP, but this is even below the average for Africa, which is 1.44% (Ministry of the Family, of Women’s Groups and Child Protection).

It is clear that a new approach is needed because the programmes to tackle these problems are not coordinated, some interventions are repeated and much of what is done is ineffective, all of which is reflected in poor results.

A Social Orientation Law promoting and protecting the rights of the disabled was passed in 2010, but up to now it has not been implemented and the institutional framework needed to provide care for people with different capacities and integrate them into social and economic life is not yet in place.

Social unrest

Intense deforestation: an ecological time bomb
The forests in the south of the country are disappearing very fast and this is going on completely unchecked. In a report by the Commission of the Kandion Mangana Rural Council entitled “The environmental time bomb”, the destruction of vegetation in the area is described as “actual extermination”. This attack on the flora throughout the northern strip of the Casamance region has been going on for decades, it is particularly severe in the department (province) of Bignona, and it has intensified since 2005. The main reason for this devastation is the disruption caused by an ongoing conflict with the Casamance Democratic Forces Movement (MFDC), a guerrilla group that for more than thirty years has been demanding independence for this part of southern Senegal.
The deforestation process in this area involves vegetation being burned off indiscriminately, and one of the consequences of this is increased emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming and climate change.
There are other factors involved in the degradation of these forests: land is being cleared so it can be planted with crops, vegetal coal is being extracted to meet the population’s fuel requirements and wood is being taken for the construction industry, which is a direct threat to noble species that are mostly slow-growth ligneous hardwoods.
To put a brake on this ongoing deforestation a whole series of measures will have to be taken. The Government will have to restore forests that have been degraded, evaluate forestation programmes and implement the appropriate strategies, research and adopt sustainable resource management practices, protect existing forests (mainly by stopping people from burning off vegetation), promote the use of alternative sources of energy, protect the soils, and impose stricter controls on forest exploitation as part of a policy to regenerate and protect certain species of flora.

There have been large scale movements in the country calling for better conditions of life, work and security, and there have also been street demonstrations protesting against the high cost of living, power cuts, and the Government’s failure to take action to help flood victims. This wave of unrest has irreversibly altered the social climate. There has been tension in the air for a year with rallies and marches, and a series of strikes in the education system, health services and even in the legal system.

The protests originated on the outskirts of Dakar and were backed by religious leaders (imams and priests) and they have since spread to all parts of the country, but the Government has tried to ignore them. Initially this was a wide-based expression of discontent with the high cost of living, the power cuts and a range of other issues including the erosion of democratic values and the general deterioration of the people’s conditions of life.   

The movement subsequently diversified into different groups and there were anti-Government marches headed by imams and priests in 2009, protests by the youth movement “Y’ en a marre” (We are fed up) led by hip hop musicians, and action by workers associations and other social groups that held mass meetings and staged hunger strikes outside the railings of the Presidential palace.

The environmental challenge

Senegal has structural problems that go hand in hand with the unsustainable development of the cities. Sewage services are still inadequate even though a lot of money has been spent on public cleanliness (which has led to a common joke “there is gold in this here waste”). But there are other problems besides public hygiene such as deforestation, and erosion on the coast that is threatening whole communities. The problem of flooding has got worse and it is aggravated by a lack of precautionary planning and the fact that assistance initiatives are weak or non-existent.

All parts of the country are under threat, a total of 521,968[5] people have been affected in different ways by floods and lives have been lost in various places like Kolda in the south and Kaffrine in the east. Just in the northern region of Saint Louis some 5,661 families were driven from their homes and 4,354 latrines were destroyed, which caused a serious health hazard for the local population. Agricultural production was also hit as thousands of hectares of farmland that had already been sown were inundated.

This distressing situation is further complicated by the fact that there is a chronic lack of infrastructure in rural areas, which is why civil society organizations are pressing for investment in highways in country areas, stimulus packages to bolster the rural economy in peripheral regions and measures to accelerate Senegal’s connections with neighbouring countries.  

A discouraging panorama

There has been a certain amount of progress towards goals like restoring natural resources and land, helping biodiversity to recover in some areas, managing transboundary resources in a better way and the fight against pollution, so the country seems to be on the right track at least as regards reversing the degradation of the environment. Another good point is that it has a national strategy for adapting to climate change.

However, one area where there are serious problems is health. For example, investment in this sector is distributed in a most unequal way with a far greater proportion of the funds available going to the cities than to rural areas, particularly when it comes to setting up and maintaining health centres and maternity units. Far more finance goes to regional and national hospitals and specialized health organizations than to basic services that cater to the poorer sectors of the population. The Government’s official line is that its main priority is to provide basic health care services, but this is not borne out by the facts.

Another problem is that there are not enough trained health care workers, particularly in country areas. This means some sectors find it far more difficult to access health case, and it is no surprise that the rural population is most disadvantaged in this respect. More than half of all trained health personnel are concentrated in just two regions, Dakar and Thies, which have 52% of Senegal’s doctors, 69% of the midwives and 31% of the nurses.

The fight against HIV/AIDS is going well among the people as a whole but there are certain regions and population groups (sexual workers, long distance truck drivers) that still have rates above 7%.

The proportion of births attended by trained health care personnel is low, and even though a great effort has been made to improve the situation, in 2009 coverage was only 66.9%. It is no surprise that maternal and infant mortality rates are still relatively high in the context of the goals that have been set for 2015.

In contrast to health, education is one of the sectors that has benefited from a rather generous allocation in the budget. But in spite of this, academic results are still poor compared to the average for Africa. This is mainly due to low school enrolment rates. At the pre-school level, for example, coverage is only 3 to 4% in some parts of the country and the national average is only 9.8%. There are other problems too: the drop-out rate in secondary education is high, there are too few science teachers, and technical education and vocational training are very underdeveloped.

[1] Data from the Ministry of the Economy and Finance – Board of Economic Forecasting and Studies.

[2] Data from the Board of Economic Forecasting and Studies.

[3] For a detailed description of the BCI see the report on its 2011 edition that is included in this volume.

[4] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The True Wealth of Nations.

[5] Data from the Senegalese Red Cross.

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A thirsty future

Publication_year: 
2012

Espace Associatif

Although Morocco is rich in biodiversity, this is now threatened, in large part because water resources are poorly managed; 35% of piped water is lost, and water stocks are being polluted with industrial and urban waste. Cultivable land is also compromised because of water shortages and soil erosion. These factors are seriously aggravating rural poverty, and the gap between the richest and poorest population segments has widened.

Because of its strategic location and its historical and geographic context, Morocco has a great diversity of fauna, flora, climates, socio-cultural groups and landscapes. The climate zones, for example, include the Mediterranean area to the north of the Atlas Mountains, the temperate coastal land to the west and the desert to the east. This means there is a wide range of ecosystems including Mediterranean forests, coniferous forests, prairies and deserts,[1] and this wealth of fauna and flora makes Morocco the second richest country in the Mediterranean in terms of biodiversity. However, in spite of these natural advantages, the country has not been able to realize the kind of development that benefits the whole population. A new, integrated approach to development is needed, one that takes account of economic requirements, social equality, respect for the environment, cultural diversity, and which promotes the participation of local populations in development.

The Government’s development model is built around economic growth and urbanisation, but this has aggravated the environmental crisis the country is mired in. Moroccans today are facing a whole array of problems stemming from the exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of natural habitats, and these have an impact on the cost of living.[2] There is a serious imbalance between the increasing demand for fresh water and dwindling stocks of this resource, and to make matters worse forests and soils have been over-exploited, which means land that could have been used for agriculture is being lost. The economic cost of this environmental deterioration has been estimated at approximately USD 350 million.[3]

The loss of cultivable land due to water shortages and soil erosion has a direct impact on rural poverty. Three of the 4 million people who are below the poverty line live in rural areas. Some 75% of the rural population depend on agriculture for a living, but the majority only have access to small, non-irrigated plots of land which have limited crop potential.[4]

Another of the country’s pressing environmental problems is flooding. In recent years several regions have been hit by abnormally heavy rains and snow, and the resulting floods caused more than 30 deaths and brought suffering and poverty to thousands.[5] 

A land of thirst

Morocco’s renewable water resources are limited for technical and economic reasons, and the amount that can actually be used has been estimated at not more than 22,000 million m3/year, or a little over 730 m3 per inhabitant per year.[6]  The activity that consumes the most water is agriculture, which accounts for 80% of the country’s total consumption. Together, the industrial sector and households use only 20%.

However, the water supply is compromised by extreme variations in the climate. There are cycles of severe drought that have serious consequences, both for the economy as a whole and especially for agriculture, the worst effect being a fall in the production of cereals.

These pressures on water resources go hand in hand with the increasing deterioration in water quality. The connection rate for potable water in urban areas is 83% (1998), but in rural areas access to water improved from 14% in 1994 to around 40% in 2001 thanks to the PAGER programme to supply water to rural communities, which was implemented in 1996.[7]

Water resources are not being used or managed in a rational way, which has made for even greater scarcity. For example, the potable water pipes in cities are in such bad repair that 35% of the water in the system is simply lost.

Another complication is that the country’s dams are silting up, which is seriously affecting the water supply. At the Al Wahda dam and reservoir, for example, more than 60 million m3 of supply capacity per year is lost. But in addition to problems of quantity there are also problems of deteriorating quality caused by various kinds of pollution including the dumping of untreated industrial and household waste into water courses and the sea. Another kind of pollution stems from the intensive use of phytosanitary products and fertilizers, which have a negative impact on underground water stocks. So too does mineralization as sea water comes in, due to the over-exploitation of fresh water resources.[8]

The pollution caused by the concentration of activities in some areas is exceeding the water system’s capacity to purify and renew itself. Water resources have already been severely damaged by repeated droughts and by modifications to natural water systems.[9] In fact, water stocks are being consumed faster than they are being replaced, but demand from agriculture, industry and the population is increasing. A serious crisis is expected by 2020.[10]

Environmental problems

Throughout the country the land is becoming less fertile, arable layers are being lost due to water and wind erosion, dams and reservoirs are silting up because of erosion, there is salinization and desertification, urban areas are being developed to the detriment of agricultural land, there are great accumulations of sand in arid areas and the oases, and mining and quarrying are causing the natural environment to deteriorate.                                                                                                                                                           

Air pollution is also getting worse, due largely to the use of bad quality fuels, to very old vehicles continuing in use and to the emission of untreated industrial gases.

As ecosystems are degraded the country’s biodiversity has come under threat, and the excessive exploitation of flora has put the very existence of several species at risk.[11] The coastal environment especially has suffered owing to the concentration of human activity in these areas. Untreated industrial and household waste is simply dumped, greatly depleting fishing resources. In the desert the oases are under threat and may disappear. In all parts of the country salinity levels are rising and land erosion is increasing, aggravated by the over-exploitation of resources, the natural and artificial desiccation of wetlands and a lack of infrastructure in mountain regions.[12]

Cities have been growing with little or no urban planning, resulting in the spread of huge uncontrolled rubbish tips. Forests are also in danger, as trees are cut indiscriminately to obtain wood for fuel. This situation is aggravated by the fact that household waste collection services provide inadequate coverage, special waste (toxic, hospital, pesticides) is not treated, and urban sewage systems are getting old.

The Garb-Chrada Beni Hsen region

In terms of natural resources the Garb-Chrarda Beni Hsen region is among the richest in the country. It has considerable water stocks, an extensive plain of 4,200 km2 and some 124,614 hectares of forest land. However, all these resources are under threat and ecosystems are deteriorating due to inefficient government management of development projects.

One of the main environmental problems in this region is pollution from industrial activities. The worst culprits are the sugar mills (Dar Gueddari, Mechraa Bl Kseri and Sidi Allal Tazi), oil drilling, the Sidi Kacem oil refinery, and the Sidi Yahya pulp mill, which is responsible for 50% of the organic industrial pollution in the region.  Another serious problem is how to manage the 80 million m3 of domestic liquid waste that is generated in the region each year.

Agriculture too is quite intensive, particularly on the plain of Garb, and is another big source of pollution, particularly of under soil water stocks. The most serious consequence is that water nitrate levels are rising, creating a health risk for the people who consume it.

This region is one of the worst hit by water erosion, above all in the Uarga valley where, because of its rugged topography, average deterioration is 2,070 t/km2/year. In contrast, the loss in the Sebú valley is 600 t/km2/year.  Severe soil erosion has also left the region particularly vulnerable to flooding, a threat made more serious by the fact that the Al Wahda dam is functioning badly. Inaugurated in 1997, the dam is the biggest in the country and the second biggest in Africa, but because of sedimentation the reservoir is losing around 60 million m3 of storage capacity per year.[13]

Conditions in Morocco’s towns and cities are also rapidly deteriorating. In most cases the systems to handle liquid waste are inadequate, and urban centres either have no sanitary systems or have ancient systems that lack the necessary capacity, resulting in flooding, pollution and nauseating smells. Most of the waste is simply fed into surface water courses.

The collection and dumping of solid waste is another serious challenge. There are no guidelines for managing such operations, which are selective as well as inadequate, and the current practice of mixing medical and industrial waste with household waste involves serious health risks.   

Degradation of the wetlands of the littoral zone

The wetlands of the littoral zone stretch for 140 km. Presently, this region is facing pressing environmental issues as a result of tourism, population growth and lack of long-term planning and viable development strategies.[14]

The wetlands, which are extremely sensitive to changes from outside, are being polluted with industrial, urban and agricultural waste, thereby raising air, water and soil toxicity levels. The region’s lakes are also being polluted. One, Sidi Boughaba lake, is protected thanks to its status as a forest area, but there are no clear regulations about how other lakes should be managed or preserved. Tourism in the wetlands is also being developed, which is yet another negative factor.

The Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are still the main reference framework for the country’s concerned citizens and civil society organizations. The High Commissioner for Planning claims that with only four years until the 2015 deadline, Morocco’s performance makes it one of the countries that can reach its goals in time.[15] Unfortunately there is little justification for this optimism. The main obstacles are as follows:

  • The passage and implementation of environmental protection laws is very slow.
  • The impacts of climate change are likely to be serious, and are as yet unpredictable.
  • The great pressure on the country’s natural resources.
  • Lack of public awareness of these problems and lack of political will to solve them.

Conclusions

Morocco has been very lax about managing its resources, a situation which must change. The country is heading for an ecological crisis and nobody knows how severe it will be.

The development models implemented by the Government, and the lack of long-term planning, has led to increased inequality among segments of the population. Morocco’s GINI index rating, which measures differences in the distribution of wealth, has risen in the last 20 years: at the start of the 1990s it stood at 39 points but the estimate for 2011 is just under 41 points.[16] The gap between rich and poor is shocking, especially when we bear in mind the extremely tough conditions that the most deprived sectors have to cope with.

[1] See: Wikipedia, List of ecoregions in Morocco, <en.wikipedia.org>;
Morocco – Climate, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morocco#Climate>.

[2] IndexMundi, Morocco Environment – Current issues. Available from:<www.indexmundi.com/morocco/environment_current_issues.html>.

[3] Global Mechanism,
Increasing finance for sustainable land management: Morocco, (2008), <global-mechanism.org>.

[4] Rural Poverty Portal, Rural poverty in the Kingdom of Morocco, <www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/morocco>.

[5] See: <af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE6AT0I820101130>.

[6] Wikipedia, Water supply and sanitation in Morocco, <wikipedia.org>.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wikipedia, Al Wahda Dam (Morocco),
<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Wahda_Dam_(Morocco)>.

[9] See: Index Mundi, Morocco – Water pollution, <www.indexmundi.com>.

[10] See: <www.socialwatch.org/es/node/13110>.

[12] See the video ¿Están los oasis marroquíes en vías de extinción?, on YouTube, <www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE_ALD7CXps>.

[13] Wikipedia, Al Wahda Dam (Morocco),
<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Wahda_Dam_(Morocco)>.

[14] See: <www.estrechando.es/?p=794>.

[15] Morocco Business News, Morocco to achieve MDGs by 2015, HCP, (April 14) 2010,<www.moroccobusinessnews.com>.

[16] Trading Economics, GINI index in Morocco, 2011,
<www.tradingeconomics.com/morocco/gini-index-wb-data.html>.

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An irresponsible administration

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The Government has shown it is not only unable to combat poverty and social inequalities but also incapable of formulating a convincing plan to improve the population’s quality of life. The benefits of economic growth have not reached the people who need them most and the poor are getting poorer. The current economic model is clearly unsustainable and the Government is failing to administer the country’s natural resources or manage exploitation concessions so that these benefit the population as a whole. Some progress has been made in the fight against corruption but this is still one of the main obstacles to increasing people’s well-being.

Human Rights League
Public Integrity Centre
Informal Justice Support Centre
Custódio Duma, Coordinator

The Government has shown it is not only unable to combat poverty and social inequalities but also incapable of formulating a convincing plan to improve the population’s quality of life. The benefits of economic growth have not reached the people who need them most and the poor are getting poorer. The current economic model is clearly unsustainable and the Government is failing to administer the country’s natural resources or manage exploitation concessions so that these benefit the population as a whole. Some progress has been made in the fight against corruption but this is still one of the main obstacles to increasing people’s well-being.

Mozambique has considerable natural resources in the form of natural gas, vegetal coal, aluminium, silver, more than 2,500 kilometres of coastline, rivers, forests, wood and a great potential for tourism.[1] However there is little chance of this wealth being used to help reduce poverty, first and foremost because the country is pursuing an irresponsible and unsustainable policy of promoting mega-projects.

Some studies go so far as to suggest the Government is incapable of administering these natural resources or of managing exploitation concessions in a way that benefits the country’s economy or the population at large, and this means it is missing opportunities to promote national development.[2] Since the end of last year economists, civil society organizations, and even the Commission of Catholic Bishops of Mozambique have been trying to persuade the Government to reverse its policy of granting tax exemptions to mega-projects while the tax pressure on the general public is increasing.

A November 2009 review by the African Peer Review Mechanism[3] reported that Mozambique’s public administration is very politicized and that it is difficult to distinguish between the State and Frelimo, the party in power since independence in 1975. Not only is this combination of party and State a discriminatory way to manage the public sector, but it also undermines public policy planning and means that all socio-economic development processes are tied to politics.
Moreover, with its vacuous pronouncements and failed measures, the Government has shown that it is incapable not only of combating poverty and social inequalities but also of formulating a convincing plan to improve people’s lives.

False growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in April that Mozambique’s economic growth in 2010 was among the highest in the region[4] and predicted a real GDP rise of 7.25% in 2011 and 8% in the medium term. The problem is that the economic benefits of this expansion do not help the poor, who continue to get poorer. The minimum monthly wage is MZN 2,700 (USD 90), which according to trade unions and workers’ organizations is only enough to satisfy 35% of a family’s basic needs.[5] A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that in 2011 pay increased by only 9.8% while inflation was 15%, so in fact wages have fallen by 5.2%.

When we consider that more than half of Mozambique’s general budget is financed by donor countries and 80% of its investment is from foreign sources, it is no surprise that many economists believe the country’s economic growth is false.[6] None of the main factors in the economy – such as the balance of payments, the State budget, investments or control of inflation – are determined by the country’s wealth or are functions of internal equilibrium, the domestic market or national production. They are all based on foreign resources.

The high inflation rate may be a direct consequence of the rise in international prices for food and crude oil, but it is clear that Mozambique is unable to exploit its potential and produce foodstuffs and other products that could be exported and help reduce dependence on foreign aid. The country’s economic ills can be traced above all to its growth models, which are unsustainable or unrealistic.

The fight against corruption

Transparency International reports that Mozambique has made some progress against corruption, moving from 130th out of 178 countries in 2009 to 116th in 2010.[7] Corruption is still one of the main obstacles to development however, compounded by a combination of other related factors including weaknesses in management procedures, lack of transparency in public administration, impunity for wrongdoers and obsolete legislation in this area.

Mozambique’s ranking on the corruption scale has improved because two important cases involving the embezzlement of public funds have come before the courts. These involved two ex-ministers (one of the Interior and the other of Transport and Communications) and also a president of the Council for the Administration of Airports, with the total loss amounting to around USD 10 million. But even so, the final ruling in these cases[8] demonstrated how much the judiciary is manipulated by the political arm of government.

The question of transparency was high on the national agenda in 2010–11, especially as regards the extractive sector. In the first quarter of 2011 Mozambique took an initial step towards complying with the requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) when it published its first annual report with a declaration of the payments made by companies in the sector and the sums received by the State.[9] The civil society organizations that took part in this process agreed unanimously that the contribution of the six firms selected for the report (FY 2008) came to less than 1% of the State budget.[10]

Specialists in the field say the report shows Mozambique is losing out in this process of awarding concessions in two ways: first because it grants the multinationals unnecessary tax incentives; and second because it is undervaluing the country’s natural wealth.[11]

Poverty and unrest

The official Government line is optimistic but recent studies show that the cost of living in the country is rising. As there are no mechanisms for ongoing constructive dialogue there may come a point where people express their discontent by taking to the streets with popular revolts as they did in 2008 and 2010.

The “disturbances” of 5 February 2008 and 1 and 2 September 2010 paralyzed the capital, Maputo, and the city of Matola 20 kilometres away, and violence also broke out in the provinces of Gaza, Manica and Nampula. The end result was around 20 people dead and more than 200 injured. The Government only managed to quell the unrest by promising on both occasions to subsidize fuel, semi-collective passenger transport – known as the “chapa 100”– and more recently some foodstuffs, with the promise of a guaranteed “basic basket.”

Since 2007 the President has repeatedly stated that the problem of poverty is basically psychological and that the people should be more optimistic and fight against “mental poverty.”[12] The previous poverty-reduction strategy, which was called the Action Plan to Reduce Absolute Poverty (PARPA), was changed in May 2011 to the Action Plan to Reduce Poverty (PARP), the logic being that poverty among the people was no longer “absolute.”

However, the Third Evaluation of Poverty did not reflect this conclusion. It showed that some 52% of the population is living in absolute poverty,[13] with the worst levels in the central part of the country. This means Mozambique will be unable to reach one of its Millennium Development Goals, which was to reduce poverty from 80% in 1990 to 40% by 2015. The unemployment rate is around 21% of the active population.[14]

Independent evaluations in 2009, after PARPA II had been in operation for five years, showed that less than 50% of the objectives had been reached. Delays in formulating the new plan, PARP, compromised the subsequent phase (also for five years) which should have started in 2010. The Government only finalized and passed the PARP in May 2011 and therefore the 2010–11 budget was based on generic plans and improvised measures.

The 2010 UNDP Human Development Index, which considers life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling and per capita income, ranks Mozambique 165th out of 169 countries, and the 2010 Social Watch Basic Capabilities Index (based on infant mortality, percentage of births attended by skilled health personnel and percentage of children who reach fifth grade) gives it a value of 71, which places it in the low level development group.[15]

Poor health indicators
Infant mortality in Mozambique is 79 per 1,000 live births.[16] Access to healthcare services is limited and an estimated 50% of the people live more than 20 kilometres from the nearest health centre, which in practice means they do not actually have access to the services. The country is negatively affected by a series of epidemics that up to now have not been adequately tackled:

  • HIV and AIDS. Some 16% of the population is HIV-positive.
  • Malaria is responsible for around 30% of all deaths in Mozambique. In different parts of the country from 40% to 80% of children aged two to nine have malaria, and in some areas up to 90% of children under five are infected. Malaria is also the most serious problem among pregnant women in rural areas. Some 20% of pregnant women suffer from it, with the incidence greatest (at 31%) during first pregnancies.[17]
  • Tuberculosis is one of the main causes of sickness and mortality and affects the most vulnerable groups, in particular young adults, children and people living with HIV and AIDS. Mozambique, with its high morbidity indicators, has been since 1993 among the 22 countries in the world considered “very affected” and is currently in 18th position in the World Health Organization (WHO) classification.
  • With a leprosy rate of 1.4 cases per 10,000 people, Mozambique has the highest incidence of this disease in Africa and is one of the six worst affected in the world.[18]
  • Another problem is cholera. According to the Ministry of Health, last year alone there were 36 deaths from this disease out of a total of 1,968 registered cases.[19]

Conclusion

It will not be possible to tackle poverty effectively unless the Government changes its attitude to the problem. As long as indicators such as GDP growth are seen as the only valid way to measure the country’s development, the Government will be unable to respond adequately to the population’s pressing problems and the national development model will not be sustainable. Economic growth alone is not enough; this is why projects like PARPA and its offspring PARP have not brought about an improvement in people’s well-being and discontent is on the increase.

[1] Maps of the World, ”Mozambique Natural Resources,” <www.mapsofworld.com>.

[2] C. N. Castel-Branco, “O que é que a ITIE faz bem e o que é que não faz? Uma proposta de agenda de trabalho sobre os recursos naturais em Moçambique,” (25 February 2011), <www.iese.ac.mz/lib/noticias/2011/CNCB_PGMM_Fev2011.pdf>.

[3] African Peer Review Mechanism, Country Review Report: Mozambique, APRM Country Review Report No. 11, (June 2009), <www.aprm-international.org/index.htm>.

[4] MacauHub, “IMF says Mozambican economy post growth of 6.5 pct in 2010,” (11 April 2011), <www.macauhub.com.mo>.

[5] Empresas e Negócios, “Salários mínimos são marca da pobreza em Moçambique,” (26 March 2011), <empresasenegocios.org>.

[6] Canalmoz, “Estabilidade económica de Moçambique é falsa”, interview with João Mosca, (12 April 2011), <www.canalmoz.co.mz>.

[7] Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 Results,” <www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results>.

[8] The Boston Globe, “Sentence Reduced in Mozambican Corruption Case,” (24 May 2011), <www.boston.com>.

[9] Iniciative de Transparência na Indústria Extractiva, “Primeiro Relatório da Iniciativa de Transparência na Indústria Extractiva em Moçambique sobre a Reconciliação de Pagamentos e Recebimentos na Indústria Extractiva,” <www.itie-mozambique.org/relatorio.pdf>.

[10] T. Selemane and D. Nombora, “Implementação da ITIE, gestão de recursos naturais e urgência da renegociação e publicação dos contratos com mega projectos: O caso de Moçambique,” Centro de Integridade Pública, Maputo, (May 2011), <www.cip.org.mz>.

[11] Castel-Branco, op. cit.

[12] Government of Mozambique, “A luta continua pela independência completa,” (25 June 2010), <www.portaldogoverno.gov.mz/>.

[13] Ministério da Planificação e Desenvolvimento, “Pobreza e Bem-Estar em Moçambique: Terceria Avaliação National,” (October 2010), <www.ine.gov.mz>.

[14] Index Mundi, “Economia: Taxa de desemprego,” <www.indexmundi.com/map/?v=74&l=pt>.

[15] UNDP, Human Development  Report 2010; Social Watch, The 2010 Basic Capabilities Index: Slowing Down, (Montevideo: 2010).

[16] Index Mundi, “População: Taxa de mortalidade infantil,” <www.indexmundi.com/map/?t=0&v=29&r=xx&l=pt>.

[17] Ministério da Saúde, “Programa Nacional de Controlo de Malária,” <www.misau.gov.mz>.

[18] Ministério da Saúde, “Lepra,” <www.misau.gov.mz/pt/epidemias_endemias/lepra>.

[19] Ministério da Saúde, “Cólera,” <www.misau.gov.mz/pt/epidemias_endemias/colera>.

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Civil society should be consulted

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Through strong economic growth Vietnam has reached lower middle-income country status, but the Government has to make more efforts to meet people’s long-term needs. Poverty and environmental challenges such as worsening pollution, rising sea levels and increasing soil erosion need to be addressed, together with risk factors for corruption such as unequal access to information and officials’ discretionary powers over land compensation. Civil society and independent experts must be involved in developing strategies to tackle the challenges of sustainable development.

VUFO-NGO Resource Centre

Through strong economic growth Vietnam has reached lower middle-income country status, but the Government has to make more efforts to meet people’s long-term needs. Poverty and environmental challenges such as worsening pollution, rising sea levels and increasing soil erosion need to be addressed, together with risk factors for corruption such as unequal access to information and officials' discretionary powers over land compensation. Civil society and independent experts must be involved in developing strategies to tackle the challenges of sustainable development.

Vietnam has achieved an impressive rate of economic growth in the past 15 years. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew on average by 7.3% a year from 1995 to 2005.[1] In 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis Vietnam still registered a real GDP growth of 5.3% and has been one of the fastest-growing economies in East Asia and the Pacific.[2] Whether this development is sustainable, and how it is affecting the environment and the livelihoods of the current and future generations, are key questions for the nation.

Support for pro-poor economic growth has been widespread. Growth has brought relative prosperity to many after the years of war and post-war privation. However while mainstream development has reduced poverty it is also degrading the environment on which many poor people depend.[3]

Vietnam achieves Lower Middle Income Country status

In 2010 Vietnam reached lower middle-income country status. The 2009 gross national income (GNI) was USD 1,010, which put the country at the bottom end of the World Bank's middle-income range. While this is a notable achievement, there are concerns that Vietnam will not implement the further reforms needed for sustainable development.

There are concerns that this growth is creating new challenges, including increasing social inequality, inadequate services, more pollution and industrialization leading to the loss of agricultural land.[4] In addition, current policies do not support the modernization of the rural economy. Rural infrastructure and other services lag behind those provided to the cities.[5]

Environmental impacts and climate change

The country's rapid economic growth is placing tremendous strains on the natural environment, but while legislation protecting the environment is strong, its implementation is often weak. As the population, economy and process of urbanization all grow, the main threats to the environment include overexploitation of forests, loss of arable land, water and air pollution, soil erosion due to unsustainable land practices, loss of biodiversity through – among other factors – poaching in national parks and environmental damage due to mining.[6]

There has been strong opposition to bauxite mining in Central Highlands due to concerns about environmental damage. There is concern about slurry reservoirs of alkaline sludge produced by two mines being constructed in the Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces in this region, and that flooding or earthquakes could provoke toxic spills. These concerns were heightened when a reservoir at an iron ore mine in Cao Bang Province last year spilled untreated waste into 50 farms. Scientists and intellectuals signed a petition asking the Government to halt the projects to conduct further research.[7]

Vietnam’s average temperature rose by about 0.5 - 0.7°C between 1958 and 2007 while the sea level rose by 20 cm.[8] Its long coastline makes the country very vulnerable to the impact of climate change and rising sea levels, which are likely to affect the three pillars of sustainable development: economics, society and environment. Progress made in reducing the incidence of poverty – from 58% of the population in 1993 to 12.3% in 2009[9] – might not be sustained.

Vietnam is largely an agricultural country: 75% of its population live in rural areas, most of them making their living through small-scale farming, with little technical input, leaving them heavily dependent on the weather.[10] Any rise in temperature will have a huge impact on agricultural production. Poor rural communities have weak infrastructure and finances, making it harder for them to adapt to climate change. Global warming may also lead to more frequent and intense natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, droughts and saltwater intrusion.

The Government has developed extensive policies and programmes on climate change, but some policies do not have the legal backing that would facilitate implementation. There are no bodies to coordinate ministries, local governments and other public and private entities, nor are there effective ways of ensuring that all communities can participate in these programmes.[11]

In terms of the country’s own impact on global warming Vietnam produces relatively low carbon emissions. It is important that emissions are kept low as the country develops, rather than to try reducing them later. However, rapid economic development is increasing demand for energy and Vietnam is still building polluting coal-fired power stations.

Hydropower plants are a low-carbon energy source, and already account for 20% of energy consumption, but also demonstrate some of the difficulties faced in achieving sustainable development. In central Vietnam vast forests are being sacrificed to build these plants, and experts have warned that there will be serious environmental and social consequences.[12] Local media have repeatedly reported how residents displaced by power plant construction are struggling to live in sloppily constructed resettlement areas where they no longer have land for farming.[13] The Government has issued strict procedures for dams including environmental impact assessments, but some provincial administrations responsible for approving small and medium sized plants have breached these regulations.[14]

Transparency and corruption

The lack of government transparency is a key obstacle to sustainable development. To give one important example, the nature of land rights including the extent to which they are perceived as predictable and secure, plays a key role in shaping economic options and livelihood strategies across society. Vietnam has progressed towards a sound legal framework for integrity and anti-corruption, but key risk factors in the system remain. Information on the issuing of land-use rights and asset ownership certificates is incomplete and hard to understand, the application process is complicated and the appeals process against perceived irregularities is often improper, slow and only partially transparent. In the process for land acquisition and allocation, corruption risks include unequal access to information and the potential for abuse of officials' discretionary powers over land compensation and the recording of land inventories.[15]

Little space for civil society

Civil society’s influence on government policy is limited. For the thousands of formal and informal organizations, the Government generally allows and even encourages daily activities, while retaining a detailed regulatory structure and making it clear that it has control over the pace and direction of growth in activity.[16]  International and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be invited to make input into the development of policy. However, there is little advocacy for change in policies and legislation already in place, or opportunity to influence policies without first being invited by the Government.

Another restriction on local NGOs occurs through the detailed regulation of the use of funding from foreign donors, as set out in Decree 93/2009. Regulations govern how such money can be used, how its use is reported, and how it is monitored and regulated by government agencies. These guidelines have the effect of limiting funding from foreign donors to local NGOs because many will not have the capacity to comply with the regulations. Vietnamese companies have not yet assumed a corporate social responsibility role, and therefore are not an alternative source of funding for civil society. Therefore local NGOs lack funding sources and opportunities to be able to make much of a contribution to policies that affect sustainable development.

The voice of experts is also restricted. The Government's Decision 97/2009 limits the areas in which science- technology-, research-, and service-oriented organizations can operate by specifying what are considered legitimate areas of activity. Economic, public, governance and environmental policies are excluded.

All these restrictions have the effect of stifling, narrowing and hindering the input of civil society into sustainable development policies. In an increasingly complex economy the policy formulation process is too closed to be able to deal with challenges and solutions for equitable and sustainable development. The public debate that would help find those solutions is severely constrained, although people do raise their voices, and there is sometimes vocal opposition to projects that threaten the environment and people's livelihoods. The media is playing a role in throwing light on the Government’s action - and inaction - and reporting on community opposition to environmental threats.

Bilateral donors, United Nations agencies and international NGOs have a responsibility to support Vietnam to move towards a more open relationship between the Government and civil society. However they have focused more on building government capacity and less on building the capacity of local NGOs and civil society and assistance is still needed for the country to implement institutional reform and policy renewal, and to pursue greater public transparency and accountability. Due to Vietnam’s ascension to middle-income status some NGOs and donors are leaving despite these challenges.[17]

Conclusion

Many voices and different approaches are needed to find solutions for equitable sustainable development in Vietnam's increasingly complex economy and society. A change in government attitude is needed in order to allow civil society and independent experts the space and capacity to contribute. The capacity of civil society needs to be strengthened, while technical and research institutions need more freedom to publicly comment on issues of public concern. Communities know about problems in their locality but often do not know how to report them: their capacity to monitor pollution or other obstacles to sustainable development needs to be improved. Governance standards and capacity building for local authorities also need to be enhanced.

Practical procedures are needed to integrate climate change adaptation into provincial and district development plans. Local authorities and civil society organizations in the community need to be involved in developing, implementing and monitoring mitigation and adaptation plans. Technical support at the local level for analyzing local vulnerability to climate change and how to plan adaptation and mitigation should be provided to provincial departments. More training for local people about climate change should be provided so that they can make the necessary changes in their communities. There should be easier access to bank loans, especially for those near the poverty line. This could make people’s economic situation more sustainable and less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The country needs mechanisms and legal procedures to encourage transparency. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should be strengthened to enable it to better enforce existing environmental laws. Some NGOs are already working with local organizations, students and young people to build their capacity to monitor local administrative systems and on attracting the attention of the media to poverty and environmental issues.[18]

[1] World Bank, Vietnam Country Overview, (June 2008), <www.worldbank.org/vn>.

[2] D. Mishra, et al., Taking Stock: An Update on Vietnam's Recent Economic Developments, prepared by the World Bank for the Annual Consultative Group Meeting for Vietnam, (Hanoi: 8 December 2010), <www.worldbank.org/vn>.

[3] S. Bass, et al., Integrating Environment and Development in Viet Nam: Achievements, Challenges and Next Steps, (London: IIED, and Hanoi: UNDP, March 2009), <pubs.iied.org/pdfs/17505IIED.pdf>.

[4] VUFO-NGO Resource Centre,International Non-Governmental Organizations’ Statement for the Consultative Group Meeting, (paper prepared for the Annual Consultative Group Meeting for Vietnam, Hanoi, 7-8 December, 2010), <www.ngocentre.org.vn.

[5] C. Kirkpatrick, N. J. Freeman and K. N.B. Ninh, Managing Risk and Attaining Equitable Growth, (Hanoi: UNDP, 2010).

[6]  VUFO-NGO Resource Centre, op. cit.

[7] Thanh Nien, Bauxite Mining Projects Cost-effective: Official, (7 November 2010); Thanh Nien, Lawmakers Inspect Bauxite Sites, Call for Further Measures,(12 November 2010), <www.thanhniennews.com>.

[8] Vietnam Aujourd’hui, Vietnam Makes Active Contribution to Fight Climate Change,  (5 September 2009), <blog.vietnam-aujourdhui.info>.

[9] AusAID, Australia’s Strategic Approach to Aid in Vietnam, (December 2010), <www.ausaid.gov.au/publications/pdf/strat-approach-vietnam-2010-15.pdf>.

[10] World Bank, Rural Development and Agriculture in Vietnam, (February 2007), <go.worldbank.org/O4CQBWJP00>.

[11] ActionAid Vietnam, Losses and Damages: Research on Climate Impacts on Poor Communities in Vietnam and Their Responses, (Hanoi: 29 November 2010).

[12] Thanh Nien, Dammed and Damned, (3 November 2009), <www.thanhniennews.com/2009/Pages/2009113124411053447.aspx>.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] World Bank, Recognizing and Reducing Corruption Risks in Land Management in Vietnam, (Hanoi: National Political Publishing House – Su That, 2011).

[16] M. Sidel,  “Maintaining Firm Control: Recent Developments in Nonprofit Law and Regulation in Vietnam,” in The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, Volume 12(3), (May 2010), <www.icnl.org/knowledge/ijnl/vol12iss3/art_1.htm>.

[17] VUFO-NGO Resource Centre, op. cit.

[18] ActionAid Vietnam, op. cit.

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Civil society: the sole defender of the public interest

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The global crisis has hit Croatia’s economy hard. The country is experiencing increased poverty and unemployment rates yet the Government is still favouring non-sustainable approaches to development. The authorities seem to serve only the private sector while the people’s well-being often has to be defended by civil society organizations, as shown by a successful campaign against the extension of an oil pipeline to the Adriatic Sea. The Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Development is inadequate and the current land, water and forest legislation is not only flawed but also lacks transparency. The country must embrace the cause of sustainable development immediately.

Croatian Law Centre
Inge Perko-Šeparović, Ph.D.
Vjeran Piršić
Eko Kvarner

The global crisis has hit Croatia’s economy hard. The country is experiencing increased poverty and unemployment rates yet the Government is still favouring non-sustainable approaches to development. The authorities seem to serve only the private sector while the people’s well-being has to be defended by civil society organizations, as shown by a successful campaign against the extension of an oil pipeline to the Adriatic Sea. The Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Development is inadequate and the current land, water and forest legislation is not only flawed but also lacks transparency. The country must embrace the cause of sustainable development immediately.

The 2008 global economic crisis had a profound and negative impact on the Croatian economy. Growth dropped from 2.4% in 2008 to -5.8% in 2009 and -1.4% in 2010.[1] At the same time and aggravating the crisis, foreign debt service had reached almost 100% of GDP by 2010, severely limiting continued access to foreign credit.[2]

One of the main negative impacts of the crisis has been increasing unemployment. Between 2005 and 2008 economic growth allowed some job creation but the crisis reversed this situation: in 2010 the unemployment level (measured as a percentage of the total population) was approximately 17.6%.[3]

Poverty rates have also increased. Between 2005 and 2008 poverty was primarily linked to long-term unemployment and inactivity, mostly concentrated among low-skilled workers, but this changed with the crisis.Reduced employment, decreased real income and a salaries’ freeze in the public sector have pushed many people below the poverty line. As a result the “emerging” poor are better educated, younger and economically active.

Defending the environment

Public and private interests continually collide in Croatia. The public interest is being defended solely by civil society while the political elites often serve only private interests. In 2009 the Parliament approved the “Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Croatia,” which established a series of guidelines and policies regarding sustainable development and also commented on the country’s environmental situation.[4] However, it has been heavily criticized by several civil society organizations, which have pointed out that it does not establish priority goals and lacks benchmarks and indicators of progress.

The crisis has led to so-called “investment hunger” in which the Government aligns with private and foreign investors at the expense of the community as a whole. The capital that is attracted as a result is not a viable source of development since it depends on minimal labour and environmental regulations and typically both reduces and degrades the country’s natural resources.

In this context the problems tend to accumulate. The tendency towards unsustainable use (and abuse) of non-renewable resources is made worse by the Government’s mismanagement.[5] There is a dire need for a national consensus on the issue of resource management, particularly regarding which resources should or should not be used more intensively at this moment without endangering the environment or compromising the needs of future generations.

Land issues

Land is one of the country’s best natural resources, especially on the Adriatic coast. National strategies on the use of land are adopted by Parliament and enforced through the urban planning departments of local and regional governments. Control over the creation of these plans and verification of their acceptability rests with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction, which has no overall guidelines. This means that there are no good estimates of taxes or regulatory mechanisms to prevent misguided or harmful use of this resource.

An independent analysis of plans for urban developments along the Adriatic coast has established that the current projects enable the settling of 17 million inhabitants. The area is currently inhabited by less than 2 million people so the impact of housing such a large number of newcomers will be enormous. Other research has shown that 750 km (out of 6,000 km) of the Adriatic Sea’s east coast have been urbanized in the last 2,500 years, while current plans for towns and cities will urbanize another 600 km., meaning that the same level of development that took place over two and a half millennia could be almost doubled in a single decade. Agricultural land is also being used for construction as part of urban planning by regional and local governments.

Forests, water and biodiversity

One of the main issues regarding forest management is the absence of official biomass estimates. The numbers vary dramatically: from 700,000 tonnes per year according to the public enterprise Hrvatske Šume (Croatian Forests) to 2 million tonnes per year according to the academic community. Meanwhile Hrvatske Šume keeps the price of wood high and the delivery quantities insufficient, thereby destroying the local wood-processing industry and ultimately causing unemployment and pauperization. The pursuit of the common good, which should be the Government’s main concern, is being neglected for the pursuit of private interests.

This murky picture gets even darker when we consider the issue of water management. The 2009 Strategy for Sustainable Development, for example, lacks a clear definition of the much-invoked “right to water.”[6] Also there has been a series of privatization proposals; the first one failed but the fear of widespread privatization of water resources remains. Some water resources are already being placed in private hands through concessionary contracts that are anything but transparent.

Croatian biodiversity is unprotected, as can be seen for example, in the introduction of foreign species in local ecosystems. This situation is particularly pressing in Cres island where 30 wild boars introduced by hunters multiplied within 10 years to 1,000. The boars not only damage the habitat but attack sheep and lambs, destroying farmers’ livelihoods.[7]

One of the main issues regarding the country’s biodiversity is the lack of reliable information. Croatia is one of the few countries in Europe lacking updated checklists of species or country-specific field guides. Existing species’ inventories (as well as knowledge regarding the local fauna and flora) are inadequate for many purposes, including environmental impact assessments. The nature of subterranean fauna is also very poorly known. This lack of proper inventories and knowledge inevitably limits the scope of any land use or ecosystem management planning that is needed for development projects.

Another case of endangered biodiversity stems from monoculture production, both in agriculture and in forestry. Many endemic species have been lost as they are progressively replaced with foreign ones seen by agro-enterprises as more attractive in the short term.

Environmental controls are not properly enforced

The procedures by which environmental impact assessments are made for new  constructions, as well as the requirements for securing permits for expanding or even continuing to operate existing facilities, are both supposed to be strictly regulated by law. Unfortunately all facilities easily avoid the state control system. Moreover since the facilities already in place do not conform to European pollution norms, their owners are granted extensions for adjustment that include transitional periods of up to 12 years.

Such transitional periods are negotiated with the EU as part of the measures needed to grant Croatia’s membership; nevertheless some of the facilities’ are allowed to continue operating the end of their lifecycle. An additional problem stems from the use of substandard raw materials, especially in oil refineries, which causes substantial air pollution in the refineries’ surrounding areas. In 2004 the Ministry issued an order for oil refineries to use better quality raw materials. Although the order was backed by a Court decision, the refineries frequently disobey.

Examples of good practice

Since most of the time the public interest is not protected by the Government, civil society has assumed this task. Although its influence is not strong enough yet, examples of successful interventions should be mentioned.

The Eko Kvarner organization, for example, strongly opposed the proposal to extend the Družba Adria pipeline, which is already the longest in the world and carries oil from Eastern Russia to Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, through Croatia and Hungary to reach the Adriatic Sea.[8] The projected transfer of oil would have threatened the northern part of the Adriatic Sea and the well-being of people living in this region. Eko Kvarner cast enough doubt on the validity of the environmental impact assessment[9] to ensure that the authorities rejected the proposal.

The latest success concerns a proposed golf course in Istria. Two organizations, Green Action and Green Istria, sued the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction for extending permits to a build a golf course despite a problematic environmental impact assessment. As a result the Administrative Court annulled the permits.

Conclusion

Croatia urgently needs to adopt a sustainable development paradigm. More and better investment in renewable energy sources could be a good start. It is important to build environmentally friendly tourism facilities since tourism plays an important role in Croatia’s economy and at the same time is not viable without a preserved and protected environment. The official policy is supposed to promote protection of the environment but in reality economic interests are favoured over environmental and sustainable ones. Local governments should be encouraged to develop their own projects in order to promote sustainability and environment protection within their jurisdiction.[10]

 

[1] Countries of the World, Croatia Economy 2011, <www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/croatia/croatia_economy.html>.

[2]US Department of State, “Background Note: Croatia,” (6 April 2011), <www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3166.htm>.

[3] Index Mundi, Croatia unemployment rate, <www.indexmundi.com/croatia/unemployment_rate.html>.

[4] See: <www.mzopu.hr/doc/Strategy_for_Sustainable_Development.pdf>.

[5]The costs and benefits of resource extraction in terms of sustainable development and citizen well-being  have not been measured.

[6]The right to sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

[7]P. Ettinger, “The birds are on the money in Croatia,” Wildlife Extra, <www.wildlifeextra.com/go/world/cres-vultures.html#cr>.

[8]Wikipedia, Druzhba pipeline, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druzhba_pipeline>.

[9]OneWorldSEE, Eko Kvaner Announces Public Debate of the ‘Družba Adria’ Project, (16 April 2004), <oneworldsee.org/sq/node/2901>.

[10] Jelena Lončar and Mladen Maradin, Environmental challenges for sustainable development in the Croatian north Adriatic littoral region, (Croatia: 2009), <www.ff.uni-lj.si/>.

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Clearing the path to sustainability

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Addressing the vulnerability of the country’s already degraded environment is as important as making the economy grow. In addition, the Philippines long ago exceeded the 0.4 hectares per person required to satisfy the optimum food requirement/capacity. Decentralization efforts attempting to create growth centres away from Manila are still unable to break the elite and urban-centred structure of power and resources. The Government must strive to find ways – in cooperation with farmers, NGOs, the mass media, schools and the national agriculture research system – to achieve long-term food security and environmental sustainability.

Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Social Watch Philippines
Isagani R. Serrano

Addressing the vulnerability of the country’s already degraded environment is as important as making the economy grow. In addition, the Philippines long ago exceeded the 0.4 hectares per person required to satisfy the optimum food requirement/capacity. Decentralization efforts attempting to create growth centres away from Manila are still unable to break the elite and urban-centred structure of power and resources. The Government must strive to find ways – in cooperation with farmers, NGOs, the mass media, schools and the national agriculture research system – to achieve long-term food security and environmental sustainability.

In 2010, inspired by the Philippines’ second greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pompously announced that the country was now a net carbon sink. Carbon intensity, as expressed by CO2 emissions, may indicate something about the level and nature of development, but there is much more to consider. Indicators vary widely, depending on what people value most.

Low CO2 emissions are a poor indicator of sustainable development. A more sensitive single indicator of a society’s well-being is probably the infant mortality rate, which reveals the quality of nutrition and healthcare. In addition, it is connected to other basic indicators such as the quality of water resources, housing and education, and especially women’s education level. It can also be an indicator of State failure. In the case of the Philippines, child mortality indicators are discouraging: the infant mortality rate (under 1) stood at 26 per 1,000 in 2009 and the under-5 mortality rate at 33 per 1,000. While these figures do show some improvement when compared to data from 1990 (41 and 34 respectively), the country’s problems, as seen below, remain structural.

Poverty and inequality: the same old story

Despite the restoration of democracy in 1986 and the subsequent succession of regimes that promised to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, and despite the fact that the economy has been growing, the country is still stuck with high poverty/high inequality alongside continuing environmental degradation.

While poverty declined to 32.9% in 2006 from 42% in 1991, the faces of those in poverty remained the same: rural, landless, indigenous/tribal, Muslim and female. Inequality has hardly decreased during the same period: it was 0.4680 in 1991 and 0.4580 in 2006. This is a high level compared to the majority of the Philippines’ Asian neighbours and means the country is only slightly better-off than most countries in Latin America (the most unequal region on the planet). Most importantly, there is wide inequality among the country’s regions, provinces and municipalities.

The gap between the richest 20% and the poorest is widening in spite of measures such as land reform and local autonomy. The regions with the most inequitable income distribution are Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Caraga. These regions have Gini coefficients higher than 0.44. More than 50% of the 20 poorest provinces were in Mindanao in 2003 and 2006, with Tawi-Tawi having the highest poverty incidence in 2006.

Debt and corruption – developmental nightmares

The Government derives two thirds of its revenue mainly from taxes on fixed-income earners. Over the years it has consistently spent more than it earns. It sets huge annual budgets and makes up for deficits by borrowing. It wants to cap the 2011 budget deficit at 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) or some PHP 290 billion (USD 6.69 billion).

Mounting debts and debt service are the bane of Philippine development. The country’s outstanding debt ballooned from PHP 701 billion in 1990 to PHP 4.4 trillion in 2009 (USD 16.2 million to USD 101.5 billion), showing a steady increase except for a slight decline in 2006 and 2007. This is more than 50% of the country’s GDP. The debt-to-GDP ratio remained high at 57.7% at the end of 2009 although it had declined from 63.8% in 2006. In September 2010 each of the 92.2 million Filipinos could be said to owe PHP 47,039 (USD 1,091) to local and foreign creditors.

About a third of the national budget goes to paying the interest and principal of the country’s mounting debt stock. That is a third of the pie sliced off from poverty reduction activities. In addition, corruption has been a constant feature and has triggered most of the regime changes since the days of President Marcos. In 2004 Macapagal-Arroyo said that corruption was strangling the Philippines and called on citizens to “join hands to root out this evil.” The evil, however, continues to be very much alive and to hinder Philippine development.

The need to break the urban-centred structure

The country’s economic geography demonstrates highly uneven development and unequal distribution of created wealth. Primate cities suck up most of the resources. It is no wonder, therefore, that small savings deposited in faraway rural banks end up eventually in big banks in Makati and are then lent to big borrowers who prefer to invest in already highly developed areas.

The conflict in Mindanao is instructive of the country’s development situation. Violence first flared in the 1960s when the Muslim minority – known as the Moros – launched an armed struggle for their ancestral homeland in the south. Fighting escalated in 2008 after a decade-long peace process, but a truce was signed in July 2009. What needs to be underscored is that much of the violence is fuelled by deep poverty rooted in decades of under-investment. Mindanao, an extremely rich area hardly visited by typhoons, could achieve prosperity if left to itself, but it has failed to make progress on something as basic as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The poverty and inequality that continue to dog that region, especially the Moro and lumad (indigenous) areas, are rooted in historical injustices and discrimination dating back to the colonial past and perpetuated by a succession of post-colonial regimes. They are embedded in unjust economic, political and socio-cultural structures urgently needing change.

The structure of growth and wealth creation in the Philippines contradicts the mantra of broad-based, inclusive growth. Attempts to create growth centres away from Manila will never work unless the Government alters the current elite and urban-centred structure of power and resources. The 1991 Local Government Code, although a landmark piece of legislation, has yet to result in the decentralization of elite power. Resources and authority need to be deliberately transferred from the richer regions to the poorer ones.

Population growth and vulnerability

Carrying capacity is a real problem in a mountainous archipelago with a population that has grown from 62 million in 1990 to about 95 million in 2010 and is expected to reach over 100 million by 2015. Although the population growth rate decreased from a high of 2.36% a year in 2000 to 2.04% in the 2007 census, it is still considered to be one of the highest in Asia. This high population growth rate makes the country vulnerable. For each person, a total of 0.004 hectares would be needed to satisfy optimum food requirements/capacities, and this possibility has long since been exceeded. The population issue is also a reflection of poverty and inequality. Those with more money and more secure futures tend to have fewer children; the poor have bigger families and rely on numbers as productive assets and as their old-fashioned social security fallback for old age.

Although farmlands are shrinking, sustainable agriculture might be able to feed these millions. But for this to happen, the Government must work in cooperation with farmers, NGOs, the mass media, schools and the national agriculture research system to find ways of achieving long-term food security and environmental sustainability.

Conclusion

Addressing the vulnerability of the Philippines’ already degraded environment is as important as growing the economy. Regarding development and environment as a trade-off is a false dilemma. Human needs cannot be met from an impoverished environment, and impoverished human beings do not care about protecting the environment.

Restoring the country’s forest cover, now down to 27%, back to the ideal 40% for an archipelagic system like the Philippines is critical. Mining and other extractive industries will have to be put on hold or under the strictest control. The scope provided by coastal and marine zones, if restored from their present degraded state, could help the nation through worst-case scenarios that would affect food security and human settlements.

Keeping debt at sustainable levels and controlling the repayment haemorrhage are central to solving the issue of where money for development will come from. The Government borrows a lot to fund its MDG commitments. Its major anti-poverty programmes, such as conditional cash transfer, run on borrowed money and further strain the country’s fiscal situation. Corruption is also symptomatic of the state of governance, and curbing it is therefore a big part of the solution to the Philippines’ development problem.

From 1972 to 2010 the Philippines has gone from democracy to dictatorship and back again. People’s participation has been a key factor. Such participation has taken different forms, mostly peaceful movements addressing a range of issues including regime change. Yet it seems that after all those changes things remain the same. The country has yet to see real empowerment of the masses matching that of the elite. When that time comes, there will be a better guarantee of governance for sustainable development.

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Climate change policies and citizen’s rights

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Addressing climate change is critical for sustainable development in the country. At the national level, efforts have been made to comply with the decisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but bilateral and multilateral funding opportunities affect the extent to which the real concerns of citizens are addressed. Donor consultations on adaptation and mitigation of climate change are constrained by a neo-liberal economic framework that limits the space for a citizen-led process. Civil society organizations must intensify efforts to ensure that efforts to address climate change promote social justice, human security, gender equality, and sustainable development.

NETRIGHT

Addressing climate change is critical for sustainable development in the country. At the national level, efforts have been made since 1992 to comply with the decisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but bilateral and multilateral funding opportunities affect the extent to which the real concerns of citizens are addressed. Donor consultations on adaptation and mitigation of climate change is constrained by a neo-liberal economic framework that limits the space for a citizen-led process based on  the knowledge and rights of women, local communities and indigenous peoples. Civil society organizations must intensify efforts to ensure that efforts to address climate change promote social justice, human security, gender equality, and sustainable development. 

Like other African states, Ghana is already experiencing the impact of climate change: hotter weather, reduced or increased seasonal rainfall, changes in rainfall patterns, flooding, sea surges, tidal waves and a rise in sea-level causing inundation and coastal erosion. The result is a reduction in food security, increased transmission of vector and water-borne diseases, significant economic losses through weather crises and the displacement of the population.

However, since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference on Sustainable Development, after which Ghana adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, the Government has engaged with the issue of climate change at all levels, from global to local. 

Institutional and policy initiatives

Having ratified all the Rio Conventions on the environment the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Ghana established several national institutions as policy focal points, including the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ghana Environment and Climate Change Authority (GECCA).

However, the uncritical stance of these institutions towards the UNFCCC and KP decisions is problematic. Ghana was among the first 23 countries in Africa that associated itself with the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 in spite of the fact that African countries had developed a collective position at Copenhagen against the Accord.  The Government took that position ostensibly to access the various funding windows available for adaptation and mitigation measures on climate change.  Nonetheless, since then, Ghana has developed a National Adaptation Strategy, set up a National Climate Change Committee and developed a discussion paper on a National Climate Change Policy Framework (NCCPF).

In its National Communication Assessments (NCA), the Government’s Environmental Protection Agency has provided useful information about the effect of various climate change scenarios on different economic sectors and the implications for people’s livelihoods. The analysis, however, of the implications for women is premised on women’s vulnerability rather than women’s human rights or human development.[1]  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its assessment of countries developing National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) has said:

“In general NAPAs portray women as victims without the skills that would allow them to become involved in negotiations of strategic planning.  Most of these plans do not even recognize that women with the knowledge they have can make a contribution to adaptation processes and that they should be a focal group for adaptation programmes”.[2]

The NCCPF discussion paper is another concern. Its three objectives -promoting low carbon growth; effective adaptation to climate change; and social development seem laudable, but their articulation and the policy implications leave much to be desired. Similar to earlier proposals, the NCCPF is located in a framework of market-oriented options, such as carbon-trading schemes including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).   It focuses on financial schemes available to developing countries that demonstrate compliance with laid down market-driven criteria on adaptation and mitigation.
Civil society engagement

Whereas the NCCPF has been based on broad consultation with a range of actors in Ghana including civil society groups such as Friends of the Earth and ABANTU for Development, the issues of concern to these groups have not been sufficiently articulated in the discussion paper.  A case in point is the gender issue which is discussed under the ‘social development’ objective of the NCCPF. While the document acknowledges the contribution of women and the need to address the risks they could face as a result of climate change, the policy prescription merely refers to the need for “measures such as social protection to smooth out inequities.”[3]
Climate change

Data from 1960 to 2000 indicates a progressive rise in temperature and a decrease in mean annual rainfall in all agro-ecological zones.[4]  Estimates show that temperature will continue to rise on average “about 0.6 degrees C., 2.0 degrees C. and 3.9 degrees C. by the year 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively” in all agro-ecological zones except for the rainforest zone where rainfall may increase.  Available data also shows a sea-level rise of 2.1mm per year over the last 30 years, indicating a rise of 5.8cm, 16.5cm and 34.5cm by 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively.[5]

While 23% of the urban population and 51.6% of the rural population still live below the poverty line,[6] it should be noted that data from the 2008 Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) shows that the number of extremely poor declined by 8.6 percentage points from 26.8% in 1998-99 to 18.2% in 2005-06.[7] However, given the country’s high dependence on agriculture and forestry, changing climate conditions have serious implications for the standard of living of women and men in those communities and could reverse that trend. There is already evidence that vital economic resources – the coastal zone, agriculture, and water –  have been affected by climate change with adverse implications for women’s rights, poverty, health and livelihoods.  Those who live in communities with high poverty levels will be most negatively affected. 

In the northern parts of the country, flooding in 2007 showed that the impact of climate change on development efforts is overwhelming. An estimated 317,000 persons were affected; 1,000 kilometres of roads were destroyed; 210 schools and health facilities were damaged; and 630 drinking water facilities were damaged or contaminated. 

Since then, weather variability has continued to affect different societal groups and geographical locations, inhibiting efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The MDGs were incorporated into Ghana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 1-2003-2005 and GPRS 11-2006-2009), but the impact of climate change already makes clear that Millennium Development Goal 7 (MDG-7) – ensuring environmental sustainability – will not be met. Further, given the market-driven nature of Government policy to guide action on climate change, it is difficult to see how current trends can be reversed to achieve MDG-7.

The four agreed targets for MDG-7 are:

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources by 2015;
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving a significant reduction in the rate of loss by 2010;
  • Halve the proportion of persons without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015;
  • Achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

Regarding the indicator for the biodiversity target, the proportion of land area covered by forest, it is estimated that Ghana’s forests declined by 8.5 percentage points between 1990 and 2005, from 32.7% to 24.2% (see Table 1). Forested area was estimated at 7,448,000 ha and has declined steadily each year to 5,517,000 ha in 2005.[8]  The continuous depletion of the country’s forests has negative consequences for people’s livelihoods, especially those of women and contributes to global warming. 

Another indicator measuring progress towards the achievement of MDG-7, “populations without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”, is unlikely to be met by 2015. Available data from the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) shows that the national coverage for improved sanitation has increased 8.4 percentage points from 4% in 1993 to 12.4% in 2008.[9] But there are wide regional variations in access to improved sanitation. The proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation in the Greater Accra and Eastern regions is above the national average of 12.4% with those in the Western and Central regions also close to the national average (see Figure 1). However, other regions including Ashanti and the Western regions were lower than the national average, while the three northern regions (Northern, Upper West and Upper East) with the worst experience of poverty are less likely to have access to improved sanitation facilities.[10]

Already faced with significant effects of climate change, the Government has established national institutions to meet the challenge.  Its policy solutions, however, are not keeping pace with ecological deterioration and are compounded by a preference for market-driven solutions that do not articulate with sufficient sensitivity and specificity the issues of concern to civil society.

[1]I. Dankelman, “Climate Change: Learning from Gender Analysis and Women’s Experiences of Organising for Sustainable Development”, in Gender & Development, Vol. 10 (2002):21-29; Dankelman, et al., ”Gender, Climate Change and Human Security Lessons from Bangladesh, Ghana and Senegal,” prepared by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) with ABANTU for Development in Ghana, ActionAid Bangladesh and ENDA in Senegal, (2008), <www.wedo.org>.

[2]UNDP, Resource Guide on Gender and Climate,(New York: 2009).

[3]Ministry of Energy Science and Technology (MEST), Ghana Goes for Green Growth: National Engagement on Climate Change, (Accra: 2010), p. 13.

[4]Modern Ghana, Climate Change Ghana’s Threat to Coca Production, (22 August 2008), <www.modernghana.com>.

[5]LWF Youth Blog, Youth challenge leaders on climate change at UN, (September 2007), <wfyouth.org/2007/09/25/youth-challenge-leaders-on-climate-change-at-un

[6] Ghana’s poverty line was set in 2006 based on calorie requirements for nutrition based poverty lines.

[7] UNDP, Human Development Report, (Accra: 2007).

[8]Ministry of Energy Science and Technology (MEST), Ghana Goes for Green Growth: National Engagement on Climate Change, (Accra: 2010).

[9]The Ghana Statistical Service and The Ghana Health Service, The 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey. (Accra: 2008), < www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/GF14/GF14.pdf>.

[10] The rural areas in the three northern regions in Ghana are far behind the target for access to basic sanitation. See: National Development Planning Commission, Ghana Millennium Development Goals 2007, (UNDP, 2007).

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Coastal resources in danger

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Over the past 40 years, the country has undergone tremendous changes in its pursuit of economic growth, and at the local level there has been a movement away from subsistence livelihoods to an increased focus on monetary income. The main challenges the country now faces are the rapid degradation of marine and coastal resources and the multiple consequences of urbanization and industrial and tourism development. The unsustainable development models in use are placing a tremendous strain on the limited marine and coastal resources and the livelihoods of small-scale fishers, while policies and legislative, institutional and operational frameworks fail to support local communities in exercising their constitutional rights.

Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) and Social Agenda Working Group
Jonathan Shott

Over the past 40 years, the country has undergone tremendous changes in its pursuit of economic growth, and at the local level there has been a movement away from subsistence livelihoods to an increased focus on monetary income. The main challenges the country now faces are the rapid degradation of marine and coastal resources and the multiple consequences of urbanization and industrial and tourism development. The unsustainable development models being applied are placing a tremendous strain on the limited marine and coastal resources and the livelihoods of small-scale fishers, while policies and legislative, institutional and operational frameworks fail to support local communities in exercising their constitutional rights.

The lives and livelihoods of around 13 million Thai are directly dependent on the use of marine and coastal resources. Thailand’s waters cover an area of around 350,000 km2 and the country has some 35,000 km2 of coastal land.[1] Important natural habitats and natural resources include beach forests, sea grass beds, minerals, ores, oil and natural gas. The country also has an estimated 12,000 km2 of coral reefs with a biodiversity of at least 240 different species, and 1,964 km2 of mangrove forests comprising 35 different species. [2]

Major industries dependent on marine and coastal resources include capture fishery, aquaculture fishery, tourism, transportation of produce and merchandise, heavy industry and power generation. Thailand is estimated to derive some THB 7,500 billion (around USD 250 million) from its marine and coastal resources each year.[3]

Thailand’s coastal waters have traditionally been rich and productive, characterised by high biodiversity and large, healthy populations. These abundant resources have contributed to the development of a robust fisheries sector. Both capture fishery and aquaculture fishery are important to the country’s economy, with Thailand accounting for 3% of total fish catch and nearly 2% of total aquaculture production globally in 2003. Its annual marine fish catch is valued at over THB 120 billion (around USD 4 billion).

Small-scale fishing

Thailand’s 2007 Constitution enshrines the rights of traditional or local communities to participate in the conservation, care, management and balanced and sustainable use of natural resources and the environment. However implementation and operation by Government agencies at the local level often fail to promote, support and facilitate local communities in exercising their constitutional rights, and in many cases the approaches employed by Government agencies contradict those rights.

That is, for example, the situation in the case of small-scale fishers. Over 60,000 households from 4,000 villages are engaged in fishing, of which around 93% are small-scale fishers who account for around 9% of the country’s annual catch.[4] They make use of traditional, handmade fishing boats and fishing gear, which effectively limit them to fishing only in waters within 3 to 5 km of the shore. This makes them especially vulnerable to local changes in the condition of marine and coastal resources.[5]

Sustainability challenges

Marine animal populations in Thailand’s waters are in a degraded state as a result of fishing beyond the sea’s carrying capacity. The Gulf of Thailand has been particularly affected, and the country has been exceeding the highest sustainable annual catch (1.4 million tons) since 1972.[6] Other challenges include the failure to eradicate the use of push nets, the lack of control over the use of dragnets, and the fuel subsidies and low-paid migrant labour that allow the commercial fishery sector to maintain artificially low costs.

Aquaculture fishery has also greatly affected the condition of marine and coastal resources. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources reports that nearly 74,640 hectares of mangrove forest have been used for aquaculture fishery, in particular shrimp farms.[7]

In the Trang province (on the Andaman Sea coastline), large commercial fishing boats employing destructive fishing gear such as push-nets and dragnets have devastated local marine resources, drastically reducing fish populations in a very short period of time and bringing damage and destruction to invaluable marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and sea grass beds. Such large commercial fishing boats have been found operating within the 3,000 metres nearshore zone reserved specifically for small-scale fishing, and even within the boundaries of local marine protected areas.

In the Nakorn Sri Thammarat province on the Gulf of Thailand coastline, illegal dredging for surf clams has caused rapid degradation of the marine environment.[8] The illegal dredgers tend to operate during the monsoon season, when small-scale fishers are unable to put to sea, and excavate material from the seabed to a depth of 1 metre or more. An area dredged in this way can take five or six years to return to its previously abundant state. Furthermore, illegal dredging can also cause damage and destruction to the fishing gear of local small-scale fishers.[9]

When marine and coastal resources become degraded, small-scale fishing tends to be more severely affected than commercial fishing. Unlike commercial fishers, small-scale fishers are unable to venture further out into deep offshore waters. While in theory they might decide to travel daily to neighbouring areas where resources are less severely degraded, in practice they have very meagre incomes, so additional fuel costs could threaten their livelihoods.

Urbanization, industrial development and tourism

Thailand’s coastal provinces have been transformed by urbanization, industrialization and tourism development, which have had a range of negative effects on both marine and coastal resources and the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. There is increased demand and competition for land, with the privatization of coastal land and nearshore waters restricting access. Moreover, environmental changes and pollution have affected the availability and condition of marine and coastal resources and have exacerbated existing issues such as coastal erosion.

Small-scale fishing communities must, through necessity, be located on the coastline, because they typically moor their boats on sandy beaches or in coastal inlets. Even relatively small developments that affect the navigation of nearshore waters, such as the construction of privately owned marinas, can have a profound impact on them because of the additional fuel, and therefore additional expenditure, required to navigate around such structures.

Mangrove forests have been threatened by encroachment for settlement and industry as well as by the use of timber for firewood, charcoal, furniture and construction. Thailand’s almost 10,400 hectares of sea grass beds have been negatively affected by sediment arising from coastal construction, deforestation and agriculture, the release of waste water in coastal areas and the use of illegal fishing gear such as push-nets. Severe coastal erosion causes Thailand to lose 3 km2 of land to the sea each year, at an estimated cost of THB 6 billion (around USD 200 million). Although coastal erosion is brought about by a combination of both natural and human influences, factors related to coastal development include activities that disrupt the natural accumulation of sediment, including dam construction, sand mining and dredging deep-water channels to facilitate marine transportation.[10]

The country’s coastal areas have been earmarked for the development of mass transportation systems and heavy industry under the Government’s Southern Seaboard Development Plan. There are 37 projects planned, including deep-water ports, oil rigs, fuel depots, fuel transportation pipelines, heavy industry and power plants. The plan has emphasized the development of heavy industry without considering alternative forms of development potentially more appropriate to the socioeconomic circumstances and cultural ecology of the targeted areas, the economies of which are founded on fishery, agriculture, tourism, education and minor industry.[11]

Thailand has witnessed many examples of inappropriate and unsustainable tourism development, as well as tourism activities that directly affect marine and coastal resources such as ‘coral walks’, which involve walking directly on coral reefs. But for many small-scale fishing communities living in some of Thailand’s most important tourist areas, problems and conflicts relating to land and land rights are a much bigger issue. Conflicts have arisen between local communities and tourism operators who have been issued title deeds, or who have encroached on land without any right of ownership, in areas that overlap with community terrestrial forests, community mangrove forests, community settlements and public roads.[12]

Changing global, national and local socioeconomic contexts are placing increasing strains on limited marine and coastal resources. Over the past 40 years Thailand has undergone tremendous changes in its pursuit of national-level economic growth, while at the local level rapidly changing expectations regarding standards of living and quality of life have moved away from subsistence livelihoods to an increased focus on monetary income. Despite great advances generally at the policy level, [13] small-scale fishers still have no formal, established identity within existing policy and legislative frameworks, meaning that there is frequently a failure to identify and address the issues that affect their livelihoods and well-being.

New policies, but the same old practices

There is a significant gap between national level policies and legislation and implementation at the local level. Promising changes in policy direction[14] fail to bring about tangible, widespread and lasting change at the local level because the intervening legislation, bureaucracy and administration are resistant. There is also lack of coordination, cooperation and integration between the various organizations and agencies related either directly or indirectly to the management of marine and coastal resources, which leads to at best inefficient and incoherent, and at worst conflicting and counterproductive implementation and operation at the local level. The lack of coherence between the approaches and practices of the diverse organizations and agencies highlights the need to rationalize the overlying and complex legislative framework applicable to the management of natural resources and the environment.

In many cases legislation has not been updated to reflect positive policy changes at the national level. In other cases existing legislation, that could potentially be beneficial to marine and coastal resources as well as to small-scale fishers, fails because enforcement is either poor, and so individuals are able to flout the law, or else it is arbitrary, with different standards being applied in different circumstances. Specific issues include legal loopholes that allow offenders to escape prosecution, penalties too lenient to act as useful deterrents, and insufficient resources or bureaucratic hindrances that prevent regular, comprehensive patrols from being carried out.[15]

Conclusion

Unsustainable development practices are having a negative impact on marine and coastal resources and the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. Although changing socioeconomic contexts at the global, national and local levels are certainly placing increasing strain on the limited marine and coastal resources, a range of other underlying issues are also to blame, all related to policy, legislative, institutional and operational frameworks that fail to support local communities in exercising their constitutional rights and also fail to control and suppress illegal, inappropriate and unsustainable practices.

[1] Thailand Reform Office, Reforming the Structure of Marine and Coastal Resource Management, (Bangkok: March 2011), pp. 1–2.

[2] Ibid., p. 1

[3] C. Cheung, et al. (comp.), Marine Protected Areas in Southeast Asia (Los Baños, Philippines: ASEAN Regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation – Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2002), p. 86.

[4] M. Unkulvasapaul, et al., Thailand Environment Monitor 2006: Marine and Coastal Resources (Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2007), pp. 8–10.

[5] R. Prasertcharoensuk and J. Shott, Samudra Mongraph: Time for a Sea Change – A Study of the Effectiveness of Biodiversity Conservation Measures and Marine Protected Areas Along Southern Thailand’s Andaman Sea Coastline, (Chennai, India: International Collective in Support of Fishworkers,  2010), <www.icsf.net>.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] S. Jitpiromsri, and Sustainable Development Foundation, “Strengthening the Capacity of Vulnerable Coastal Communities to Address the Risks of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Community Study Report,” reference document for Global Environment Facility / Special Climate Change Fund project development process, (Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus, 2009), p.16.

[10] Thailand Reform Office, op. cit., pp. 3–4.

[11] Ibid., p. 6.

[12] Ibid., pp. 5–6.

[13] For example, the policy to control the number of fishing vessels. See <www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/AC790E/AC790E02.htm>.

[14] For health policies’ changes see <www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12595131>; for monetary policies see T. Subhanji, Household sector and monetary policy implications: Thailand’s recent experience, (Economic Research Department, Bank of Thailand, 2010), <ideas.repec.org/p/bth/wpaper/2009-06.html>.

[15] Prasertcharoensuk and Shott, op. cit.

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Deforestation and sustainable development

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The country’s economy has been growing since 2000, but poverty continues to be a pressing issue while life expectancy remains very low. Although the Government has shown some concern regarding environmental challenges, the plans put in place lack coordination and have failed to create public awareness about soil erosion, loss of biomass, climate change and deforestation. The country has lost 6.3% of its forests in the last 20 years. High poverty levels and lack of alternative sources of livelihoods exacerbate environmental degradation resulting from the dependence of poor people on natural resources. It is time for the Government to establish more adequate policies and strengthen coordination in the environment sector.

Women for Change
Lumba Siyanga
Lucy Muyoyeta

The country’s economy has been growing since 2000, but poverty continues to be a pressing issue while life expectancy remains very low. Although the Government has shown some concern regarding environmental challenges, the plans put in place lack coordination and have failed to create public awareness about soil erosion, loss of biomass, climate change and deforestation. The country has lost 6.3% of its forests in the last 20 years. High poverty levels and lack of alternative sources of livelihoods exacerbate environmental degradation resulting from the dependence of poor people on natural resources. It is time for the Government to establish more adequate policies and strengthen coordination in the environment sector.

From 2000 onwards Zambia experienced strong economic growth at an average rate of 5% per annum.[1] Poverty levels decreased from 68% in 2004 to 64% in 2006, but 53% of the population remained in extreme poverty, which is most common in female-headed households. The rural population is predominantly poor, with an overall poverty rate of 78%.[2] Levels of extreme poverty are also high in rural areas (where two thirds of the extremely poor live) and in households with the least formal education. In fact, households headed by those with no formal education have a poverty incidence of 81%, and of these 70% are extremely poor.[3]

Providing access to education is still a challenge for the country, particularly at higher and tertiary levels. In 2004, only 11% of the population managed to complete their senior secondary education. This problem is more acute for women and girls; in 2006 only 8.6% of females had finished senior secondary level. [4] Moreover, although tertiary education is crucial for long-term economic development as well as strengthening democracy and achieving social cohesion, only 2% of the population had completed a Bachelor’s degree or above.[5]

The attainment of good health among the population, an essential factor for social and economic prosperity, faces a number of challenges despite the Government’s introduction of various measures and programmes to improve the quality of life. There is a high prevalence of infectious diseases, including an HIV rate of 13.5% among adults, and life expectancy at birth is 52.36 years.[6]

Sustainable development and environmental issues

The Government’s goal since 2006 has been to ensure environmental sustainability by reversing environmental damage, maintaining essential biological processes and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. However a number of factors continue to constrain the achievement of this goal, including:

  • Coordination problems.  
  • Lack of comprehensive policies on environmental issues.
  • Limited public awareness about environmental issues.
  • An inadequate legal framework and lack of implementation of the Forest Act of 1999.
  • Inadequate budget allocations and investment.
  • Poor maintenance of biological diversity and limited local participation.
  • Inadequate mainstreaming of environmental and climate change issues into other sector policies and programmes.
  • Slow implementation of the National Policy on Environment to reduce conflicts related to land use (including those between humans and animals).

 

The issue of climate change also needs to be addressed. The main local indicator of climate change is the modification of temperature and rainfall patterns. The consistent warming trend shown by mean annual temperatures for 1961–2000, for example, has had several negative effects, including limited crop yields and increased risk of malaria transmission at higher altitudes. The latter is especially important in Zambia, where malaria accounts for 47% of all deaths annually.[7]

The impact of higher temperatures on rainfall is not easy to assess, especially since the country is affected by the periodic El Niño phenomenon, the complexity of which is beyond the scope of current climate models. Nevertheless, the Government's National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) reported that drought and floods had increased in frequency, intensity and magnitude over the previous two decades.[8]

In terms of biodiversity, Zambia has 1,234 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 1.5% are endemic and 1.9% are threatened. The country is also home to at least 4,747 species of vascular plants, of which 4.4% are endemic.[9]

The national biomass (above and below ground) is estimated at 5.6 billion tonnes, with an additional 434 million tonnes of dead wood biomass, for a total biomass estimate of 6 billion tonnes. Of this, approximately 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon is stored in forests. The forests therefore hold a considerable amount (90%) of the country’s total aboveground biomass.

Deforestation and its impacts

Over the last 40 years the forests have been depleted due to population increase, economic imperatives, charcoal production, demand for new land for agriculture and uncontrolled fires. The rate of deforestation that for decades was said to be about 300,000 hectares per annum was reported in 2008 to be 800,000 hectares per annum.[10] Between 1990 and 2010, Zambia lost an estimated 6.3% of its forest cover or around 3,332,000 hectares.[11]

Commercial exploitation of indigenous woods started during the third decade of the 20th century. Increasing activities in mining and construction also contribute significantly to deforestation. The practice of slash-and-burn agriculture to feed a growing population is widespread. Logging is also increasing. The hardwood forests of the western grasslands, which had been reasonably well conserved, have in recent years come under pressure.[12]

Households and industries are major consumers of forest resources. The main commercial product from indigenous forests is charcoal for cooking – 27% of households in Zambia use it as their main source of cooking energy while 56% use firewood. Electricity is used by 16% of households for cooking and by 19.3% of households as their main source of lighting. The charcoal industry provides employment for about 50,000 people in rural and urban areas.[13]

Forests provide an important source of livelihood for rural communities. In particular, poorer households show a higher dependency (44%) on wood fuel than those who earn more. The demand for wood fuel is increasing exponentially while there are severe local shortages. Poorer households also have a greater dependence on wild plants for medicinal purposes and food. Other uses of forest products include animal grazing and provision of construction materials such as poles and thatching grass. Overall most forests fall under traditional customary management and have no formal management arrangements: 41% fall under traditional management; 36% are recorded as not having a known management plan; and only 23% have formal management arrangements (national parks and forest reserves).

Although both men and women play critical roles in managing natural resources in Zambia, women’s relationship with the environment is critical to their daily lives as they are responsible for the provision of domestic water and fuel as well as for cooking. Women play major roles in forest resource management as gatherers and users of various forest products including grass for thatching. The high poverty levels and lack of alternative livelihood sources, especially in rural areas, exacerbate environmental degradation resulting from poor people’s dependence on natural resources for survival.

Forest destruction is leading to soil erosion, loss of bio-diversity and biomass, dwindling water supplies, reduced agricultural productivity and environmental degradation. There are also widespread negative impacts on food security, energy supply and social welfare. Customary lands are increasingly degraded and deforested because they are under the most pressure for alternative land uses. The use of charcoal and wood fuel is not only harmful for the environment but also bad for people’s health.[14]

The country cannot afford to continue losing forests at the current rate. Forests are important for carbon restoration, which helps to mitigate climate change.

Key policies and programmes

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources was created in 1991 as the primary institution for environmental management. Successive efforts to deal with the challenges in the sector have included adoption of the National Conservation Strategy, the National Policy on Environment (2007), the National Environmental Action Plan, the Zambia National Biodiversity and Action Plan, the Forestry Policy of 1998, the Zambia Forestry Action Plan and the Forest Act of 1999.

To deal with ozone layer depletion, the Government enacted Statutory Instrument No. 27 of 2001, and the country signed and ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and subsequently prepared a national plan of action in 2002.

Zambia also implemented its Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) from 2006 to 2010, the key policy objectives of which included the promotion of sustainable forest management by encouraging private sector and civil society participation in forest resource management. A number of activities were introduced to deal with forestry matters during this period, but in the final analysis it was difficult to monitor progress because of a lack of data and information. The deforestation rate, the only indicator available, showed that FNDP objectives in that area were not achieved in full. In fact, it is clear that the pace of forest depletion has accelerated.

Furthermore, there are inadequate macroeconomic policy incentives or disincentives to promote sustainable management of environmental resources and discourage unsustainable consumption patterns.

Conclusions and recommendations

Development cannot be sustained in a deteriorating environment, and the environment cannot be protected when economic growth does not take into account the cost of environmental destruction. The high poverty levels, limited access to basic rights such as education and health, and continued degradation of the forests mean that sustainable development is under threat in Zambia despite high economic growth.

The Zambia Social Watch Coalition therefore recommends the following:

  • To ensure sustainable forest management, and mitigation of or adaptation to climate change, Zambia must recognize the importance of land tenure and ownership, especially with respect to customary lands, which account for nearly two thirds of forest land.
  • Government must accelerate the pace of adopting the revised draft forest policy and the subsequent revision of the Forest Act of 1999.
  • In revising existing policies, laws or programmes or developing new ones, gender mainstreaming must be strengthened to ensure both women and men are not adversely affected and they both benefit equally.
  • Coordination in the environment sector should be strengthened and environmental issues mainstreamed in all sectors.
  • Government and other key stakeholders in the field must embark on massive public education campaigns on the environment.

 

[1] Imani Development International Ltd, 2007 Update Survey of Non Tariff Barriers to Trade: Zambia, (Regional Trade Facilitation Programme, July 2007), 5.

[2] allAfrica.com, Zambia: Poverty Levels Go Down, (20 November 2009), <allafrica.com/stories/200911200074.html>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] R. Siaciwena and F. Lubinda, The Role of Open and Distance Learning in the Implementation of the Right to Education in Zambia, (The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, February 2008), <www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/481/995>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] CIA, The World Factbook: Zambia, (May 2011), <www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/za.html>.

[7] IRIN, “Zambia: Decreasing Cases Cause for Optimism”, in In Depth: Killer Number One – The Fight Against Malaria, (January 2006), <www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=10&ReportId=58010&Country=Yes,>.

[8] Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Formulation of the National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change, Government of Zambia, UNDP Zambia and Global Environment Facility, (September 2007), <www.preventionweb.net/english/policies/v.php?id=8581&cid=192>.

[9] Mongabay.com, Zambia Forest Information and Data, (2010), <rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Zambia.htm>.

[10] European Commission, Governance Profile – Zambia, (2008), <www.programming.eu/wcm/dmdocuments/gover_08_zambi_fi_en.pdf>.

[11] Mongabay.com, op. cit.

[12] Ibid.

[13] World Bank, Delivering Modern Energy Services for Urban Africa - Status, Trends and Opportunities for Commercially Sustainable Interventions, (2003), <info.worldbank.org/etools/bspan/presentationView.asp?EID=239&PID=501>.

[14] Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), The Path Away from Poverty: An Easy Look at Zambia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2002–2004, <www.sarpn.org.za/documents/d0000280/index.php>.

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Development at the cost of sustainability

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
In an effort to achieve developed country status by 2020, the current Government is implementing a development model that is highly unsustainable. For example, an entire rainforest is being flooded and at least 15 communities relocated in order to construct a huge dam for hydro-electrical power, an irresponsible move that will result in the loss of endemic species, increasing social discontent and environmental threats. Meanwhile, the people’s right to participate in the management of natural resources is almost totally silenced. Only by empowering the people and ensuring access to information will the Government be able to address sustainable development.

Friends of the Earth Malaysia
Sahabat Alam Malaysia

In an effort to achieve developed country status by 2020, the current Government is implementing a development model that is highly unsustainable. For example, an entire rainforest is being flooded and at least 15 communities relocated in order to construct a huge dam for hydro-electrical power, an irresponsible move that will result in the loss of endemic species, increasing social discontent and environmental threats. Meanwhile, the people’s right to participate in the management of natural resources is almost totally silenced. Only by empowering the people and ensuring access to information will the Government be able to address sustainable development.

In 1991, then Prime Minister Mahatir bin Mohamed introduced the concept of Wawasan 2020, or “Vision 2020.” This was based on the idea that Malaysia could become a developed country by the year 2020, and established nine strategic challenges it had to overcome, including ensuring an economically just society, a competitive and dynamic economy, and also the inclusion of ethnic minorities and the establishment of a feeling of national unity.[1]

This plan was later recalibrated. In 2009, incumbent Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak declared that strategies had to be redefined, mainly because in order to achieve Wawasan 2020’s economic goals, an economic growth rate of nearly 8%[2] is needed, while the average from 2000 to 2010 was a meagre 1.20% and in 2009 hit a record low of 7.8%, followed by a peak of 5.9% later that year and an estimated 3.2% for 2011.[3]  The other reason, according to the Prime Minister, was because“being richer alone does not define a developed nation. There are important social and quality-of-life measurements that must be factored in when considering our objectives and successes.”[4]

This idea is shared by former International Trade and Industry Minister and incumbent Member of Parliament Rafidah Aziz, who also felt optimistic regarding the achievement of the developed country status for 2020. “We have targeted ourselves into having a developed society in our own mould which means our society in 2020 would be multiracial, cohesive, tolerant, with respect for each other and with no polarisation,” she said.[5]

Despite these good intentions and also the fact that in the 1970s Malaysia was a pioneer in establishing a framework for environmental governance,[6] very little is being done today to adopt a truly sustainable development model, especially regarding the assessment of environmental issues. Thus, for example, the country’s fulfilment of the Rio ’92 accords has been generally disappointing. Since that year, it has undergone further industrialization, urbanization and infrastructure development that have resulted in loss of biodiversity and of vital ecosystems, particularly the mangrove and lowland forests. Moreover, despite provisions in various laws, people in the affected areas are hardly consulted and the Government remains secretive when it comes to development projects.

In fact, the development model implemented by the Government, focused on financial and industrial development without regard for the environment, is characterized by unbridled consumption and waste of water and electricity, resulting in environmental degradation and health problems.

Biodiversity loss and lax laws

Malaysia has uniquely rich and diverse flora and fauna, with approximately 25,000 plant species,[7] 746 birds, 300 mammals, 379 reptiles, 198 amphibians and 368 species of fish.[8] Among this flora and fauna, 2,199 species are endemic.[9]

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2010 Red List, Malaysia ranked third in the world with the highest number (1,180) of threatened species.[10] Of these numbers, animal species account for 488, with 47 of them in the “critically endangered” category. Also, 188 of 692 plant species are critically endangered, and four of the endemic plant species are now extinct.[11]

The latest plant to be declared extinct is the Shorea kuantanensis, after the only forest it grew in, the Bukit Goh Forest Reserve in Kuantan, was cleared for palm oil cultivation. The others are two fern species and the flowering shrub Begonia eromischa.

Malaysia’s rainforests are rich in timber, medicinal plants, resins, fertilizers, and also supply freshwater, protect soils against erosion and nutrient loss, and sustain a great biodiversity. Malaysia, in fact, is recognized as one of the world’s 12 megadiverse countries.[12] This means that it has a huge responsibility for safeguarding its biological diversity. Although laws to regulate the exploitation of natural resources and protection of the environment exist, implementation and enforcement remain poor.

Many laws are in need of review, but as economic development without a sustainable perspective has been a high priority, efforts at strengthening the inadequate laws often take a back seat. For example, the proposed amendment of the 1974 Environmental Quality Act has been debated for nearly a decade, and a 1972 wildlife protection law was replaced with the 2010 Wildlife Conservation Act only after nearly 15 years of deliberation. Moreover, new laws fail to address key issues overlooked by the old regulations; the same ones that have contributed to the country’s dubious status as the regional hub for wildlife trafficking.

Another weakness lies in the distinct separation of power between the Federal and State Governments over resources such as land, forest and water. While most biodiversity policies (e.g., the National Biodiversity Policy, the National Forestry Policy and the National Land Policy) were established at the Federal level, the adoption of these policies remained weak at the state level, precisely where effective implementation is most needed.

Resource extraction and deforestation

Until the 1970s, Malaysia’s economy relied heavily on the territory’s natural resources. For example, large-scale rubber plantation was a major mainstay of the country’s economy since colonial times. Hence, rapid rainforest loss in the 20th century can clearly be linked to the extractive models implemented by the successive administrations.[13] Large areas of arable land were cleared for rubber and palm oil production, and a great number of trees were felled in order to keep up with timber demand for domestic and overseas markets: in 1985, for example, the forestry sector contributed up to 15% of the country’s export earnings.[14] According to some studies, Malaysia’s deforestation rate is growing faster than that of any other tropical country.[15] In fact, its annual deforestation rate jumped nearly 86% between 1990 and 2005, with a total loss of forest coverage of 140,200 hectares per year since 2000.[16]

It has been pointed out that while “on paper” Malaysia has one of the best rainforest protection policies in developing Asia, there is a great gap between the law and its full implementation and enforcement, so logging is still threatening the integrity of rainforests. In fact, over the past two decades, sustainable forest management has been non-existent.[17]

While a legal and administrative background was formulated in the early 1970s, the environmental impacts of land-based agricultural development and extractive practices have grown in magnitude, including deforestation, which has intensified significantly.[18]

The consequences of deforestation and misuse of land are many: soil erosion, hydrological changes, pesticide contamination of surface waters and also loss of local flora and fauna. Also, the risk of flooding and mudslides is increasing,[19] and for indigenous peoples, who have always depended on the rainforest for medicine, shelter and food, the destruction of their prime source of livelihood is also resulting on the loss of their traditional ways of life: as the forest disappears, so does their culture.

Mega projects, mega destruction

In the last two decades Malaysia has witnessed a number of controversial public and private projects and their socio-environmental impacts are still being calculated.

The most controversial of them is the 2,400MW Bakun Hydroelectric Project in the state of Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) where an area of about 695 km2 (equivalent to the size of Singapore) is to be flooded. Touted as the world’s second tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam, the project was criticized for neglecting environmental issues and also for its dubious justification of growing energy demand.

In fact, most of this alleged demand is said to lie in Peninsular Malaysia, and not in East Malaysia, where the dam is located. But some critics of the project have pointed out that in Peninsular Malaysia there is an over-supply of electricity, which makes the hydroelectric project unnecessary.[20]

After two failed attempts to build the dam, in 1994 the project was privatized to Ekran Berhad, a logging company with no experience in dam construction, and its completion was aimed for 2003. In the ensuing Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Malaysian Government took over the project and paid “compensation” to Ekran, which had completed only 50% of the engineering work.

The flooding process was initiated on 13 October 2010, and besides the drowning of a vast tropical rainforest, which will mean the loss of a great amount of biodiversity (including many endemic species), 15 indigenous communities had to be resettled downstream. This forced relocation had generated much discontent among the population of the area, along with unresolved compensation claims, loss of livelihood and a host of other social problems. Several communities that rejected the relocation plan had jointly filed a lawsuit against the Government for loss of their native customary land. The case is still pending. Also, there have been recent reports about unsafe – and even illegal – building practices that seem to be an everyday matter on the construction site due to poor safety measures.

 

Dirty industries hub?

There are concerns among civil society groups and some Government officials that the Government’s industrialization ambitions (despite the “green” claim) could turn Malaysia into a magnet for polluting industries.

More worrying now is the fact that the country’s vast coastline, particularly on the peninsula, is targeted for a petro-chemical hub that will be accompanied by the construction of ports to facilitate the export of end products. Such energy-intensive industries also need the construction of coal-fired power plants such as the one in the Iskandar Development Region in the state of Johor.

Such large scale coastal development is wiping out the country’s mangrove forests, which are fish-breeding grounds that had supported inshore fisheries. Local communities’ complaints of dwindling catches have largely fallen on deaf ears, with meagre compensation from the project developers and the Government. In some areas, coastal development promoted by the aquaculture industry has also taken away farmland with possible consequences on the nation’s food security in years to come.

By and large, resistance to the Government’s unsustainable development agenda has been restricted by media blackouts and the use of a variety of laws curtailing press freedom, including the Internal Security Act, Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act and the Police Act.

However, well-organized campaigns led by affected communities have shown that informed citizens could become a significant force in challenging the Government’s unsustainable development plans. For example, two successful cases in this regard are the closing down of the Japanese-Malaysian rare earth factory in the state of Perak (late 1990s) and the abandonment of the waste incinerator located just 40km away from the capital city.

Today, the biggest challenge for sustainable development in Malaysia is empowering the people with knowledge of their rights, ensuring access to information and creating mechanisms for genuine public participation so that national policy making and development project decisions can truly be weighed on the economy, society and the environment, that is, the three pillars of sustainable development.

 

[1]M. Mohamad, The way forward (Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister’s Office, 2008); See also: <www.wawasan2020.com/vision/index.html>.

[2] R. Pakiam and S. Adam, “Malaysia Must Expand Faster to Be Developed Nation, Najib Says,” Bloomberg News, (28 August 2009), <www.bloomberg.com>.

[3] TradingEconomics.com, Malaysia GDP Growth Rate, 2011, <www.tradingeconomics.com/malaysia/gdp-growth>.

[4] R. Pakiam and S. Adam, op cit.

[5] The Malayisian insider, Rafidah says Malaysia can be developed nation by 2020, (18 May 2020), <www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/rafidah-says-malaysia-can-be-developed-nation-by-2020/>.

[6] A. A. Hezri and M. Nordin Hasan, Towards sustainable development? The evolution of environmental policy in Malaysia, (2006), <www.apimal.org/blogcms/media/13/File/Sus Development Msia_Hezri n Hasan.pdf>.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Mongabay.com, Malaysia, (2006), <rainforests.mongabay.com/20malaysia.htm>.

[9] See: <life.nthu.edu.tw/~d868210/jpg/hwk2/content.html> .

[10] See: <www.iucnredlist.org/documents/summarystatistics/2010_4RL_Stats_Table_5.pdf>.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Hezri and Nordin Hasan, op cit.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Mongabay.com,op cit.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Hezri and Nordin Hasan, op cit.

[19] See: <outskirtoutreach.org>.

[20] See: <bakun-dam.co.tv>.

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Economic growth is not enough

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Panama has enjoyed economic growth in recent years, but this has not led to people being empowered or freed to live decent and fulfilling lives. Nor has it resulted in effective policies to reduce poverty or preserve and protect the environment. Since 2009 the Government has made policy mistakes that have damaged governability, disturbed the populace and generated a climate of tension in the country. To achieve a sustainable development model, the Government will have to design and implement better policies and increase social investment so as to tackle the alarming levels of inequality in the country.

Centro de la Mujer Panameña
Cecilia Moreno Rojas

Panama has enjoyed economic growth in recent years, but this has not led to people being empowered or freed to live decent and fulfilling lives. Nor has it resulted in effective policies to reduce poverty or preserve and protect the environment. Since 2009 the Government has made policy mistakes that have damaged governability, disturbed the populace and generated a climate of tension in the country. To achieve a sustainable development model, the Government will have to design and implement better policies and increase social investment so as to tackle the alarming levels of inequality in the country.

Panama’s economy has grown strongly in recent years, and in 2010 this trend reached a peak of 7% annual growth.[1] The driving force has been investment in public works, widening the Panama Canal and expanding services. This progress was duly noted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, all of which report that the country has the highest per capita income in Central America. In 2009 Panama’s GDP was USD 24,711,000 million, and its per capita GDP was USD 6,570 while the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported that Panama is the region’s largest exporter and importer. [2]

However, this healthy growth trend contrasts sharply with a social panorama of poverty, unequal income distribution and gender inequity. There are still enormous problems of social inequality to be overcome. Income distribution gaps are very wide, especially when they are analysed by type of region, ethnicity and gender. These disparities can be seen in the country’s Gini coefficient, which data from 2005[3] show to be approximately 55, a clear indication that inequality is a serious problem.

Panama’s growth is based on unsustainable development models that focus on economic indicators and ignore the most pressing social and environmental problems. This is a complex challenge for civil society organizations, above all because the style of government imposed by President Ricardo Martinelli is markedly autocratic and far to the political right.  

Further, there is a recurrent pattern that every five years the country has to be reinvented.  The slate is wiped clean, and public policies start again from scratch. For example, in 2004 and 2005 the Administrator of the National Environment Authority (ANAM), in cooperation with a team of inter-institutional specialists, designed seven public policies for the priority areas of water resources; climate change; cleaner production; supervision, control and monitoring of solid waste; environmental information and the decentralization of environmental management. These policies were promulgated in 2007, but they were never implemented because a new Government came to power in July 2009.
At the present time the country does not have an environmental policy; the new ANAM authorities who came to power in 2009 completely ignored the progress that had been made in this field. What is more and against all expectations, a year and a half after coming to power President Martinelli - with the backing of his Cabinet and a majority in the National Assembly - made a series of changes to the Environment Law that eliminated the requirement that enterprises perform environmental impact studies.[4] These changes also opened the door for members of the Government to invest in and promote public works or mining projects without having to hold any public consultations. The ANAN administration said nothing about this change and remained passively in the background while the process went on.  Environmental groups severely criticized its stance, denouncing the ANAM as “weak” and lacking “a loud clear voice” to guide the country’s environment policy.[5]    

Union groups protested changes to the labour law that restricted their right to strike and other social organizations protested similar legal maneuvres that constituted a violation of human rights.  The population at large rejected the new legislation, causing a chain reaction among civil society organizations and above all among environmental organizations. For three months Panama convulsed with public protests and demonstrations in a range of different sectors. The changes were finally repealed in October 2010. “[W]orkers’ right to strike and union fees were re-established; the [Martinelli] policies could no longer go ahead with impunity; and the environmentalists were able to reimpose the obligation to carry out environment impact studies.”[6]

The deterioration of natural resources

Another serious obstacle to sustainable development in Panama is the increasing deterioration of the country’s biological corridors and a large part of its natural resources due to indiscriminate exploitation of its forests, extensive livestock rearing and environmental pollution caused by the open-pit mining techniques used by transnational enterprises. When these trends are added to the effects of climate change there could be serious repercussions not only on the environment but on people’s health and well-being.

Panama is suffering from severe soil erosion and deterioration, which is gradually spreading to nearly all of its valleys, land and water resources, leading towards desertification and the loss of productive capacity.  Large swathes of the country’s forests have already been destroyed, mainly as a result of agriculture.[7] 

According to ANAM’s Environment Information System figures, desertification is taking hold at an alarming rate. In 1970 some 70% of the country was under forest cover but by 2011 this had been reduced to around 35%.The last in-depth report on the situation dates from 2000, and it shows that forest coverage in 1992 amounted to 49% of the country, but by 2000 (in just eight years) it had shrunk to 45%.[8]
Water pollution

Environmental protection organizations have reported that important sources of fresh water near the Panama Canal valley have been polluted by the operations of two gold and copper mining projects in the Petaquilla and Molejones area, 100 km from the capital.  These groups monitored the situation, and water and sediment from sources near the mining area were analysed. The tests showed that the water has high levels of suspended solids and excessive turbidity. Little by little the pollution is negatively affecting the natural environment in very serious ways.[9] These organizations have repeatedly warned the authorities that the levels of substances in rivers potentially dangerous to the environment and to people’s health may increase. But instead of paying due attention to this threat, the Government has persisted in its policy of promoting activities that are not sustainable and cause pollution – mining is a prime example – as a strategy for economic development. In fact, the Government has made a series of changes to the mining laws to make it easier for various transnational mining enterprises to operate in the country.[10]   

Access to potable water

According to a UN report on Panama’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), large sectors of the population do not have access to potable water. This problem is most acute in rural areas, indigenous communities and some marginalized urban areas on the outskirts of cities where most of the people are of mixed race or of African descent. The situation as regards access to improved sewage facilities is similar, and rural and indigenous population groups suffer the consequences of this unequal distribution of services.[11]

The MDG report also states that the precarious settlement populations are far from being able to satisfy their basic needs. Most are families in the grip of poverty and unemployment and have no other alternative in their search for a place to live. The report recognizes that there is a close connection between illiteracy and poverty that subsequently translates into other inequalities including limited access to health services and decent housing, gender inequality, reduced political participation and a lack of protection for the environment.[12]

According to a Levels of Life Survey (ENV) that was carried out in Panama in 2003, some 36.8% of the population were living in poverty, defined as an income of less than USD 100 a month, and 16.6% were living in extreme poverty. In 2008 a similar study found there had been a slight improvement with poverty falling to 32.7% and extreme poverty to 14.4%.[13]  

In urban areas where migrants from the countryside are swelling the population without government planning for urban growth, the overall poverty rate is 20%, and 4.4% of the people are in extreme poverty. In non-indigenous rural areas more than half the population (54%) is still living in poverty, and over one in five of these people (22%) are in extreme poverty. In indigenous rural areas the situation is extremely critical as nearly the whole population (98.4%) is in poverty, and the extreme poverty rate is 90%.[14] 

Gender inequality and poverty

If Panama is to overcome poverty and social exclusion, it has to tackle problems of social and gender inequality. Currently, women and children are more vulnerable to poverty than are men and have fewer opportunities to escape it. Poverty in general is high, but this is even more worrying when we consider its scope and impact by age brackets or ethnicity. 

Gender inequalities can be seen most clearly in the labour market.  According to official figures, women’s earnings were only 57% of men’s earnings in 2009. Although women make up half the population a large percentage of women of productive age (51.7%) are not involved in the formal workforce, which is a major factor in the country’s poverty profile. Women are still the most vulnerable group in the labour market, and most of the work they do is not paid at all. According to the 2009 household survey, some 80.9% of the economically active male population had jobs, but only 48.3% of the economically active female population was gainfully employed. In 2009, the unemployment rate among women was 9.27%, which contrasts sharply to the 5.25% rate among men.[15]

Women’s situation is better in the education field. Statistics show they are an average of two percentage points ahead of men in access to schooling. Girls of the younger generations have greater access to education than their mothers and grandmothers had, but in some indigenous areas the schooling indicator for women is lower than that for men.[16]  

Conclusion

Panama’s approach to economic development ignores sustainability and has led to a degradation of its environmental resources while having only minimal impact in improving the lives and well-being of the majority of its people.  Deforestation, desertification, water pollution, accessibility to potable water, and inadequate sewage facilities threaten the environment and the very health of the Panamanian people.  Especially affected are migrants from the countryside in overcrowded settlements in towns and cities and the rural population, notably those in indigenous communities, which suffer from severe and sometimes extreme poverty.  Women, particularly, have been hard-hit by economic development models that look first to benefit wealthy national elites and their international partners and investors.

[1]  ABC.es, Panamá: Crecimiento económico del 7% en el 2010, (16 December 2010), <www.centralamericadata.com>.

[2]  World Bank, Panama, <datos.bancomundial.org/pais/panama>.

[3] Trading Economics, GINI index in Panama, <www.tradingeconomics.com/panama/gini-index-wb-data.html>.

[4]  See: <www.asamblea.gob.pa/actualidad/proyectos/2010/2010_P_227.pdf >.

[5]  See: <www.expresiones7.net/Exp2.0/Entrevista.htm>.

[6] See: <www.rnw.nl>.

[7] Ibid.

[8] L. Vidal Berrío, “Cobertura boscosa se reduce 50%,”  Capital, (6 June 2011), <www.capital.com.pa/?p=4117>.

[9] Teorema Ambiental,  “Advierten sobre el riesgo de contaminación de agua en Panamá.”, Teorema Ambental,  Revista Técnico Ambiental,   <www.teorema.com.mx>.

[10] In a statement to the media the Minister of Trade said, “Adjustment (to the Mining Code) is needed as one of the countries interested in investing in the Donoso copper mine project in the province of Colón is the Republic of Korea, since numeral 1, article 4 of Decree Law 23, prohibits the granting of mining concessions to foreign governments or countries.” In La Estrella.com.pa,(1 September 2010), <www.laestrella.com.pa/mensual/2010/09/01/contenido/273813.asp>.

[11] See: <www.onu.org.pa/objetivos-desarrollo-milenio-ODM/garantizar-sostenibilidad-ambiental>.

[12] Ibid.

[13]Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas de Panama, Encuesta Niveles de Vida, (Panama, Panama City: 2008).

[14]  Ibid,,La Pobreza En Panamá, Encuesta de Niveles de Vida – 2003 Principales.  Resultados, Edición Revisada, (2005).

[15] MInisterio de Controlaria de Panama, Encuesta Continua de Hogares 2009, <www.contraloria.gob.pa/inec/Publicaciones/05-03-31/441-02.pdf>.

[16] Atlas de Desarrollo Humano y Objetivos del Milenio, (2010).

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Engineering a failed State

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Once praised as one of the most promising countries in Africa, the country has become the victim of an authoritarian and militarized regime. The country has rapidly descended into intolerable levels of political repression, leading to abject poverty and “social anomie,” an environment that precludes fulfilment of its international commitment to sustainable development, economic growth and progress. The fundamental obstacle of political repression can only be removed with the help of outside pressure on the Eritrean Government.

Daniel R Mekonnen
Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

Once praised as one of the most promising countries in Africa, the country has become the victim of an authoritarian and militarized regime. The country has rapidly descended into intolerable levels of political repression, leading to abject poverty and “social anomie,” an environment that precludes fulfilment of its international commitment to sustainable development, economic growth and progress.  The fundamental obstacle of political repression can only be removed with the help of outside pressure on the Eritrean Government.   

Speaking at an academic conference in November 2010, French scholar Gerard Prunier, a specialist in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, described Eritrea as one of “the hardest and worst dictatorships anywhere” and “a hell on Earth.”[1] This was not hyperbole. The Government has declared war against its own people. The worst manifestation of this war situation is the pervasive practice of forced labour under the guise of the national military service programme (NMSP), which has kept hundreds of thousands of Eritreans under an unbearable yoke of dictatorship.

Despite the looming economic, social and political crises, which have been amply detailed, the Government obstinately refuses to acknowledge the reality on the ground. On the contrary, President Isaias Afwerki, has proclaimed the country the best in Africa. Asked by Al Jazeera TV about his aspirations for Eritrea, he declared: “We are focused on doing the right things in this country … At least we will not be like Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan; we are better off. We are number one in this continent.”[2] But the 2010 Global Hunger Index has a different view. It ranks Eritrea, together with Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo as one of the three African countries with alarming levels of hunger.[3] In the context of this and other credible reports, the Afwerki comment must be viewed as an affront to the suffering Eritrean people.

A laboratory for botched experiments

As noted above, the abusive Government policy of forced military service is the major cause of vulnerability in Eritrea. Although the country has never conducted a census, the proportion of the population forced into military service appears to be exceedingly high. One recent study estimated the country’s population at 3.6 million. [4] In 2010 the Eritrean army had an estimated 600,000 troops,[5] which would be an extraordinary 16.6% of the total population. This forced military service makes it extremely difficult for ordinary citizens to realize their personal aspirations in life, even if they are not personally affected by the Government’s abhorrent human rights violations, such as torture and imprisonment.

Since the outbreak of a border conflict with Ethiopia in 1998, the Government has arbitrarily extended its statutory NMSP of 18 months to an indefinite period. Under this abusive policy, all adults, male and female, up to the age of 45 are subject to what amounts to slavery or forced labour, either in military camps and trenches bordering Ethiopia or working under strict military rule for corporations owned by the state and army generals.

The actual situation may be even worse. More than 1 million Eritreans are believed to be living outside of the country -- one of largest diaspora communities in the world. Thus, the domestic population may be less than 2.6 million. This would make the proportion of the population in the military closer to 23%. According to the< International Crisis Group (ICG), a leading think tank on human security issues, the maximum limit of military mobilization is normally considered to be 10% of the total population. Beyond that, society ceases to function normally.[6]

ScholarNicole Hirt defines “social anomie” as a state of large scale disturbed order and societal disintegration resulting from the inability of a large proportion of the society to realize personal aspirations.[7] Along the same lines, Tricia Redeker Hepner and Davi O’Kane have investigated the bizarre state of affairs in Eritrea using the concept of biopolitics, which they define as “a state-led deployment of disciplinary technologies on individuals and population groups.”[8] As their study indicates, Eritrea has become the latest laboratory for experimentation in economic, social and political policies which have previously proven disastrous in a number of archaic repressive regimes.

Given the high level of military mobilization it comes as no surprise that the Eritrean Government is accused of supporting armed groups ranging from Al Shabab in Somalia to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The former allegation is supported by UN experts,[9] and resulted in a severe sanction adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2009 (Resolution 1907). The latter has been validated in a report by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[10] It is also important to note that Eritrea is currently ruled by a government which does not hesitate to establish links with individuals or groups which are globally condemned for their involvement in a number of illicit activities. One such individual is the notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, known as “The Merchant of Death.” In short, Eritrea is ruled by a small cohort of ex-freedom fighters who do not constitute a “government” in the conventional sense.

The recipe for a failed State

The country is on the brink of becoming another failed state in the Horn of Africa, a region described as the most-conflicted corner of the world since the end of WWII.[11] For the past six decades, war, displacement, abject poverty and repression have been the hallmarks of this region. It has already produced one failed state, Somalia, in the last 20 years; the likelihood of Eritrea becoming another is not far-fetched. ICG raised this possibility in a September 2010 report, which called this a real danger in the absence of effective and timely international intervention. Two of the major factors it cited are “the widespread lack of support for the Government within the country and the deteriorating state of the army, whose ability to either sustain Isaias Afwerki’s regime or to successfully manage regime transition is increasingly questionable.”[12]

By refusing to accept humanitarian assistance, under the guise of self-reliance, the Government has condemned the population to prolonged suffering. Most recently it rejected an offer of humanitarian assistance under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The decision was formally announced in a letter from the Minister of Finance on 25 January 2011.[13] Eritrea ranks third in the world in aid dependency;[14] the Government’s decision to discontinue or at least to curtail the activities of the UNDAF comes at a time when such assistance is urgently needed by the Eritrean people.

Mass exodus

Throughout its brief history, Eritrea has been one of the leading refugee-producing countries in the world. During the armed struggle for liberation, the main cause of mass exodus was the brutality of the occupying Ethiopian army. After the country achieved its independence in 1991, emigration declined precipitously. However, this trend dramatically shifted in the aftermath of the 1998-2000 border conflict with Ethiopia. Since September 2001 the main cause of mass exodus remains the brutality of the Eritrean government. Nathaniel Meyers, who travelled to Eritrea in mid-2010, crystalized the situation with his observation that Prison Break[15] has become one of the most popular television series in Eritrea.[16] This metaphor depicts the tragedy of Eritrea becoming a giant open-air prison where every Eritrean considers himself or herself an inmate while relatives outside of the country are regarded as potential rescuers. In a broader African context, this resonates with the lamentation of Yash Tandon, who states, “The most shocking aspect of Africa today is the exodus of its people.”[17] The reality is much worse in Eritrea than in any other African country, with the possible exception of Zimbabwe.

Similarly, Gaim Kibreab describes Eritrea as a society severely affected by a “powerful obsession to migrate”.[18] The mass exodus typically begins with flight across the border to Sudan or Ethiopia, and continuing to Libya and then the Italian coast, the initial European destination of many asylum seekers. This journey is extremely hazardous. The suffering that Eritreans endure in crossing the Sahara Desert (including the Sinai Desert) and the Mediterranean Sea is comparable only to the extreme hardships depicted in bestseller novels or Hollywood adventure movies. The resulting trauma and psychological harm is difficult to imagine. Perhaps the most heart-breaking recent incident occurred in March 2011, when a boat carrying 335 refugees fleeing the conflict in Libya, including 325 Eritreans, capsized due to unknown reasons. Everyone on board, including pregnant women and children, perished.[19] For Eritreans, this was one of the most horrendous disasters of recent times.

No room for popular uprisings

From the end of 2010 and through the beginning of 2011 an unprecedented wave of popular uprisings has removed repressive regimes in a number of North Africa and Middle East countries. Some observers have predicted that this upsurge may expand to other countries still governed by repressive regimes. In the case of Eritrea, Will Cobbett notes, this is very unlikely to happen in the near future for several reasons:[20]

First, Eritrea’s entire able-bodied population is strictly regimented by absolute military discipline as a result of the never-ending NMSP programme. Second, Eritrea has no official opposition in any form that could possibly generate the kind of popular uprising seen in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries. In September 2001 the Government mercilessly crushed the first post-independence reform movement; ever since, no internal opposition or dissent has emerged.

Third, one of the major catalysts of change in other countries, the Internet, is tightly controlled by the Government and Eritrea has one of the lowest Internet penetrations in the world, far below that of countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Just 4% of Eritreans have access to the Internet, and the Government could quickly cut this off: “there’s no need for Isaias [Afwerki] to close down Twitter or Facebook – but he could if he wanted to, because he controls the monopoly telecoms provider.”[21]

Fourth, with the control of the only TV channel, radio station and newspaper (broadcasting and printing in each national language) the Government holds a complete monopoly of information. According to Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists, Eritrea ranks last country in the world in press freedom and has imprisoned more journalists than any other country in Africa.[22] It is also the only country in Africa without a single private newspaper or any other form of media outlet. Nonetheless, the possibility of popular rebellion cannot be completely ruled out.

The way forward

Along with the compression of political space, eliminating any possibility of an official opposition or any form of dissent, Eritrea is also suffering increasing levels of international isolation. In this environment, which the ICG has described as “the siege state,” the country can hardly fulfill its international commitment to sustainable development. Sustainable economic growth and advancement can only occur if the fundamental problem of political repression is resolved immediately. This would require sufficient pressure to compel the Government to open up political space. As the country’s leading development partner, the European Union (EU) possesses ample diplomatic and political leverage. One way in which it could use this is by making future development assistance contingent upon the abolition of the indefinite NMSP, the holding of long-promised national elections, the implementation of the long-delayed constitution and the release of political and other prisoners. These are among the most important measures that must precede long-term planning on sustainable development.

[1] Prunier, G., Eritrea and its Discontents, speech delivered at the Conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), (5 November 2010), <vimeo.com/18716003 >.

[2] Dutton, Jane, “Interview with Isaias Afwerki”, Al Jazeera TV, (19 February 2010), <www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0uQwODNkTA>.

[3] International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2010 Global Hunger Index, (2010), <www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ghi10.pdf >.

[4]Russell, George, “Eritrea to UN: Take This Aid and Shove It”, Fox News, (30 March 2011), <www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/30/eritrea-aid-shove/?test=latestnews>.

[5]  >Bertelsmann Stiftung, Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2010: Eritrea Country Report, 2 and 13.

[6]International Crisis Group (ICG), Eritrea: The Siege State, (Africa Report No. 163, 21 September 2010), 13.

[7] Hirt, Nicole, “‘Dreams Don’t Come True in Eritrea’: Anomie and Family Disintegration due to the Structural Militarization of Society”, GIGA Working Papers, 119/2010, (January 2010), 7-9. Merton, Robert K.,  Social Theory and Social Structure (New York: The Free Press, 1995) 131–132, 163.

[8] Redeker, Tricia, and O’Kane, David, “Introduction” in O’Kane, David, and Redeker, Tricia (eds) Biopolitics, Militarism and Development: Eritrea in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford & New York: Berghan Books, 2009).

[9]See the periodic reports of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, <www.un.org/sc/committees/751/mongroup.shtml>.

[10]Asian Tribune, US Senate Investigation Reveals Eritrea Providing Military Aid to Sri Lanka Tamil Tiger Rebels, (Thailand: 31 August 2007), <www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/7196>.

[11]Shinn, D.H., Challenges to Peace and Stability in the Horn of Africa, (California: World Affairs Council of Northern California, 12 March 2011).

[12]ICG, op cit., note 6 above, ii.

[13]Fox News, Eritrea to UN: Take This Aid and Shove It, (30 March 2011), <www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/30/eritrea-aid-shove>

[14] NationMaster, Aid as per cent of GDP,  <www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_aid_as_of_gdp-economy-aid-as-of-gdp>.

[15] Prison Break is a prominent American TV serial drama telling the story of a man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death, and the efforts of his brother to help the prisoner escape.

[16] Meyers, Nathaniel, “Africa’s North Korea: Inside Eritrea’s Open-Air Prison,” Foreign Policy,  (New York: August 2010), <www.foreignpolicy.com>.

[17] Tandon, Y., “Questions for Our Nordic Friends,” in Africa in Uncertain Times, (Nordic Africa Institute, 2009).

[18] Kibreab, G., “The Eritrean Diaspora, the War of Independence, Post-Conflict (Re)-construction and Democratisation” in Johansson Dahre, Ulf, (ed) The Role of Diasporas in Peace, Democracy and Development in the Horn of Africa (Lund: Lund University, 2007), p. 99.

[19] Assena.com, 335 Refugees Perished in the Mediterranean Sea, April 11 2007, <news.assenna.com>.

[20] Cobbet, W., Tunisia, Egypt, Libya … Why Eritrea Won’t be Next, (2011), <www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk>.

[21]Ibid.

[22]Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran, China Drive Prison Tally to 14-Year High, (2010), <cpj.org>; Reporters Without Borders, 2010 Press Freedom Index, (Paris: 2010), <en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010, 1034.html>.

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Environmental disaster and minimal efforts

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Peru’s current development model has been battered by crises, plundered the ecosystem, impoverished the population and severely polluted the environment. The State’s sectoral and fragmented approach to environmental management and pollution control is weak and limited. Meeting the needs of the rural and urban poor will require structural measures, as well as new standards and practices. Policies that strengthen the institutional capacity of key actors, support environmental services and improve coordination among donor agencies are essential. The Government should serve the interests of the people rather than cater to the wishes of transnational corporations; this is the only way the country will be able to overcome the environmental challenges that lie ahead.

National Conference on Social Development (CONADES)
Héctor Béjar

Peru’s current development model has been battered by crises, plundered the ecosystem, impoverished the population and severely polluted the environment. The State’s sectoral and fragmented approach to environmental management and pollution control is weak and limited. Meeting the needs of the rural and urban poor will require structural measures, as well as new standards and practices. Policies that strengthen the institutional capacity of key actors, support environmental services and improve coordination among donor agencies are essential. The Government should serve the interests of the people rather than cater to the wishes of transnational corporations; this is the only way the country will be able to overcome the environmental challenges that lie ahead.

Throughout Peru’s history, the ruling oligarchies have pursued extractive models that loot and pillage the country’s remarkably diverse ecological and natural resources. One example is the guano crisis, which ended the country’s first era of economic prosperity through over-exploitation. This led to economic ruin and widespread impoverishment during the administration of President Manuel Pardo y Lavalle (1872- 76). The collapse of the guano industry led to a boom in saltpetre extraction in southern Peru. This, in turn, precipitated the War of the Pacific (1879-83), in which Peru and Bolivia made ​​common cause against Chile, a rival in saltpetre production and export. The allies lost, and Peru was compelled to cede the provinces of Arica, Tarapacá and Antofagasta to its southern neighbour.

In the 20th century, the same pattern of over-exploitation characterized copper, rubber, lead and zinc production,[1] bringing short-term economic prosperity followed by collapse. This pattern is further aggravated by the Government’s interest in accommodating the global powers that engage in international price speculation, buy politicians and silence any form of protest, rather than promoting the well-being of Peruvians.

Extensive resource extraction today

Today, as in the 16th century, conquistadors hungry for gold, copper, timber and coca leaf confront the country’s indigenous peoples. Instead of horses, dogs and muskets, today’s conquistadors come with money, large drilling rigs and bulldozers to cut mountains and devour lakes. In the event that anyone protested, corporate ally Alan García, Peru's President from June 2006 until June 2011, ordered the army and police to “shoot first and think later.”[2]

More than 274 million metric tons of fish were caught from 1950 to 2001,[3] almost wiping out the Pacific anchoveta, a member of the Engraulidae family which also includes anchovies.  In the 1970s, the peak of the anchoveta industry, Peru was the world’s prime fishing region. Anchoveta meal and oil factories proliferated, their waste severely degrading the environment. Indiscriminate fishing eventually brought the fish to the brink of extinction. In the following decades, the collapse of the fishing and processing industries gradually allowed the anchoveta to flourish in the ocean once again. Now anchoveta meal production is increasing to the point of excess, in all probability leading to depletion, coupled with pollution caused by oil and fishmeal processing facilities, especially in the provinces of Paraca, Paita, Chimbote and Parachique.[4]

At present, virtually all of the anchoveta harvest is used to produce oil and fish meal, with very little consumed by humans. The anchoveta could be a valuable food source, particularly in combating child malnutrition, as it is rich in vitamins A and D, iodine and Omega-3. Fish provides only 8% of the country’s food requirements, another indication that the current development model ignores the needs of the population as well as the environment, and will thus prove to be unsustainable in the long run.[5]

At the same time, large forest rivers are dredged for gold, mountains of garbage lie on the Andes and dangerous lead deposits contaminate the main port. Other ports, used for the mining and gas industries, are wiping out marine life. The country’s rivers are being poisoned by urban wastewater in addition to the arsenic and mercury used to precipitate gold as well as the kerosene and sulfuric acid used to precipitate coca paste into cocaine.

Environmental challenges

The Amazonia, with 68 million hectares of natural forests covering 35 % of the country’s territory, is the eighth largest forest area in the world and the second largest in Latin America after Brazil, while  the Andes contain 300,000 hectares of natural forests. However, decades of wood fuel use by homes and restaurants, along with the slash and burn agricultural methods practiced by farmers have already depleted mangrove, dry and sub-humid forests, and deforestation is continuing at a rate of 150,000 hectares per year.[6]

Peru is also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. It is located in one of the most seismically active areas of the planet and subject to the volatile atmospheric and oceanic conditions caused by El Niño. The vagaries of this warm ocean current from the equatorial regions can cause both extreme drought and prolonged rains and flooding. Over all, the incidence of floods, earthquakes, hail, snow and drought is almost twice that of Latin America as a whole. The human devastation these natural occurrences cause is compounded by the ignorance of danger and lack of residential planning that leads people to build homes on river banks and dry river beds, at the foot of glaciers or on mountain slopes. According to a World Bank report, more than 2 million people were affected by natural disasters between 2000 and 2004.[7] The fatality rate is the highest on the continent.

The Government’s response

Since 1940, the Government has created several agencies to address environmental health problems. Currently, the General Directorate of Environmental Health (DIGESA) is the only  agency with regulatory power. A Ministry of the Environment has been created, and environmental impact studies are now mandatory for approval of economic ventures. In a proactive programme to reduce the deforestation caused by wood fuel consumption, the Government has initiated a small campaign to promote the use of liquified petroleum gas for stoves.

In the last few years, the Government has enacted laws requiring environmental impact assessments (EIA) and strengthened the legal framework of the forestry sector. The National System of Protected Natural Areas (SINAP), for example, includes 61 natural areas and covers 17.66 million hectares, 13.74% of the country. The financial resources of the Fund for Natural Areas Protected by the State (PROFONANPE), established in 1992, have been increasing, and are being used to raise additional resources. According to the Ministry of the Environment, an estimated USD 90.6 million is being devoted to conservation efforts annually. However, no systematic mechanism has been established to identify priorities.

The institutional framework assigns the main regulatory responsibilities for pollution control and environmental management to the energy and mining sector departments that develop standards based on the use of Environmental Impact Assessments, Environmental Management and Adaptation and Environmental Management Plans, Maximum Permissible Limits and special environmental standards in the subsectors of electricity and hydrocarbons. Environmental departments have also been established in the Ministries of Production, Transport and Communications, Housing, Construction and Sanitation.

Despite these efforts, the sectoral approach to environmental management and pollution control is disorganized, weak and has limited institutional capacity. Newly adopted environmental policies suffer from a lack of overall coordination and clarity. In sum, Government action to date has amounted to little or nothing compared to the challenge of ceaseless environmental deterioration and the overwhelming strength of the global powers destroying the country.

What is to come

Since 1980 the glaciers in Peru have lost one-fifth of their ice. In 50 years the country will not have enough water to drink, irrigate fields, or maintain the current hydroelectrical power system that provides electricity to towns and industries.[8] With the rise in the sea temperature, phytoplankton and anchoveta, the foundation of the maritime food chain, will sink into the depths in search of colder temperatures or migrate to other areas, which could lead to the extinction of numerous species in Peru. Likewise, a reduction in rainfall altitude will reduce precipitation on mountaintops and slopes, and cause uncontrollable floods, damming and landslides further down. The higher water level in the ocean will wipe out fishing coves and beaches. Changes in temperature and precipitation rates will transform a great part of the Amazon rainforest into desert.[9]

Minimizing the impact of these impending threats demands an integrated response to natural disasters, with an emphasis on prevention through regulation of the activities of the formal and informal mining, logging and fishing industries. These activities are currently in the hands of corporations and hundreds of thousands of “informal” miners. Vulnerability to natural disasters could be reduced through the adoption of appropriate building technologies, standards and practices among the urban poor and rural populations.

Peru could produce more electricity from hydropower and wind energy sources, switch from fossil fuels to natural gas, manage waste and avoid further deforestation. The possible impacts of climate change, using the devastation and consequences of natural occurrences such as El Niño and its effects as a baseline should be investigated. Essential policies include building the institutional capacity of key stakeholders, clearly defining the roles and functions of the Ministry of the Environment, supporting national efforts to strengthen biodiversity and environmental services, utilizing Peru’s comparative advantage in biodiversity, and strengthening coordination mechanisms among donor agencies.

The National Fund for Natural Areas Protected by the State (PROFONANPE) must be complemented by an Environmental General Fund, financed by taxes paid by corporations. The work of INRENA (National Institute of Natural Resources) should be carried out through watershed councils involving grassroots organizations.

All of these reforms require determined political will; a recognition that the Government must give priority to the country’s present and future, rather than serving corporations and criminalizing the protests of indigenous and local communities, which are increasingly frequent and militant.

 

[1] Third World Institute (ITeM), “Peru,” in The World Guide 2010 (Montevideo: Ediciones G3, 2009), p.443.

[2] W. Ardito Vega, Perú: la criminalización de la protesta en el gobierno de Alan García, (Servindi Intercultural Communications Services, 2008), <servindi.org/actualidad/4549>.

[3] World Bank, Environmental Sustainability: A Key to Poverty Reduction in Peru, (Lima, Perú: Sustainable Development Unit – Latin America and the Caribbean Region, May 2007).

[4] M. Quesquén,  El caso de la anchoveta en Perú, <www.monografias.com>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] El Comercio, El Perú pierde anualmente 150 mil hectáreas de bosques a causa de la deforestación,(July 2010), < elcomercio.pe>.

[7] World Bank, Lima, op cit.

[8] P. Vargas, El cambio climático y sus efectos en el Perú, (Lima, Perú:  Central Bank of Peru Working Paper Series, 2009).

[9] Ibid.

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Extraction-led growth versus people’s well-being

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The recently elected Government of Juan Manuel Santos has given priority to environmental sustainability and risk management and has issued a National Development Plan aimed at generating income and increasing production while still preserving and protecting bio-diversity and the nation’s ecosystems. Nonetheless people’s well-being and the environment are still under threat. A recent example is the production of biofuels, which has damaged the peasant economy, displaced entire populations and destroyed natural ecosystems. Despite its rhetoric of sustainability, the Santos Government continues the same economic model of its predecessor.

Corporación Cactus, Coordinación Nacional de la Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo
Aura Rodríguez

The recently elected Government of Juan Manuel Santos has given priority to environmental sustainability and risk management and has issued a National Development Plan aimed at generating income and increasing production while still preserving and protecting bio-diversity and the nation’s ecosystems.  Nonetheless people’s well-being and the environment are still under threat. A recent example is the production of biofuels, which has damaged the peasant economy, displaced entire populations and destroyed natural ecosystems.  Despite its rhetoric of sustainability, the Santos Government continues the same economic model of its predecessor.

Following his election in 2010, President Juan Manuel Santos, Minister of Defence in the previous Government of Álvaro Uribe (2002-10), established “environmental sustainability and risk management” and a National Development Plan (NDP) as core policies of his new administration. The official text of the NDP recognizes a direct relation between rising poverty levels and environmental deterioration. Two connected strategies are proposed to overcome these problems: an economic policy geared to generating income and increasing production, and an environmental policy of preservation and protection of bio-diversity and ecosystem services that contribute to the people’s well-being. [1]   

The strategy of raising income and production assumes that in the immediate future the country will grow by 1.7 percentage points per year, thereby reducing poverty by 1.2% and indigence by 1.0%.  At the same time, the Government estimates that the mining and the energy production and transmission sectors will expand by 588%.  Permanent hydrocarbon reserves will increase by 335%; oil and gas production, by 79%; the construction of oil and multi-purpose pipelines, by 78%; coal output, by 70% and gold production, by 51%.[2] 

The Plan does not address the distribution of wealth, however.  Latin America is the region with the most unequal distribution of wealth in the world, and Colombia has the most unequal distribution in the region.[3] The poorest 50% of the population receive only 13.8% of total income while the richest 10% enjoy no less than 46.5% of the income.[4]   It is unclear how the contemplated development will create a more equitable distribution of income.

Preservation and protection of bio-diversity, as set forth in the NDP, reflects the need to incorporate environmental considerations into land planning and sector policy management processes. The Government’s stated goal is to reduce the impact of the country’s ecological footprint of 1.9 global hectares (gha) per person. This unit captures the demand humans make on resources measured against the ecosystem’s capacity to regenerate itself. An ecological footprint of 1.9 gha per person means that Colombia is exploiting its ecosystems 1.9 times more rapidly than they can renew themselves. The standard for sustainable human development is 1.8 gha.[5] One aspect of the new environmental policy is a proposal to stimulate economic growth through increased production of biofuels and the alternative use of coal.[6]

The foundations have not changed

The recent change of government has left many in the country confused. President Santos has moved away from his predecessor’s stance in relation to the judiciary and the opposition, but in political economy and environmental development policy - in spite of public pronouncements - the main policy thrust of the new administration seems to be the same as that of its predecessor.

During President Uribe’s two terms in office, inequality in Colombia – measured by the Gini coefficient – held steady at 0.59,[7] which was the 2002 level when Uribe took office. That inequality did not change over his eight years shows how ineffective the government programmes in that period were. Yet the current administration is continuing those same programmes.[8]

One of the mainstays of economic growth during President Uribe’s tenure, which continues today, is a steady expansion of mining. Over the last ten years, the mineral extraction sector has greatly expanded, causing a corresponding shrinkage of investment in the agriculture sector.  Before 2001, between 80 and 100 mining authorizations were issued per year.  Since then, they have been issued at an average rate of more than 400 per year.[9] The severe negative effects that mining has on the soil and the reduced financial support for small peasant farmers have undermined small-scale agriculture throughout Colombia.

Biofuel production

A worrying aspect of the Government’s environmental policy is the link it proposes between environmental protection and the expansion of biofuels, an alternative energy source favoured by international capital and the Santos Government.  The Inter-American Development Bank has proposed biofuels as the best production and clean energy option for developing countries since they are presumed not to have a harmful impact on the environment.[10]  Washington has implemented a series of commercial strategies to encourage biofuel expansion in the hemisphere as a low-cost way to solve US energy problems without diverting part of its own agriculture resources from food production to biofuels.[11]  Concomitantly, in recent years the Colombian Government has increased its support for agro-industrial mono-cultivation, which is the mode of production of biofuels. The diversion of resources from small scale peasant farming to biofuels has caused the displacement of entire populations. [12]  
In the period from October 2005 to March 2006, five ethanol plants went into operation (Ingenio del Cauca, Providencia and Risaralda, Ardila Lulle, and Mayagüez and Manuelita). These plants produce 1,050,000 litres of ethanol per day, which represents 60% of the Colombian market’s needs.   The negative consequences were evident from the start.
Biofuel production requires large-scale mono-cultivation of sugar, maize, palm oil or soybean. First, this production system erodes the soil and exhausts its nutrients.[13] Second, water resources are compromised because the extraction and refining processes cause pollution. Third, less land is available for producing food, so food prices rise and food shortages among the poorest stratum of society are aggravated.[14]
The use of soybean and maize to produce bio-fuels is pushing up the prices of these products on the food market. Since the US started promoting ethanol as a fuel, the price of maize has soared to an all-time high. In 2007, the International Food Policy Research Institute issued a report that estimated international repercussions of this rising demand for biofuels: by 2020 the price of maize is expected to have risen by 41%; the prices of soya and sunflowers could increase by as much as 76%, and wheat could be 30% more expensive.[15]
Further, biofuels emit CO2 and produce greenhouse gases - though less, of course, than methane and those fuels which contain nitrogen and sulphur (NOx and SOx).[16] Moreover, the financial yield of such biofuels as palm oil is very delayed, with the return on the initial investment coming as long as five years after planting.  Consequently, biofuels often are profitable only for agricultural units of more than 50 hectares, which means that only medium and large landowners benefit from their production.

Discrimination against people of African descent

The expansion of biofuel production has also had a negative impact on people of African descent in Colombia. In proven cases, bio-fuel entrepreneurs with links to paramilitary groups have illegally expropriated the lands of these communities.  In places like Curbaradó, where people of African descent are a large majority of the population, some 29,000 hectares of their land have been annexed through paramilitary action, and today 7,000 of these stolen hectares are being used for palm oil production.[17]  
Racial discrimination against people of African descent has been a problem in Colombia for a very long time. These communities, which account for 26% of the total population, are living under markedly worse conditions than the rest of the country. For example, an estimated 72% of all people of African descent are in the lowest socioeconomic stratum.[18] The infant mortality rate is twice that of Colombia as a whole. As high as 79% of the municipalities in which Afro-Colombian people represent a majority are at the lowest economic and social development level with 85% of the population living in poverty.  This shocking percentage contrasts sharply with the other municipalities where at most 38% live in poverty.
People of African descent have less access to basic education, health services or good jobs and a lower level of participation in public life.[19] In May 2009 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported that although the Government has made an effort to combat violence in areas of Afro-Colombian settlement, law enforcement authorities have failed to solve most violent crimes, a situation that has led to the displacement of entire communities.[20]  
Recently some progress has been made towards rectifying this state of affairs.  In March 2011, more than 25,000 hectares of land were returned to communities in the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó River basins in the northeast of the country. That land had been expropriated for biofuel production by a paramilitary organization called Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, which was dissolved in 2006.  It was restored to its rightful owners as part of a Santos administration programme to return some 2.5 million hectares that had been taken over by paramilitary groups.[21]

[1] Government of Colombia, Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2010-2014, Prosperidad para Todos, (Bogota: 2010).

[2] Ibid., p. 423

[3] Colombia Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Informe sobre Colombia, (A/HRC/16/22), (February 2011), paragraph 99.

[4] R. Bonilla and J. I. González (coordinators), Bienestar y macroeconomía 2002-2006: el crecimiento inequitativo no es sostenible, (Bogotá: CID, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Contraloría General de la República, 2006), p. 23.

[5] Ibid., p. 424.

[6] Ibid., p. 463.

[7] Departamento Nacional de Planeación, Misión para el Empalme de las Series de Empleo, Pobreza y Desigualdad (MESEP) entrega series actualizadas al Gobierno Nacional, (24 August 2009), <www.dnp.gov.co>.

[8] “Familias en Acción va a seguir y se va a fortalecer,” El Universal, (Popayán: 5 March 2011), <www.eluniversal.com.co>.

[9] J. Houghton (ed.), La tierra contra la muerte. Conflictos territoriales en los pueblos indígenas, (Bogotá: Centro de Cooperación al Indígena, 2008).

[10] P. Álvarez Roa, “La política del Gobierno colombiano en la promoción de agrocombustibles”, (2008), <confraternizarhoy.blogspot.com/2010/08/estado-terrorista-en-colombia-para.html>.

[11] M. A. Valencia,  “Los agrocombustibles en Colombia: El modelo de Robin Hood al revés y los precios de los alimentos”, (2008), <mavalencia.blogspot.com/2008/03/los-agrocombustibles-en-colombia-el.html>.

[12] “Ley para sufrir menos por el dólar,” El tiempo, (24 July 2009), pp. 1-8.

[13] Ecoclimático, El monocultivo y sus consecuencias, (November 2008),  <www.ecoclimatico.com/archives/el-monocultivo-y-sus-consecuencias-822>.

[14] Movimiento Mundial por los Bosques Tropicales, Biocombustibles, un desastre en potencia, <www.wrm.org.uy/actores/CCC/Nairobi/Biocombustibles.html>.

[15] Greenpeace, Biocombustibles, <www.greenpeace.org.ar/biocombustibles/argentina/informacion.html>.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Revista Semana, Los usurpados del Choco,”  (no. 1402, 16 to 23 March 2009), p. 49.

[18] G. Romaña, Afrocolombianos en busca de leyes contra el racismo y la desigualdad, (November 2005), <www.revistafuturos.info/futuros14/afrocolombianos.htm>.

[19] Globedia, Padece población afrodescendiente de Colombia marginación, (15 May 2009), <uy.globedia.com/padece-poblacion-afrodescendiente-colombia-marginacion>.

[20] IACHR, (May 2009).

[21] Vanguardia.com, Restituyen más de 25 mil hectáreas a colombianos afrodescendientes, (19 March 2009), < www.vanguardia.com>.

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Great expectations, limited outcome

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Sustainable development in general seems to be widely accepted in the country. A more detailed look however shows that there is still some resistance. Climate change is not properly addressed, and renewable energy sources are still reliant on subsidies from the Government and consumers. Moreover, these subsidies are being reduced, particularly for solar power, while the operating life of nuclear plants is being extended. In addition, the budget item for economic compensation to countries affected by climate change has been deleted from the 2011 draft budget. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor is growing and social policies are not fully implemented.

Social Watch Germany
Uwe Kerkow

Sustainable development in general seems to be widely accepted in the country. A more detailed look however shows that there is still some foot-dragging and resistance. Climate change  is not properly addressed, and renewable energy sources are still reliant on subsidies from the Government and consumers. Moreover, these subsidies are being reduced, particularly for solar power, while the operating life of nuclear plants is being extended. In addition, the budget item for economic compensation to countries affected by climate change has been deleted from the 2011 draft budget. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor is growing and social policies are not fully implemented.

The concept of sustainability is now firmly embedded in German politics, science and research. The German Council for Sustainable Development’s primary tasks,[1] for example, are to contribute to the advancement of the National Sustainability Strategy,[2] to propose projects and fields of action, and to position sustainable development as a key issue of public concern. Also, a National Sustainability Strategy, adopted in 2002, contains numerous references to the social dimensions and implications of sustainability, but it has not been updated since it was adopted.
In 2009, the German Council for Sustainable Development conducted a Peer Review which arrived at a somewhat ambivalent conclusion about the implementation of the sustainability concept: “At the level of ideas the concept of sustainable development has been widely accepted in general terms. But when broken down to specific issues and at sectoral levels there appears to be much more reluctance, resistance and mistrust.”[3] It adds: “The biggest single potential mismatch between objectives for 2050 and the state we are in now lies in the field of climate change.”[4]
In the Coalition Agreement between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) a section on “Climate protection, energy and the environment” notes that policy is shaped by the principle of sustainability. It includes a target to “limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees centigrade” and “continuously expand the role of renewable energy,” while increasing “assistance to developing countries for combating climate change and coping with its consequences.”[5]
Sustainability in practice: the energy sector

The status of Germany’s sustainable development policy is most apparent in the field of energy policy. On one hand, German industry is a formidable player in the energy sector, notably in system design and construction; on the other, renewable energy sources are still reliant on subsidies from government and consumers.

The Parliament’s decision in late October 2010 to extend the operating life of nuclear power plants marked a radical break with previous energy policy.[6] In 2002, Parliament had voted to phase out the use of nuclear power over the long term, to limit the remaining operating life of existing plants to a maximum of 32 years, and to build no new plants. The 2010 decision extended the plants’ operating life by an average of 12 years,[7] and was implemented even though a solution for the final storage of nuclear waste is not in sight[8] and the majority of Germans have consistently opposed nuclear power for decades.[9]

At the same time, subsidies for renewable energy sources are being reduced, particularly for solar power,[10] despite firm evidence that their use reduces power generation costs.[11] The German Advisory Council on the Environment has concluded that a 100% renewable electricity supply is possible by 2050.[12] In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in early 2011, the Government shut down seven nuclear reactors and announced that it intends to speed up the nuclear phase-out.[13] But whether this will result in a genuine change of policy remains to be seen.

Sustainability in practice: the social dimension

A holistic sustainability strategy must also take into account the social dimension. The most significant social policy debate in Germany in 2010 followed a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court on 9 February 2010, which said that welfare benefits must be calculated “in a transparent and appropriate manner according to actual need, that is, in line with reality” and that “the assessment of benefits must be justifiable on the basis of reliable figures and plausible methods of calculation.” The judgement forced policy-makers to review the welfare benefits system.[14]

A study by Diakonie, the Protestant Church welfare organization, calculates that a 10-30% increase in welfare benefits is needed in order to comply with the Court’s ruling.[15] Instead, a decision was taken in February 2011 to increase benefits by around 1.5%, with a further increase of less than 1% planned for 2012.[16]

At the same time, the gap between rich and poor has widened. A 2010 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report[17] states: “the distribution of gross wages widened significantly after 1995” and “the share of jobless households has increased […] to 19%, the highest level across the OECD area.” It adds that social transfers “are less targeted to lower income groups than in other countries.”

Sustainability in practice: development policy

According to figures published by the OECD in early April 2011, German Official Development Assistance (ODA) increased slightly in 2010 – but not enough to bring it into line with the European Union’s timetable to raise ODA to 0.56% of gross national income (GNI).  In 2010, the country spent 0.38% of GNI on development assistance – and has therefore stalled at the 2008 level. What’s more, in 2009 it actually decreased to 0.35%. In absolute terms, the country has fallen from second (2008) to fourth place in the international ranking of donor countries and is trailing behind the United States, France and the United Kingdom, while its ODA spending of just 0.38% of GNI ranks it 13th out of 23 Western donor countries.[18]

The Government is not expected to substantially increase development spending. In fact, according to its medium-term financial planning, ODA spending will be cut by more than half a billion euros by 2015.[19]

Moreover, a change of strategy will change the allocation of funds, with bilateral development cooperation taking precedence over multilateral cooperation. There are also plans to cut budget support and reduce the number of partner countries from 58 to 50. However, the centrepiece of this conservative-liberal policy restructuring is the forging of closer links with the private sector. To that end, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) budget for “development partnerships with the private sector” has already been increased by 25% in 2010 to the present figure of 60 million euros.[20]

There are shortfalls in Germany’s climate change financing as well. According to non governmental organizations Terre des hommes and Welthungerhilfe, Germany should provide around 7.6 billion euros to the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the global South.[21] This would represent a more than threefold increase in official spending on global climate protection. In advance of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, the Government pledged to contribute EUR 420 million a year to the EU’sfast-start climate funding for developing countries of 2.4 billion euros a year for 2010-2012. Under the Copenhagen Accord, this should constitute “new and additional” funding. Germany has failed to honour this however, earmarking just 70 million euros in the 2010 budget. Moreover, this item has been deleted from the 2011 draft budget entirely.[22]

The unwillingness to make a substantive contribution to climate protection is epitomized by the Government’s refusal to contribute to Ecuador’s 2010 Yasuní Initiative[23] to “leave the oil in the soil” – that is, to refrain from tapping the oil reserves in the Yasuní National Park in the Amazon basin. In exchange, Ecuador is seeking compensation from the international community amounting to some USD 1.5 billion, equivalent to around 50% of the revenues forfeited as a result of the decision not to drill.[24]

Outlook

In response to the global economic and financial crisis and in advance of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, Germany’s sustainable development debate is steadily gaining momentum. In November 2010, Parliament established a Study Commission on Growth, Well-being and Quality of Life – Paths to Sustainable Economic Activity and Social Progress in the Social Market Economy. Its purpose is to “consider the role of growth in the economy and society, develop a holistic measure of wellbeing and progress, and explore the opportunities and limits for decoupling growth, resource consumption and technological progress.”[25] It remains to be seen whether this group of experts will provide significant impetus for the progress towards more sustainability that is so urgently required.

[1] See: <www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de>.

[2] Federal Government, Perspectives for Germany: Our Strategy for Sustainable Development, (2002), <www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de>.

[3] German Council for Sustainable Development, Peer Review on Sustainable Development Policies in Germany, (Berlin: 2009), p.15, <www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de>.

[4] Ibid., p. 21.

[5] Growth. Education. Unity. The coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and FDP for the 17th legislative period, p. 17, <www.cdu.de/en/doc/091215-koalitionsvertrag-2009-2013-englisch.pdf>.

[6] Federal Government, “Energy policy legislation,” (Berlin: 2010), <www.bundesregierung.de>.

[7] Ibid, <www.bundesregierung.de>, p.18.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Zeit Online, Schon wieder Ärger mit dem Volk, (2011), <www.zeit.de/2010/30/Atomausstieg>.

[10] Tagesschau.de, Solarförderung wird weiter gekürzt, (2011), <www.tagesschau.de/inland/solarkuerzung100.html>.

[11] Energie und Klima-News, Erneuerbare verbilligen den Strom, (2011), <www.heise.de/tp/blogs/2/149246>.

[12] German Advisory Council on the Environment, Wege zur 100 % erneuerbaren Stromversorgung
Kurzfassung für Entscheidungsträger,
(2011), <www.umweltrat.de>.

[13] Federal Government, Energiewende beschelunigen, (2011), <www.bundesregierung.de>.

[14] Diakonie, Sachgerechte Ermittlung des Existenzminimums, p.1, <www.diakonie-portal.de>.

[15] Ibid., p. 3.

[16] See Federal Government, Bildungspaket für Kinder, (2011), <www.bundesregierung.de>.

[17] OECD, Growing Unequal?, (2008), <www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/42/41527936.pdf; OECD, Country note Germany, (2008), <www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/27/41525386.pdf>.

[18] Terre des hommes, Trotz leichten Anstiegs verfehlt Deutschland erneut Entwicklungshilfeziel, (2011), <www.tdh.de>.

[19] Finance Ministry, Eckwertebeschluss zum Regierungsentwurf des Bundeshaushalts 2012 und zum Finanzplan 2011 bis 2015, (2011), <www.bundesfinanzministerium.de>.

[20] Terre des hommes, welt hunger hilfe, The Reality of Development Aid, (2010), p. 6, <www.tdh.de/content/materialien/download/download_wrapper.php?id=319>.

[21]21. Ibid., (2009), p. 34, <www.tdh.de>.

[22] Ibid.,(2010),  p. 23.

[23] Federal Government, Regierungspressekonferenz vom 17 September, (2010), <www.bundesregierung.de>, cf. <www.klimaretter.info/umwelt/hintergrund/6848-deutschland-kein-geld-fuer-yasuni>.

[24] See Amerika 21, (August 2010), <amerika21.de/meldung/2010/08/7430/itt-yasuni-vertrag>.

[25] Deutscher Bundestag, Enquete-Kommission "Wachstum, Wohlstand, Lebensqualität - Wege zu nachhaltigem Wirtschaften und gesellschaftlichem Fortschritt in der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft", (2011), <www.bundestag.de>.

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Growing social inequalities

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Over the past 20 years the country has seen significant changes in the areas of education, employment and social inequality. Poverty and social exclusion have caused the greatest tensions, but demographic trends, health issues and food security have also created challenges. The structure of poverty remains unchanged. Child poverty is severe; families with several children and, most notably, single parents tend to live in poverty. Among the Roma, who are particularly subject to discrimination and social exclusion, the risk of poverty has significantly increased as it has among the unemployed, the unskilled, and those living in rural areas.

ATTAC Hungary
Matyas Benyik[1]

Over the past 20 years the country has seen significant changes in the areas of education, employment and social inequality. Poverty and social exclusion have caused the greatest tensions, but demographic trends, health issues and food security have also created challenges. The structure of poverty remains unchanged. Child poverty is severe; families with several children and, most notably, single parents tend to live in poverty. Among the Roma, who are particularly subject to discrimination and social exclusion, the risk of poverty has significantly increased as it has among the unemployed, the unskilled, and those living in rural areas.

In 2008, while 17% of the European Union (EU) population were at risk of poverty. Hungary’s official poverty rate was only 12.4%[2].  Among certain groups, however, this figure has been much higher. For example, between 2005 and 2009 the poverty rate for the under-18 age group was 20%.  One in five children, one in three families with more than three children and nearly one in two unemployed people now live in poverty, as does every second Roma.[3] Also, poor people in Hungary are much poorer than those in other member states of the EU. Most national experts agree that about 14% of the country’s population lives below the subsistence level.[4].
Measured by living standards, income levels, health, education and access to public services, social inequalities have increased substantially. Most critically, the territorial concentration of poverty and segregation has also increased.  Almost 12% of the population live below the poverty line.[5] And among the Roma, – perhaps as much as 10% of Hungary’s population – living standards, housing conditions, health status, employment, and schooling are far below the national average.[6]  Their unemployment rate is three to five times higher while the number of people sustained by one wage earner is three times that in the non-Roma population.[7]

But even discounting the particular situation of the Roma, the Hungarian labour market’s main feature is the low rate of employment and workforce participation. For example, low employment in the 15-64 year old age group (55.4% in 2009) is accompanied by growing  unemployment (10.1% in 2009) with  an outstandingly high – though declining – ratio of economically inactive people (38.5% in 2009).[8]  The highest inactivity ratio is among young and elderly people. Population ageing, coupled with declining fertility rates, has led to an alarming drop in the economically active population, changing the shape of the country’s labour market.
Further, the structure of poverty has remained unchanged: families with several children and single parents tend to live in poverty, and child poverty is still very grave. The poorest economically active social groups are characterized by larger than average family sizes, disadvantages in terms of place of residence, family problems, difficulties in cohabiting and health and ethnic tensions. [9]

The Roma, still at the very bottom.

Modern genetic studies state that the origin of the Romanis traces back to the Indian subcontinent, possibly to the present territory of Rajasthan and that they migrated later to the Punjab region. A 2004 study concluded that all Romani share descendants of a group of people living approximately 40 generations ago.[22]Romani people were reported in Europe in the 14th century, living in Crete. They were called atsiganoi in Greek, which means “untouchable.” Within the next two centuries they had reached Germany, Sweden and the Iberian Peninsula.

Among the diverse subgroups of the Romani people in Europe are the Roma, concentrated in central and eastern Europe and central Italy; the Iberian Kale; the Finnish Kale; the Romanichal in the United Kingdom; the German Sinti and the French Manush.

During World War II, the Nazis and the Croatian Ustaše fascist group embarked on a systematic attempt to eliminate the Romanis, in a genocidal process called Porajmos in the Romani language. Romani people were defined as “enemies of the race-based state” by the Nuremberg Laws.[23] The total number of victims has been estimated as between 220,000 and 1,500,000.[24] Some people were killed on sight and others sentenced to forced labour and imprisonment in concentration camps; in Hungary 28,000 Romanies were killed.[25]

According to the 2001 Census, 190,000 people identify as Roma in Hungary, although some estimates give much higher numbers, near 10% of the total population.[26] The Hungarian Romani face multiple challenges compared to the rest of the population, including poverty, discrimination, lack of access to the educational system and higher unemployment rates. Currently, out of the 22  members of the European Parliament, only one is a Romani. However, there are a number of Roma organizations in Hungary, including the Roma Social Coalition and the Independent Interest Association of Roma.

Economy and environment

In the first half of the 1990s, the country’s Gross Domestic Product declined almost 20%.[10]  The GDP share of agriculture, industry, and construction decreased while that of the service sector increased dynamically. The decline in the productive sector and the expansion of services contributed to less utilization of natural resources and reduced air and water pollution.  In areas where mining and metallurgy were downsized or closed down, such as the Northeast, environmental pollution decreased as a result of less energy consumption.  In farming areas, the excessive use of environmentally dangerous chemicals slowed dramatically.  At the same time, energy efficiency improved, and environmental management systems and environmentally-friendly products have been spreading steadily.[11] 

In this back-handed way, the goal of separating economic growth from increasing environmental loads was seemingly accomplished. This result, however, was not owing to any environmental or economic policy. Rather, it came about as a by-product of spontaneous processes which followed the systemic change triggered by the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

During recent decades, structures of production and patterns of consumption in Hungary have changed greatly.  Inequalities between social groups have increased rapidly and, on the whole, several damaging environmental and lifestyle trends have been amplified.

Hungary’s consumption structure is becoming more similar to that of Western European countries. Yet growing household consumption hides contradictions. A steady expansion of per capita household consumption has been financed increasingly from bank loans denominated mainly in Swiss francs, leading to a growing indebtedness. While households have contributed to reducing the consumption of energy and water, they also contribute to motor vehicle traffic growth and to increasing waste output rates. Meanwhile the production and consumption of products and services meeting sustainability requirements, which began in the mid-1990s, have shown little progress to date.

Energy consumption declining

In the past 20 years, structural changes in the economy together with a rise in energy prices has resulted in energy consumption dropping by one fifth.[12]  The economy has shown an overall decrease in energy demand with energy consumption per unit of GDP  declining significantly. [13] The proportion of consumption by productive sectors specifically has decreased but there has been a concurrent increase in the proportion of household and communal consumers.[14]

Compared to 1989, the domestic output of energy sources has decreased by 35% with a modest increase in energy imports.  Energy imports historically have represented 50% of energy consumption.  By 2009, consumption of energy imports, however, had increased to 62% though electricity imports had declined significantly. [15] The proportion of domestic natural gas output showed a significant increase while coal experienced a sharp decrease. [16]

The past 20 years also have seen more use of solar and wind energy along with that of traditional renewables such as firewood and geothermal energy. The use of renewable energy sources  both in extraction and use has increased though  they represented only 3.6% of energy use in 2003 and 5.2% in 2005.[17]

Despite these positive trends, predatory privatization in certain sectors has increased the risk of environmental catastrophe. Such a calamity took place in October 2010 when a rupture in a wall of a privately owned waste sludge resevoir resulted in three settlements in Veszprém County being flooded by about 1 million cubic meters of toxic red sludge, burying 500 houses, killing nine people and injuring 150.[18] The health consequences of the catastrophe were serious and still have not been made fully public.

Food security is a challenge

Hungary only completed its National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) in 2007.[19] Integrating all domestic sectors, the NSDS is a coherent plan with sector strategies and programmes. Despite its coherence, however, the implementation of the social goals of sustainability raises serious concerns about its agriculture planning and food security.

Since 1990, Hungarian agriculture has experienced enormous changes as a result of fundamental alterations in the structure of ownership and production, the conditions of livestock production and the structure of food consumption and foreign trade. Consequently, a substantial part of farmed land (about 300,000 has.) has been taken out of production.[20]Multinational food processors and retailers now dominate the Hungarian market while small-scale, traditional family farmers are struggling with fragmented land ownership, lack of capital and few marketing skills. The price squeeze of food processors and big supermarket chains have provoked farmer mobilizations all over the country and have raised serious concerns about the origins and security of food.

Hungarians’ poor health

By international standards, Hungarians’ health is extremely poor, the result of historical, social, economic, and cultural factors, including people’s habits and general way of life. Alcoholism is widespread, and the number of drug users is growing fast. Life expectancy at birth is low though it has increased both among men and women.  In 1990, it was 65.1 years for men and 73.1 for women.  In 2008, it was 69.8 years among men and 77.8 years among women.[21]

The Hungarian population has had the third highest mortality rate in the EU, averaging 13.1 per thousand between 2005 and 2009. Hungary is second after the Baltic States with the highest rate of mortality caused by heart and cerebral blood-vessel diseases, malignant tumours and diseases of the digestive system. The lung cancer mortality rate is almost twice the EU average.

[1] President ot ATTAC Hungary

[2]   Eurostat, Living conditions in 2008: 17% of EU27 population at risk of poverty, Eurostat News Release, (18 January 2010), <epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu>.

[3]RT, Poverty pushes Roma into crime in Hungary, (12 July 2010), <rt.com/news/hungary-roma-crime-poverty>.

[4] IndexMundi, Hungary population below poverty line, (2011), <www.indexmundi.com/hungary/population_below_poverty_line.html>.

[5]Global Edge, ”Hungary statistics,” in Global Edge,Michigan State University, (2009), <globaledge.msu.edu/countries/hungary/statistics>.

[6]BBC News, Amnesty accuses Hungary of failing to protect Roma, (10 November 2010), <www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11725531>.  France 24, Making Room for Romas in Hungary’s Schools, (Agence France Presse, 6 April 201), <www.france24.com/en/20110406-making-room-roma-hungarys-schools#>

[7]Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Labour market stuation, 2009. Statistical reflection,Vol.4, no.9 (2 June 2010), <portal.ksh.hu/pls/ksh/docs/eng/xftp/stattukor/munkerohelyz/emunkerohelyz09.pdf>.

[8]Ibid.

[9]Ibid.

[10] Wikipedia, “Hungary’s economy since 1990”, in Economy of Hungary, (2011), <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Hungary#Hungary.27s_economy_since_1990>.

[11] Ibid.

[12]The Titi Tudorancea Bulletin, Hungary: total primary energy consumption, (2010), <www.tititudorancea.com/z/ies_hungary_total_primary_energy_consumption.htm>.

[13] The Titi Tudorance Bulletin, Hungary: Energy intensity – Total primary energy consumption per dollar GDP, (2010), <www.tititudorancea.com/z/ies_hungary_energy_intensity_consumption_per_gdp.htm>.

[14]Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Hungary 1989-2009, (Budapest: 2010), p. 49, <portal.ksh.hu/pls/ksh/docs/eng/xftp/idoszaki/mo/hungary1989_2009.pdf>.

[15] Trading Economics, Energy Imports; (% of energy use) in Hungary, (2009), <www.tradingeconomics.com>.

[16] Index Mundi, Hungary Dry Natural Gas Production by Year, (2009), <www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=hu&product=gas&graph=production>.

[17] Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Hungary 1989-2009, (Budapest: 2010), p. 49, <portal.ksh.hu/pls/ksh/docs/eng/xftp/idoszaki/mo/hungary1989_2009.pdf>.

[18]Ministry of Rural Development, Current Status Report about the Red Sludge Catastrophe, (Budapest: 9 November 2010), <www.vm.gov.hu>.

[19]Government of the Hungarian Republic, National Sustainable Developmen Strategy, (Budapest: June 2007), <www.ff3.hu/upload/NFFS_20070629_en1.doc>;  see also: Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Sustainable Developmen Indicators in Hungary, (Budapest: 2008), <mek.oszk.hu/07000/07002/07002.pdf>.

[20]G. Nagy, Country /Pasture Resource Profile-Hungary, (Rome:  FAO Website 2001 & 2006), <www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Counprof/Hungary/hungary.htm>.

[21]Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Hungary 1989-2009, (Budapest: 2010), p.94, <portal.ksh.hu/pls/ksh/docs/eng/xftp/idoszaki/mo/hungary1989_2009.pdf>.

[22]D.Angelicheva et al., Mutation History of theRoma/Gypsies (Perth, Australia: University of Western Australia, 2004), <lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:15322984>.

[23]J.Barsony, “Facts and Debates: The Roma Holocaust,” in J.Barsony and A.Daroczi (eds), Pharrajimos: The Fate of the Roma During the Holocaust (New York: International Debate Education Association, 2008), p.1.

[24]I.Hancock, “Romanies and the Holocaust: A Reevaluation and an Overview”, in D. Stone (ed), The historiography of the Holocaust,  (New York: Palgrave-Macmilan, 2004), <www.radoc.net>

[25]M.Verdofer, Unbekanntes Volk Sinti und Roma (Südtirol: Kennenlernen Informationsheft für Jugendische Gesellschaft für bedrohte1 Völker, 1995), <www.gfbv.it/3dossier/sinti-rom/de/rom-de.html#r5>.

[26]Romani World, Economics, (European Committee on Romani Emancipatio [ECRE], 2003), <www.romaniworld.com/ecoprt-1.htm>.

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Growth: a question of means, not ends

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The Government has put short-term economic growth at the centre of its policy priorities. Sustainable growth, however, requires public investments in human capital to ensure that short-term growth doesn’t come at the cost of long-term environmental devastation. The environment is already suffering degradation due to lack of policies, and currently, women’s and minorities’ rights are being eroded – violence against women varies across different groups and regions, and Aboriginal women are disproportionately subject to violence. Civil society organizations have presented a broad range of public policy alternatives that provide practical, sustainable means for achieving well-being for everyone living in the country.

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Kate McInturff
North-South Institute
John Foster
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Armine Yalnizyan

The Government has put short-term economic growth at the centre of its policy priorities. Sustainable growth, however, requires public investments in human capital to ensure that short-term growth doesn’t come at the cost of long-term environmental devastation. The environment is already suffering degradation due to lack of policies, and currently, women’s and minorities’ rights are being eroded – violence against women varies across different groups and regions, and Aboriginal women are disproportionately subject to violence.  Civil society organizations have presented a broad range of public policy alternatives that provide practical, sustainable means for achieving well-being for everyone living in the country. Those responsible for economic policy must face the human and environmental cost of their choices.

As Canada takes unsteady steps out of recession, President Stephen Harper’s Government continues to institute neo-liberal economic policies, including lowering tax rates, decreasing the deficit, and investing in physical infrastructure projects. Even within a neo-liberal framework, the results have been mixed. Job creation has not kept pace with the growth in the working population, nor has there been significant growth in permanent employment.[1] Personal income tax cuts and credits have disproportionately been extended to high-income earners, delivering the most financial support to those who need it least. The decline in corporate tax rates has not yielded increased investments in equipment and infrastructure.[2] As spending on social programmes falls behind the rate of inflation, spending on the military and the prison system is set to increase significantly, in spite of a largely static crime rate and the scheduled drawdown of Canada’s major military engagement in Afghanistan.

The Harper Government has put short-term economic growth at the centre of its public policy priorities. Any growth is deemed good growth. However, sustainable growth requires public investments in human capital development – from childcare to life-long-learning; it requires investments in research and policy development; it requires proactive public measures to ensure that short-term growth doesn’t come at the cost of long-term environmental devastation. Civil society organizations in Canada have come together to present a broad range of public policy alternatives, recognizing the constraints of the economic crisis and offering practical, sustainable means for achieving well-being for everyone living in Canada. Examples include: the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s annual Alternative Federal Budget project, which draws on a wide body of expertise in order to provide cost effective policy alternatives for public expenditure; the formation of a broad coalition of organizations called Voices, to document the diminished space for democratic debate in Canada and to provide new forums for that debate; the Canadian Council for International Development’s call for a “new deal” between the Government and civil society organizations;[3] and the collaboration of scholars and women’s organizations to provide a gendered analysis of public spending priorities.[4] In spite of evidence that organizations with a strong public policy advocacy agenda risk losing their federal funding, Canadian civil society continues to produce critical and innovative public policy that puts human and environmental well-being at the centre of their models of progress.

Inequality

As a result of tax cuts, the Government will have lost CAD 96.6 billion (USD 97.9 billion) in revenue between 2008 and 2011.[5] As the economic stimulus spending programme wraps up, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives projects a USD 3.8 billion decline in federal programme spending in 2011-2012, “the second biggest spending decline (in US dollars) since the 1950s.”[6] This will likely continue a pattern of federal spending cuts on social programmes that began in the mid 1990s.[7] The Government’s economic policy has had a significant impact on people’s well-being. Social assistance rates have remained virtually unchanged across most of Canada. Most social assistance incomes in the country remain well below the low income cut-off rate. While the overall poverty rate is 9%, poverty still disproportionately affects women, Aboriginal peoples, and people with disabilities. For example, one in three Aboriginal and racialized people in Canada live in poverty. One in four people with disabilities, immigrants, and female single-parents in Canada live in poverty. Across all categories rates of poverty are higher for women than for men.

Access to services is highly uneven- with those most affected by the economic crisis often receiving the least benefit from national economic policies. For example, in the education sector, access to primary education is counted among Canada’s achievements, yet many children on First Nations reserves do not have access to safe schools.[8] First Nations children are over-represented within the child welfare system and are far more likely to be affected by poverty and inadequate housing. However, First Nations students attending federally-funded schools on reserves receive USD 2,000 less per student per year than do students in the rest of Canada.[9]

Women’s eroding rights

Economists have demonstrated that women are typically the shock absorbers in situations of economic crisis, as they take on greater burdens of unpaid work and experience their status in the formal sector become more precarious.[10] Women in Canada have been among the first to return to a post-recession labour force, but this early re-entry does not translate into increased well-being or increased economic stability, since returning women workers are more likely to be engaged in part-time and unpaid work.[11]  Moreover, they continue to suffer from one of the largest gender wage gaps amongst OECD countries.[12]
Low wages and temporary employment result in fewer women than men qualifying for employment insurance or tax credits. Working mothers face additional challenges. Two-thirds of all mothers with children under the age of six do paid work.[13]  However, the Government cancelled a national childcare plan that would provide increased access for all working parents to safe, affordable childcare.  For women who are not part of the paid workforce, the erosion of rights has been particularly acute, especially for those most likely to rely on welfare, including single mothers and Aboriginal women. Welfare incomes are so low that the Chair of the National Council of Welfare recently called them “shameful and morally unsustainable in a rich country.”[14]

Violence against women in Canada varies significantly across different groups and regions, with Aboriginal women being disproportionately subject to violence. More than 500 Aboriginal women in Canada have gone missing or been murdered over the last 40 years.[15] Women living in remote communities in the North also experience higher rates of violence than their counterparts in urban and southern regions of Canada and have far less access to support services.[16] With such high levels of gender-based violence, it is not surprising that there is increased support amongst women for policies that address violent crime. However the current Government’s “Truth in Sentencing Act” appears to address a problem that isn’t there, since sentencing rates have changed little over the past decade.[17] The legislation will impact the economy more than sentencing practices. The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates that the Truth in Sentencing Act will double the cost of the penal system over five years – to CAD 9.5 billion – and will require an additional USD 1.8 billion for the cost of constructing new prisons.[18] 

In comparison to spending on social programmes, spending on the security sector is set to increase significantly. The Government’s own estimates indicate military spending will total USD 22 billion in 2010-2011.[19] However, the estimates attached to spending on military equipment and new ‘tough on crime’ legislation has been highly contested. For example, estimates for the cost of the recently purchased F-35 fighter jets range from USD 9 billion, according to the Department of National Defence,[20] to USD 29 billion, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.[21]

Although Canada has committed to doubling its spending on development assistance in absolute dollars, the Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a percentage of GNI has remained static since 2005 at 0.3%.[22] The Canadian Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (2008) requires that Canadian development assistance “contribut[e] to poverty reduction, tak[e] into account the perspectives of the poor and [be] consistent with international human rights standards.”[23] Many civil society organizations see the Act as a very promising mechanism for integrating human rights concerns into international development policy and programming. However, a report from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a civil society coalition, suggests that there has been little or no Government implementation of the Act.[24]

“Equality between women and men” and “environmental sustainability” remain cross-cutting themes for the Canadian International Development Agency; however, political, human and financial resources are being withdrawn from those objectives. The term “gender equality” has largely disappeared from official Government statements and policy documents.[25] Funding committed to gender equality-specific programming remains less than 2% of Canadian ODA.[26] At the 2010 meeting of the G8, the Harper Government committed 1.1 billion Canadian dollars in new spending for maternal and child health programmes in poor countries. Civil society organizations welcomed this commitment, but many criticized the decision not to fund abortion services under the initiative, even where such services are already legal in the country where the project would be implemented.

Environmental degradation

Canada’s record on environmental sustainability brought criticism from other countries during the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and earned it the ‘fossil of the year’ award from environmental organizations. Since Copenhagen, Canada has actually lowered its emissions targets for 2020,[27] while its own greenhouse gas emissions are rising. Those living in northern Canada have seen a significant impact on their environment and their well-being. According to a 2011 report by the Penumbra Institute: “Canada’s Arctic has already experienced a warming of more than 1.7°C and an increase of 4 or 5°C is projected.”[28] Inuit communities report the decline in access to their traditional sources of food and an overall degradation of their environment and well-being.[29] This degradation is further exacerbated in northern and rural regions by the mining and extractive industries. For example, residents of Baker Lake have documented the negative effects of expanding uranium mining activities on their community. Although water quality remains good across Canada, over 100 First Nations’ communities continue to live with inadequate access to safe drinking water.

Canada’s mining industry has a strong presence internationally as well as domestically. Canadian-based companies make up over 40% of the world’s extractive industry. Although Canadian civil society is playing a leading role in monitoring the industry through initiatives such as Publish What You Pay, the Kimberly Process and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Regional Certification Mechanism for conflict minerals, Canada has not yet agreed to adopt consumer protection regulations or to comply with the guidelines set by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Economic stability, a question of means

The economic crisis has pushed civil society to renew its engagement with economic policy debates. Governmental and non-governmental actors alike are grappling with the question of how to achieve their goals within a constrained fiscal environment. But the question of how best to stimulate economic growth and ensure economic stability is a question of means, not ends. Ultimately, the focus must remain on the society being built by that growth. Just as social justice organizations have had to grapple with the economic implications of their goals, those responsible for economic policy must face the human and environmental cost of their choices.

[1] Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Alternative Federal Budget: 2011, (Ottawa: 2011), p. 11.

[2] K.Howlett, “Corporate Tax Cuts Don't Spur Growth, Analysis Reveals as Election Pledges Fly,” The Globe and Mail, (6 April 2011), <www.theglobeandmail.com>.

[3] <www.ccic.ca>.

[4] <www.fafia-afai.org>.

[5] Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,  op cit., p.16, “Figure 9: Cost of Tax Cuts Since 2006.”

[6] Ibid, p. 15.

[7] See Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, Canada’s Commitment to Equality: A Gender Analysis of the Last Ten Federal Budgets (1995-2004), (Ottawa: 2005).

[8] A. Rajekar and R. Mathilakath, The Funding Requirement for First Nations Schools in Canada, Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, (2009), <www.parl.gc.ca/PBO-DPB/documents/INAC_Final_EN.pdf>.

[9] M. Mendelson, Why We Need a First Nations Education Act, Caledon Institute of Social Policy, (Ottawa: 2009),  <www.caledoninst.org/Publications/PDF/820ENG.pdf>.

[10] C. Sweetman and R. King, Gender Perspectives on the Global Economic Crisis, (Oxfam International Discussion Paper, 2010).

[11] Statistics Canada, Women in Canada: Work Chapter Update, (Ottawa: 2007).

[12] OECD, Gender Pay Gaps For Full-Time Workers And Earnings Differentials By Educational Attainment, (2010), <www.oecd.org/dataoecd/29/63/38752746.pdf>.

[13] Statistics Canada, “Paid Work,” in Women in Canada, op cit.

[14] National Council of Welfare, Staggering Losses in Welfare Incomes, (Ottawa: 2006), <ncwcnbes.net>.

[15] Native Women’s Association of Canada, Voices of Our Sisters In Spirit: A Report to Families and Communities, (Ottawa: 2009).

[16]  Statistics Canada, Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006, (Ottawa: 2006).

[17] K. MacQueen, “Is Canada Tough On Crime Or Doing Just Fine?”Macleans Magazine, 7 (September 2010), <www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/07/jailhouse-nation/>.

[18] Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, “The Funding Requirement and Impact of the “Truth in Sentencing Act” on the Correctional System in Canada,” (Ottawa:  2010), <www2.parl.gc.ca/sites/pbo-dpb/documents/TISA_C-25.pdf>.

[19] Department of National Defence, National Defence 2010–2011 Report on Plans and Priorities: Part III Estimates, (Ottawa: 2010), <www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2010-2011/inst/dnd/dnd-eng.pdf>.

[20] Ibid.; Arriving at Canada’s Costs for the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing Variant Joint Strike Fighter,  (Ottawa: 2011), <www.forces.gc.ca/site/pri/2/pro-pro/ngfc-fs-ft/arriving-estimation-eng.asp>.

[21] K. Page,  An Estimate of the Fiscal Impact of Canada’s Proposed Acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, (March 2011), <www.parl.gc.ca>.

[22] Canadian International Development Agency, Statistical Report on International Assistance: Fiscal Year 2009–2010, (Ottawa: 2011).

[23] Ministry of Justice, Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, Ottawa, 2008. Available from: <laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/O-2.8/index.html>.

[24] Canadian Council for International Co-operation, A Time to Act – Implementing the ODA Accountability Act: A Canadian CSO Agenda for Aid Reform, (Ottawa: 2010).

[25] Canadian Labour Congress and FAFIA, Reality Check: Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen Years On: A Canadian Civil Society Response,  (Ottawa: 2010); M.Collins, “Gender Equality", "Child Soldiers" and "Humanitarian Law" are Axed from Foreign Policy Language,”  Embassy Magazine,  (29 July 2009), <www.embassymag.ca/page/view/foreignpolicy-7-29-2009>.

[26] CSO Working Group on Women’s Rights, Strengthening Canada’s International Leadership in the Promotion of Gender Equality: A Civil Society Response to the Evaluation of the Implementation of CIDA’s 1999 Policy on Gender Equality, (Ottawa, 2009), Chart 1: Gender Equality Trends, Percentage of CIDA ODA.

[27] Environment Canada, “Canada Lists Emissions Target Under the Copenhagen Accord,” (Calgary, Alberta: 1 February 2010), <www.ec.gc.ca>.

[28] A. Morgan, Canadian Index of Well-being Environment Report, (Waterloo, Ontario: 2011), <ciw.ca/Libraries/Documents/Environment_Full_Report_EN.sflb.ashx>.

[29] S. Nickels, et al., Unikkaaqatigiit – Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada,  Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments at Université Laval and the Ajunnginiq Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization, (Ottawa: 2005).

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Human and social capacities should be the priority

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
After 18 years of economic liberalization, the country faces pressing economic, social and environmental challenges, such as increasing vulnerability to natural disasters and lack of an appropiate irrigation system. The Government fails to protect the rights of the country’s indigenous peoples, who are facing corporate takeover in the name of development. In order to sustain rapid economic growth, to provide jobs and to reduce poverty levels, Cambodia needs to diversify its economy but, prior to that, it must invest in human capital. Promoting economic development without taking basic steps to strengthen internal social and human capacity will condemn the country to a widening gap between rich and poor.

SILAKA
Thida Khus

After 18 years of economic liberalization, the country faces pressing economic, social and environmental challenges, such as increasing vulnerability to natural disasters and lack of an appropiate irrigation system.The Government fails to protect the rights of the country’s indigenous peoples, who are facing corporate takeover in the name of development.  In order to sustain rapid economic growth, to provide jobs and to reduce poverty levels, Cambodia needs to diversify its economy but, prior to that, it must invest in human capital. Promoting economic development without taking basic steps to strengthen internal social and human capacity will condemn the country to a widening gap between rich and poor.

After two decades of civil war and following the 1993 election sponsored by the United Nations, Cambodia has joined the world economy. Since then, the country has joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2009. The country has also embraced a structural adjustment process which encompasses the privatization of State businesses and services; after 18 years of economic liberalization, Cambodia has seen some prosperity mostly due to the adoption of new and modern infrastructure. However, questions remain to be asked whether the development models applied are in fact sustainable and if they could lead to narrowing the gap between rich and poor Cambodians.

The country’s GDP growth reached peaked at 13.4% in 2007, and then dropped to 7.2% in 2008, climbed to 10.1% in 2009 and reached its nadir in 2010, with -1.5%.[1] The key growing industries have been tourism, garment manufacturing, and construction, but all these sectors have been heavily hit during the recent economic and financial crisis.  

Also, the benefits of growth do not extend to all. For instance, in 2010 nearly 4,000 tourists visited Angkor Wat per day, bringing about USD 4.5 million per month in revenue.[2] However, this benefit has not reached the poor; even though Cambodia’s tourism industry has created 10,000 jobs, a large portion of its profits do not filter down to local communities. Six to 10% of Siemreap City’s population of 173,000, for example, earn no more than USD 2.5 a day, according to 2010 statistics from the Ministry of Planning.[3] Last year, 289,702 tourists came from South Korea and 177,000 from China, but that was of little help to the local economy. [4]  According to the Cambodia Daily newspaper, “they (South Korean and Chinese tourists) fly on their own carriers, sleep in pre-booked hotels and eat in restaurants that serve their own national dishes.”[5]

Environmental and economic vulnerability

Cambodia is especially vulnerable to extreme weather and economic downturns, since it lacks a proper social safety net. A study conducted by the Cambodian Economic Association on several poor communities in targeted villages made apparent that there has been an increased vulnerablity to food insecurity among the rural poor.[6]

The strategies adopted by poor communities to cope with their decreasing income are tremendously harmful to their human dignity and well-being. For example, 55% of Cambodians in this situation tend to reduce the amount of food consumed; this is more common among the female population, since 64% of mothers and girls are reducing their food intake in order to leave more to the other members of the family.[7] If we also consider the quality, as well as the amount of food consumed per family member, then 75% of the people of the targeted villages are seriously jeopardizing their nutrition, health and quality of life.

Mining

Management of the mining industry has also been a matter of concern recently, not only because it has a heavy impact on the environment but also because it exemplifies the Government’s economic and social mismanagement. A copper mine in the Kvav Commune (Siemreap province), for example, was almost fully operative while little was known about it by the neighbouring villagers. According to an article in The Cambodia Daily, “An official said the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Chinese business are behind the mining. It is kept under a blanket of secrecy. The agreement was signed by the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy and the Chinese building corporation Nim Meng Group, stating that the data of the exploration, the feasibility study and the mining operation were all confidential.”[8]

The agreement granted 80 km2 for both extraction (6 yrs) and exploration (up to 30 yrs). A patronage system has existed between RCAF and the business community since 2008, and this has become the official policy. The militarization of the Cambodian mines is now emerging, and reporters were escorted out of the compound of the mining site in Siemreap. The company said that they will build an irrigation system for the rice field and roads for the village, but six neighbouring villages have already filed claims that the company has encroached on their land.
Challenges in agriculture

In order to support the agricultural sector, the Government has to improve public services to support farmers. The irrigation scheme – that serves about a third of the country’s farmland – is mostly falling apart as local management fails to address its maintenance.[9] Furthermore,  Japan’s International Cooperation Agency study stated during a recent seminar in Phnom Penh that only 1 million hectares of farm land were served by irrigation in 2009; now, plans are underway to increase the irrigation area by 25,000 hectares annually.

Budget allocations to agriculture have been minimal, even though it is considered a priority. Between 2005 and 2009, allocations to the sector have been 1.5% to 2.5% of the total budget.[10]

Plundering sacred land

The Suy people are one of the country’s smallest indigenous groups. Almost 900 Suy live in five villages in Treapang Chor commune, O Ral District, settled around the Mount O Ral Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1997. This sanctuary includes their agricultural lands and customary-use forest and is traditionally considered the home of the Suy goddess Yeay Te.[11] In 2009 the Government awarded several concessions over 10,000 hectares[12] on the slope of Mount O Ral for corn plantations and tourism, without seeking permission from the local population, including the Suy, who immediately protested, asserting their right over their lands and resources.[13] Corn planting began nevertheless in June 2009. Nine months later the Government handed back 6,000 hectares to the Suy, but as the non-indigenous population did not get any of their lands back, it was feared that they might try and settle the matter violently in the Suy area.[14]

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Almost all indigenous communities in Cambodia are facing serious land problems largely associated with corporate takeover in the name of development. The Government continues to ignore its own laws on the legal recognition of communal land and reserves, and fails to protect the rights of the country’s indigenous peoples. It also violates international human rights obligations under the International Convention against Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[15]

Economic development and diversification
Cambodia’s economy is dependent on a narrow range of sectors, such as rice-based agriculture, garments, tourism and construction. [16] The 2008 global crisis made apparent the vulnerability of Cambodia’s limited economy, and many experts agreed on the need to diversify it.  Rice remains the leading crop, and although pepper, palm sugar, cashew nuts and rubber are offering interesting prospects, the majority of farmers still depend almost solely on rice production. The garment sector has experienced steady growth, and is now a major industrial employer, especially for women. Yet it is keenly sensitive to international demand; in fact, it was very hard hit by falling demand from the US and the European Union during the crisis.[17]
It is clear that in order to sustain rapid economic growth, provide jobs and reduce poverty, Cambodia needs to diversify its economy, but this is not an easy task. To do so, the country needs to increase its competitiveness in the region, as well as acquire greater technology and know-how. This implies major efforts in terms of human resources, natural resource management and structural reforms. The search for diversification should also take into account the potential of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across the country. These enterprises, along with farming, could be the true engines of economic growth, and should be included in any diversification strategy that aims to achieve sustainable development, better food security and decreased poverty.

Civil society organizations (CSOs)

Cambodian civil society has faced many challenges in the past few years, among them laws specifically designed to jeopardize their freedom of operation. The first is the Anti- Corruption Law, which requires reports of corruption cases to supply extensive evidence and sources.  The other piece of legislation that will hit organizations directly is one regarding CSO registration, which demands that all members of a CSO register before starting any activity and requires all CSOs to file annual activities and financial reports to the Government. This will greatly restrict citizen initiatives and will mostly hit community organizations. Villagers and indigenous groups (such as the Suy and Pnong people) will not be able to act until they are registered.

This legislation has been seen as a threat to human rights and democracy, as it gives the Government carte blanche to close down organizations without any legislative proceedings.

The promising aspect of decentralization is that the Government has begun to introduce the second phase, giving local authorities responsibility for assessing democratic development.

Conclusions

Cambodia needs to take control of its own resources and improve their management in order to foster sustainable development. Promoting economic development without taking basic steps to strengthen internal social and human capacity will only condemn the country to a widening gap between the rich and the poor. 

 

[1] Index Mundi, Cambodia GDP – real growth rate, (2011), <www.indexmundi.com/cambodia/gdp_real_growth_rate.html>.

[2] Khmer News, “Angkor Wat revenues rise on Chinese flights,” (2010), <khmerweekly.com>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] English People Daily Online, “Cambodia sees Chinese visitors as potential boost to tourism,” (15 January 2011), <english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90851/7261729.html>.

[5] The Cambodia Daily, (24 Februrary, 2011).

[6] “The Impact of Economic Downturn on Households and Communities in Cambodia,” CEA, (May 2010).

[7] Ibid.

[8] The Cambodia Daily, (1 March 2011).

[9] The Cambodia Daily, 26, (27 February 2011).

[10] Ngo Sothath and Chan Sophal, Agriculture Sector Financing and Services for Smallholder Farmers, (Cambodia, NGO Forum, Action Aid Cambodia, September 2010), <www.ngoforum.org.kh>.

[11] OMCT Action File, Cambodia: Suy Indigenous Peoples at Risk of Extinction, (2010), <www.omct.org/files/2010/03/6139/cambodia_action_file_.pdf>.

[12] Indigenous People Land and Resources, Ethnocide – Cambodia’s indigenous people under attack, (1 March 2010), <indigenouspeoplesissues.com>.

[17] Ibid.

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Ill-founded growth leads to environmental disaster

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The lack of long-term planning that has characterized India’s governments is seen clearly in its demographic growth and increasing CO2 emissions. The recently proposed “missions” (or sustainable development initiatives) are not only insufficient but their effectiveness, however minimal, remains uncertain. Recent amendments to the heavily criticized 1894 Land Acquisition Act are unclear and fail to address the problems in the legislation. The Government must fully support renewable energy sources and integrate climate risk management in development planning. If it does not, all future scenarios for the country will be murky.

Social Watch India
Himanshu Jha

The lack of long-term planning that has characterized India’s governments is seen clearly in its demographic growth and increasing CO2 emissions. The recently proposed “missions” (or sustainable development initiatives) are not only insufficient but their effectiveness, however minimal, remains uncertain. Recent amendments to the heavily criticized 1894 Land Acquisition Act are unclear and fail to address the problems in the legislation. The Government must fully support renewable energy sources and integrate climate risk management in development planning. If it does not, all future scenarios for the country will be murky.

India faces several social challenges, such as inequitable economic growth, poor natural resource management, the exclusion of the majority of the population from decision making and from access to basic services, unabated environmental degradation and failure of institutions to sufficiently integrate environmental and social development considerations into economic policy objectives. Over the last decade it has been hit by a series of natural disasters that have severely damaged the economy and depleted natural resources, threatening the livelihoods of millions. Currently, 77% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The country is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, including cyclones and annual monsoon floods. If we add poor resource management, inadequate infrastructure and unsustainable practices, the country’s future looks bleak. Global warming has already had an impact: increasing cyclonic activity, rising sea levels and ambient temperature and precipitation changes are being reported and will worsen in the near future. Rising temperatures in particular will change the ice and snow patterns of the Himalayas, which will have a huge impact on the region’s ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as on the livelihoods of millions of people.

It is estimated that the country’s population will increase to about 1.2 billion by 2016,[1] putting enormous pressure on natural resources, so water shortages, soil exhaustion and erosion, deforestation and water and air pollution are expected.

The missions

Climate change is due largely to the unsustainable consumption patterns of rich industrialized nations, which are responsible for more than 70% of total global CO2 emissions and consume 75-80% of the world’s resources, while containing only 25% of the global population. Whereas an Indian citizen emits an equivalent of less than 2 tons of carbon per year, a citizen of the USA emits an equivalent of more than 20 tons.[2] Yet despite its relative poverty, India’s economy is already affecting the climate. In 2008 India was the world’s fourth-largest emitter of CO2.[3]

The Government has proposed a National Action Plan to curb CO2 emissions, and is also outlining the ‘Missions’ programme, a set of sustainable development strategies to serve as the country’s domestic climate legislation in the immediate future. Yet, these policies are driven more by adaptation imperatives and unsustainable development models than by a realistic and appropriate approach to environmental sustainability. In fact, India, along with the G77 and China, expects the developed world to agree to a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions for 2020, so that developing countries get the appropriate “atmospheric space” required to develop.[4]

The projected missions include a National Solar Mission (to generate 20,000 MW of solar power in 2020), a National Mission for Sustainable Habitat (focused on energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings, and on improved solid waste management), a National Water Mission (to improve water management and river conservation), a National Mission for a Green India (focused on reforestation), and a National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture.

The first to be launched was the solar mission; the others have been approved but not yet implemented, and draft mission documents are prepared for all of them. However, it is still not clear if the Government will propose these as its main strategy for reducing the country’s CO2 emissions. The Minister of Environment and Forests has already claimed that India will enact a mandatory fuel efficiency standard by 2011 and aspires to have 20% of its electricity supplied by renewable energy by 2020. The Government also aims to reduce the country’s energy intensity by 15-20% within the next 20 years and increase the area under forest or tree cover by 15%, for carbon sequestration. This will result in more than a 9% deviation compare to the business-as-usual scenario, as calculated by local NGOs.[5]

BOX: The issue of land acquisition
Land acquisition by the State has become a major issue. The Government has taken some 147 million hectares of agricultural land for urban development, and 2.81 million hectares are no longer fertile due to industrialization and urbanization. The Ministry of Commerce has taken over 200,000 acres for development projects, while development projects have displaced up to 21 million people.

The 1894 Land Acquisition Act, enacted during the colonial period, remains the primary legislation in operation. It allows the Government to acquire private land for public purposes, including residential facilities for poor people and those affected by natural disasters, but economic compensation was based on estimated agricultural land values, and has gradually depreciated, making it extremely difficult for the former owners to acquire new land.

The Land Acquisition Act has been criticized by scores of activists, politicians and economists. An amendment was introduced in 2007, accompanied by a Rehabitation and Resettlement Bill, but both had failed to be implemented by 2009, so they were reframed and finally reintroduced – by the Government’s National Advisory Council – in May 2011. This amendment redefined the concept of “public purpose” as being either for defensive purposes or for any project which is “useful for the general public”; however, the definition of “public purpose” remains unclear.

The impact of large-scale infrastructure projects

There is dire need to reconceptualize large-scale infrastructure projects within a sustainable development framework, and to look at the existing policy and regulatory framework for such projects. “From the standpoint of defining a sustainable low carbon trajectory of economic development, it is important not to see large scale infrastructure projects restrictively as something to be contained for the benefit of the environment and the society.”[6] Among the current policy initiatives are the National Action Plan on Climate Change and National Appropriate Mitigation Action Plan for low carbon energy, the 2003 Electricity Act, the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, the 1981 Air Act for emission regulation and the National Green Tribunal Act, to name a few.

Despite the existing regulatory framework legal challenges to pollution issues have been weak. As a 2002 Planning Commission evaluation of the State’s Pollution Control Boards stated: “Non installation of abatement mechanisms by the polluting units is a direct consequence of the absence of any effective punitive and deterrent mechanism in case of non-compliance.”

Another study notes that most of India’s Environmental Acts and Rules are procedural and lack clear policy guidelines. Their approach to pollution focuses on prevention rather than enforcement of existing legislation.[7] Moreover, in most cases infrastructure projects are handled through non-judicial processes and are increasingly resolved by contracts and legislative or executive means. A review of India’s National Highway Authority projects found that contractors do not integrate environment management into their plans, and also that there is almost no voluntary adoption of good environmental management practices. [8]

Water supply and sanitation

Despite the efforts made by the Government, water supply and sanitation remains inadequate. In 2008, only 54% of the urban population had access to sanitation services including connection to a public sewer and to a septic system, and pour-flush latrines and ventilated pit latrines, while in rural areas the number dropes to an alarming 21%.[9]

Institutions in charge of operating and maintaining the water supply and sanitation infrastructure are often seen as inefficient, and in most cases lack needed financial resources. Even so, the situation is gradually improving: in 1980, the rural population’s rate of access to sanitation services was estimated at 1%, and grew to the above-mentioned 21% in 2008.

Pollution in the Ganges and illegal mining

The River Ganges, considered holy by Hindus, is heavily polluted, filled with chemical wastes, sewage waters and human and animal remains. One of the causes of this is illegal mining, specially in the Haridwar district, where most of the illegal stone crushing and mining operations are located, plundering the river bed and polluting its waters with debris and chemical waste. Mining for sand and stone (mostly for construction purposes) has increased the risk of flooding and caused severe deforestation.[10] Illegal mining has generated controversy throughout the country. Some of these cases (e.g., the mining concession in Andhra Pradesh) involve members of the Government.[11]

Recommendations

The threats to sustainable development make it urgent that the Government take the following steps:

  • Make a detailed assessment of state-level energy efficiency potential to support the efforts of Central Government;
  • Support renewable energy through tax holidays, subsidies, better market conditions, soft loans from financial institutions, etc.;
  • Integrate climate risk management into existing national development plans;
  • Establish a multi-donor coordinating committee in order to facilitate climate actions on mitigation and adaptation;
  • Make scientific climate information available and accessible to communities, in order to inform their analysis, and support the identification of sustainable solutions, while ensuring that Effective Disaster Risk Reduction remains based on local knowledge, and built upon local level participatory analysis of vulnerabilities and capacities.
[1] Wikipedia, Environmental issues in India, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_India>.

[2] See: Citizens Report on Governance and Development 2010, (Sage Publications, 2010), <socialwatchindia.net/publications/citizens-report/citizens-report-on-governance-and-development-2010-executive-summary>.

[3] Wikipedia, List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions>.

[4] Citizens Report on Governance and Development, op.cit.

[5] Ibid.

[6] V. Upadhyay, Infrastructure Regulation For the Low Carbon Economy: Survey of Key Issues and Concerns, India Infrastructure Report, <www.idfc.com/pdf/report/Chapter-1.pdf>.

[7] K. Priyadarshini and G. K . Omprakash, “Compliance to Environmental regulations: The Indian Context,” International Journal of Business and Economics, Vol.2, No.1 (2003):  9-26

[8] Videh, op.cit.

[9] Wikipedia, Water supply and sanitation in India, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_India#cite_note-JMP-0>.

[10] NDTV Exposing the illegal mining in Haridwar, (16 June 2011), <www.ndtv.com/article/india/exposing-the-illegal-mining-in-haridwar-112580>.

[11] Wikipedia, Illegal mining in India, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_mining_in_India>.

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Inequality is the biggest obstacle

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The Dominican Republic is fraught with numerous problems including violence against women and against immigrants from Haiti, the degradation of the environment, and principally inequalities in the education system, all of which make it most unlikely that the Government will be able to bring about sustainable human or economic development in the middle term. There has been progress in some areas, but the country urgently needs more far-reaching social policies that are genuinely geared to the changes needed to ensure a decent future. The country will almost certainly not be able to achieve sustainable development unless the education system is drastically changed to make it more democratic.

FEI
Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones
Red Nacional de Emergencia
ADIMJO
FEDOCOMIN
MOSCTHA 
William Charpantier
Ruth Paniagua
Luisa María José
Fernando Valdez

The Dominican Republic is fraught with numerous problems including violence against women and against immigrants from Haiti, the degradation of the environment, and principally inequalities in the education system, all of which make it most unlikely that the Government will be able to bring about sustainable human or economic development in the middle term. There has been progress in some areas, but the country urgently needs more far-reaching social policies that are genuinely geared to the changes needed to ensure a decent future. The country will almost certainly not be able to achieve sustainable development unless the education system is drastically changed to make it more democratic.

The Government of the Dominican Republic has made a commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the obstacles to doing so are that its policies in crucial areas like social investment, the redistribution of wealth, restoring the environment and in particular improving education are not effective. As explained below, official and also independent studies show the country is a very long way from MDG 1 (the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger), Goal 2 (universal education) and Goal 3 (equality between men and women). In addition to these problems, there has been little progress in environmental sustainability in a land that is severely degraded after decades of over-exploitation, and this raises the question of whether the Government is actually capable of creating a sustainable economy.

In 2006 the Government set up the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPYD), charged with monitoring State policies for social development and reform. The Ministry drew up the Basic Document for a National Development Strategy 2010-2030,  entitled “A journey to change into a better country”.[1] This was an attempt to create a consensus that would clarify the steps to be taken to transform the Dominican Republic into a fairer and more equitable nation.
In 2010 UNDP described the Dominican Republic as “A middle income developing country that depends mainly on the services sector and remittances from abroad. Today the level of economic activity is 12 times greater than it was in 1960, and the average growth rate over the last 48 years has been 5.4% per year. Foreign currency income from exports, tourism and remittances is now 15 times greater than it was 40 years ago.”[2] However, in spite of these positive indicators and institutional changes, social investment is at a low level and there has hardly been any improvement at all in education, which means the country is still a long way short of the goals the Government claims it is pursuing.

Persistent inequality

The Dominican Republic has made good progress towards some other MDGs, including infant and maternal mortality and life expectancy at birth, indicators for which have improved significantly in recent years. But, data from the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development shows that in a country of nearly 10 million, the current levels of poverty (34%) and indigence (10%) are very high, [3] although they have fallen considerable since the economic crisis of 2003 when these indicators reached their peak: 43% and 16% respectively.

The UNDP 2010 Human Development Report concludes that the biggest obstacle to the country’s development is inequality.[4] The report also says that education and health service levels have not increased in the same proportion as per capita wealth. The UNDP Human Development Index ranks the Dominican Republic 88th out of 169 countries, with a mean human development rating of 0.663.[5]

The 2006 UNICEF report on the State of the World’s Children stated that “social progress in the Dominican Republic, measured by life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, babies underweight at birth and the adult literacy rate, is very low compared to other countries in the region with the same levels of economic growth.”[6] 

ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) reports that since 2004 the Dominican Republic has been third from last among the countries of the Americas in terms of relative investment in social policies, and this is reflected mostly in the population’s poor access to health and education services and social assistance.[7]
Violence and discrimination

In its 2010 report, Amnesty International denounced the Dominican Republic for persistent discrimination against Haitian immigrants and their descendants. These people are the victims of numerous hate crimes that even include lynching, and as illegal immigrants they are exploited in the labour market. Unofficial estimates put the number of Haitians in the country at 800,000 and nearly all of them live in the poorest areas.[8]

In 2007, following a directive by the Central Electoral Council, thousands of citizens, mostly descendants of Haitian immigrants, those becoming stateless, had their identity documents rescinded. This severely restricted their access to health services, education and jobs, and also took away their right to vote. People without the correct documents are liable to arbitrary detention and can be expelled from the country. These regulations are still in force today.

Gender violence is another endemic problem, above all with regard to people under the legal age. In May 2009 the Santo Domingo Prosecutor’s Office said that in 90% of reported cases of sexual violence the victims were girls under 18 years old.[9]

Environmental degradation

In the second half of the 20th century the country’s natural resources were so heavily exploited that most of the forests and coral reefs were devastated, and today some 80% of its river basins are  severely degraded.[10]  Moreover in many areas there is no adequate sewage system and there are big problems with the distribution of potable water, which together create a widespread health risk. The fact that poverty is so widespread means that a large proportion of the people have to depend on the natural food resources of their own areas, and this inevitably places great strain on these stocks and makes for further degradation of the ecosystem.

Poor education and Government inaction

A discouraging aspect of the current situation is that the State is paying scant attention to education, even though an educated population must be the cornerstone of any future plan to improve  social, economic and environmental conditions. Education is the main means whereby a society constructs its values, and it is a key factor in sustainable human development because it will enable future generations to properly manage the country’s social and natural resources.

As well as failing to increase investment in education, the State is even failing to comply with the requirements of the Education Law of 1997 (Law 66-97, which states in Article 197 that starting in 1999 annual public spending on the sector should be at least 16% of total public expenditure or 4% of the estimated GDP for the current year, whichever is higher. [11] Public expenditure on education, which increased from 1.9% to 2.9% of GDP in the period 1996 to 2002, dropped as a consequence of the economic crisis to a paltry 1.5% in 2004. In 2005 it recovered somewhat to 1.9%, but it is still far too low and it has never reached 3% of GDP.

The Ministry of Education has calculated that in the 2000 to 2005 period the proportion of the education system financed by the State decreased to 52% and the proportion contributed by students’ families fell to 39%, while the OECD reports that the shortfall was made up with foreign loans and donations and contributions from private enterprises.[12] Some 24% of the student population attend private educational institutions, which do better than the State system in terms of this basic human right.

In the face of this, the Government is sending confused signals. President Leonel Fernández sowed doubts about the degree to which he was committed to the provisions of Law 66-97 when he claimed there was no correlation between the amounts invested in education and the academic results achieved. According to Fernández, increasing the proportion of GDP allocated to the sector would not guarantee good quality equitable education.[13]

In response, civil society organizations have come together to form the Decent Education Coalition to demand the Government comply with its legal obligations. They have even received support from the business sector; for example the Federation of Industrial Associations (FAI) has backed the Coalition’s campaign. According to the FAI and other similar institutions, “industry in the Dominican Republic cannot become competitive with a workforce that is poorly trained. We believe, as the President says, that the pedagogic style and the curriculum are in need of reform, but this cannot be done without resources.” [14]

Inequality in the classroom
 
According to a 2008 report from the Latin American Laboratory for Education Quality Evaluation (LLECE), the Dominican Republic has “a dual-quality education model in which the best goes to the richer groups and the worst to the poorer groups, and this has become so ingrained in the culture that many people see it as the natural order of things.”[15] There have been many independent as well as official surveys and studies that lay bare the reality of the situation but nothing has changed, and this is making inequality endemic.

In 2007 the country’s Demographic and Health Survey (ENDESA) found educational disparities that were attributable to differences in income. For example, in the richest quintile of the population the illiteracy rate is only 2% but in the poorest quintile it is extremely high at 26%.[16]

Another evaluation that confirms these findings is the 2008 Second Comparative Regional Study and Explanation of Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean (SERCE), which concluded that “in mathematics and language pupils from third to sixth grade in the Dominican Republic are far below the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.”[17]

One of the factors behind this poor showing in education is the poor quality of teaching. The teachers in the State system are not well trained, they are overloaded with work and badly paid, and in order for them to earn a minimum acceptable salary they have to do so many classroom hours they have little time to prepare the courses. This makes it impossible for them to keep to the set programmes or to effectively transmit the required educational content to their pupils. Another negative factor is that in the 2005-06 academic year only 43.1% of active teachers had a teaching diploma. The rest were not qualified to teach classes.

It is clear that the country’s education system is not providing good quality education. In the last ten years overall pupil coverage has increased but academic performance is still very poor and consequently most young people finish their studies without the basic knowledge needed to compete in the labour market, which limits their access to decent work.

Conclusion

Overall, in spite of some encouraging progress in achieving national development goals, partidcularly regarding greater life expectancy and reduced maternal and child mortality, the Dominican Republic urgently needs to adopt a far-reaching strategy for sustainable development if it is to overcome serious obstacles, most of which relate to high, and increasing, inequality. This is especially evident in terms of access to health and education, both of which affect the productivity of the labour force, as does continued violence and discrimination against women and Haitian immigrants. In particular, if the quality of education does not improve dramatically, and if the population’s access to it is not extended, it is most unlikely the Government will be able to lead the country along the path to sustainable development.

[1] Basic document of the proposed National Development Strategy 2010 – 2030, (Santo Domingo: 2010,) <www.end.gov.do>.

[2] See:  <www.pnud.org.do/content/acerca-del-pais>.

[3] See: <www.economia.gov.do/eWeb/ShowContent.aspx?idc=452>.

[4] UNDP. Human Development Report 2010, <hdr.undp.org/es/informes/mundial/idh2010/capitulos/>.

[5] See: <hdr.undp.org/es/estadisticas/>.

[6] See: <www.unicef.org/spanish/sowc06/index.php>.

[7] See: <www.unicef.org/republicadominicana/grafico__ODMs.pdf>.

[8] IPS, “Aumenta la violencia contra haitianos”, <ipsnoticias.net/nota.asp?idnews=90376>

[9] Amnesty International, “Human Rights in the Dominican Republic,” Amnesty International Report 2010,  <www.amnesty.org/es/region/dominican-republic/report-2010>

[10] Instituto del Tercer Mundo, “República Dominicana”, en Guía del mundo 2010, (Montevideo: ITeM, 2010), p.468.

[11] Organic Education Law of the Dominican Republic, <www.educando.edu.do>

[12] Ediciones OCDE, Report of national education policies: the Dominican Republic, (Paris, 2008).

[13]“Iberoamérica alcanza logros en educación,” Listín Diario, (5 December 2010), <www.listindiario.com.do>

[14] DiarioDigitalRD, Industriales piden reforzar campaña a favor del 4% para la Educación,  <www.diariodigital.com.do/articulo,59550,html>

[15] UNDP- Dominican Republic, Política social: capacidades y derechos-Análisis y propuestas de políticas sociales en República Dominicana, Vol. 1, (Santo Domingo, 2010).

[16] Centre for Social and Demographic Studies (CESDEM) and International Framework Inc,  Demography and Health Survey 2007, (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: CESDEM and Macro International Inc).

[17]UNDP-Dominican Republic , op cit.

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Knocking on environmental death’s doors

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Historically, the Guatemalan economy has been structured around an extraction-led growth model. The result has been the impoverishment of the rural population and the degradation of the environment. The sugar cane industry, for example, has deepened deforestation which has led to the displacement of entire communities whose rights have been simply brushed aside by businesses in pursuit of profit and a State to timid to regulate them. Successive governments have evaded their responsibility to create institutions that protect the environment and meet people’s needs. Civil society organizations must demand a greater share in decision-making and must urge the Government to abandon this exploitative and destructive economic model in favour of sustainable development.

Coordinación de ONG Y Cooperativas de Guatemala
CONGCOOP
Norayda Ponce Sosa
Helmer Velásquez

Historically, the Guatemalan economy has been structured around an extraction-led growth model. The result has been the impoverishment of the rural population and the degradation of the environment.  The sugar cane industry, for example, has deepened deforestation which has led to the displacement of entire communities whose rights have been simply brushed aside by businesses in pursuit of profit and a State to timid to regulate them. Successive governments have evaded their responsibility to create institutions that protect the environment and meet people’s needs. Civil society organizations must demand a greater share in decision-making and must urge the Government to abandon this exploitative and destructive economic model in favour of sustainable development.

Since the early 16th century, when it was conquered by Spain, Guatemala’s economy has been based in agriculture and the intensive exploitation of the land by large estates through mono-cultivation for export and by small farms where peasants engage in subsistence and infra-subsistence production. In the last decade a new threat to the country’s resources and biodiversity has emerged with the granting of licenses by the State to enterprises that prospect for minerals in most of the country. The exploitation of iron and gold deposits has spread chemicals such as cyanide, used in the gold industry, that cause irreparable damage to the country’s water sources. These industries also consume large quantities of water, putting local communities’ access to this resource in peril.

The power that these large enterprises have acquired stands in sharp contrast to shaky public institutions unable to control the industry’s activities and promote an alternative model of sustainability. Present development models in Guatemala involve no long- term planning, have put the environment at risk and have plunged approximately half the country’s population into poverty. In rural areas, 72% of the people live in poverty and 40%, in extreme poverty, while in indigenous communities 55% suffer extreme poverty.[1] 

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, responsible for regulating and managing the environment, natural resources and agriculture,  lack adequate financing and have little political weight in State decisions. In fact, the Government has almost no capacity to plan or control the agricultural or environmental sectors though these are the sectors on which Guatemala’s economic, social and environmental sustainability largely depends. According to a Government report, Guatemala is “damaged socially and environmentally, and the main evidence of this is an increasingly serious breakdown of social structures caused by the marginalization of large sectors of the population. This grim panorama makes the direct connection between the environment and poverty all too clear. The rural population is poorer now than in the past, when it had access to the fruits of nature.”[2]
Unsustainability and the environment
The sugar cane industry, which devastates and flattens forests so the land can be planted with sugar cane, is just one example of how unsustainable the current model is.  Based on the economic and political power of the big landowners, this industry has even managed to change the course of rivers so the water will be diverted to nourish their crops. The environmental result has been more frequent flooding in the winter and more droughts in the summer. Extensive sugar cane cultivation also causes higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions. “As part of the industrial process around 90-95% of the cane grown on more than 200,000 hectares is burned. Each hectare put to the torch releases 50 kilos of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which adds up to around 9,000 tonnes of this gas per year.”[3]
Agriculture and the more recent extractive industries have exploited the forests without any serious effort at re-forestation, using the wood not only for construction but also as a fuel resource. As a result, the country’s native forests have been all but annihilated. The deforestation rate is around 82,000 ha per year.  If exploitation continues at this level, all the country’s native forests will have been wiped out by 2040.[4]
A very vulnerable land
The country is prone to earthquakes and violent storms owing to seismic activity along the Pacific Rim and its location on the Atlantic Ocean hurricane route.  Moreover, a dry corridor runs across the central part of the country which is subject to drought and desertification. Climate change has intensified and worsened the effects of storms and drought.[5]

In 2010, Tropical Storm Agatha and the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano caused hundreds of deaths and approximately USD 950 million in material damage. Rural populations proved to be particularly vulnerable. The Government’s lack of planning and long term vision and the unregulated exploitation of the environment creates a vicious circle in which each disaster leaves the country with serious problems which the next disaster only aggravates.

Sustainable development and rural development

The Guatemalan peasantry - often victims of government repression during the country’s 36-year-long armed inner conflict and its aftermath – have more recently been negatively affected by structural adjustment measures and a newly implemented free trade regime.

On 30 April 2008 after a consultation process, the Alliance for Integrated Rural Development, made up of indigenous, peasant, environmentalist, trade union and research  groups and other non governmental organizations (NGOs), signed an agreement with the Government on a framework for a  national dialogue on holistic rural development and the resolution of the country’s agricultural, labour and environmental conflicts. In November of that year, the participants - in collaboration with Government officials and even political advisers from the Office of the Presidency - submitted to the President himself proposals for a National Integrated Rural Development Law, designed to protect “the rural population living in poverty and extreme poverty, with priority to indigenous and peasant communities with insufficient or unproductive land or with no land; indigenous and peasant women; permanent and temporary paid workers, artisans, small rural producers; and micro and small rural entrepreneurs.”[6] Today, three years after it was drafted, the proposed law is still bogged down in the Congress, a telling example of the lack of political will to pursue real solutions to the problems of agriculture and the use of natural resources in the country.

Meanwhile local people continue to resist mega-projects that move into an area, but these are largely ignored by enterprises and the State both.  In frustration, entire populations leave what are often ancestral lands and wander in search of some other way of staying alive. For example, in April 2011 some 800 families living on land claimed by a sugar mill enterprise were forcibly evicted by enforcers hired by the putative proprietors and helped by public security forces. The peasant leader, Antonio Beb Ac, was killed, and men, women and children were driven off their land and their crops burned with total impunity

Mining and resistance

The development model which the Government and the World Bank are promoting in Guatemala does not respond to the needs of the local population.  Investment in the country is geared exclusively to consolidating that model although it is exploitative, oppressive, discriminatory, unsustainable and promotes inequality.

The World Bank regarded a credit that its International Finance Corporation (IFC) granted to the Canadian enterprise Glamis Gold Corporation as a contribution to Guatemala’s “national development,” despite the fact that it went to finance the opening of the Marlin gold mine in the department of San Marcos, a project that affects the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa.  Neither the IFC nor the Government analysed the possibility of using the profits from this venture to set up a sustainable cultural and environmental development plan for the region.  Nor did they weigh the social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of the project to determine to what extent and in what time frame the mine should be worked.

A community movement against this mining venture has accused the Government of imposing the project as if it had been fully authorized while in fact there was no consultation whatsoever with the population, which is a prior step laid down in international law. According to International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, a State is required to “…consult the interested peoples through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever legislative or administrative measures that may affect them directly are being considered.”[7]

Indigenous resistance

For the Mayan population, non-violent opposition to development projects that affect them and their lands is a matter of principle. According to Leonor Hurtado, an activist in the National Resistance Front against Mining in Guatemala, “This is directly connected to freedom and dignity. This kind of resistance, whereby indigenous people defend themselves against aggression in a peaceful and active way, fosters unity in the community as they band together in pursuit of a common goal and stimulates them to organize and mobilize in ways that are based on their own values and their own cultural identity.” [8]

In an interview with Hurtado, the “Principales” (indigenous leaders) explained in San Juan Sacatepéquez that the peaceful resistance  means “respect for Mother Earth and faith that her strength will tell us what to do …This is how we resist, we listen and we do what our grandmothers and grandfathers taught us to do from far away, what they always did. We can never meet a threat with weapons because weapons mean the end, they lead to killing, they turn a person into the weakest and most despicable thing there is. Indigenous people come from nature and we resist silently, without showing anger, and we know that we have dignity and we are in the right. These values have enabled us to survive and resist for centuries, and they also give us the ability and the knowledge to defend ourselves and make a contribution.”

A Principal from Sipacapa also told her that “the useful and valuable thing around here, in our mountain, is gold. Gold is like the mountain’s weapon, it supports it, it gives it form, it gives the mountain its energy and its balance so there can be life. If you take away the gold you destroy the mountain, and even if afterwards you put the earth back it will not be the same.”

A geologist told Hurtado that the indigenous leader at Sipacapa “is absolutely right … The gold is part of the structure of the mountain and this structure is essential if there is to be life.”

Though the Government ratified the Convention, it lacks mechanisms to implement it.   The mining law is also at odds with the country’s Municipal Code and the Law of Urban and Rural Development Councils.

Looking to the Future

To reverse the ongoing pollution of the environment and the erosion of the population’s quality of life, the Government must adopt a sustainable development model as soon as possible. It is urgent and imperative to impose a system that safeguards the use of and democratic access to the land in a healthy co-existence with nature.

The country must preserve the great wealth of biodiversity which it currently enjoys.  It needs land recuperation plans that protect and sustain natural and food-producing areas.  It must bring society as a whole, and especially impacted local populations, into a broad and active national planning process. Local communities should be making the key decisions about how the natural environment in their areas should be changed and what means should be employed to do so. Decisions of this importance should be based on the values, world vision and development aspirations of the local populations. National development plans should be built around the country’s ecosystems and the interests of the people who live in them.

Sustainability must be based on a rural development model that is geared to the land itself and to the equitable distribution of its wealth. Current development models are always based on private enterprises pillaging the land. If rural development is to succeed, it has to be rooted in small-scale, peasant family agriculture. Only this way can peasant families get access to credits, technical assistance, education, technology and necessary infrastructure. Agro-ecological research programmes that seek ways to reduce to an absolute minimum the use of chemical products that damage the soil must be established and supported. Steps must be taken to safeguard ecosystems.  The community and the State must seriously pursue the use and protection of native seeds, particularly of grain.

It is also imperative to return to the Peace Accords ending the civil war that were signed in December 1996. These, along with its Framework Agreement for Implementation, must be the basis for State commitments.  Governments must recognize that Guatemala is a multicultural, multilingual and multiethnic country. In the Peace Accords it is acknowledged and stressed that the key element in decision-making processes about structural change in the country is active participation by the people themselves.

People’s participation must extend to the field of sustainable development. Special attention must be paid to the re-settlement of populations that have been uprooted by the armed conflict. Criteria to govern production and the sustainable development of resources, the selection of suitable land, the recuperation of polluted land, and the management of water, infrastructure and sewage will have to be defined. An agreement on the identity and rights of indigenous peoples will also strengthen environmental protection, the rational use of natural resources, the use of science and technology to preserve the environment and the sustainable administration of natural resources. 

[1] Plataforma Agraria, Propuestas políticas, (Guatemala: July 2008), <www.plataformaagraria.org>.

[2] Informe Ambiental Gobierno MARN.

[3] Ibid.

[4] G. Palma, A. Taracena,  E. Baumaister, Cambios en la tenencia de la tierra: tendencias históricas, (Guatemala: UNDP, 2004).

[5] Informe Ambiental Gobierno MARN, op cit.

[6] CNOC, CNP-T, CNAIC, CONGCOOP/IDEAR, Comunicado de Prensa: El Gobierno debe cumplir sus compromisos en relación a la Política y la Ley de Desarrollo Rural Integral, (Guatemala: February 2009).

[7] ILO, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169, (1989), <www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/convde.pl?C169>.

[8] Hurtado, Leonor, Explotación minera: Una herida en la tierra y en la sociedad, Revista Pueblos, (Madrid: junio de 2006).

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Large scale mining: unsustainable development on and on

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
In Ecuador’s new constitution, which came into force in October 2008, the State’s most important duty is to respect and enforce the population’s human rights on the collective as well as the individual level. Besides this, the constitution also recognizes the rights of nature itself, or Pachamama. However, in spite of this most encouraging gesture, nothing has changed and the country is still wedded to an economic model based on mining and oil extraction.

Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales
Francisco Hurtado

In Ecuador’s new constitution, which came into force in October 2008, the State’s most important duty is to respect and enforce the population’s human rights on the collective as well as the individual level. Besides this, the constitution also recognizes the rights of nature itself, or Pachamama. However, in spite of this most encouraging gesture, nothing has changed and the country is still wedded to an economic model based on mining and oil extraction.

Article 71 of the Ecuador’s new constitution recognizes the right of nature “to have its existence and the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes holistically respected,”[1] and individuals,  communities, peoples and national groups have a legitimate right to demand that the political authorities comply with this disposition. This translates into a State obligation to care for and protect the natural environment and to restore degraded ecosystems, and it is quite apart from the established rights of individuals or groups to receive compensation when their human rights are violated.

The human right to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, and to manage that environment in a way that is based on the principles of sustainable development, to some extent conflicts with the rights of nature itself, as recognized in the constitution, because nature is acknowledged as having intrinsic value over and above the goods and services that mankind may extract from it.

Sustainable development

The ever-accelerating exploitation of nature in 19th and 20th centuries has led to some resources, above all non-renewable ones, being over-exploited, and it is clear that in many areas the planet’s physical capacity to serve mankind’s rapacious  production and consumption needs is now exhausted. This means ecosystems all over the world are becoming increasingly degraded because people are extracting natural resources more and more intensively to take maximum advantage of them. This is having a whole range of negative effects all over the world like soil degradation, the disappearance of entire species of flora and fauna, water pollution, high levels of air pollution, deforestation and desertification. Besides these impacts on nature, communities and people in all parts of the world are suffering social and cultural devastation, and the most extreme example of this is the actual extinction of some original indigenous peoples.

In the 1970s and 1980s there was growing concern with protecting the environment from the effects of unrestrained human  a ctivity and this went beyond policy discussions in international organizations and led some States to gradually start enacting environmental protection measures. These were linked to the recognition of people’s right to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, and to the development of environmental management. We shall now analyse how concern about the environment interconnects with the concept of development.

The right to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment

The concept of sustainable development is not in itself a criticism of the logic of capitalist accumulation as a structural cause of negative effects on the environment. However, one of the implications of the notion of sustainability is that people have the right to live in a healthy environment, and this has led to the emergence of environmental management, which takes different forms in different places and necessarily includes environmental impact evaluation processes as part of the mechanisms to reduce or eliminate unsustainable production and consumption systems. In some cases local people play a role in managing the environment, and this means they must be provided with adequate information about the problems involved and have the opportunity to take part in decision-making processes. In Ecuador today this is known as the right to environment consultation.

However, in practice, environmental management is not geared to protecting nature as such, it is not aimed at preserving ecosystems or the people who live in them because these spaces and communities have intrinsic value, rather it is a mechanism to perpetuate the exploitation of these resources for the purposes of economic development. The focus is to implant systems that will allow these natural resources to be used more efficiently over time and will involve technical and scientific evelopment so that more economic gain can be extracted per unit of the natural resource.

Large scale mining in Ecuador

In Ecuador large scale extraction, mainly the oil industry, is the paradigm case of how the exploitation of natural resources can cause the accelerated deterioration of ecosystems and of the conditions of life of the people who live in them. According to data from the Ecuador System of Social Indicators (SIISE),[2] most of the people in settlements near the oilfields are above the national average for poverty and their local environments are now being very seriously polluted.

One of most controversial issues in Ecuador today is the exploitation phase of the large scale minino of metals, which is due to start in the near future. Since the 1990s successive governments have been laying the foundations for this expansion of mining, and claiming it will generate large revenues for the State and enable the country to develop.

The Technical Assistance Project for Mining Development and Environmental Control (PRODEMINCA) and the 1991 Mining Law, both of which were carried through under the auspices of the World Bank, signalled the start of a State policy to gradually develop large scale mining. The main aim of this legal framework was to generate conditions favourable for private investment, and various transnational companies acquired State concessions and began exploring and prospecting. By 2007 these activities had spread to some 2.8 million hectares of land, and nearly half of this activity involved the mining of metals.[3]

This has had serious negative social and environmental impacts including the pollution of land and water resources, and it has also led to land speculation, monopolies and outside control of the concession areas. However, in some cases local peasant and indigenous populations are fighting back, and the best-known example is the Íntag in the province of Imbabura. In 1997 the people of this community stopped the Japanese firm Bishimetals from going about their work, and in 2006 they did the same to the Canadian enterprise Ascendant Copper. In 2007[4] direct action by this resistance movement, and by other groups in the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, caused several transnational firms to suspend their activities.

The start of large scale mining and the resistance process

Several years ago the National Assembly enacted Constitutional Mandate No. 6 whereby under certain circumstances mining concessions would revert to the State, but in spite of this, when the country’s new constitution came into force the Government submitted a new mining bill and identified five large scale mining projects as being strategically important for Ecuador’s development plan, and this was passed by the National Assembly.

Ecuador now has a National Mining Development Plan 2011–2015 in which some 21 extensive mineral deposits in various provinces are earmarked for exploitation. The State’s share in the revenues from mining is stipulated in a system of royalties and taxes the private companies have to pay, and environmental and social management policies for these activities have been established. The State has also consolidated the legal framework for these projects to go into operation[5] and is currently negotiating five mining contracts with transnational companies, one of which has already been awarded its environmental licence for the exploitation phase[6].

The indigenous and peasant communities that will suffer the direct impacts of these projects have mobilized resistance on a permanent basis, and the Government has kept them under constant pressure with arguments about the need for development and has accused them of political primitivism and of wanting to prevent the State from generating the financial resources needed for the country to grow economically.[7]
The authorities have also taken more direct action like using legal machinery to persecute these communities, and in the courts resistance efforts are being treated as terrorism and sabotage[8].

An alternative view of development

The evidence some want to ignore
The Government of Ecuador and some social actors insist that the large scale mining model in place today is sustainable, but the evidence that is plain to see in the country’s mining and oil producing regions tells quite a different story. According to a report on the sustainability of mining in Ecuador, the exploitation of the copper deposits at Mirador in the Cóndor mountain range by CCRCTongguan, a Chinese enterprise, will generate at least 326 million tons of waste, which is equivalent to four hills like El Panecillo in Quito or the volume of all the rubbish collected in Guayaquil for the next 405 years. Another example is at Fruta del Norte, where the extraction of 11.8 million ounces of gold will leave behind 384 million tons of waste. But the Government claims this policy is justified as the extractive sector’s contribution the country’s economy will grow to an estimated USD 37,000 million in the next twenty years.[10] This is the reality, and any official talk of alternative development is just rhetoric and hot air.

The arrival of large scale projects to mine metals in Ecuador has provoked and is still provoking social mobilisation and resistance against the current and potential social and environmental impacts these kinds of operations cause. This tension and conflict between the Government and indigenous and peasant communities is being played out against a background of political debate about the development model the State is implementing.

The 2008 Political Constitution of Ecuador has dispositions that govern these matters, and this legislation should be analysed in a way that is holistic and goes beyond strictly legal interpretations and applications. Not only is it the State’s inescapable duty to defend the rights of nature as well as human rights, both individual and collective, but the State should also design and construct an alternative policy that is radically different from today’s development model in which the economic growth of society is tied almost exclusively to exploiting non-renewable natural resources.

The sustainable development philosophy cannot be considered an alternative or even a criticism of the current model unless it questions the very ideology of economic progress. Without this dimension it can do no more than cover the prevailing capitalist model with a cloak of concern about the environment, because in this model nature is still regarded primarily as a source of resources. However, the defenders of the current sustainable development stance would say it is an attempt to use science and technology to preserve the environment for future generations.

To sum up, the start of large scale mining in Ecuador reawakened debate about sustainable development, but the only change from the previous raw neo-liberal approach is that now the State is taking a greater share of the profits. There has been no change whatsoever in the way these projects are carried out and private transnational companies are still operating without restraint. It is these firms that are causing devastating impacts on a whole range of ecosystems and on the lives of the people who live in them. These communities are demanding new alternatives to protect their ecosystems in a holistic way so that natural areas and the animal and plant species that live in them can be saved, and the human beings who have their homes there can lead decent lives.

The Government is projecting a false image on the international stage. It makes pronouncements about how it is planning to move beyond the extraction model, it has recognized in the country’s constitution that nature itself has rights, it considers sumak kawsay and alternative development proposals, and there is even talk of not extracting the country’s oil in exchange for economic compensation from the international community (as expressed in the Yasuní-ITT plan[9])plan9), but in actual fact it is pushing the frontiers of extractive enterprises, especially mining, ever deeper into natural areas. This is making Ecuador even more dependent on the exploitation of non-renewable resources and perpetuating the violation of the human rights of the populations involved. But the Government justifies this on the grounds that it needs the revenues from these projects in order for the whole country to develop.

[1] Political Constitution of Ecuador, Article 71.

[2] SIISE data can be downloaded from: <www.siise.gov.ec>.

[3] CEDHU - FIDH, Intervención minera a gran escala en Ecuador y vulneración de derechos humanos, (Ecuador: Ecumenical Commission for Human Rights and the International Human Rights Federation, 2010) 13-15.

[4] “Brief history of resistance to mining in Intag, Ecuador” <www.sloth.gr.jp>; “Anti-mining resistance in Morona Santiago” <www.olca.cl/oca/ecuador/mineras54. htm>; “Mining cannot operate in Zamora” Diario La Hora, (29 May 2007), <www.lahora.com.ec>.

[5] National Mining Sector Plan for Mining Development 2011-2015 <bit.ly/PlanMinero2011-2015>.

[6] “Ecuacorrientes cerca de obtener permisos ambientales” Newspaper El Hoy, (6 October 2011), <www.hoy.com. ec/noticias-ecuador/ecuacorrientes-cerca-de-obtenerpermisos-ambientales-505288.html>.

[7] “Presidente Correa defiende minería responsable” Ecuadorinmediato.com, (25 September 2009), <bit.ly/rhESn3>; “Presidente Correa afirma que el Gobierno
no acepta plazos de nadie” Ecuadorinmediato.com, (11December 2009), <bit.ly/n6AwEt>; “La Minería” Ministry of Non-Renewable natural Resources <bit.ly/rgTbeb>.

[8] Francisco Hurtado, “Análisis sobre la criminalización actual en Ecuador” (Ecuador: Report on Collective Rights of the Centre for Economic and Social Rights - CDES and Oxfam, 2011) <observatorio.cdes.org.ec/analisis/documentos-deanalisis.html>,

[9] See: <www.yasuni-itt.gob.ec; www.amazoniaporlavida.org>.

[10] William Sacher and Alberto Acosta, ¿Puede ser sustentable la minería?, Report on mining conflicts in Latin America, (August 2011), <www.conflictosmineros.net>.

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Laws and strategies await implementation

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The country’s severe environmental problems constitute key challenges for sustainable development and poverty reduction. In recent years a new legal and policy framework for environmental management has been put in place. However its effective implementation remains a serious concern. A National Sustainable Development Strategy, developed with the participation of civil society organizations, has been adopted but achieving the goals means that Serbia must invest more of its GNP into protecting the environment. Success in addressing the key challenges in this area depends on building capacity for implementation, monitoring and enforcement, raising awareness and securing political support for environmental management.

Association Technology and Society
Mirjana Dokmanovic, PhD
Danica Drakulic, PhD

The country’s severe environmental problems constitute key challenges for sustainable development and poverty reduction. In recent years a new legal and policy framework for environmental management has been put in place. However its effective implementation remains a serious concern. A National Sustainable Development Strategy, developed with the participation of civil society organizations, has been adopted but achieving the goals means that Serbia must invest more of its GNP into protecting the environment. Success in addressing the key challenges in this area depends on building capacity for implementation, monitoring and enforcement, raising awareness and securing political support for environmental management.

Due to economic collapse during the 1990s, most needed environmental investments to prevent pollution in Serbia and build infrastructure for sanitation and water were not undertaken.[1] In recent years the country has made progress in developing formal policies and laying the legal groundwork for environmental management, mainly by harmonizing legislation with the acquis communitaire (the accumulated legislation, legal acts and court decisions that constitute the body of EU law).[2] The National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) for the period 2009–2017 was developed with the participation of civil society organizations and adopted in May 2008.[3] The NSDS is based on three key factors of sustainable development: sustainable economic development, sustainable social development and environmental protection with rational utilization of natural resources. This strategic document has identified the following key environmental problems in Serbia:

1. Water pollution: this is the main environmental issue in the country. Only 63% of the population has access to public water supplies, while only 35% is connected to a public sewage system. The quality of drinking water is generally unsatisfactory. Only half the population is supplied with drinking water from controlled water supply systems. Water controls show that in central Serbia more than 40% of samples were contaminated with bacteria, while in Vojvodina, an autonomous province, the main problem is chemical pollution.[4] The majority of industrial sites and major towns do not have wastewater treatment plants. Due to this fact, 44,000 tons of toxic agents are deposited into lakes and rivers annually.[5] Serbia is the main polluter of the Danube, while the Danube-Tisa-Danube channel is the most polluted area in Europe.[6]

2. Air pollution: the main producers of air pollution are facilities for energy generation and industrial plants with deficient air-cleaning technology. Public electricity and heat production emit around 345,000 tons of SO2 per year, which corresponds to 98% of total SO2 emissions.[7] Air is polluted in all the major cities, mainly due to transport as leaded petrol is still in use.

3. Inadequate waste management: while energy efficiency in manufacturing is one third of the world average, waste production is extremely high and waste recycling and safe handling is poor. Only 60% of municipal waste is collected (2.2 million tons per year). Waste disposal sites generally do not meet technical requirements. There are 3,251 illegal dumpsites, mostly in rural areas.[8] There are no reliable data on the unsafe waste produced by manufacturing, and there are no treatment plans or disposal sites for this type of waste.

4. Soil degradation: agricultural land covers 60% of central Serbia and 82% of Vojvodina. Soil quality is affected by the use of polluted water for irrigation, by chemical pollution from industrial plants, by dumping of waste and by erosion.

5. Unsustainable forest management: forests cover 27% of the country’s territory. However woodland growth and quality are threatened by over-harvesting, illegal logging and poor management.

The links between the environment and public health

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO), which looked at people’s exposure to environmental factors and the national statistic data published in 2007, estimates that 27% of the population of the country is affected by illnesses caused by environmental factors.[9] Taking this into account, as well as the fact that children are the population group most sensitive to negative environmental influences on health, the Government adopted the Children's Environment and Health Action Plan on 1 October 2009. Its main priorities are increasing access to safe drinking water in rural areas, increasing access to adequate sanitation, reducing traffic injuries, reducing air pollution, reducing the exposure of children to tobacco smoke and stopping and subsequently prohibiting the use of leaded petrol.

The Roma and the internally displaced are particularly exposed to environmental risks due to lack of adequate housing and access to safe drinking water. In addition, land degradation contributes to rural poverty. The first and second Progress Reports on the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy concluded that: “investments in water supply facilities, wastewater treatment plants and environmental hotspot clean-up programmes have had a direct impact on poverty reduction. Indirectly, such activities have also contributed to the employment of a number of semi-qualified, poorer workers.”[10]

The National Assembly adopted the Public Health Act in 2009. This recognizes the impact of the environment on health as one of the priority areas within public health. In addition, the Public Health Strategy,[11] also adopted by the Government in 2009, lays out a set of strategic activities with the purpose of protecting the population’s health from negative environmental effects.

Economic trends and environmental issues

In recent years the need to make national environmental protection legislation and policy comply with EU policy has led to the adoption of a great number of laws and policy documents[12] that address the identified challenges (air quality, waste management, water quality, nature protection, industrial pollution control and risk management, chemicals, climate change, noise and civil protection), as indicated in the Government’s responses to the European Commission’s questionnaire in 2011.

Financing the implementation of the NSDS is a key challenge, however, due to unfavourable economic tendencies. After the high growth rates of 5–6% between 2001 and 2008, the last three years have been characterized by a slowdown of economic activity and foreign exchange developments, followed by a decrease in foreign and domestic demand and in foreign investment. In 2010, gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.5%,[13] while during the same period consumer prices increased 10.3% and living costs 6.8%. The negative foreign trade balance was 58% and the foreign trade deficit amounted to EUR 4.3 billion (USD 6.1 billion) in 2010. The foreign debt reached 80% of GNP and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows were still falling: they amounted to EUR 654 million (USD 931 million) in 2010. Small inflows of FDI and net credit outflow led to a worsening balance of payment. The public debt reached 36% of GDP.[14] Obligatory reserves decreased and the referential interest rate went up from 9% to 9.5% in October 2010.

The official rate of unemployment in 2010 was 20%, but the real number of jobseekers was considered to be higher and the rate of employment was decreasing. There was a high rate of work on the black market - 20.6% compared to the total number of workers in regular employment.[15]

The Government predicted a mild recovery of economic activity as a result of the combination of several circumstances including the recovery of the EU economy, the successfully completed revision of arrangements with the IMF, the agreement of the largest foreign banks in the country to maintain their levels of credit exposure to stabilize financial markets, and the economic policy measures that were undertaken. However the macroeconomic indicators at the beginning of 2011 point to a further decline in economic activity as a consequence of setbacks in industries such as manufacturing and electric power as well as a decrease in agricultural production.

Inherited economic problems such as the insolvency of enterprises, negative trends in the labour market, continual unemployment growth, bad prospects in earning growth and increases in poverty are not only deepening this crisis but making it chronic. The Government has been insensitive to the consequences of the crisis and is increasingly facing social discontent. The failure to implement reforms and the worsening of living conditions at the beginning of 2011 – particularly for vulnerable groups such as the unemployed, rural population, Roma, people with disabilities and pensioners[16] – has been further complicated by the reshaping of the Government and political instability. Social discontent and insecurity are increasing due to lack of access to employment and decent jobs. At the same time, jobs are increasingly insecure[17] due to the ongoing bankruptcy of firms, the enormous internal indebtedness[18] and a badly led process of privatization resulting in a mounting number of strikes in 2011.[19] Many new owners of privatized companies purchased them with the goal of making money by reselling them and not to maintain production. Trade unions estimate that average monthly salaries will decrease in 2011 from USD 435 to USD 350.[20]

The Government’s projections for 2011 (GNP growth of 3%, inflation rate of 5.8%, unemployment rate of 20% and foreign debt in GNP of 74.2%) are already in doubt.

Conclusion

The Government is simply in denial regarding the real economic trends and the evident fall in the population’s living standards. It limits itself to making optimistic pronouncements for the short term. However the need to change the previous path of development and growth is becoming increasingly urgent because the current state of affairs is untenable. In essence, the economic growth model should be changed and the economy should be oriented to development and the increase of investment and export, not to consumption.

Achieving the goals set in the NSDS demands that Serbia invests its best efforts in reaching the planned GNP. Currently, only 0.3% of GNP is devoted to protecting the environment. These modest resources are insufficient. It is estimated that there is need for supplementary financial funding of 1.02% in 2011 for delivering on this priority. Success in addressing the key environmental challenges depends on building capacity for implementation, monitoring and enforcement, raising environmental awareness and securing political support for environmental management.

[1] D. Slunge, A.Ekbom and E. Dahlberg, Serbia Environmental and Climate Impact Analysis, (Goterborg: School of Economics and Commercial Law, 2008).

[2] Government of Serbia, National Sustainable Development Strategy, (Belgrade: 2008).

[3] Official Gazette of RS, No. 57/08.

[4] Slunge et al., op. cit., p. 2. Vojvodina is an autonomous province in Serbia.

[5] Ministry of Environmental Protection website, (2011), <www.ekoplan.gov.rs>.

[6] Government of  Serbia, Sustainable Development Strategy Is One of the Preconditions for Serbia Entering the EU, (Belgrade: 5 December 2007), <www.srbija.sr.gov.yu/vesti/vest.php?id=79525>.

[7] Slunge et al., op. cit.,p. 2.

[8] Government of Serbia, “Chapter 27: Environment” in Responses to the European Commission Questionnaire, (Belgrade: 2011), p. 150, <www.srbija.gov.rs/?change_lang=en>.

[9] Ibid., p. 92.

[10] Government of Serbia, First Progress Report on the Implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy in Serbia, (Belgrade: 2005); Second Progress Report on the Implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy in Serbia, (Belgrade: 2007).

[11] Ibid., National Strategy on Public Health, (Belgrade: 2009).

[12] For example, the National Strategy on Inclusion of the Republic of Serbia in the Mechanisms of Clean Production of the Kyoto Protocol in the Areas of Waste Management, Agriculture and Forestry; the National Strategy on Public Health; the National Strategy on Introducing Cleaner Production. See: <www.srbija.gov.rs/>.

[13] The source of all data in this paragraph, if not given another source, is Ministry of Finance, Revised Memorandum on the Budget and Economic Fiscal Politics for 2011, with projections for 2012 and 2013, <www.mfin.gov.rs/?change-lang=en#>.

[14] B. Mijatovic, “The European View on Serbia”, Fokus, (Belgrade: Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies, 2011.)

[15] Government of Serbia, Social Connection Control in Serbia, (2010), <www.inkluzija.gov.rs/?p=2615>.

[16] Government of Serbia, First National Report on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in the Republic of Serbia, (Belgrade: March 2010).

[17] Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, “250,000 Dismissals in Serbia in Last Two Years,”(February 2011), <www.sindikat.rs/e_saopstenja.htm>.

[18] Ibid. In 2010, the total amount of money owed to the banks was USD 27.17 billion.

[19] Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, <www.sindikat.rs/e_saopstenja.htm>.

[20] Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, op. cit.

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Many promises, little commitment

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The country’s development model is tied to resource extraction and the Government is still prioritizing energy sources such as coal that have serious negative ecological effects. Chile has made a series of international commitments to adopt environmental-protection policies, but very little has actually been done in terms of effective legislation or concrete action. The country urgently needs to develop or strengthen institutions to handle environmental threats, a new energy policy, regulations to govern biodiversity, to change its electricity generating profile and also to bring civil society organizations into the debate about sustainable development.

Fundación Terram
Luz M. Fariña
Flavia Liberona

The country’s development model is tied to resource extraction and the Government is still prioritizing energy sources such as coal that have serious negative ecological effects. Chile has made a series of international commitments to adopt environmental protection policies, but very little has actually been done in terms of effective legislation or concrete action. The country urgently needs to develop or strengthen institutions to handle environmental threats, a new energy policy, regulations to govern biodiversity, to change its electricity generating profile and also to bring civil society organizations into the debate about sustainable development.

In the 20 years since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio 92) Chile has undergone big political, economic, environmental and social changes. Its extractive economic model, however, has remained virtually unchanged. The mainstay of the economy is still the export of natural resources with low levels of processing, and the environment is still being intensively exploited, particularly by the mining, fishing, agriculture and forestry sectors.

Rio 92 produced a series of commitments to pursue sustainable development policies, agreed to by more than 100 countries. Chile subscribed to all of these but has made almost no progress in the areas in question. For example, it has not promulgated a biodiversity protection law, it does not have a regulatory framework to protect its philogenetic patrimony and traditional techniques and systems, and it does not have a register of endangered species or plans to restore stocks of these fauna. Weaknesses in regulations that involve authorization and permits have allowed the introduction and cultivation of transgenic organisms that, according to Greenpeace,[1] negatively affect food security, and that many believe constitute an environmental and health risk.[2]

The successive administrations of Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet (1990 to 2010) adhered to a neoliberal export-oriented growth model that benefits the big groups of enterprises but has widened social and economic differences. According to the IMF, in 2008 Chile had the highest per capita income in South America (about USD 14,600[3]), but the effective distribution of this income - as measured by the GINI index – makes Chile one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a coefficient of 0.55. [4]

In the first decade of the 21st century Chile’s image was “made greener” in response to international requirements, but this has not been translated into better democracy or greater respect for the environment. With the adoption of the 1994 General Law of Bases of the Environment, which became operational in 1997, the environment management system should have been improved by developing control and monitoring instruments like quality standards and limits on emissions into water, soil and the atmosphere. However, more than a decade later only a fraction of these measures have been implemented.
Moreover, according to a 2005 OECD report[5], systems for the protection and conservation of natural resources and to manage nature in line with international parameters have not been developed. In practice the environment law only generated a single window system to obtain environmental authorization for Chilean and foreign investment projects.
We might even question whether sustainability is possible at all in a country that is being pillaged, where water is provided free and in perpetuity to big foreign business consortiums, where copper is mined with no environmental safeguards and where the predominant forestry model is based on plantations of exotic species.  
In Chile water is legally classed as a public good but it is supplied for private sector use. This makes it a tradable good even though these enterprises are awarded rights to consumption free of charge and with no time limit. The forestry model in Chile was implemented during the dictatorship period through Decree-Law No. 701, whereby forestation was subsidized and the planting of exotic species of pine and eucalyptus promoted with State disbursements covering up to 90% of the cost.
Regulations governing copper mining are either deficient or not yet in place and the sector is fraught with problems: the State levies a specific tax rather than receiving royalties, mining operations have only been obliged to close works since the environment law came into force in 1997, there are projects currently in operation whose environmental impacts have never been evaluated, there is no public register of places that have been polluted by mining and there is no plan to deal with mining sites that have been closed down or abandoned.
New institutions for the environment

Chile urgently needs to consolidate its new environmental institutions, including the Ministry of the Environment, the Environment Evaluation Service and the Superintendent of the Environment, which were set up at the beginning of 2010 in line with Law 20.417. This new system of institutions promotes policy dialogue and cooperation in environmental matters, separates environment evaluation policies and regulations from investment project influence, sets up an autonomous body to monitor compliance with environment regulations, and implements new environment management instruments like the evaluation strategy.

However, discussions about reform did not tackle the basic issues but merely led to political agreements between the Socialist members of Parliament, the right-wing interests and the Government. These excluded subjects and proposals from civil society organizations and demands for crucial measures to strengthen democracy and safeguard the environment, arguing that this was necessary in order to move the process along. But the resulting legislation does not contain instruments to protect Chile’s environmental heritage and does not promote full civil society participation and thus fails to remedy the serious defects in the way the country’s democracy works.  

 

Energy going the wrong way

Between 1999 and 2008 the electricity generating sector grew by 32% and installed generating capacity increased by 428%. In 1993 the sector’s potential output was 2,162 megawatts (MW), which amounted to around 40% of total electric capacity, but by December 2008 this had risen to 9,251 MW and accounted for 64.7% of the total. This shows how dependent the country has become on fossil fuels, and it is precisely these that have severe negative impacts on the environment. In the period 2004 to 2008, the use of coal to generate energy went up by 72% while the use of natural gas – which is less damaging to the environment than other fossil energy sources – fell by 31%.[6]

In the electricity sector there is no framework through which to govern or monitor such aspects as water emissions, the useful life of power stations, fuel quality, the introduction of up-to-date technologies or consideration of the environmental costs of generation. This means that the State cannot plan or make projections about power output for the middle and long term; this depends entirely on the plans of the private enterprises that run Chile’s electricity sector.  

Vulnerability, climate change and desertification

Chile has seven of the nine vulnerability categories established in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): low-lying coastal areas, mountain ecosystems, arid and semi-arid land vulnerable to drought and desertification, areas at risk of natural disasters, areas prone to forest deterioration, highly polluted urban areas and fragile ecosystems.[7]

Greenhouse gas emissions in the country make up only 0.23% of the world total, but per capita emissions are increasing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the continent (1.2 tonnes per year in 14 years).[8] According to the International Energy Agency, in 2008 Chile had the second highest percentage increase in CO2 emissions in the world;[9] only China was in a worse situation. And when the inevitable consequences of the decision to use coal as a main energy source are considered the outlook is even more discouraging.

Chile made an early commitment to combating climate change when it subscribed to (1992) and ratified (1994) the provisions of the UNFCCC, and signed (1997) and ratified (2002) the Kyoto Protocol, and the 2006 National Climate Change Strategy and the Climate Change Action Plan 2008-2012 are also in force. But despite these national and international commitments, climate change is not high on the Government’s agenda.

One of the most alarming consequences of climate change is desertification, which is among Chile’s most serious socio-environmental problems. According to official data, this phenomenon is affecting some 62.3% of the country (47.3 million hectares), mainly in the north (Region 1 to Region 8) and in the south (Regions 11 and 12).[10]. Chile signed the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 1997, but the main causes of this phenomenon in the country – drought, deforestation, forest fires, soil erosion and changes in land use – are still operating, so this problem is nowhere near being resolved.

Proposals

As regards the environment, the main tasks the country faces are as follows:

  • To consolidate and implement a new national environment institutional structure;
  • To implement biodiversity regulations and adopt a new law to safeguard the country’s native biodiversity and its philogenetic patrimony;
  • To design and implement a middle and long term energy policy and to revise current regulations to enable the State to plan electricity generation and lay down standards to control the sources and types of fuels used in this sector;
  • To improve people’s access to information about the environment and to engage the population more effectively in these processes;  
  • To move forward in implementing the National Plan to Adapt to Climate Change;
  • To establish and/or implement pollution prevention and clean up plans. Air pollution has got worse in both the north and the south of the country and this has serious consequences for people’s health in those regions.

[1] Greenpeace, Transgénicos, (2010), <www.greenpeace.org/espana/es/Trabajamos-en/Transgenicos/>.

[2] EcoPortal, Tema especial: transgénicos, (2010), <transgenicos.ecoportal.net>; G. Persley and J. Siedow, Aplicaciones de la biotecnología a los cultivos: beneficios y riesgos, (December 1999), <www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/articles/spanish/ensayo.html>; GreenFacts, Consenso científico sobre los cultivos transgénicos y OMG, (2005), <www.greenfacts.org/es/omg/index.htm>.

[3] IMF, World Economic Outlook (WEO), Crisis and Recovery, (April 2009),
<www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/01>

[4] Government of Chile, Mideplan, CASEN 2009, <www.mideplan.gob.cl/casen2009/distribucion_ingreso_casen_2009.pdf>.

[5] OECD, Environmental Performance Reviews: Chile, (2005).

[6] Fundación TERRAM, Evaluación, Actualidad y Proyección del Sistema Termoeléctrico Chileno, (Santiago: November 2009),  <www.cambioclimaticochile.cl/documentos_terram.php>.

[7] Government of Chile, Conama: “Plan de Acción Nacional de Cambio Climático 2008-2012, (Santiago: 2008), p. 13.

[8] UNDP, Informe de Desarrollo Humano 2007-2008. La lucha contra el Cambio Climático: solidaridad frente a un mundo dividido, (New York: 2007).

[9] World Energy Outlook 2008, (International Energy Agency, 2008), <www.worldenergyoutlook.org>.

[10] University of Chile, Instituto de Asuntos Públicos, Centro de Análisis de Políticas Públicas, Informe País: Estado del Medio Ambiente en Chile 2008, (Santiago: March 2010), p.251.

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Militarized development is always untenable

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Decades of military rule have fostered a repressive political environment in which democratic principles are flouted, public resources are exploited for the benefit of the military elite and human rights and the rule of law enjoy little respect. Without basic rights, the voiceless people of the country suffer the consequences of economic mismanagement that undermines the environment and retards sustainable development. Burma urgently needs strong democratic institutions that promote sustainable development, public participation and accountability.

Burma Lawyers' Council
Leslie Choi

Decades of military rule have fostered a repressive political environment in which democratic principles are flouted, public resources are exploited for the benefit of the military elite and human rights and the rule of law enjoy little respect.  Without basic rights, the voiceless people of the country suffer the consequences of economic mismanagement that undermines the environment and retards sustainable development. Burma urgently needs strong democratic institutions that promote sustainable development, public participation and accountability.

Despite the country’s abundance of natural resources, a majority of the Burmese people face challenging life conditions as a result of governmental economic mismanagement. More than 32% of the population lives below the poverty line.[1] Burma ranked 132 out of 169 countries in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index.[2] The lack of public participation in developing economic policies is reflected in the Government’s allocation of only 0.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for health, and 0.9% for education.[3] Meanwhile, the Government pours more than 60% of its spending into State-owned businesses.[4] 

The lack of democratic institutions effectively bars the public from participating in decision-making on economic, social and environmental policies. Abuse of power is rampant. Development projects are used to line the pockets of military officials at the expense of citizens. 

The military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), organized a national election in November 2010 – the first in 20 years – but it was characterized by flawed election laws and repressive practices. The SPDC continues to hold the reins of Government in Burma, and officials regularly abuse their power to further their own interests. They have little fear of the consequences: since no means currently exist to hold such people accountable, they often face little to no repercussions for these abuses.

2008 Constitution and 2010 elections

The 2008 Constitution entrenched military rule by reserving a quarter of national parliamentary seats and a third of state and regional parliamentary seats for military representatives appointed by the Commander-in-Chief.[5] The military appoints all of the members of the Union Election Commission (UEC), the government body responsible for ensuring that elections are free and fair.[6]  Election laws bar political prisoners from joining parties and place restrictions on campaigning activities of political parties. In response to the restrictive laws, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and other key opposition groups boycotted the elections, further delegitimizing the results.[7]

The elections were also marred by voter intimidation, electoral fraud and corruption.[8]  One of the most common complaints concerned the manipulation of voting results through the collection of votes in advance and vote-rigging.[9] In some areas, villagers were threatened with land confiscation and the discontinuation of public services if they did not vote for the regime-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).[10]

The military regime has further entrenched its position through laws that obstruct judicial independence.[11] The President has the power to appoint and dismiss Supreme Court Justices at his discretion.[12] The Supreme Court does not exercise jurisdiction over military or constitutional issues. Additionally, the Constitution guarantees impunity to members of the ruling military regime, thereby preventing the judiciary from enforcing the law in cases in which they are involved.[13] Pervasive corruption further undermines the legitimacy of the judiciary, as well as its ability to protect the rights of individuals and hold government officials accountable.[14]

In most countries, civil society organizations play a fundamental role in the promotion of democratic principles and help ensure transparency, accountability, defense of human rights, and public participation. In Burma, these organizations are stifled by repressive restrictions or outright bans on civil society activities.[15] In the absence of a vibrant civil society military junta rule is unchecked, unmonitored, and unaccountable.

The grim face of militarized development

The SPDC has sold rights to exploit domestic resources to neighbouring countries, generating billions of dollars, yet the Burmese people have not seen the economic benefits.[16] Instead, in pursuing its own interests and militarizing development projects, the Government has exploited local villagers and exposed them to human rights abuses.

Villagers are systematically subjected to forced labour by Burmese army troops.[17] For example, during the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline in Eastern Burma, a joint venture of the French-owned Total and the US-owned Unocal (now owned by Chevron), Government soldiers and proxy military groups providing security forced civilians to cut down trees, serve as porters, and build military infrastructure.[18] Those who refused were beaten, raped, tortured and killed.[19]

Large-scale land confiscation is another prevalent development-related government abuse. Villagers receive nominal or no compensation for the farmland seized. In 2010, approximately 2,500 acres of land in Southern Burma were confiscated and distributed to logging companies.[20] Villagers who live by the China-sponsored development of the Shwe gas pipelines in Western Burma also report that authorities have been confiscating land without compensation.[21]

Many Burmese rely primarily on farming for their livelihoods. Forced labour leaves them much less time to cultivate their land, while confiscation completely deprives them of their source of food and income.[22] Additionally, militarization of areas with development projects, which is common, is often accompanied by an increase in unofficial taxes, imposed on local villagers by soldiers.[23] These corrupt practices not only heighten food insecurity, they also close off educational opportunities: farmers can no longer afford to send their children to school.[24]

Environmental impact

The severe environmental degradation that frequently results from these projects further exacerbates their negative social and economic impact. Unsustainable logging, shrimp farming and hydro-electric projects, as well as extractive industries have seriously damaged the environment. For example, air and water pollution created by a 2010 coal mining partnership agreement between Chinese and Burmese companies in Shan State have contaminated water supplies and caused approximately 2,000 cases of skin disease.[25] This venture is the largest cooperative mining project between China and Burma, located in the Sagaing Division, and it continues to release toxic chemicals during the refining process.[26]

The environmental risks associated with development projects are not disclosed to affected communities,[27] and in the absence of the rule of law the victims of development-related government actions have no viable legal recourse. Order 1/99, which outlaws forced labour, it is hardly enforced.[28]  When individuals subjected to forced labour and land confiscation have filed complaints, the SPDC has retaliated against them and their lawyers through criminal charges and arbitrary sentences to hard labour camps.[29]

The country’s environmental laws are not enforced. Although the Forest Law emphasizes the importance of conserving and protecting Burma's forests,[30] between 1990 and 2005, the country lost almost 20% of its forests,[31] and in recent years the rate of deforestation has increased. Similarly, although the Myanmar Mines Law of 1994 requires permission from land users before a mining permit is issued, in practice villagers are not consulted and their lands are typically confiscated.[32]

Additionally, no law requires that companies seeking to invest in development projects in Burma consult with affected communities. Even when companies have taken the initiative to do so, the environmental impact assessments that were commissioned have been fundamentally flawed, leading to inaccurate conclusions.[33] For example, the third-party environmental impact assessment  commissioned by the French oil company Total on the Yadana gas pipeline project relied on the testimony of Burmese villagers procured through interviews conducted in the presence of military intelligence officials.[34] 

Conclusions

Strong democratic institutions that promote good governance are an essential prerequisite for sustainable development.  This entails respect for the rule of law and human rights, effective public participation, access to knowledge, and accountability in the management of public resources.

Democratic principles must be strengthened in Burma through free and fair elections, an independent judiciary that upholds the rule of law, and a constitutional review that involves all stakeholders. Public participation should also be incorporated into all stages of development so that the people can shape economic policies, become fully aware of the social and environmental impact of all development initiatives, and have the power to hold government actors and companies accountable for any rights violations.

 

[1]    Economy Watch, Myanmar (Burma) Poverty Line, Gini Index, Household Income and Consumption, (May 2011), <www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/Myanmar/Poverty_Line>.

[2]    UNDP, The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways in Human Development, (New York: 2010), <hdr.undp.org/en/statistics>.

[3]    UN Human Rights Council. Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, (Geneva: 10 March 2010).

[4]    Index mundi, Burma Economy Profile, (2010), <www.indexmundi.com/burma/economy_profile.html>.

[5]    Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, (September 2008), arts 74, 109, and 141.

[6]    UN General Assembly.  Situation of human rights in Myanmar, (15 September 2010).

[7]    M. Maung, “Ethnic leaders join NLD vote-boycott roadshow,” in Mizzima News, (13 October 2010), <www.mizzima.com>.

[8]    J. Davies, and H. Siddique, “Burma election observers report voter intimidation,” The Guardian, (8 November 2010), <www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/08/burma-election-voter-intimidation>.

[9]    Burma Fund UN Office,Burma's 2010 Elections: A comprehensive report, (January 2011).

[10]  Ibid.

[11]A.U. Htoo, “Analysis of the SPDC's Constitution from the Perspective of Human Rights,” in  Legal Issues on Burma Journal, No. 30 (2008).

[12]  Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, (September 2008), arts 299, 302, 308, 311, 327, and 334.

[13]  Ibid., art. 445.

[14]  US Department of State, 2008 Country Report on Burma, (Washington DC: 25 February 2009), <www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eap/119035.htm>.

[15]Human Rights Watch, I Want to Help My Own People, (28 April  2010), <www.hrw.org >.

[16]EarthRights International, Energy Insecurity,  (July 2010), <www.earthrights.org>.

[17] EarthRights International, The Human Cost of Energy: Chevron's Continuing Role in Financing Oppression and Profiting From Human Rights Abuses in Military-Rule Burma, (April 2008), <www.earthrights.org>; UN Human Rights Council, Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, (10 March 2010).

[18]  R. Sisodia and A. Buncombe, “Burmese villagers 'forced to work on Total pipeline,” The Independent, (14 August 2009), <www.independent.co.ukl>.

[19]  EarthRights International, The Human Cost of Energy, op cit, <www.earthrights.org>.

[20]  S.Y. Naing, “Land Confiscation Reported in Dawei Project,” The Irawaddy, (15 December 2010), <www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=20326>.

[21]  Mizzima News Group. “Land confiscation begins with pipeline project,” Mizzima News,  (9 November 2009), <www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/3023-land-confiscation-begins-with-pipeline-project.html>.

[22]  EarthRights International. Broken Ethics: The Norwegian Government's Investments in Oil and Gas Companies Operating in Burma , (December 2010).

[23]All Arakan Students' & Youths' Congress, Overview of Land Confiscation in Arakan State , (June 2010) . Available from: <www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/Land_%20Confiscation_in_Arakan-Overview.pdf>; Karen Human Rights Group, Pa'an District: Land confiscation, forced labour and extortion undermining villagers' livelihoods, 11 February  2006. Available from: <www.khrg.org/khrg2006/khrg06f1.html>.

[24]  H.H. Htet, “Court 'cheats' Yazana land grab victims”, Democratic Voice of Burma, 11January 2011. Available from: <www.dvb.no/news/court-'cheats'-yuzana-land-grab-victims/13662 >.

[25]  Pa-O Youth Organization, Poison Clouds: Lessons from Burma's largest coal project at Tigyit,  (2011), <pyo-org.blogspot.com>.

[26]  J. Allchin, “China seals biggest Burma mining deal,” Democratic Voice of Burma, (July 30 2010), <www.dvb.no/news/china-seals-biggest-burma-mining-deal/11015>.

[27]  EarthRights International, China in Burma: The Increasing Investment of Chinese Multinational Corporations in Burma's Hydropower, Oil, and Natural Gas, and Mining Sectors, (September 2007), <www.earthrights.org/sites/default/files/publications/China-in-Burma-2007-backgrounder.pdf>.

[28]  The Government of the Union of Myanmar, “Order supplementing Order No. 1/99,” in The Ministry of Home Affairs, (27 October 2000).

[29]  International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights – Burma, (9 June 2010); M. Maung, “Lawyer arrested for defending labour activist freed,” Mizzima News, (6 March 2010), <www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/3621-lawyer-arrested-for-defending-labour-activist-freed.html>; Kaew, N.K,“Army seizes 30,000 acres of farmland,” Democratic Voice of Burma, (22 February 2011),  <www.dvb.no/news/army-seizes-30000-acres-of-farmland/14351>.

[30]  The State Law and Order Restoration Council, The Forest Law (The State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No 8/92), (3 November 1992).

[31]  The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), “Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2008-2009,” in Human Rights Documentation Unit, (November 2009), <www.ncgub.net/NCGUB/mediagallery/albumd4c6.html?aid=90&page=1>.

[32]Pa-O Youth Organization, Poison Clouds, op cit, <pyo-org.blogspot.com>; The State Law and Order Restoration Council, The Myanmar Mines Law (No 8/94), (6 September 1994).

[33]  EarthRights International, Getting it Wrong: Flawed Corporate Social Responsibility and Misrepresentations Surrounding Total and Chevron's Yadana Gas Pipeline in Military-Ruled Burma, (September 2009), <www.earthrights.org/sites/default/files/publications/getting-it-wrong.pdf>.

[34]  Ibid.

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Needed: sustainable schools

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Educational systems are key factors in sustainable development. Despite the country’s efforts in promoting “environmental education” in the last decade of the 20th century, the absence of adequate planning and implementation has relegated these ideas to the margins of the educational system. In fact, many advances achieved in this area over the last few years have been initiated by the country’s non-governmental organizations. If it wishes to engage fully in sustainable development, Cyprus must accelerate the expansion of “sustainable schools” and broaden civil society participation in the process.

CARDET
Sotiris Themistokleous
Michalinos Zemylas
Charalambos Vrasidas

Educational systems are key factors in sustainable development. Despite the country’s efforts in promoting “environmental education” in the last decade of the 20th century, the absence of adequate planning and implementation has relegated these ideas to the margins of the educational system. In fact, many advances achieved in this area over the last few years have been initiated by the country’s non-governmental organizations. If it wishes to engage fully in sustainable development, Cyprus must accelerate the expansion of “sustainable schools” and broaden civil society participation in the process.

In recent years the concept of sustainable development has generated debate in both scientific and public discourses around the world.[1] In this context, educational systems have been called upon to respond with educational frameworks and curricula that constructively engage the notion of sustainable development and its potential consequences.[2]

Sustainable development in education is not limited to the creation of curricular units on the environment. It is, rather, an all-inclusive, multi-dimensional process for reconsidering and reversing ideologies and practices concerning our relationship with the environment.[3] It must be viewed as a discourse and practice that establishes a balance between sound economic development and social justice, equality and environmental protection. An educational philosophy grounded in this framework would develop in a different direction from one focused exclusively on economic development.[4] Education for sustainable development attempts to transmit knowledge, skills, and practices that will inspire students to become engaged citizens who actively promote a better quality of life for all people, and for the natural environment as well.[5]

Sustainable schools

A widely used term for educational institutions adopting this framework is “sustainable schools.” Their primary goal is to educate and guide students to work for a better quality of life, applying the principles of sustainable development to improve the living conditions of all beings.[6] A critical factor in their success is the establishment of links to local communities that serve as partners in promoting the sustainable development framework.[7] Using this strategy, “sustainable schools” combine the educational achievements of their students with quality of life within the school and the wider community in accordance with the values of environmental awareness and critical citizenship.[8]

Environmental education

Cyprus introduced the first elements of sustainable development education with particular focus on “environmental education” in the 1990s. However, the absence of a structured educational plan related to environmental education and education for sustainable development has relegated these ideas to the margins of the educational system for almost a decade. During this time environmental education and sustainable development have had a more limited presence in formal and informal education than in many other countries.[9]  Education stakeholders in Cyprus have only recently begun to integrate ideas of sustainable development into a more holistic framework linked to goals for a better society in a healthier environment. A major advance in this direction took place in 2005, with the ratification of the Strategy for Education and Sustainable Development in Europe.

However, despite this ratification and the subsequent establishment of the National Action Plan for Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development in 2007, the country’s educational system pursues a narrow vision on the issue. Its “fragmentary” approach focuses mainly on the provision of knowledge and information about the environment, neglecting action-oriented perspectives based on social development.[10]

A research study on “Transformative leaders for sustainable schools,” conducted between 2005 and 2007 (the time period when the two aforementioned plans were introduced), showed that 89% of primary school principals had never been informed on issues related to sustainable development. [11] One of the major weaknesses found in the study was that school principals were unable to define sustainable development in terms of a holistic framework that included the economy, society and the environment.[12] A majority of their definitions focused on “environmental protection.” Vigorous efforts to apply the 2007 National Action Plan began only in 2009, when the Ministry of Education and Culture published a new Study Programme for Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development.[13] As the document itself declares, this is the most comprehensive effort the Government has made to introduce sustainable development into the educational system, focusing especially on the transformation of school units into “sustainable schools.”

The new curriculum indicates that the Ministry of Education and Culture now understands the importance of sustainable development not just as another school subject but as a ”philosophy” that should be applied at all levels of education.[14] One important aspect of this programme is its strong emphasis on the social elements of development, including concepts such as participation, inclusion and multiculturalism, along with respect for the environment. Underlying this approach is the assumption that, beyond any interdisciplinary strategy for imparting knowledge that may be required, sustainable development has to become embedded in the values of society. One consequence is that the curriculum places strong emphasis on the establishment of close relations between “sustainable schools” and the local community.

However, the heavily centralized educational system and its decision-making mechanisms continue to pose a systemic obstacle to effective transformations, limiting the possibility of major reform. For example, the transformation of school units into “sustainable schools” becomes very difficult without greater school autonomy. Also, decision-making mechanisms have to include the peripheral stakeholders in the education system, such as school boards, parent associations, civil society organizations and local community authorities.[15] Such actors, being closer to the local community and environment, could provide more effective solutions based on the needs of each school unit and its extended social, economic and natural environment.[16] The Ministry of Education and Culture can still provide overall national objectives and goals, but should also put in place a network of local actors who could develop valid and efficient practices that incorporate the needs of communities within a more holistic sustainable development framework. 

Working on strategies

Following a year of national debate among Government actors, the Board of Ministers recently ratified the Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2011-2015).  The new Strategy is presented as an advance on the previous one, which covered the period 2006-2010.  Despite new elements have been introduced in sections such as natural resources, energy, sustainable transportations and sustainable tourism, the strategy for education remains essentially the same as the one laid out in the 2007 Strategy for Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development. Weaknesses in the document, such as an over-emphasis on the environment to the detriment of other aspects of sustainable development and the absence of any reference to the role of nongovernmental-actors, have been incorporated into the Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development,[17] leading to inefficiency and confusion that hinders promotion of sustainable development.  These inadequacies appear to be related to Government decision-making and policy implementation processes. Ministries and public services involved in different sectors set their own priorities and follow their own strategies, often failing to forge a common national framework that encompasses all relevant actors.[18] Future policy making would be more effective if the Government established mechanisms to align all stakeholders in a common strategy that has a real impact on all levels of society.

Integrating civil society: a key factor

The potential advantages of the involvement of local non-governmental organizations for sustainable development became evident through the evolution of the Centres for Environmental Education of the Cyprus Educational Institute (Ministry of Education and Culture). The first centre was a private venture in a small village in southwest Cyprus, established in the 1990s. It proved to be extremely successful in researching and developing practices and tools for environmental education. Even so, it wasn’t until 2004 that State authorities established the first public Centre for Environmental Education.[19] Today these centres are already considered to be pioneers in the promotion of research and development in the field of environmental education. The progress achieved so far demonstrates the potential and opportunities presented by the integration of local civil society actors in formal and informal education for sustainable development.

Although the Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development provides guidance for the integration of civil society in the overall decision-making process and the drafting process for Strategies and Plans on Sustainable Development has been quite efficient, implementation and impact on citizens has been less successful.[20] To promote and implement a more holistic sustainable development framework, the Government should make greater efforts to tap the great reserves of knowledge, experience, expertise and mechanisms of civil society organizations.

Perspectives

Since 2005, when the Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development was ratified, Cyprus has come a long way in its efforts to shift the focus of education in  a more holistic direction. The country has transformed several school units into “sustainable schools,” applied relevant good practices, and provided training for teachers and other public servants. That said, full adoption of the sustainable development framework requires the Government to enlist active involvement of local actors in the decision-making process, as well as in the implementation of education strategies. To be successful in practice, “sustainable development” must be closely linked to the local community and social actors. [21] These local non-governmental actors have a unique capacity to propose, develop and apply effective educational practices for sustainable development that correspond to the needs of their community. Moreover, citizens are more willing to adopt sustainable development policies and practices that emerge from their own community actors, including local sustainable schools.[22]  In addition, the integration of non-governmental actors into the decision-making processes would provide the multidimensional approach to sustainable development that is still absent from the overall educational system.

[1] Hopwood, B. and O’Brien, G., “Sustainable development: mapping different approaches” in Sustainable Development, (London:2005), p. 38.

[2] Tillbury, D. et al., Education and Sustainability: Responding to the Global Challenge, IUCN – The World Conservation Union (2002).

[3] Network for Ecological Education and Practice, Sustainable is more than able:  viewpoints on education for sustainability, (2002), <www.sustainabledevelopment.dk>.

[4] Vrasidas, C. et al., ICT for Educational Development and Social Justice, (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2009).

[5] Saul, D., “Expanding environmental education: Thinking critically, thinking culturally”, in Journal of Environmental Education 31, (London: 2000), pp. 5-8.

[6] Dimopoulou, M., and Mpampila, E.,  “The role of the principal in the operation of an eco-school – the challenge to the leadership of a sustainable school,” <www.aeiforosxoleio.gr>.

[7] Department of Education and Skills, Sustainable schools for pupils, communities and the environment: Securing the future in delivering a UK sustainable development strategy, (London: 2005).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development, (Nicosia: 2010), <www.moa.gov.cy>.

[10] Mavroudi, E., “Insuficient Environmental Education, interview with Dr. Zachariou Aravella,” in Simerini, (Nicosia: 2009), <www.sigmalive.com>.

[11]Zachariou, A. and Kadji-Beltran, C., “Cypriot primary school principals' understanding of education for sustainable development key terms and their opinions about factors affecting its implementation”, in Environmental Education Research, (Abingdon, UK: 2009), pp 315-334.

[12] Ibid.

[14] Mavroudi, E., “interview with Dr. Zachariou Aravella”, op cit., (2009).

[15] Mpakas, T., “Organization and Management of the Educational System: The peripheral level of Education Leadership - Weaknesses, Challenges and Potentials”, in Primary Education and the Challenges of our Era, seminar conducted at Loannina, Greece, May 2007.

[16] Bass, S., Dalal-Clayton, B. et al., “Participation in Strategies for Sustainable Development”, Environmental Planning Issues, (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2005).

[17] Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development, (2010), <www.moa.gov.cy>.

[18] Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation, Linking Science and Policy in Sustainable Development Research, (Limassol, Cyprus: 2009), <www.research.org.cy/EL/user_info/scie.html>.

[19] Zachariou, A. “Centres of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development: A Report on the Network of the Centres of Environmental Education in Cyprus”, 4th KEEPE,  Nafplio, (Greece: December 2008).

[20] Mavroudi, E., “Interview with Dr. Zachariou Aravella”, op cit., (2009).

[21] Uphoff, N., Local Institutions and Participation for Sustainable Development, IIED, Gatekeeper Series,  no. 3, (London: 1992).

[22] Ibid

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No sustainable development under occupation

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Israeli occupation undermines Palestine’s environment and minimizes any possibility that it can implement sustainable development. Alarming unemployment rates, weak and inefficient institutions and high dependency on customs revenues and financial contributions from donor countries makes apparent the unsustainability of the Palestinian economy. In addition, the disastrous conditions of the water supply facilities – mostly due to laws enforced during the 1967 Israeli occupation – poses an alarming threat to Palestinians’ well being.

Palestinian NGO network

Israeli occupation undermines Palestine’s environment and minimizes any possibility that it can implement sustainable development. Alarming unemployment rates, weak and inefficient institutions and high dependency on customs revenues and financial contributions from donor countries makes apparent the unsustainability of the Palestinian economy. In addition, the disastrous conditions of the water supply facilities – mostly due to laws enforced during the 1967 Israeli occupation – poses an alarming threat to Palestinians’ well being.  

Palestine represents a very unusual case regarding sustainable development. In order to address this topic, there are a number of issues that need to be considered, the most important being the lack of sovereignty and control over resources, the absence of legislation or policy plans for development of any kind and the growing importance of donor country funding to the economies of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The lack of legislation and policies, especially with regard to sustainability, is linked to the Israeli occupation, which has ultimate power over the jurisdiction and geographic extension of any possible legislation, and is also a cause of political instability.
The reality of the occupation therefore makes it necessary to take into account the inadequacy of many development indicators when applied to the Palestinian situation. This does not mean that we must exclude Palestine from development statistics, but merely that the indicators that are widely employed are not necessarily valid with regard to this country, and consequently another kind of development measurements must be considered.

Unemployment

The World Bank’s 2011 report on the current poverty situation on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip described the Palestinian situation as unique in the world. It noted that the country’s unemployment rates are the highest in the world, mostly due to the lack of opportunities, and concluded that the unemployment rates are closely linked to the occupation.

According to this report, 19% of the population was unemployed in 2011, despite the fact that according to official data, 780,000 people were working in Palestinian territory in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 130,000 compared to the previous year. This means a decrease in unemployment rates of approximately 21.7%. Young men and women are particularly affected, since in 2009, the unemployment rate among young people was 10% higher than the overall unemployment rate.[1]  

Social and environmental issues

The situation with regard to health services is daunting. There are 25 public hospitals across the territories, and the number of inhabitants per bed reaches 1,349. The poor condition of the medical facilities makes it inevitable that a large number of patients must be transferred to neighbouring countries for treatment. This resulted in an additional expense of almost 1,484,200,000 Israeli shekels (USD 403,702,400) in 2010, largely due to the lack of sound planning and proper management. In fact, if the existing resources were properly managed, the ministry would be able to build facilities equipped with state of the art medical technology, which would make such expensive transfers unnecessary.

Regarding water supply and sanitation, the 2007-11 Gaza Strip blockade had dire consequences, particularly the severe damage inflicted on the infrastructure. Almost all sewage and water pumps were out of operation due to lack of electricity and fuel; this caused a great shortage of water and also sewage overflow in urban areas.[2] The blockade impeded the provision of spare parts, so the facilities were not repaired.

Agriculture accounts for 70% of Palestine’s total usage of water, followed by domestic (27%) and industrial uses. According to a World Bank 2009 report, the residential water supply for the West Bank was estimated at about 50 liters per capita per day.[3] In 2009, 60% of the population of the Gaza Strip lacked access to continuous water supply.[4] In the West Bank, only 13,000 m3 (out of 85,000 m3) of wastewater was treated in 2009, while in the same year the amount was 65,000 m3 (out of 110,000 m3), in the Gaza Strip.[5]

The same year, Amnesty International reported that up to 200,000 Palestinians in rural communities have no access at all to running water, and the Israeli army prevents them from even collecting rain water, while Israeli settlers have irrigated farms and swimming pools. In fact, the 450,000 settlers counted in this report use as much water as the total population of Palestine. In order to cope with water shortages and lack of infrastructure, many Palestinians have to purchase water of dubious quality from mobile water tankers, at very high prices.[6]

In 1993, the World Bank published a report entitled “Developing the Occupied Territories: An investment in Peace,” which described the provision of public services in the occupied territories as highly inadequate, since water, solid waste and wastewater facilities were practically non-existent. Poor waste management contributed to environmental degradation, and the causes go back to the Israeli Administration from 1967 to 1993. Progress in rebuilding  these facilities has been almost nonexistent, despite investments by many international donors, mostly due to the flaws and ambiguities in the Oslo Agreement, especially as it has been interpreted by the Israeli authorities. Escalating violence has further worsened this situation.[7]

When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it declared all water resources to be property of the State of Israel, and since then several military orders have minimized water development in Palestine, fixing pumping quotas, prohibiting rehabilitation of wells or drilling new ones without a permit and confiscating or even destroying all Palestinian pumping stations on the Jordan River. Israel, at the same time, increased its exploitation of the water resources of the West Bank, drilling 38 wells. As a result of this, by 1993 Palestinians had access only to 20% of the water of the aquifer system underlying the West Bank. The Oslo Agreement did nothing to improve the situation for Palestine. In fact, it was agreed that “existing quantities of utilization” were to be maintained, so Israel’s exploitation of 80% of the aquifer was formally endorsed.[8]

It is not yet clear what will be the effect of climate change on Palestinian territories, but some experts predict rising average temperatures and decreasing precipitation, which will endanger even more the precarious state of water supply both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.[9]

According to a report published by the Research in the Middle East Institute, a number of Palestine and Israeli NGOs believe that “a comprehensive peace process would help in resolving the Israeli violations against the Palestinian environment. The current peace process was not seen as helping the environment.”[10] The environment clearly can’t wait for serious peace talks.

Legislation issues

Palestinian legislation is extremely complex and contradictory. Some laws, for example, date from the time of the Ottoman Empire and British Mandate, and also from Egyptian and Jordanian dominion via Israeli occupation, which included military orders that were not part of the legislation per se but are still in force. Laws adopted after the establishment of the National Authority in 1994 constitute only 12% of the applicable legislation.

The judicial and legislative situation is clearly linked to the political instability of the country. The separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for instance, stopped the debate over 50 proposed laws.

Also, the updated laws did not abolish the old ones, some of which are contrary to the geographical jurisdiction of the Arbitration Act as enforced by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jerusalem. There is dire need of updated legislation regarding the private sector for example, in order to regulate, promote and strengthen the business environment, as well as with regard to health care.

It could be argued that the occupation is still playing a major role in thwarting effective legislation, weakening its ability to provide a framework for development.

In fact, both the legislative and the judiciary systems suffer from the continuing occupation, but also from the fact that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are split. This is one of the most important obstacles regarding sustainable development, since environmental policies are not available because of the lack of dialogue. Another factor that undermines sustainability is that the institutional weakness makes impossible to measure or improve the effectiveness of funding efforts by donor countries.

Donations, politics and sustainability

Different criteria regarding the allocation and administration of funds from donors are a constant source of conflict. Thus, the projects designated beneficiaries often fail to benefit from the funds from donor countries and enterprises. These conflicts are usually increased by the politicization of the services provided.

It should be noted that donors do seek to ameliorate this situation by promoting accountability and strengthening institutional transparency in Palestine, though the results are now being jeopardized by the increasing politicization of Palestinian society. In fact, many donations have the negative consequence of increasing dependence on this kind of funding, especially regarding donations with political goals such as the fund provided to the activities aiming at normalizing the relations with Israel. This kind of dependency also serves to undermine deep social values such as volunteerism, dignity and altruism. All of this has served to deepen social unrest.

Donors have also sought to enhance the capacity of different institutions in the Palestinian community, which was evident in a situation experienced by both civil society institutions and the Government. The improved technology institutions were able to obtain, such as computers and communications technology was not linked to a change in the working habits of either the employees or the managers of these institutions, especially in light of a politicized environment. The late adoption of merit criteria in employment has not yet been able to improve the efficiency of the public service.  

Conclusion and recommendations

It is clear that under the Israeli occupation, sustainable development will be impossible in Palestine. In the immediate term however, In order to mitigate the hardship of the Palestinian population and help reduce political tensions, attention needs to be paid to the following:

  • To step up advocacy concerning the implementation of election laws as well as the adoption of proportional representation in order to increase participation.
  • To increase donor respect for the choices by the Palestinian society and abandon their policy of reinforcing the status quo by tying development assistance to political agendas.
  • To harmonize and align donor policies with national priorities and enhance their contribution to social harmony.
  • To revise existing laws and implement them in a manner that contributes to more inclusive and sustainable development.
  •  To enhance the institutions and Government’s accountability not only for donors but also in front of the public.
  • To pursue a clear distribution of roles and full coordination among development actors.

With regard to civil society, moreover, several measures should be undertaken, including:

  • Recognize NGOs as the legitimate voice of civil society institutions and no longer demand that they stay away from political roles.
  • Identify priorities based on needs and capacities assessment.
  • Support initiatives designed to strengthen Palestinian civil society and empower NGOs.
  • Coordinate donor strategies in order to support, empower and develop the civil society.

 

[1] See “Amid Palestinian statehood push, a grim World Bank report,” Christian Science Monitor, (14 September 2011),  <www.csmonitor.com>.

[2] World Bank, Gaza Strip Water and Sanitation Situation, (2009,) <web.worldbank.org>.

[3] Wikipedia, Water supply and sanitation in the Palestinian territories, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Palestine>.

[4] UN News Centre, Gaza water crisis prompts UN call for immediate opening of crossings, (2009), <www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=31927>.

[5] World Bank, op.cit.

[6] Amnesty International, Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water, (27 October 2009), <www.amnesty.org>.

[7]  A. Gray, Environmental justice for Palestine, (23 March 2007), <www.countercurrents.org/pa-gray230307.htm>.

[8] Ibid.

[9] EMWIS, A war on water, (2009), <www.emwis.org>.

[10] See: < vispo.com/PRIME/enviro.htm>.

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No sustainable development without peace and security

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Decades of armed conflict and unrest have almost destroyed Afghanistan’s institutions and territory. Although the country has a new Government and a new Constitution, it faces major challenges in terms of sustainable development. One of these is how to ensure the right to education for both females and males. Despite remarkable progress in rebuilding the education system, the Government’s efforts have been insufficient and much remains to be done. Other challenges include tackling environmental problems and rehabilitating and managing the country’s natural resources.

Watch on Basic Rights Afghanistan Organization (WBRAO)
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)
Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)

Decades of armed conflict and unrest have almost destroyed Afghanistan’s institutions and territory. Although the country has a new Government and a new Constitution, it faces major challenges in terms of sustainable development. One of these is how to ensure the right to education for both females and males. Despite remarkable progress in rebuilding the education system, the Government’s efforts have been insufficient and much remains to be done. Other challenges include tackling environmental problems and rehabilitating and managing the country’s natural resources.

After decades of war and civil unrest Afghanistan faces multiple challenges, among them poverty and lack of security. Armed conflicts resulted in more than 1.5 million casualties and a nearly dismantled education system. In September 2000, when the Millennium Summit was held at the UN General Assembly in New York, the country was still war-torn and could not participate. The Government subsequently endorsed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in March 2004 but had to modify the global timetable and benchmarks because of its lost decades and the lack of available information. Although the rest of the international community determined the MDGs should be attained by 2015 against a baseline of 1990, Afghanistan set its targets for 2020 and its baselines between 2002 and 2005.[1] The Government also stated that peace and security play a critical role in achieving the MDGs and added “enhanced security” as a ninth goal;[2] indeed, peace and security are key components of sustainable development and any kind of long-term planning.

Advances in education

For a long time Afghanistan had very low rates of school attendance and high percentages of illiteracy. This situation became worse under Taliban rule: schools were closed and destroyed, curricula were restricted and women were banned from education. Between 1996 and 2001 women and girls were excluded from all aspects of educational life, from primary school to university, as schools for girls were closed and female teachers were prevented from working.[3] Girls’ gross enrolment ratio in Kabul fell from 32% in 1995 to just 6.4% in 1999.[4] The Taliban also imposed many restrictions on educational institutions and demanded that religion be emphasized at the expense of other subjects.[5]

After this educational and social collapse the country is slowly on the road to recovery, with a significant enrolment of students since the new Government took office. In the first years following the fall of the Taliban, education was a top priority for the Government as well as for donors, with a focus on getting children back into school with a particular emphasis on the primary level.[6] The Government is also striving to achieve MDG 3 (“to promote gender equality and empower women”) and has committed to eliminating gender disparity in all levels of education by 2020. The new Constitution states that education should be free for all Afghan nationals with no discrimination based on gender.

Research by 16 local organizations led by Oxfam Novib shows that although there are still significant obstacles to girls’ education there has also been progress since 2001.[7] The “Back to School” campaign launched in 2002 significantly expanded primary school enrolment, which has shown a seven-fold increase from approximately 900,000 in 2000 to 5 million in 2008 (see also chart 1).[8] For girls, the boost has been even more dramatic: official enrolment figures have increased from an estimated 5,000 under the Taliban to 2.4 million girls as of 2010.[9] 

According to figures published by UNICEF, between 2005 and 2009 the primary school attendance ratio was 66% for males and 40% for females while the figures for secondary school were 18% for males and 6% for females. The secondary school enrolment rate, on the other hand, was 41% for males and 15% for females.[10]

Efforts made to improve education in Afghanistan, however, are now beginning to slow down. The Ministry of Education has undoubtedly made progress in improving both the availability and quality of education, but due to the large influx of students over the past few years it is struggling to keep pace with demand. With donors increasingly focused on stabilization and counterinsurgency rather than development, and with security deteriorating in many areas of the country, the gains made in improving girls’ education are in danger of slipping away.

Parents and students are eager for high quality education but they are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress. If there is not significant investment in post-primary education there is the risk that these students “will be left behind, turned off, perhaps, and cut short in their personal, social and vocational development.”[11]

Education and gender equality

According to an OXFAM report published in 2011, only 6% of Afghan women aged 25 or older have ever received any formal education and just 12% of women aged 15 or older are literate.[12] Of those interviewed for the report 41.2% named poverty as the single biggest obstacle to girls’ access to education and 39.4% stated that early or forced marriage was another barrier.  Among the other challenges regarding gender equality in education are: [13]

  • There are not enough female teachers to meet the demand. More than a quarter (26.4%) of the individuals interviewed for the research named the lack of a female teacher as a major obstacle to girls’ access to education. More than two-thirds of teachers (68.4%) reported that their school does not have enough teachers. Of these, more than half (54.6%) stated that they only needed both female and male teachers, 12.3% said they only needed male teachers and 5.7% were unsure.
  • There are not enough education centres to meet the demand. Nearly a quarter (23.7%) of those interviewed saw distance from school as a major obstacle to girls’ access to education. Distance, along with attendance in mixed classes or interaction with male teachers, becomes increasingly problematic as girls approach adolescence and when cultural norms regulating their behaviour become more restrictive.
  • Many schools do not have the infrastructure needed to provide quality education. Data from the Ministry of Education shows that 47% of schools lack proper facilities.[14] These varied significantly across research sites and were particularly deficient in rural areas.

Lack of security, female seclusion, religious biases, household chores and threats from the insurgents are key factors for girls abandoning schools. Acid and gas attacks on girl students in 2010 caused a number of dropouts; however new hope for an increase in girls’ enrolment emerged after the Taliban announced that they would not burn schools or create obstacles to girls’ education.[15]

Environmental issues

After 30 years of political chaos and conflict Afghanistan faces a severe environmental crisis. The major challenges are soil degradation, air and water pollution, deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, overpopulation in urban areas and poor management of fresh water resources.[16] Military factions have used wood extensively for fuel and also cleared forests to prevent them from being used as hiding places for the opposing forces.[17] Uncontrolled logging of the eastern conifer forests is having a severe impact on forest area conditions.[18]

As forest cover disappears, the risk of environmental degradation increases. Poor management of forests leads to desertification and soil erosion, which both inevitably reduce the amount of land available for agriculture.[19] If this trend is not reversed, and if the Government does not enforce a sustainable development model, the loss of agricultural land will negatively affect food security in the near future.

Extreme weather and natural disasters have also had a negative impact. The 1998–2003 drought, for example, created food shortages that drove major rural-to-urban migrations.[20] In 2008 conditions worsened: widespread losses of rain-fed wheat crops were reported due to a significant scarcity of rainfall and winter snowfall and thus wheat production fell significantly.[21] The same conditions were forecast for 2011. Low levels of rainfall mean that crops cannot be sustained and cause population displacement, a scenario that is bound to happen again if precipitation – as forecast – drops below normal parameters.[22]

Over 80% of Afghanistan’s water resources originate in the Hindu Kush Mountains but the larger glaciers in that region and the Pamir Mountains have shrunk by 30% and some smaller ones have vanished.[23] More than 2.5 million people in the country are already affected by drought or are vulnerable to the effects of recurrent drought and water shortages. This number is likely to increase due to global warming and further aridization.[24]

Conclusion

A new approach is urgently needed from both the Government and donors if the gains made in education are to be maintained. Decision-making around whether or not girls should go to school is based on a variety of factors that differ from province to province and even from household to household. There is also a complex relationship between demand factors (e.g., community attitudes and economic constraints) and supply factors (e.g., school buildings and qualified teachers). All these issues need to be addressed in order to increase girls’ attendance in school.[25]

The environmental crisis in Afghanistan is of major concern. Meeting the challenge will take decades and it cannot be tackled by the Government alone. Sustained financial assistance and technical support are also needed from the international community.[26]

[1] UNDP Afghanistan, Afghanistan MDGs overview, <www.undp.org.af/MDGs/index.htm>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] BBC World Service, Case study: education in Afghanistan, <www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/ihavearightto/four_b/casestudy_art26.shtml>.

[4] American Institutes for Research with Hassan Mohammad, Education and the role of NGOs in emergencies, Afghanistan 1978–2002, (US Agency for International Development, 8 August 2006), <pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADG858.pdf>.

[5] BBC World Service, op. cit.

[6] Oxfam International, “High stakes: Girls’ education in Afghanistan,” Joint NGO Briefing Paper, (Oxford: Oxfam GB, 24 February 2011), <www.oxfam.org/en/policy/high-stakes-girls-education-afghanistan>.

[7] The Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium, Report card: Progress on Compulsory Education grades 1–9, (March 2004), <www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/afghanistan-education-report-card>.

[8] Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Education, 1388 (2009–10) school attendance, (2010), unpublished spreadsheet.

[9] Ibid., 1388 (2009–10) school enrolment by grade, (2010), unpublished spreadsheet.

[10] UNICEF, Afghanistan: Statistics, <www.unicef.org/infobycountry/afghanistan_statistics.html>.

[11] J.K. Intili and E. Kissam, How to do more, faster: The current status of Afghanistan’s education system and a strategy to increase service capacity while improving learning,” (Aguirre Division, JBS International, September 2008), <www.eurasiacritic.com/articles/how-do-more-faster-current-status-afghanistan’s-education-system-and-strategy-increase>.

[12] Oxfam International, op. cit.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Education, 1388 (2009–10) schools infrastructure, 2010, unpublished spreadsheet.

[15] Graeme Paton, “Taliban “abandons” opposition to girls’ education”, The telegraph, (14 January 2011), <www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8258146/
Taliban-abandons-opposition-to-girls-education.html>.

[16] Afghanistan online, Environmental facts and issues concerning Afghanistan, <www.afghan-web.com/environment>.

[17] Wikipedia, Environmental issues in Afghanistan, <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_Afghanistan>.

[18] UNEP, Afghanistan: Post-conflict environmental assessment, (Nairobi, Kenya: 2003), <postconflict.unep.ch/publications/afghanistanpcajanuary2003.pdf>.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Wikipedia, op. cit.

[21] US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Afghanistan: Severe drought causes major decline in 2008/2009 wheat production, (12 August 2008), <www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/highlights/2008/08/Afghanistan Drought>.

[22] M. Ryan, “Hungry Afghanistan faces prospect of drought in 2011,” Reuters, (11 February 2011), <www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/11/us-afghanistan-drought-feature-idUSTRE71A2Y820110211>.

[23] National Environmental Protection Agency of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (NEPA), Afghanistan’s Environment 2008, (NEPA and UNEP, 2008), <postconflict.unep.ch/publications/afg_soe_E.pdf>.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Oxfam International, op. cit.

[26] UNEP, Afghanistan’s environmental recovery: A post-conflict plan for people and their natural resources, (Geneva: UNEP Post-Conflict Branch), <postconflict.unep.ch/publications/UNEP_afghanistan_lr.pdf>.

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Now is the time for environmental strategies

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The country faces big environmental problems, and the Government – although moving in the right direction - is not paying enough attention to them. To ensure environmental sustainability, the Government should continue to enact and implement environmental laws, many of which have been debated in recent years, and decide once and for all to make a firm commitment to international environmental protection agreements. The Durban talks on climate change may be an excellent opportunity to develop a national, long-term strategy and work towards ensuring the well-being of future generations.

Social Watch El Salvador
Susana Barrera
Magdalena Cortez
Scarlett Cortez
Ana María Galdámez
Omar García
Mario Paniagua

The country faces big environmental problems, and the Government – although moving in the right direction - is not paying enough attention to them. To ensure environmental sustainability, the Government should continue to enact and implement environmental laws, many of which have been debated in recent years, and decide once and for all to make a firm commitment to international environmental protection agreements. The Durban talks on climate change may be an excellent opportunity to develop a national, long-term strategy and work towards ensuring the well-being of future generations.

El Salvador is rich in biodiversity. Were these diverse biological resources well-managed, they could provide the basis on which to support the entire population and lift many out of poverty. At the present time, however, they are not being properly administered, and the country’s great potential is being wasted. In 2009, an estimated 37% of the Salvadoran population was living in poverty.[1]  

A sizeable proportion of the rural population live below the poverty line, and their subsistence strategies depend on and exploit natural resources.  The Government lacks a clear policy to guide and provide technical and financial support to existing and new rural settlements whose struggle for existence has accelerated the destruction of forests, soil and water resources.  Historically, the lack of a national environmental policy has led to unplanned and indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, the pollution of water with human and industrial waste, and increasing air pollution caused by more and more motor vehicles.[2]  Big industries and agricultural exploitation have caused pollution in nature areas, and there has been no suitable treatment for liquid or solid waste.

The environment and the Millennium Development Goals

Despite these problems, according to the UNDP, the prospects of El Salvador achieving its targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are encouraging. The poverty reduction target and the target for access to sanitation have already been reached, and indicators show the country is very near its target for access to potable water. Less progress has been made towards the other MDG goals, but El Salvador seems to be on the right path and doing reasonably well.[3]

Measured against the MDGs, El Salvador has incorporated the principles of sustainable development into national policies and programmes and reversed the loss of environmental resources.  It has reduced the loss of biodiversity and by 2010 had brought the rate of loss down considerably.  The country is on track to cut by half the percentage of the population without access to potable water and basic sewage services by 2015 and to improve the lives of at least one million inhabitants of shanty towns by 2020.[4]  According to UNDP, the goal of reversing the rate of loss of environment resources and the target of cutting in half the number of people without access to potable water or sewage services have already been reached.[5]

El Salvador has also reduced consumption of substances that damage the ozone layer, specifically chlorofluorocarbons (CFC gases).[6] It has made good on its commitment to the Montreal Protocol to reduce emissions of CFC gases 50% by 2005, 85% by 2007, and by 1 January 2010 was on course for a 100% reduction.[7]

The question of access to potable water and sewage services is less easy to assess, depending on the criteria used to evaluate progress. The traditional evaluation system considers the supply of improved water by pipes, public access points, perforated wells or pumps, protected wells, protected sources and rain water. If these criteria are used, the proportion of the population with access to sources of improved water increased from 63.3% in 1991 to 83.9% in 2000 and 86.9% in 2007. However, if a more rigorous standard is applied that considers only access to water in households, the figures are less encouraging,  showing an improvement from 42.2% of households in 1991 to 67.5% in 2007.[8]

An important step forward

One important step forward came in March 2011 with the enactment of the Law of Land Reclamation.[9] This lays down regulations that impose order on the unrestricted spread of large urban areas, establishes standards for how soils are used and sets up a legal framework to govern human activity in river valleys and the forests that still remain.

The country also has an Environment Law and a battery of specific laws to support it, including the Law of Protected Nature Areas, the Forestry Law and the Law of Forest Wildlife Preservation. In addition, El Salvador has subscribed to the Montreal Protocol and is committed to applying international standards to the management of dangerous materials. 

Taking a broad view, even though in practice not enough resources are being allocated to make it possible for these laws to yield significant concrete results, the very fact that a regulatory framework has been put in place must be regarded as a big step in the right direction.

The impact of climate change

Climate change is another dimension of sustainable development in which El Salvador must undertake serious long-term planning. The country, and indeed the whole region, will have to consider how to prepare for and cope with the effects of climate change.

Climate change is creating a whole range of problems for the countries in Central America, arising from the adverse impacts of weather-related phenomena on production, infrastructure, and people’s means of support, health and safety.  Increasingly, the environment is less and less able to provide resources or play a key role in sustaining life.

As an example, Central America has been blessed with a rich endowment of water resources, but these are unequally distributed among the various countries and regions and between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  There are great variations in water availability from year to year and even within the same year.  According to climate change forecasts, the use of and demand for fresh water could rise by as much as 20% in a scenario based on the premise that in the near future there will be a proliferation of local solutions to the problems of managing economic, social and environmental sustainability. But in some scenarios that are less careful about protecting ecosystems, demand could even go up by 24%.[10]

El Salvador is particularly vulnerable to climate change.   Of all the Central American countries, El Salvador could be hit the hardest, followed by Honduras and Nicaragua.[11] Demand for water currently exceeds the 20% threshold that is accepted internationally as the critical level for pressure on water resources.  Thus, El Salvador falls into the same category of water dependence as Egypt and some countries in the Arabian Peninsula.[12]

The outlook for agriculture is equally uncertain and worrying. According to some studies, the principal effects of climate change will be greater CO2 concentrations, higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and increasing pressure on water resources --though the tolerance of higher limits and endurance of the country’s crops may have a mitigating effect.

Conclusion

To achieve environmental sustainability, El Salvador must make a commitment to international environmental agreements that will enable it to put a brake on activities that harm the environment. In addition, it should design and implement national policies that include guidelines that promote full respect for human life and for living things.

El Salvador has a unique opportunity to tackle these problems. It should assume leadership of the Central American countries at the climate change discussions in Durban in 2011.  It has already taken a firm step in this direction with the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources currently engaged in consultations to design and coordinate a national climate change strategy that should enable El Salvador to take firm positions at the Durban talks.

Confidence and support are also needed when it comes to adopting new strategies like the “National Policy on Water Resources in El Salvador,” a Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources initiative aimed at ensuring that the country’s present and future generations will have enough water for all their needs.

[1] The World Bank, El Salvador, (San Salvador: 2011), <data.worldbank.org/country/el-salvador>.

[2] M. A. Alvarado, Diagnóstico de la situación medio ambiental de El Salvador, (3 October 2006), <www.ecoportal.net>.

[3] UNDP, “Avance hacia los ODM en El Salvador,” in Millennium Development Goals 2007, <www.pnud.org.sv/2007/odm/content/view/15/101>

[4] UNDP, Segundo Informe Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, El Salvador, (2009), p. 39; also see:  <www.unhabitat.org/stats/Default.aspx>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] UNDP, Objetivos de Desarollo del Milenio, <www.pnud.org.sv/2007/odm/content/view/1/82/>.

[7] UNDP, Segundo Informe Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, op cit.

[8] Ibid.

[9] El Salvador Noticias, El Salvador con nueva ley de ordenamiento territorial, (12 March 2011), <www.elsalvadornoticias.net/2011/03/12/el-salvador-con-nueva-ley-de-ordenamiento-territorial/>.

[10] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), La economía del cambio climático en Centro América, (2010).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

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Ominous trends

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
All forecasts agree that the outlook for the country is grim. The people are facing a wide range of threats, including desert encroachment, the loss of forests, increasing poverty and under-employment. No one is taking action to improve the situation. The country has no policy for sustainable development. Government bodies do not coordinate their policies and it is not hard to see that the worst is still to come.

Action Group for Peace and Education for Change (GAPAFOT)
Pastor Clotaire Rodonne Siribi

All forecasts agree that the outlook for the country is grim. The people are facing a wide range of threats, including desert encroachment, the loss of forests, increasing poverty and under-employment. No one is taking action to improve the situation. The country has no policy for sustainable development. Government bodies do not coordinate their policies.   It is not hard to see that the worst is still to come.

The economy of the Central African Republic depends primarily on the agriculture sector, which employs around 68% of the active population and in 2005-06 generated 54% of the gross domestic product (GDP).[1] The country has about 15 million hectares of arable land, but less than two million hectares - 3.2% of the surface area - are actually cultivated.[2] Its 16 million hectares of grassland are also underexploited; it has 2.9 million head of cattle while the potential is five million.[3] Some agricultural production is exported (cotton, coffee and tobacco) but most of the sector is used for subsistence farming.

The traditional cultivation methods commonly applied use burning techniques, which contributes to soil erosion and deforestation.[4] The most widespread system is semi-itinerant poly-cultivation, a method that involves rotating cotton, mandioc and cereals in the savannah; coffee and mandioc in the forests; and cereals in the Sahel region. In spite of favourable agro-ecological conditions, agricultural yields are extremely low.

Energy from firewood

An analysis of the urbanization process and the situation in large cities reveals several serious problems with current exploitation of the country’s environmental and human resources. Reliance on wood for nearly 90% of cooking fuel is causing deforestation.

Urbanization and the concentration of the population in and around the cities has brought environmental problems such as anarchic housing construction on what was agricultural land, the concentration of pollutants, soil degradation, alteration of the hydro-geological system, expansion of the savannah and pre-desertification conditions. Wood is the main fuel for heating in 91.7% of households in the capital, Bangui, where it is used in nearly all poor homes (96%); the rich use a combination of firewood (84.5%), coal (10.5%) and gas (2.5%). Between 750 and 1400 tonnes of firewood are consumed every day in Bangui alone, which comes to 280,000 to 500,000 tonnes per year.

Environmental problems

The country’s most pressing environmental problems are water pollution, desertification and the loss of biodiversity. Droughts are now frequent in the north, northeast and eastern regions, which in the past were known for their agricultural production. It is increasingly evident that underground water reserves are being exhausted, causing a severe reduction in productivity in these areas.[5] To make matters worse, the Central African Republic ranks alongside Zaire and Nigeria as countries with the most severely eroded soil in Africa.[6] The ravaging of the jungles and forests by farmers and others cutting wood for fuel leads directly to desertification and deforestation. The country has now lost around 29,600 hectares of tropical forest.

Biodiversity has become another critical problem. The elephant population, for example, has long been under threat. In the middle of the 1990s it was estimated that over the previous 30 years 90% of the country’s elephants had been exterminated, with 85% of the massacre after 1985. Hunting of elephants is now banned but illegal poachers are still killing them, along with black and white rhinos.

Urbanization and poverty

The myth that moving to a city brings higher income and greater security became widespread in the Central African Republic only recently. The predicted annual urbanization rate for the period 2010-15 is 2.5% and the new city dwellers are overwhelmingly poor.[7] Analysts attribute this population shift to a variety of factors, including high birth rates, a drastic drift off the land, and an influx of refugees caused by armed conflicts and instability not only in the Central African Republic itself but in neighbouring countries (Congo, Sudan and Chad). Living conditions are far from good. For example, in some districts of Bangui inhabitants have electricity only four days a week. Access to potable water is extremely limited.[8]

According to the 2003 General Population and Housing Census, 2.6 million people, 62.7% of the population, live below the poverty line. The overall poverty rate is 60% in cities and 72% in rural areas.[9]

Since Bangui’s population growth is due to migration from rural areas, the structure of the urban landscape and the use of space are key questions in the future development of the city. Reliance on poorly remunerated, precarious methods of earning a living, such as collecting firewood aggravates urban poverty.

Although the unemployment rate is calculated at only 2%, 64% of new labour opportunities are in activities that are very poorly paid, such as extensive small agriculture and the informal sector; only 10% of jobs are in the formal sector.[10] Urban poverty is particularly severe among people working in agriculture and fishing. 

The worst is still to come

The State is offering no solutions to these problems and appears to have no will to take action. It does not engage in any long term planning, has no development policy and has taken no measures to tackle the most urgent problems. Individual ministries, including Agriculture and Environment, intervene without any kind of coordination.

If current trends continue the forests will continue to shrink, even more land will become savannah and soil erosion will increase, gradually depriving people who cultivate crops or cut wood of their main source of income and increasing the risk of flooding. Conflicts over whether urban and semi-urban plots of land should be used for building or for agricultural production will become acute.

In the long term we can expect the prices of firewood and agricultural products to increase, and poverty in cities and their periphery to intensify. Even more worrying, climate models predict that average temperatures will rise and droughts will become more frequent. This will lead to a marked increase in desertification, which will exacerbate the other catastrophes gradually degrading the country.

 

[1] World Bank, Agriculture, <datos.bancomundial.org/indicador/NV.AGR.TOTL.ZS>.

[2]  ITeM World Guide, Central African Republic: Indicators, <www.guiadelmundo.org.uy/cd/countries/caf/Indicators.html>.

[3] J.J. Ndewana, General Panorama of the CAR, <www.mijarc.org/uploads/media/MIJARCNoticias2-06.pdf>.

[4] Mongbay.com, Central African Republic, <rainforests.mongabay.com/20car.htm>.

[5]“Central African Republic – Environment”,in Nations Encyclopaedia. Available from: <www.nationsencyclopedia.com>.

[6] FAO, Land and environmental degradation and desertification in Africa, <www.fao.org/docrep/X5318E/x5318e02.htm>.

[7] <en.worldstat.info/Africa/List_of_countries_by_Rate_of_urbanization>; Indexmundi, Central African Republic Urbanization, <www.indexmundi.com/central_african_republic/urbanization.html>.

[8] Social Watch, “Central African Republic. The Reduction of Poverty: a very distant objective,” in People First, Social Watch Report 2009, (Montevideo: 2009), p. 146.

[9] Social Watch, “Many obstacles and slow progress,”in After the Fall, Social Watch Report 2010, (Montevideo: 2010), p.154.

[10] Ibid.

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On the brink of becoming a failed State

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
Little progress can be made towards sustainable development because the country is teetering on the edge of civil war and faced with widespread famine and social catastrophe. Its problems are endemic: the population is being impoverished, political corruption is rife, agriculture and food production is feeble, the economy is overdependent on oil, water resources are scarce, and all this has been aggravated by a general state of insecurity brought on by anti-Government demonstrations and the threat of total collapse. If Yemen cannot find a balance between its citizens’ demands and its structural needs, sooner or later it is going to become a failed State.

Human Rights Training and Information Centre
Arafat Alroufaid

Little progress can be made towards sustainable development because the country is teetering on the edge of civil war and faced with widespread famine and social catastrophe. Its problems are endemic: the population is being impoverished, political corruption is rife, agriculture and food production is feeble, the economy is over-dependent on oil, water resources are scarce, and all this has been aggravated by a general state of insecurity brought on by anti-Government demonstrations and the threat of total collapse. If Yemen cannot find a balance between its citizens’ demands and its structural needs, sooner or later it is going to become a failed State.

The agitated months of demonstrations by the Yemeni Youth Popular Revolution against President Ali Abdullah Saleh have shaken the country to its foundations and have made sustainable development less likely than ever. In 2011 the United Nations Security Council sounded the alarm when it expressed “deep concern” about the deteriorating situation of the country and said it could be heading for a massive economic and humanitarian disaster. In October 2011 UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that Yemen could go the way of Somalia and become so irreparably fragmented that it would become a failed State.[1]

The economy is paralysed, poverty is increasing, unemployment has doubled, public services are failing, the prices of basic products have trebled since the start of the year and about 60% of the country’s 24 million people are living below the poverty line with an income of less than a dollar a day. Inflation is running at over 35%. If this goes on the economy will collapse and famine will come, especially in rural areas.

The aim of the popular youth protest movement is to bring down President Saleh, who has been in power for more than 30 years. His administration has been exploiting the country’s oil deposits for export but a large part of the population has been sliding into extreme poverty and Yemen is now the poorest country in the Arab world. It is evident this decline has been caused by bad administration and generalised corruption. Yemen is placed 146th (out of a total of 178) on the Transparency International 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.[2]

More people, more poverty

One of the biggest obstacles to sustainable development is demographic. Yemen has a relatively high birth rate, population growth is 3.2% per year, and if this continues the economic and social problems will get worse as the country’s rate of development simply cannot keep pace. And the outlook is alarming because the population is expected to increase to 43 million by 2025. As the economic crisis has worsened, poverty has increased, there are more beggars in the streets and hundreds of thousands of families are unable to obtain even the most basic food they need. 

The Government, in cooperation with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)[3], has drawn up a plan for a National Food Security Strategy, and this has shown that 32% of the people do not have food protection. This means that almost a third of Yemenis, some 7.5 million people, cannot get enough food and are going hungry. Some 57% of the children are suffering from malnutrition.

The minuscule role of women

Several studies show that women make up more than half the population of the country but less than 20% of the workforce. Half the women who work are in agriculture, and in Yemen’s public administration and services sectors less than 0.9% of the employees are female.

Women are also seriously under-represented in the other sectors of the economy and there are several reasons for this including social custom -  the idea of women working is not completely accepted - and the fact that a high proportion of women, some 79.2%, are illiterate, as against a rate of 36% among men.

A mere 17.3% of primary school teachers are women and 82.7% are men, and in secondary education the figures are only slightly better at 22.8% and 77.2% respectively. In the field of education administration only 11.5% of employees are female. In the legal sector there are very few women indeed, only 0.06% of the total, and in all the branches of the communications industry put together only a paltry 16.7% of the workers are women.

Census data show that the overall poverty rate jumped from 33.8% in 2009 to 42.8% in 2010. The situation is particularly serious in rural areas where, according to official figures, some 47.6% of the people were living in poverty in 2010, up from 38.5% in 2009. This is worse than in urban areas, where the increase over that year was from 19.7% to 29.9%.

Yemen is classed as a low growth country. It was ranked 133rd out of the 169 countries in the United Nations Development Programme 2010 Human Development Report.[4] Some 15.7% of the people are living on less than a dollar a day and 45.2% on less than two dollars a day.

The country produces less than 20% of the food it consumes and it imports around 75%, including 2.1 million tons of grain per year. A lot of agricultural land and huge amounts of water are devoted to the cultivation of the drug khat (catha edulis), a stimulant that is very popular in East Africa and the south of the Arabian Peninsula.

In 2010, 60% of State revenues came from oil. Production was around 300,000 barrels per day but this has decreased in 2011 because of the Yemeni Youth Popular Revolution. Similarly, the economic growth rate fell from 4.5% in 2010 to 3% in the first half of 2011 and then to 1.5% after June. Activity in the building and trade sectors has fallen by 80 to 90% and tourism has practically come to a stop. At the start of the year private sector profits of 17 thousand million dollars were forecast, but the actual result is far less.

Internal and external tourism have fallen by 95%, transport services, many development and investment projects, business and sales in various sectors of the economy have decreased significantly, while construction work, the property market and imports are completely paralysed.

Water is running out

Only 3% of the land is fertile enough for agriculture and this sector is fraught with difficulties like the serious depletion of water resources and the fact that there is little credit and little investment in infrastructure for production and commercialisation. Only 1.25% of total investment goes to agriculture. The State subsidises the sector, and these funds go mainly to pay for livestock feed, fertilizers and diesel fuel for tractors and irrigation pumps. A Government report shows that agriculture’s low growth rate, only 3%, is due not only to its small size but also to the exhaustion of water resources and delays in implementing a plan to reduce the amount of land devoted to khat. At the moment some 25% of agricultural land is sown with this crop and it consumes 30% of water in this sector, and the target is to reduce its share to 10% of the land and water.

The National Water Strategy administration has calculated that to meet the country’s needs the water sector will require investment of around 4,430 million dollars over the next ten years. The Government has tried to raise these funds from donors like the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but this body has made a series of conditions including improving administrative capability to process the aid, implementing good practices, and that water reserves must be managed in a rational way.

According to the Fourth Economic and Social Development Plan for the Reduction of Poverty 2011-215, cited in the United Nations (September 2011)[5] draft for a programme for Yemen (2012-2015), the water sector is in serious difficulties caused by lack of finance, and if it is to reach its targets it will need an enormous injection of funds. The main problems are that fresh water is in short supply, pollution levels are rising, there are floods, the dry season is getting longer, drought is affecting more areas, there is increasing competition for water from all sectors of society, access to potable water and sewage services is limited, and the institutions that organize and administer this resource are feeble and fragmented. This bleak scenario is further aggravated by a lack of coordination and cooperation among the various parties involved in managing the water sector, whose responsibilities are unclear and often overlap.[6]

The above-mentioned report also shows that at the end of 2010 only around 60% of city dwellers had access to potable water and only 30% had sewage facilities. The amount of water produced in 2010 for the main and secondary cities was estimated at 148 million cubic metres, which was an increase of 21 million cubic metres over the 2005 total, but an estimated 104 million cubic metres were consumed, which was an increase of 20 million cubic metres. This difference between production and consumption means that up to 30% of what was produced was lost.[7]

At the end of 2010, some 50% of the rural population had potable water and only 25% had sewage services.

The country’s renewable water resources have been estimated at 2,500 million cubic metres per year, of which 1,500 million are underground and 1,000 million are surface water. But an estimated 3,400 million cubic metres a year are being consumed, which means there is a shortfall of around 900 million cubic metres. It is believed that the excessive pumping out of underground reserves is contributing to the country’s water scarcity. Levels in the various aquifers differ but some of them are being over-exploited by an estimated 250 to 400%. There are also around 45,000 privately owned wells in Yemen and some 200 drilling platforms.

[1] UN News Centre, UNICEF and WFP warn of danger of humanitarian disaster in Yemen, (24 October 2011), <www.un.org/spanish/News/fullstorynews.asp?newsID=22074&criteria1=hambre>.

[2] Transparency International. 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index. <www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results>.

[3] See: <www.ifpri.org/publication/health-nutrition-and-risk-management>.

[4] See: <hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2010_ES_Table1_reprint.pdf>.

[5] See: <www.undp.org/execbrd/pdf/DPDCPYEM2s.pdf>.

[6]  Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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People and the environment should be first

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The Government of Sri Lanka is implementing a neo-liberal, non-sustainable development model that has displaced and impoverished people and has no regard for environmental needs. Already ravaged by the longest civil war in Asia and by natural catastrophes such as the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka currently faces severe environmental issues including deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Meanwhile the gap between rich and poor grows wider. The defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has led to strong feelings of dissatisfaction among minority ethnic communities, who feel their control over their lands has been reduced. The Government’s military victory has nullified civil society’s political expectations.

The Government of Sri Lanka is implementing a neo-liberal, non-sustainable development model that has displaced and impoverished people and has no regard for environmental needs. Already ravaged by the longest civil war in Asia and by natural catastrophes such as the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka currently faces severe environmental issues including deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Meanwhile the gap between rich and poor grows wider. The defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has led to strong feelings of dissatisfaction among minority ethnic communities, who feel their control over their lands has been reduced. The Government’s military victory has nullified civil society’s political expectations.

Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)
Sarath Fernando

The neo-liberal model currently in place in Sri Lanka continually displaces people from their livelihoods. It breaks up social cohesion and disrupts the collaborative relationship between nature and humanity as it strives to extract more and more resources from the environment in an aggressive and destructive approach.

In 1996, for example, the Government considered shifting rural agriculture from low-value crops (domestic food production) to high-value crops (for export). It was also suggested that farmers should be encouraged to sell their land plots and move out of the villages to seek non-farm employment. A subsequent policy document stated that the Government expected migration from the countryside to make rural/urban proportions 50:50 by 2010.[1]

A tsunami that hit the island in December 2004 led to a death toll of 35,322 and displaced 516,150 people. In 2005 plans for rebuilding the country suggested the expulsion of all coastal fisher people.[2] Their land was to be used for the development of tourism zones and modernized cities, designed for a rich elite. It was also intended to switch into large-scale industrial fishing that would replace the small-scale, beach-based fishing on which people’s livelihoods depended. Labour protection laws were to be revised to enable the free hiring and firing of workers, since it was assumed that investors were unlikely to come to countries where labour was protected by law.

Supporters of the neo-liberal economic growth model assume that the best way to make it work is by expanding exports through attracting foreign investment and promoting the private sector by providing more infrastructure facilities such as express highways, international airports, harbours, mega city developments, large tax holidays and cheap labour. However this model has clearly failed to achieve its declared objectives over the last 33 years. Sri Lanka needs a different strategy, which has to address serious issues including poverty, unemployment, hunger and malnutrition.

Environmental issues

Sri Lanka is featured in several lists of “biodiversity hotspots” – meaning regions both biologically rich and endangered – along the Indian Western Ghats. It is home to as many as 140 endemic species of amphibians, for example.[3] But now the country is facing important environmental issues, among them the loss of biodiversity. A report by Conservation International states that only 1.5% of the island’s original forests remain.[4]

Most of these forests were lost during British colonial rule when they were cleared for rubber, coffee and tea plantations, but deforestation also took place during the 1980s and early 1990s when Government soldiers cleared the rainforests because they served as refuges for rebel forces. This also displaced small-scale farmers. Between 1990 and 2005 Sri Lanka had one of the highest deforestation rates of primary forest in the world with more than 18% of the remaining forest cover lost in that period.[5] Over 2.5 million palmyra trees, for example, were felled for construction purposes alone. Reconstruction efforts in the wake of the 2004 tsunami also increased the pressure on the country’s forests.

The impact of climate change is a major concern in Sri Lanka as well. For example, very heavy rains that continued from 2010 to early 2011 caused serious floods in many districts with huge losses in agricultural yields. This will intensify food shortages in 2011.[6] Many reservoirs and waterways have been damaged and will require a large allocation of money for repairs. Erosion is making the soil much less fertile, so producers will need to spend more money on fertilizers. All these issues have led to increasing food prices, which are becoming almost unaffordable by the poorer sections of society.

Political unrest

The military victory achieved in the north over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (see box) has created an appearance of peace in the country, but minority ethnic communities have a strong feeling of dissatisfaction since their control over their lands has been reduced. It is feared that the continued military control of the area is set to provide opportunities for businesses, including foreign investment, that will take control of the land and other natural resources.

People’s political expectations (such as for transparent elections and commissions for better functioning of the judicial system and civil service) have been nullified by the Government’s military victory, which enabled the presidency to extend its powers and period of rule.

Conclusion

The current growth model relies on improving the economy through competition in the international market. However the last 33 years show that this approach has failed to reduce poverty in Sri Lanka. Government figures showed 15% of the population living below the official poverty line in 2010, but the World Bank put the figure at 23%.[7] Moreover economic disparities have been increasing; the richest 10% of the people hold nearly 40% of the wealth and the poorest 10% hold just 1%,[8] and while the GINI index for 1985 ranked in the vicinity of 0.32, it climbed to almost 0.36 in 1995 and reached 0.41 in 2005.[9]

The social problems that have resulted from this model could be solved by the adoption of sustainable small-scale ecological agriculture. Based on an overall vision of developing a friendly relationship between nature and human society, the strategy would utilize people’s creative potential to improve their livelihoods and life situations in a manner that protects and improves the environment. It could regenerate nature and its resources and enable the country to mitigate and adapt to climate change issues.

This approach is also based on understanding the way ecology principles could be applied to enhance soil fertility, maximizing the absorption of sunlight by plants, allowing and enhancing natural biological control of pests by adopting principles of integrated pest management, improving the use of microbial activity and recycling of organic matter, preventing erosion, and timing farming seasons with greater understanding of natural cycles of rain and sun. This approach could be adopted very effectively to improve the productivity of land even in plots as small as 1/8th of an acre. It has the potential to reduce rural poverty while also addressing important environmental issues and becoming a much more sustainable model than the one that has been historically applied.

BOX: Asia’s longest civil war
The Sri Lankan civil war was fought between 1983 and 2009. The belligerents were the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist militant organization.

The Tamil people, an ethnic group native to the southern regions of the Indian subcontinent, have historically occupied the northern and eastern parts of the island of Sri Lanka. They share the Tamil language and a long cultural tradition including poetry, sculpture and architecture, one of the best-known examples being the art of the Chola dynasty, which ruled southern India from 848 to 1249 AD.

The roots of the conflict go back to British colonial rule, when the country was known as Ceylon. A national liberation movement of Sinhalese people (the ethnic group that comprises the majority of the island’s population) arose in the early 20th century calling for political independence, which was eventually granted by the British imperial authorities after peaceful negotiations. One of the policies adopted by the new State was to make Sinhalese the official language, and the 1956 Sinhala Only Act led to ethnic riots that escalated into the civil war.

The first documents regarding the establishment of an independent Tamil Eelam state began to circulate in 1963, and the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) emerged in 1972 when several groups that had adopted the tiger emblem of the Chola Empire as their icon joined together. Four years later the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) was founded as a political organization that supported the TNT armed actions and became, after the 1977 elections, the leading opposition party.

In 1976 the TNT changed its name to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and started a campaign of assassinations that included members of parliament. The beginning of the civil war was triggered by a LTTE ambush aimed at a Sri Lanka army patrol, which was followed by retaliations against the Tamil people including the killing of several civilians.

The war ended officially in 2009 when the LTTE admitted defeat. The conflict had a severe impact on the population, the environment and the economy, with an estimated 100,000 casualties of which more than 27,000 were Tamil militants.[10] The final stages of the war displaced almost 300,000 people from their homes into camps.[11] Allegations of war crimes committed on both sides of the conflict include attacks on civilians, executions of combatants and prisoners, enforced disappearances, shortages of food, medicine and clean water for civilians trapped in the war zones and also child recruitment.[12]

The US-based Tamils Against Genocide group has presented evidence of discrimination, prosecution and even genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka before, during and after the war, including embargos of food and medicine, disappearances, implementation of race-based citizenship laws, pogroms (in 1956, 1958, 1977 and 1983)[13] and cultural genocide such as destruction of books and temples.[14]

[1] Government of Sri Lanka, “Connecting to Growth: Sri Lanka’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” in Regaining Sri Lanka: Vision and Strategy for Accelerated Development, (2002), p. 83.

[2] Amnesty International, “Sri Lanka – Waiting to go home, the plight of the internally displaced,” (2006), <www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA37/004/2006/en>.

[3] Conservation international, Western Ghats and Sri Lanka, <www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/hotspots/ghats/Pages/default.aspx>.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mongabay.com, Sri Lanka, <rainforests.mongabay.com/20srilanka.htm>.

[6] S. Patranobis, “Flood situation worsens, impending food shortage”, Hindustan Times, (13 January 2011), <www.hindustantimes.com>.

[7] M. Hardy, “Poverty in Sri Lanka,” The Sunday Leader, (4 April 2010), <www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/04/04/poverty-in-sri-lanka/>.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Trading Economies, Gini index in Sri Lanka, (2009), <www.tradingeconomics.com/sri-lanka/gini-index-wb-data.html>.

[10] ABC News, Up to 100,000 killed in Sri Lanka’s civil war: UN, (20 May 2009), <www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/05/20/2576543.htm>.

[11] Amnesty International, Unlock the camps in Sri Lanka: safety and dignity for the displaced now. A briefing paper, London, (2009), <www.amnesty.org>.

[12] Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka: US war crimes report details extensive abuses, (22 October 2009), <www.hrw.org>.

[13] Tamil Mirror Canada,“Anti-Tamil pograms in Sri Lanka – M. K. Eelaventhan,” (15 January 2011), <tamilmirrorcanada.blogspot.com>.

[14] Tamils Against Genocide, “Genocide in Sri Lanka 101: Sheet 2”,<www.ptsrilanka.org>.

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Politics of sustainability

Publication_year: 
2012
Summary: 
The country needs to recognize that there are no easy and sustainable technological fixes. Reducing energy consumption and the ecological footprint can be started by passing a climate act for cutting emissions annually by 5%. It is time to redefine the sustainable development agenda beyond narrowly interpreted State and business interests. The sustainability agenda can be used by social movements to pressure governments and companies successfully. It is time for an open discussion on the fundamental issues of well-being, equality and development, including forsaking the unending quest for material growth.

KEPA - Service Centre for Development Cooperation Finland
Otto Bruun

The country needs to recognize that there are no easy and sustainable technological fixes. Reducing energy consumption and the ecological footprint can be started by passing a climate act for cutting emissions annually by 5%. It is time to redefine the sustainable development agenda beyond narrowly interpreted State and business interests. The sustainability agenda can be used by social movements to pressure governments and companies successfully. It is time for an open discussion on the fundamental issues of well-being, equality and development, including forsaking the unending quest for material growth.

In 2002 then Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen defined the Finnish approach to sustainability as follows: “Whereas the Brundtland report was focusing on needs of present and future generations, Finland is focusing on possibilities”.[1] Social and environmental movements, however, argue that this “possibilities” approach has led to a narrow understanding of sustainability. While Finland wants to see itself as a global sustainability problem solver, the country's track record in this regard is far from convincing.

Finland is showing growing interest in understanding well-being in new ways and to supplement Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with other statistics in the national accounting system. Social movements and scholars have proposed the introduction of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and the Government has agreed that something of this sort is needed. [2] While GDP measures only economic growth, the GPI distinguishes good growth from undesirable growth. As the costs of negative issues are subtracted, resource depletion and the costs of criminality and pollution are counted as negative.[3] This indicator emphasizes equal possibilities for everyone to fulfill their needs and the money spent on education.

Setbacks in sustainable development

In the case of Finland, the GPI brings in an unpleasant surprise: aggregate GPI-measured well-being rose up to the late 1980s, but has decreased drastically since 1990 in spite of strong economic growth in the period 1995-2008.[4] The explanation for this is that economic growth was resource intensive and benefits were more unequally distributed than previously. The GPI therefore suggests that Finland has actually regressed during the period in which the sustainable development agenda was established.

Another useful sustainability indicator is the ecological footprint which highlights the human impact on the global ecosystem. Based on a combination of CO2 emissions and land use indicators, the footprint is compared to the planet’s renewal capacity. Finland has been consistently among or near the top-10 countries with the highest footprint per person, and as of 2007, the most recent data available, ranks 12th out of 199 countries.  If everyone on earth consumed like an average Finn, with a footprint area of 6 hectares per capita, we would need three planets to live on instead of one. Some environmental and social movements are therefore seeking to place the political target of planned de-growth or negative material growth in the global North at the core of the sustainable development agenda and the Rio+20 conference.

Energy policies in the quest for sustainability

Energy policies are a key area of sustainable development. In Finland the energy use per capita is comparatively high. This is somewhat mitigated by a positive record in utilizing biomass waste from the pulp and paper industry for energy production. In 2010 renewable energies (mostly biomass) accounted for 25% of all primary energy consumption.[5]

Recently Finnish energy policy has refocused on nuclear energy. The country is considered a forerunner in a worldwide nuclear renaissance since the Parliament made core decisions for building two new nuclear power plants in 2010.[6] If built, these plants will lead to energy production  exceeding many estimates of consumption needs. Finland will thus either export nuclear energy or further strengthen its position as a European base for energy-intensive industry. It is important to stress that, although the nuclear accidents following the tsunami in Japan have now somewhat altered the tone of political parties, until then, safety concerns and  social and environmental problems with uranium mining in countries of the global S