Final Statement of the First Planetary Meeting of Greens in Rio de Janeiro, 31 May 1992 | Global Greens

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Final Statement of the First Planetary Meeting of Greens in Rio de Janeiro, 31 May 1992

"Experience teaches us that governments are only moved to take environmental problems seriously when people vote for environmental political parties."

The representatives of GREEN PARTIES, gathered here from all corners of the world on the eve of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), express a rich variety of contrasting cultures and experiences. We come from both the North and the South of the planet, whose peoples are increasingly being set against each other by deepening social and ecological crisis. The world Greens condemn all forms of racism and ethnocentrism that divide human beings, generate wars and justify the discrimination, the exploitation and sometimes the extermination of peoples. As heirs of the fight for equality, one of the most important banners of the history of mankind, we call for all peoples to live together in peace. We thus appeal to the peoples of all the world, especially those involved in wars and ethical conflicts, to put down their weapons and let the XXIst century be born under the sign of respect for ethnic, cultural, sexual and other differences.


The conditions for life on earth are deteriorating at an ever- faster pace.


Global warming threatens human habitat and food sources. The seven hottest summers in 150 years occurred between 1977 and 1991. Scientists forecast a global temperature increase of between three and six degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. At current rates, the volume of "greenhouse gas" emissions will double by 2025.

The United Nations Program for the Environment (UNEP) has forecast that sea level will rise an average 6 mm per year over the next century, a phenomenon which threatens the homes of hundreds of millions of people all over the world. For islands, coastal areas and river deltas, the threat of flooding is becoming increasingly dramatic.

Every year, over 17 billion hectares of tropical and temperate forests are destroyed, an area equivalent to that of Spain. Over 50,000 animal and plant species are dying out in the world's tropical forests each year. Desertification is progressing at an alarming pace. The drinking water of some 1.2 billion people in the world is polluted. The ozone layer is deteriorating both in the polar region and in temperate zones. Meanwhile, the unconstrained use of fossil fuels and other resources is exhausting stocks and polluting air, land and water, while man-made radiation from the nuclear industry poses yet another threat to life on earth.


Industrialized countries of the North account for 80% of the world's consumption of resources and 80% of global environmental destruction. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions amount to 20 tons annually per capita in North America, compared to 2 tons in Brazil or half a ton per year in Nigeria. Over the past 150 years, the industrialized countries of the North have decisively contributed to air pollution through unlimited consumption of fossil fuels. Today the industrialized countries continue unchecked to import underpriced raw materials from the South, including tropical timber that is depleting the rain forests. In exchange, the North accounts for 85% of toxic waste exports. The EC alone, with 6% of the world's population, is responsible for 15% of CO2 emissions, 30% of chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) emissions and 70% of pesticide exports. The exchange between North and South is radically unbalanced both quantitatively and qualitatively.


Over 77% of the world population receives only 15% of the total revenue produced in the world; a fifth of the world population survives with less than a dollar a day; one child out of three suffers from malnutrition; and three million die each year from diseases that could be easily avoided by means of prevention.

The economic and social abyss continues to grow between North and South. Debt servicing has led to an overall transfer of wealth from the poor Southern countries to the rich Northern countries worth some 50 billion dollars each year. The North must recognize that it is simply impossible to demand overriding concern for environmental conservation from people who do not even have enough to eat.d) FOOD PRODUCTION IN CRISIS

Natural systems that have endured for millennia are breaking down. Between 1985 and 1989 (last available figures), food production per capita fell in 94 countries. The global fish catch fell in 1990 for the first time in 20 years. Human numbers and impact have grown so large that they are eroding the natural systems that support life. The extinction rate of natural species is currently a thousand times greater than normal.e) POPULATION INCREASE

World population is now 5.4 billion. According to United Nations estimates, world population will more than double to reach 13 billion by 21 00. Such a population growth will make environmental and social problems much harder to solve.f) NEEDED: A NEW DEVELOPMENT MODEL

The Green Parties meeting in Rio are obliged to sound the alarm in very strong terms: Only a radical reversal of trends can lay the foundations for life in the coming millennium. Otherwise we face a cascade of partly man-made 'natural' catastrophes, ruined environments, migratory flows of whole populations, and the growing political threat of a new authoritarian and fascist movements proclaiming 'ecological' ideology. The economic model of growth, geared toward more and more large-scale industrial transformation, has reached a point of self-destruction at the very moment when it seems to have triumphed throughout the world. It is not only destroying the natural bases of human economic activity, it is creating intolerable social tensions and inequalities. This model must be replaced by a new model of qualitative development constructing a humanized environment for both present and future generations.



The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) offered an historic opportunity to embark on a new era of planetary coexistence and to take the first steps toward reconversion of the global economic and ecological order. The Rio meeting marks a new level in worldwide consciousness of the global ecological crisis and of the need to act. However, all signs point to failure, with dramatic consequences for the environment and peoples of the earth. The world's leading governments, each shifting blame to the others, have already agreed to a sham summit, with sham agreements unable to achieve the purposes all proclaim in a chorus of empty good intentions. AGENDA 21 will not have the funds or institutional structures for its implementation. The draft treaty on climate change contains no precise target, no timetable, no mechanisms for implementation. The negotiations on biodiversity have produced nothing substantial, and those on tropical forest have not even begun. The 'Earth Summit' risks producing only empty words of concern for the environment for use at home by politicians seeking popularity.

The basic reason for this deplorable failure of world responsibility is the servility of today's political leaders to an ideology of 'progress' based on industrial growth and profit, inherited from the past century, which is no longer viable. Indeed, it has become lethal.


The representatives of the world's Green parties meeting in Rio launch a last-minute appeal to the heads of state and government gathering in Rio -- especially those of the rich industrialized countries of the North, which in the last five hundred years have incurred an ecological debt toward the South -- to assume their historic responsibility to our planet Earth and its inhabitants.

The Greens are convinced that this is possible: measures could be taken by the major OECD countries that would mark a significant step in the right direction, and that -- far from ruining their economies -- would help prepare them for the only viable economic development of the next century. The rich countries have the means to take steps away from the wasteful development model they have imposed on the rest of the world -- with the active complicity of ruling groups in Southern countries -- and towards a new ecological development that would enable the peoples of the South to contribute fully, in accordance with their own needs and cultures.c) THE FIRST NECESSARY STEP: A TAX ON ENERGY

The International Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that in order to stabilize the world climate, C02 emissions have to be reduced 60% to 80% by the year 2030. The first step would have to be for the OECD countries to reduce their C02 emissions by 20% by 2000, while at the same time 'transitional' (ex-communist) countries would have to stabilize their emissions at the 1990 level and developing countries limit the increase of their emissions to 33% of the 1990 level.

To help accomplish this, and to raise the necessary funds to promote renewable energy sources and energy savings not only in their own countries but also in the East and the South, a tax must be levied on the consumption of non-renewable energies and C02 emissions in OECD countries. Greens strongly urge each OECD government to go ahead unilaterally if necessary with the energy tax, while rapidly phasing out nuclear power.

Studies show that the energy tax is an entirely realistic measure, particularly easy to introduce at a moment when energy prices are lower than they were before the 1973 oil crisis. The problem lies in the insufficient political will of the main OECD countries, starting with the Bush administration in the United States. The European Community, which could and should have taken the lead, instead uses the United States attitude as an excuse to do nothing.

We urge all OECD countries, especially the European Community, the United States and Japan, to reconsider their attitude before it is too late.


To provide the necessary institutional framework for worldwide ecologically sustainable development, a new United Nations commission should be set up, directly elected by the UN General Assembly and subject to independent judiciary control. Its mandate should be to oversee implementation of AGENDA 21, take annual reports from all countries on their progress toward sustainability, and develop a permanent process of cooperation with NGOs.

This new institution should be given the necessary financial means. A 'Green Fund' of $125 billion per year was deemed necessary during the last UNCED Prepcom. This could be created from a percentage of the environmental taxes collected in OECD countries combined with an increase in widely promised official development aid and a share of not more than 10% of the 'peace dividen'; resulting from reduced military expenditures.e) A BASIC PROGRAM FOR SURVIVAL

In development aid, priority should be given to promoting girls' and women's access to education, property and political participation. Pro- natalist policies in over-consuming Northern countries are incompatible with sustainable development and should be ended. Women and men in all countries should have free access to family planning. Greens recognize that the way to population limitation is social justice. No international climate accord should fail to call for an immediate ban on CFCs and all other ozone layer depleting substances.

Desertification must be officially recognized as a priority problem, and a special fund established to help threatened populations take measures to protect their environments.

To save the world's forests, Greens call for a total global moratorium on import and export of timber from rain forests as well as northern and temperate zone forests, until ecologically sound methods of growing and harvesting timber ensured.

The 'war on drugs' must not be used as yet another pretext for military buildups and operations to solve problems that require social and economic solutions.

Free access to genetic resources must be maintained (meaning no patents on life), while institutions and private firms using genetic resources for commercial purposes must set up a worldwide fund for recovery and preservation of the genetic resources of the South.

In addition, Greens call on governments to reach the necessary agreement on three points not taken into account by Agenda 21:

(1) an agreement banning all kinds of waste exports,(2) a ban on nuclear testing,(3) measures to lift the burden of debt from developing countries. The debts of the 47 poorest countries must be canceled. The debts of intermediate countries should also be canceled once the fundamental rights of nature and humankind are ensured so as to make sure that cancellation does not merely benefit the local elites who profited from the debt in the first place.

Greens note that all these recommended measures will be inadequate without basic changes in economic policy. Economic mechanisms -- fiscal and other -- must incorporate ecological and social costs into prices, favor the introduction of ecologically sustainable products, technologies and production methods, and strengthen their competitiveness. GATT, the World Bank and the IMF have to be democratized and subjected to environmental priorities, and redirected away from deregulation of the world economy.f) ONE SURE CONCLUSION

Greens protest the visible transformation of the Rio Earth Summit into a military operation subjecting Rio to a state of siege. UNCED, originally conceived as a gathering of government leaders to protect the Earth's environment, is being turned into a military exercise to protect the government leaders. The most tangible result in Rio itself stands to be massive traffic jams and a nasty reminder of recent military dictatorship. Regardless of the outcome of the UNCED in Rio, one thing is already clear. The Green Parties, NGOs and various citizens' initiatives aimed at saving the Earth and creating fair and environmentally sustainable living conditions must step up their efforts. The failure of current political leaders to assume their responsibilities makes our own responsibility that much greater.


a) Our presence in Rio, as members of the only new international political family since World War II, expresses our determination to promote political ecology and green politics in both North and South. The Green political movement must provide vision to unite people around the world in solving environmental and social problems.

b) The growing tensions, accompanying the worsening of environmental problems, constitute a threat to democracy and fertile ground for eco-imperialist or eco-authoritarian temptations. We are convinced that regional organization, combined with inter-regional solidarity, is necessary to enable people to participate and solve national conflicts peacefully. Because of our democratic, anti-authoritarian and non-violent convictions; our absolute condemnation of -- and resolute fightagainst -- any social or political exclusion, whether for reasons of race, sex orientation, faith, social category or other reasons; our concept of human rights as both civil and social; our commitment to equality between men and women in representation and decision- making including our own movements; our will to respect cultural diversity; our love and respect for all forms of life, the green political movement is a crucial bulwark against the misuse of ecological crisis and resulting fears by extreme rightist movements.

c) Our proposals to change the parameters of economic rationality, with profound conversion of national and international economies beyond neo-liberal or purely state-control simplifications (without the fear of relying on regulatory measures), constitute the only variant capable of meeting today's challenges. Our intention is to put forward, as an alternative to unrestrained and destructive consumerism, production and consumption which fully take into account the `limits' imposed by the social and environmental balance. Blind production must be replaced by production based on regenerating resources without destruction of the environment. An alternative economic model should base development on the potentials of the region and promote its integration. The poor quantitative and marginalizing development which currently reigns in the South must be replaced by qualitative and environmentally balanced development aimed at improving the population's quality of life.

d) Experience teaches us that governments are only moved to take environmental problems seriously when people vote for environmental political parties. In countries where environmental policy can count on the clear and autonomous presence of green parties enjoying public support, the traditional parties also & 'dye' themselves green. That is why the Greens do not limit themselves to electoral perspectives but constitute a movement involved alongside the NGOs and social movements in their struggles.

e) Our presence in Rio also symbolizes our firm conviction that green politics is not a 'luxury' of the rich North but a necessity for the whole world -- and for the South most of all. The devastating social impact of a deteriorated environment is much greater in the so-called 'Third World' or even in Eastern Europe than in the rich countries of the North. In the infernal triangle between backwardness, poverty and demographic growth, environmental destruction has an immediate effect on the inhabitants. Water pollution concerns millions of people. Deteriorated hygienic conditions expose vast populations to endemic diseases, epidemics and infections. The effect of global warming threatens in particular the planet's Southern populations.

f) The presence among us of representatives of green and environmental parties from such countries as Mexico, French Guyana, Niger, Tanzania, Brazil, Zaire and Mali, illustrates the growing environmental awareness of the people in these countries. All the participants at this first Earth Meeting of Greens have the firm intention of constituting in the future a unique and powerful political current at world level. It is no longer enough to 'think globally and act locally'. The time has come to act globally as well.

g) For this purpose, we have decided to reinforce the links between the parties here present (including the parties of people without a state) by selling up in 1992 a Planetary Green Network to maintain a permanent exchange of information concerning the evolution of our parties and campaigns, as well as our positions on essential global issues. A provisional steering committee (geographically balanced and gender balanced) will be given the responsibility of organizing the Founding Congress of a Green Planetary Coordination in 1993 and drafting a proposal for its organization.

h) As first step of the constitution of this network we will promote:

1 - Systematic communication and consultation between us, using new technologies;2 - Coordinated actions at international levels;3 - Delegations of representatives to each other's meetings;4 - Concrete mechanisms to issue common global statements;5 - Concrete mechanisms to help the creation and the development of new Green Parties:6 - Constitution of transnational committees on different topics.SOLIDARITY WITH NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

We would also like to express our warmth, support and solidarity for NGOs and Global Forum, the indigenous peoples and their World Conference and other initiatives such as the Earth Parliament, the Amazonian village of Voadar, presentation of the Declaration of Morelia of the Group of 100 and the follow-up of the Miami world conference of women and environment from November 1991. "It is no longer enough to 'think globally and act locally'. The time has come to act globally as well."


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