New Way of Living the Planet Debated at Rio People’s Summit

From today and until 23 June, more than 18,000 activists, trade unionists and other members of the civil society will gather at the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in Rio +20 , in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the organisers, the global civil society, organisations, collectives and social movements will occupy the landfill to propose a new way of living on the planet, in solidarity against the commodification of nature and in defence of the commons.

At the negotiations in the Rio+20 Summit, 120 heads of state are expected to participate. But are elected world leaders the only ones who should decide on our future? What do ordinary people want and how can they make their voices heard? The People’s Summit is the answer.

Behind the structured chaos in the Flamingo Park there is logic. Many organisations have rented their own space, tents in different sizes, and a lot of them are hosting a string of NGOs and Civil Society organisations. Most tents are used for seminars and public debates.

The trade union movement is taking an active part in the People’s Summit and will bring its own experience to the debates. Trade unions from around the world have made it to Rio with three key demands for the future of the planet. The first concerns the creation of Green and Decent Jobs. The second demand from trade unions is support for the Social Protection Floor that addresses the most vulnerable and would ensure that all workers and their families are protected against the multiple environmental and economic crises they face. Finally, they want to launch the Financial Transaction Tax that would provide funds for development and climate change action.

“Investing in the green economy and green job should be a priority for all governments and business leaders,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary. “But they are not the only one deciding for our future. The convergence of all the members of civil society will drive the world in the right way.”

What and how?

There are five plenaries; the trade unions belong to group number five, in which you can also find indigenous people, women and some NGOs – all dealing with “The World of Work”.
All plenaries will deal with the same three themes in three different plenary sessions:
• The implications of the current financial crisis;
• false solutions; and
• new forms of reproduction of capital, solutions and a new paradigm
Each Plenary will end up with a Declaration. You don’t have to be formally invited to participate in the People’s Summit. If you belong to one of the groups: you can freely participate. The 5th plenary is expected to host circa 500 up to a 1,000 people.

Finally, on 22nd June in the morning there will be an Assembly where anybody can participate (8,000 people are expected to participate in four languages), and this is where the final Declaration from the People’s Summit will be made.

This process will not really influence the real Summit, happening a few kilometres away, but there will be two Declarations as outcome of the process: one where world leaders get their say, and one where the grassroots get to present their own vision for the future.

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