In May 2012, a big UN "earth summit" will take place in Rio de Janeiro - 20 years after the earth summit of 1992. This conference raises hopes - but also concerns about dangerous technocratic projects being pushed under the label of "green economy solutions".
Pat Mooney, awardee of the "Right Livelihood Award" and director of the „Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration“ (ETC), Canada.
Fabian Scheidler: You already mentioned the conference next year: Rio+20. What is planned until this summit in terms of new proposals, of geo engineering and other so called "green economy strategies"? What is coming up, what is your evaluation and what is your strategy to encounter this?
Pat Mooney: There are really two agenda items on the table for the Rio+20 event. But there are actually three things that will probably happen at it. One strategy is this idea in trenching a concept of green economies that would be accepted by the whole world and say these are the green economies, the technologies that we need to use to go forward and solve all of the problems. So that’s one battle that’s gonna be fought over. What do we mean by green economy? What technologies are we talking about? Are they safe to be used or not? Is it really a green economy? The second issue that’s on the table officially is the governance model in the United Nations at the multilateral level for how we will manage the environment; manage all natural resource issues in the future. There is talk about creating wholly new United Nations agency that will address these issues after Rio+20. So that’s the big topic on the table as well. How do you deal, how do you regulate all this? The third item on the table, in effect, but it’s not formally being discussed is the transfer of technology conditions. It will take these so called green economy technologies and make them available to the South. And, what we see behind that really is a discussion over what kind of individualized property protection will the North demand for the South to have access to what we think are questionable technologies in the first place. And will there be any again regulations in place that allow themselves to protect themselves from dangerous technologies down the road. So all that gets discussed in May of 2012 and in Rio de Janeiro.
David Goessmann: I guess there is a strong belief inside the scientific community in these technologies. Bio technologies, geo engineering. Do you think that there’s a way to get out of this specialized group and put pressure on them by democratic participation?
Pat Mooney: That absolutely has to be the case. And we are taking some steps in that direction here at the World Social Forum as well. For two days in advance of the World Social Forum, we had the World Forum on Science and Democracy. And that was two days of pretty intense discussions by several hundred of us from all around the world, talking about how do we democratize our scientific issues. How do we get the public engaged in deciding what technologies are good and which ones are bad. Or giving some directions to the scientific enterprises. And that has been a great discussion and out of that meeting came a call to the rest of the World Social Forum and to governments to say look at it. We want to be involved in these issues for Rio+20. We think that Rio+20 is an important meeting point where societies got to be included in the debate. We all got to have to play a role and trying to decide how to move ahead on these issues. So, to us Rio+20 becomes an extraordinary important moment. And I think one which is very dangerous certainly for the world, but also one, honestly at this point, where we have a chance to really make a difference. Governments aren’t well organized for real. They haven’t got their act together. The industry has not sorted exactly out what it wants to do either. In an act of misunderstanding, in a debate that’s going on between France and Brazil, for example, with uncertainties around some of the steps to be taken and how far to go in some of the issues. I think we in civil society have the chance to come in and say okay, we’ll decide. We don’t want this, we want that. And we want an exercise of control over the process. I am actually, rarely in my life that I feel that way, but I’m actually a bit optimistic.