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UPDATE: ETC Group meeting on Rio+20

This morning ETC is meeting near the small town of North Gower, which is located just 30 minutes south of Ottawa.

The ETC Group – more formally the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration – is an international organization dedicated to ‘the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights’.

The discussions today are focused on Rio +20, the green economy, geo-engineering and technology assessment.

ETC executive director Pat Mooney highlighted that we need to be hopeful and draw inspiration from the Occupy Wall Street movement as we look ahead to Rio+20. He said Rio will be a political moment to stop bad news from happening and maybe make some good things happen.

He noted the threat of the financialization of nature (rivers, species, mountains) and the need to confront this. The second battle for Rio he noted is the governance of the environment. The current structures, mostly within the United Nations, are not working and there are many proposals for new or reconfigured bodies to take this on. Thirdly, he raised concern about the new technologies being proposed in advance of Rio+20 to address environmental issues – and the notion that science can be separated from politics.

Latin America-based ETC staffperson Silvia Ramiro said there are two pillars to Rio+20 – the green economy (not to be understood in a positive way) and an institutional framework for sustainable development or governance. She noted there will be a series of inter-sessionals or ‘informals’ that will all take place in New York to give input into Rio+20. She noted that there is a fight within the UN on this, over social justice vs green economy. And she highlighted that there are strong social movements within Brazil that have the capacity to influence the positions of the government.

Council of Canadians staff Andrea Harden-Donahue, Meera Karunananthan, and Anil Naidoo are here today to learn and meet allies in this work.

More soon.