Sie sind hier


Newsfeed SID abonnieren
Aktualisiert: vor 30 Minuten 14 Sekunden

Finance in Common Summit

12. September 2023 - 4:03
Finance in Common Summit: CSOs frustrated by another event driven by a global north agenda that does not respond to the polycrisis

This week’s Finance in Common (FiC) summit of more than 500 public development banks is the latest global north-dominated forum where yet again private capital ‘mobilisation’ is the big priority.  

This is the view of several civil society networks from across the world, who have repeatedly expressed concerns about FiC, currently staging its fourth summit in Cartagena, Colombia. They argue that the event is little more than a “talking shop’, where the debate is yet again dominated by a heavy reliance on attracting private finance at scale, with risks guaranteed by the state and public money. They also call for the transformation of the unjust international financial architecture - a sentiment echoed at this week's Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi where Kenyan President William Ruto called current action by multilateral development banks 'insufficient'. 

The final FiC Communiqué, published today, seeks instead to reinforce the status quo, offering so-called innovative solutions that will only intensify the financialisation of development and climate.  A 'blue finance roadmap' and Global Green Bond Initiative are just some of the measures that will serve to aggravate the lack of democratic oversight of funds, increase the debt problems in the global south, and deepen the prioritisation of private interests over public wellbeing. 

Discussions on how to tackle the current debt and climate crises - and the urgent need for more and better public development finance - should instead take place in a truly representative forum - the United Nations. The UN has called for a concerted effort to address the polycrisis, and has already adopted an historic resolution on global tax architecture reform.

Here you will find quotes from regional and global civil society networks that work on finance for development and climate action:

Patricia Miranda, Global Advocacy Director of the Latin American Network for Economic and Social Justice (LATINDADD) said: “Multilateral Development Banks, including regional development banks from Latin America, which are important creditors in several countries, need to urgently contribute to the Climate and 2030 Agendas. The FiC Communiqué makes clear that the Banks are relying heavily on mobilising private finance, including by offering so-called innovative solutions. These are piecemeal solutions that will only aggravate debt problems. We need greater access to concessional and additional financing for low and middle-income countries. So far, we have not seen action from these banks to tackle the multiple crises as they still fund fossil fuels and highly polluting industries, and they continue with the business-as-usual approach that does not provide a middle and long-term sustainability".

Jason Rosario Braganza, Executive Director at The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) said: “The FIC Summit continues to demonstrate deliberate attempts to deepen financialisation and private solutions to the poly-crisis affecting countries in the global south. Market-based solutions are the root cause of the poly-crisis and therefore what is needed is a systemic agenda that will address the climate emergency while delivering transformation for countries in Africa. The solutions for Africa do not lie with more debt nor private finance but with efforts to generate its own domestic resources. This is something that African CSOs including AFRODAD have been voicing strongly at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) called on public development banks and the governments that control them, to “undertake bold, rapid and concrete steps in the direction of a just, people-centered response to the multiple crises.” She added: “In the lead-up to COP28, you are reminded of your commitments to common action for climate, biodiversity conservation and the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We urgently call for non-debt creating finance for economic and  climate justice actions, an end to the public financing of fossil fuels and  agro-industrial systems, and the cancellation of unsustainable and illegitimate debts of Global South countries."

Flora Sonkin, Policy Research Officer at Society for International Development said: “The FiC continues to be a distraction from the more democratic global governance spaces where policy decisions on how to tackle the deep and systemic crises we are facing should be happening, such as the Financing for Development process at the UN. The FiC gathering promotes an agenda focused on mobilizing private finance, under the problematic assumption that the role of PDBs and governments should be to ‘de-risk’ private investments in the global south and ‘create markets’ for private investors. Instead, the international community should focus on freeing up public resources through solutions such as debt cancellation and global tax architecture reform, while PDBs should respond to the public interest by divesting from infrastructure projects that lock countries into unsustainable futures.” 

Alexandra Gerasimcikova, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Counter Balance said: ‘Public development banks such as the European Investment Bank use the summit as an opportunity to boast about the sustainability of their finance while pouring billions into the most polluting fossil fuel giants. On top, little has been done over the years to do better in terms of human rights due diligence, higher development impacts, or transparency. While development banks become increasingly profit-chasing institutions, what we urgently need is quality public finance for projects that address people’s needs – not corporate profits – and support public services accessible to all.’

Jean Saldanha, Director of the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said: "FiC summit organisers say that this event is to "align the finance to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement". But the reality is that public development banks are relying heavily on attracting private finance. This is nothing new, and is in fact blind to existing evidence that private finance has not made any discernible impacts in countries or sectors that do not guarantee adequate profits. 

"Instead, we need more public finance to be freed up to tackle the polycrisis the world is facing. We need genuine action on the debt crises; we need climate commitments to be met with new and additional resources;  and we need the United Nations to be allowed to fully take the lead on this."


Media contacts: 

Julia Ravenscroft,
Communications Manager, Eurodad
jravenscroft [at] +44 7958 184 695. 

Nairobi Rome

SID at Africa Youth Forum on Human Mobility and Climate Change Nexus

28. August 2023 - 22:40
SID at Africa Youth Forum on Human Mobility and Climate Change Nexus Nairobi 28 Aug 2023

Over 70 youth from across Africa gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16 and 17 August, for the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Africa Continental Workshop, a youth engagement forum with the view to strengthening Africa Youth voices on human mobility in the context of climate change.  

This workshop featured interactive sessions, panel discussions, and simulations aimed at enhancing knowledge and capacity of youth about migration, environment and climate change nexus, particularly on climate induced mobility and migration, its relating challenges, possible youth-led solutions and opportunities for interventions. 

Emily Karanja, SID E.A Programmes Officer, was invited to facilitate the review of the 2022 Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change hosted in Kampala, Uganda where Governments from across Africa, representatives from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC), and States of the East and Horn of Africa  met with high level representatives of the African Union, UN agencies, development partners and youth representatives, to promote collaboration and cooperation in relation to climate change induced human mobility, including migration, displacement, and planned relocation.

Following the success of the Inter-Ministerial Conference, there has been progressive consensus to expand the Kampala Ministerial Declaration on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change (KDMECC). Consequently, Africa youth had the opportunity to create critical messages at this forum prior to a three-day Conference of States that began August 23, 2023, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Uganda with support from the IOM and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the continental expansion of the KDMECC. At the close of the conference a total of 48 countries agreed to adopt the declaration. 

Further, these key Africa Youth messages will be included in the Global Youth Statement ahead of the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week (4-6 September) in Nairobi, Kenya, and at the Conference of Parties (COP28), in Dubai UAE, (30 November – 12 December).

To relive moments from the Africa Youth Forum, we published a thread of the discussions on our Twitter/X profile.

Project Launch: End Inequalities Asia

23. August 2023 - 1:38

Since 2021, Society for International Development has been partnering with other civil society organisations, including CSOs in Indonesia and India to raise the voices of communities on the front-line in the fight against economic inequalities. This joint project demonstrates the interconnections between inequalities at the national, regional and global levels. Together we are addressing inequalities between countries by working towards a more just global tax system and fighting illicit financial flows. The project also focuses on the specific and extreme problems of economic and gender inequalities in Indonesia and India, and their roots in discrimination.


To find out more about this project, the organisations involved and its overall aims, we invite you to visit:    

This project is co-funded by the European Union.

Nairobi Rome

The Complete Toolkit: An Introductory Guide to FfD

31. Juli 2023 - 19:49

We are excited to share the compilation of thematic and regional briefs on the Financing for Development process. These documents were developed based on collective work by the Civil Society FfD (Financing for Development) Mechanism experts. The briefs were created as a fundamental entry point into the dynamic and complex realm of Financing for Development and its diverse thematic areas as mandated by the Addis Agenda.

To learn more and download the different briefing documents please click here. 

Nairobi Rome

Missing the Forest for the Trees: Our Concerns with the SG’s Agenda for UN Governance 2.0

31. Juli 2023 - 19:42

SID, as part of the Civil Society Financing for Development Mechanism shares concerns about the direction proposed in the Secretary General’s (SG) Our Common Agenda Policy Brief 6, which focuses on “Reforms to the International Financial Architecture.” We find significant issues with the agenda’s emphasis on new multistakeholder structures that prioritize exclusive membership clubs like the G20, rather than reinforcing the inclusive processes led by UN member states. In this statement, we highlight our reservations and underscore the importance of preserving the UN’s democratic and participatory governance.

Visit the CS FfD Mechanism's site to download our response in English, Spanish or French.

Nairobi Rome

To overcome the global food crisis, we need real food systems change for people and the planet

28. Juli 2023 - 22:54

We are pleased to share with you the statement released by the People’s Autonomous Response to the UN Food Systems Summit+2 on July 12. This crucial statement addresses the pressing global crisis of hunger and malnutrition and highlights the need for urgent and coordinated actions that prioritize the rights and demands of those most affected.

Key Messages from the Statement:

  1. Neglecting Rights and Structural Causes: The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) has fallen short in addressing the fundamental rights and demands of those impacted by the crisis. It has also failed to acknowledge and tackle the structural causes at the core of the ongoing challenges.

  2. Disguised "Business as Usual": The UNFSS, instead of taking transformative action, has camouflaged "business as usual" under the guise of promoting and consolidating corporate-driven industrial food systems. This approach impedes real progress and exacerbates existing issues.

  3. UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment: The upcoming UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment runs the risk of repeating the failures of the initial Summit. The absence of a corporate accountability framework opens the door for increased corporate influence within the United Nations, a concerning development.

  4. The Clash of Visions: The UNFSS controversy is rooted in the conflict between corporate-driven industrial food systems and the urgent need for a human rights-based, agroecological food system transformation towards food sovereignty.

  5. Call to Action: Social movements, Indigenous peoples, and civil society organizations worldwide express their deep concerns about the growing corporate power in the United Nations. They demand real food systems change and advocate for a stronger democratic multilateralism within the UN.

To read the complete statement and gain a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding the UN Food Systems Summit+2, please visit the link below:

Read the full statement here

Nairobi Rome

Article: UN Financing for Development: The best chance to democratise global economic governance?

27. Juli 2023 - 18:32
UN Financing for Development: The best chance to democratise global economic governance?

By Flora Sonkin, Society for International Development & Iolanda Fresnillo, EURODAD.

In this article, the authors discuss the importance of the UN Financing for Development (FfD) process as the only inclusive and truly democratic space to advance on the systemic reforms needed to re-design a skewed and dysfunctional international financial architecture towards supporting human rights-centred sustainable development.

???? Read the full article here: UN Financing for Development: The best chance to democratise global economic governance?

Nairobi Rome

Global Coalition for the Universal Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment Wins UN Human Rights Prize

26. Juli 2023 - 21:24
Real People Power!

The Global Coalition of Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and Local Communities for the Universal Recognition of the Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment, of which SID is part of, wins the UN 2023 Human Rights Award.

On October 8, 2021, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution recognizing the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Thanks to the advocacy of civil society, Indigenous Peoples, social movements, local communities, and legal experts, as well as the leadership of governments of Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland, also known as the “Core Group”, that have been advocating for this recognition and thanks to the active advocacy of civil society and legal experts, the resolution was adopted with no votes against and only 4 abstentions.

In an historic vote, on July 28, 2022, the highest body of the United Nations - the UN General Assembly - universally recognized the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. 

Almost one year after the recognition, the Coalition is recognized for its critical role in advocating for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment by the UN General Assembly in 2022.

This Award is given every five years, and it is the first time ever, that is given to a Global Coalition. The prize will be bestowed in New York on December 10, which also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making this recognition even more special. 


Read more here:

- Call for the Global Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment (


Nairobi Rome

Is Growth good for Women?

6. Juli 2023 - 1:46
Is Growth good for Women? 15 Feb 2012

by Elissa Braunstein. It reviews the gendered employment impacts of the macroeconomic policy environment, with a particular focus on women’s employment. This is a summary version of the article: ‘Neoliberal Development Macroeconomics: A Consideration of its Gendered Employment Effects’, published by UNRISD, February 2012.

Is growth good for women?

There is an extensive literature that documents the positive impact that growth has had on a variety of measures of women’s well-being and gender inequality, including education, life expectancy, the UN’s Gender Development Index, female labour force participation, employment segregation, and the gender wage gap (Dollar and Gatti, 1999; Rau and Wazienski, 1999; Tzannatos, 1999; Forsythe et al., 2000; Seguino, 2000a, 2007; World Bank, 2001, 2005b).*  But even if we take the literature on the positive impacts of growth on women’s well-being and gender equality at face value, we still need to question if growth is good for women in the context of the neo-liberal macroeconomic policy environment, particularly from an employment perspective. For instance, with little growth, women’s gains come at the expense of men. Deflationary bias, the combination of policies designed to keep inflation low and global capital flows stable, but that also result in slow growth, may cost women more than it costs men, both in terms of the male breadwinner bias embedded in social welfare policies and greater overall employment volatility. Moreover, the hypothesized pathways between growth and gender equality in employment may be dramatically weakened by the neo-liberal macroeconomic policy context in which they are drawn. 

Gender inequality, international competitiveness and export-led growth

There is a substantial theoretical and empirical literature that gender equality raises economic efficiency and growth. The reasoning is that market imperfections, combined with traditional gender relations, can lead to gender inequality, which in turn may have direct effects on growth via selection distortion-type effects in education and labour markets, and create growth-inhibiting incentives for investments in human and physical capital. By contrast, feminist economist Stephanie Seguino has long argued that gender-based wage gaps actually contributed to growth among semi-industrialized countries because of their role in determining export competitiveness (Seguino 2000b, 2000c, 2010; Blecker and Seguino, 2002). Seguino’s work indicates that the type of inequality is what matters for growth. When gender discrimination is manifested in ways that do not compromise the overall quality of the labour force but merely lower the cost of labour for employers, systematically discriminating against women can have positive effects on growth. 

Trade Liberalization and the feminization of employment

Globalization underlies the nearly universal increase in women’s share of the nonagricultural labour force among high growth or semi-industrialized developing economies in the past few decades; a result of the tremendous growth in manufacturing trade and export processing from the developing world. Increases in women’s employment have also occurred among exporters of non-traditional agricultural goods, such as designer fruits and vegetables or cut flowers, in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, as well as in countries engaged in the more traditionally feminine aspects of the services trade (for example lower-paid and lower-skilled work such as data entry and call centres) (Dejardin, 2009; Seguino and Grown, 2006). The relative increase in demand for female labour is not just a matter of expanding the available labour force when male labour is in short supply. With labour costs such a crucial part of international competitiveness in these industries, labour-intensive exporters prefer to hire women both because women’s wages are typically lower than men’s, and because employers perceive women as more productive in these types of jobs (Elson and Pearson, 1981). 

However, this positive association between trade liberalization and female employment is strongest in labour-abundant semi-industrialized countries. In primarily agricultural economies where women are concentrated in import-competing agricultural sectors like food crops, men are better situated to take advantage of export opportunities in cash crops or natural resource extraction and women lose employment and income as a result of trade liberalization (Fontana, 2007; Bussolo and De Hoyos, 2009). Also, in developing economies with less competitive manufacturing sectors, particularly in Africa, tariff reductions on labour-intensive imports have resulted in higher job losses for women than for men (Adhikari and Yamamoto, 2006; Seguino and Grown, 2006). Moreover, women seem to lose their comparative advantages in export-oriented sectors as industries upgrade, leading to a de-feminization of manufacturing employment as has happened in Costa Rica, India, Ireland and many parts of East and Southeast Asia. 

The impact on female wages—mixed evidence

The standard theoretical prediction is that trade liberalization should increase female wages and lower the gender-based wage gap for two reasons. One is that the increased competition introduced by trade liberalization will make it more costly for domestic firms to discriminate. The second is based on standard trade theory, which predicts that when developing countries open to trade, their exports of unskilled labour-intensive goods will increase. Presuming that women constitute a disproportionate share of the unskilled labour force, trade liberalization should bring about convergence in women’s and men’s wages because it raises the relative demand for women’s labour. A number of empirical studies support these predictions. However, there is also substantial evidence that the gender wage gap have either persisted or widened as a result of trade and investment liberalization. 

The fallacy of composition and the limits to export-led growth: the low-wage/low- productivity trap

Export-led growth is widely lauded as a key to development success, but the large and increasing number of developing economies trying to get on the export bandwagon have lead to a fallacy of composition: increasing the exports of (labour-intensive) commodities of many countries with similar comparative advantages merely drives down the prices of those goods and constrains the types of improvements in wages and working conditions that adopting such a strategy is meant to deliver (Stiglitz, 2008). This dynamic is especially damaging for women because women’s employment tends to be concentrated in the types of industries that are the most exposed to international competition (Berik and Rodgers, 2009). 

A reconsideration of trade liberalization and relative wages

Defeminization in higher value added export sectors, increasing returns to skill as a result of outsourcing, the extreme competitiveness in traditionally female, labour-intensive export industries, and the increasing ease of moving production from one locale to another together indicate the inherent limits of trade liberalization as a vehicle for gendered wage convergence. Trying to address gender-based wage inequality, given the extreme competitiveness of global trade in an era when governments are discouraged or even prohibited from engaging in industrial policy, is an issue that is consistently ignored in discussions of gender inequality among the international financial institutions (Seguino, 2009).

Informalization, employment quality and vulnerability

Informal employment is characterized by less job security, lower incomes, little or no access to social benefits and fewer opportunities to participate in education and training than formal employment. Though data on informal employment is notoriously difficult to come by, we know from a wide range of studies that women tend to be concentrated in the most invisible areas of informal work: domestic labour, piece rate home work, assisting in family enterprises, or working in the lowest rungs of the global value chain (Chant and Pedwell, 2008). Gender differences in earnings in the informal sector seem to parallel, and in a number of cases even exceed gender wage gaps in the formal sector. 

Public expenditure, growth and gender

The dominant macroeconomic narrative on public expenditure ignores a large theoretical and empirical literature on the links between public expenditure and growth. The theoretical story is rooted in endogenous growth theory, where public investment in things like infrastructure and education raises the rate of economic growth (Barro, 1990; Agénor, 2008). A causal link between infrastructure, women’s time allocation, and growth has also been established. The reasoning is that the provision of public infrastructure like roads, electricity, sanitation and water lower the opportunity costs of market work for women—mostly by lowering the time intensity of care work. Better infrastructure and greater market participation among women also have positive externalities for health and education, both for women themselves and their children, leading to a virtuous cycle of human capital accumulation and economic growth.


Looking towards the future in terms of how to guide research and policy, it is important to trace whether and how the ongoing evolution of the Washington Consensus has altered the centrality of liberalization, privatization and price stability in the macroeconomic policy menu. A similar analytical framework should be applied to newer paradigms such as ‘growth diagnostics’, an increasingly popular response to the failures of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the Washington Consensus. The work here is certainly compelling, but the emphasis is still simply on growth. What is the approach to macroeconomic stability? Do we need a distinctive model for employment-generating growth? Do different responses to various binding constraints have different gendered effects? Answering these questions is essential to fundamentally challenging the dominance of neoliberal development macroeconomics, and more closely linking growth with high quality employment generation for women and men.

PDF version (incl. references)

Elissa Braunstein is Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Colorado State University. 

* This is a follow up article of SID Journal Development Vol. 55.3 Gender and Economic Justice produced in partnership with AWID.

Photo: UN Women Asia&Pacific/Flickr


Twenty years after Rio: Facing a future we do not want

6. Juli 2023 - 1:38
Twenty years after Rio: Facing a future we do not want 15 Sep 2012 by Shobha Raghuram

The Rio+20 'Future We Want'  is a 53-page document, an outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (A/CONF.216/L.1*, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20-22 June 2012). This document deserves to be read by all citizens, not because it provides us hope for serious change but because it reminds us of the platitudinous nature of global diplomatic discourse. It is a reaffirmation of an international order that has done little to recognise, resist or force a real change in the natures of governments’ attitudes towards a crisis, which is simultaneously ecological, political, economic, environmental, developmental, and moral. This document has a few statements that least signal some recognition of real politik, such as issues of accepting differentiation in countries and the nature of continuing and deepening poverty (V. Framework for action and follow-up, A. Thematic areas and cross-sectoral issues, the sections on Poverty Eradication and Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture, 105-112, p21).

However, there is little to reassure citizens that radical changes will occur. As in many such meetings, the differences, which surfaced and were voiced and the protests that were made, have been recorded as part of a ‘democratic’ world; but, in the end, a few decide ultimately on behalf of the majority. International governance standards are increasingly becoming poor, and markets, rather than elected governments, dictate terms. The economic recession continues to have severe impacts on and to affect the livelihoods of large sections of populations everywhere. It is no surprise, then, that the outcomes of Rio+20 have been greeted with barely muted dismay by most committed researchers and development workers:

'In this way, Rio+20 was the opportunity to tackle what is clearly the most intractable and most obvious of all issues confronting the world: the current economic growth paradigm that is consumption-led and is gobbling its way through banks and the Planet. It is now well understood that the world is staring at financial recession on the one hand and environmental catastrophe on the other. It is also increasingly understood that the consumption patterns and lifestyle of the already-rich cannot be afforded by all. So what is the way ahead? How can the world move towards sustainable production and sustainable consumption while ensuring growth for all? Rio+20 should have focused on sustainable development goals to achieve such growth. In addition, it should have focused on new robust measurement tools to track progress in well-being, the GDP-plus economy. Instead, in my view, Rio+20 became the battleground for what can only be considered an illegitimate fight. And if Rio+20 is a failure because of non-action, then it is a failure of global leadership that allowed the US and its cronies to try fiddling with the principle of equity in global action. This deepened the distrust that destroys global cooperative action'.  Sunita Narain, Rio+20: Why It Failed? 

The major women’s group (WMG), which represents 200 organizations of women around the world, demanded on 24 June, that the title of the position document be changed from 'Future We Want' to 'Future We Need', thus expressing their deep disappointment with the results of the Rio+20 Conference. They said '... We believe that the Governments of the world have failed to defend the rights of women and of future generations. The Rio + 20 provides almost no progress for the rights of women and of future generations for sustainable development ...

Many development workers have been critical of the superficial nature in which the Rio+20 document refers to indigenous peoples all over the world; they number almost 250 million and have been, over the centuries, trustees of almost 80% of the world’s biological diversity (Kate Hoshour and Jennifer Kalafut, 'A Growing Global Crisis, Development-induced Displacement and Resettlement', International Accountability Project Issue Paper, 2007.)  In more than a dozen references to this vital constituency, only minimal respect is paid to their cultural and traditional practices; the document  merely states that they should be recognised for their contributions to traditional sustainable agriculture and that their cultural heritage should be respected. There is also a passing reference to indigenous peoples in the section on sustainable tourism: here the documents says that access needs to be promoted, but with regulatory guidelines! Such statements can hardly mask the shocking truths of the condition of the indigenous peoples in countries, such as the USA, Canada, and Australia, where they have been eased out of mainstream citizenship and, through biased regulatory mechanisms, have been penalised to live in ‘reserved areas’ without serious claims to citizenship. 

The Rio +20 document has successfully avoided discussions of the real contradictions that prevent the functioning of sustainable development models; and it is also silent on the impedimenta to the scale-up of such models. Systemic changes and the acceptance of these models as dominant practice are impossible without such scale-up. Unfortunately, the outcomes of Rio+20 signal a world in which the future belongs to those who can avoid examining why poverty continues and why, in the beginning of the twenty-first century, we still have millions of people displaced by unsustainable development practices, driven out of their lands, forced into selling their labour, and pushed into beggary because they have been pauperised by a desensitised, economic-expansionist, growth-led, development that supports corporate takeovers of people’s lands. And, this is implicitly supported by national governments. 

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from Bangladesh  ( and of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication ( SAAPE) comments thus (private communication) on the Rio+20 outcome: 'In fact it is commodification and commercialization of nature; and  I will term this as the GREED ECONOMY and not as the green economy. Developed countries are still demonstrating that they do not want to change their consumption pattern, which is the fundamental reason for all climate catastrophes; the total capitalist system has to be changed because it is exploitative of mother earth, human beings, and developing countries too. It is unfortunate for us that some of the advanced developing countries (e.g., BRICS) are also considering the western or developed-country paths as the only way of development. We have to redefine our development model. We need to acknowledge the rights of mother earth; and, above all, developed countries have to give reparations for the damages they have done historically for an unequal share or their high levels of carbon emission'. (Click here)

The Rio+20  document has perfected the art of saying everything, but ensuring that there can be no concrete follow-up, which costs those who are responsible for unsustainable development practices their present consumption patterns and questions their unsustainable, market-dominated, financial models of development. 

Soon after the Rio +20 meeting the media carried the following news item: 'In a setback to 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy victims, a US court has held that neither Union Carbide nor its former chairman Warren Anderson were liable for environmental remediation or pollution-related claims at the firm's former chemical plant in Bhopal. US district judge John Keena in Manhattan dismissed a lawsuit accusing the company of causing soil and water pollution around the Bhopal plant due to the disaster, and ruled that Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and Anderson were not liable for remediation or pollution-related claims (Click here June 28th TOI.) Union Carbide India Ltd at Bhopal, where the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster had taken place on the night of December 2-3, 1984 killing thousands, maiming for life thousands, stands as the global site of continued injustice. About 346 metric tonnes of toxic waste is lying within the premises. Most recently GIZ Germany withdrew its earlier offer to commercially enter into an agreement with the Indian Government to move the waste to a disposal unit in Hamburg, specialised in handling toxic waste. This was to cost the Indian Government around 4.5million dollars'. (Bhopal gas tragedy: Blow to victims as German firm refuses to dispose of toxic waste, PTI | Sep 19, 2012, 05:51AM IST)

Bhopal’s gas tragedy remains the site of callous non-resolution, and it is a reminder to all that the battle for social justice and equality is at the root of all efforts at sustainable development. In the Rio+20 document,  Sections 213-220, under the rubric ‘Chemicals and Waste’, refer to various issues regarding the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycles,  disposal under secure terms, recycling, etc. Section  218. states, '... We recognize the importance of adopting a life cycle approach and of further development and implementation of policies for resource efficiency and environmentally sound waste management. We therefore commit to further reduce, reuse and recycle waste (3Rs), and to increase energy recovery from waste, with a view to managing the majority of global waste in an environmentally sound manner and, where possible, as a resource. Solid wastes, such as electronic waste and plastics, pose particular challenges, which should be addressed. We call for the development and enforcement of comprehensive national and local waste management policies, strategies, laws and regulations ...' A distinguished chemical scientist, Professor Anju Chadha of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, remarks (private communication) 

'...Life cycle analysis [LCA] of each chemical, which is used, is not known; and is not easy to determine. Even for the ones, which have been worked out, there is always an issue of 'economics'; e.g.,  DDT is still used and so are  many other harmful chemicals. My overall impression is the following: (1) The West has been very wasteful in its use of chemicals, energy, e-waste, etc. Can they disclose what they do with their waste - e-waste, chemical, radioactive, etc.? Details are not easily available. It is well known that huge quantities of toxic waste, which come as ship loads, are dumped in India and Africa. (2) Recycling is better known to us than to anyone else in the world; we recycle everything - clothes, paper, wood, etc. We have problems of not being able to scale- up these recycling processes; but, then, like in so many other important issues, the framework and political will is missing'

Sustainable development is not for the weak, the corrupt, the self–interested and those who profiteer  by destroying public goods and the people’s wealth. It calls for-long term commitment to social and ecological goals that are respectful of the laws that govern existence. It calls for the courage to sacrifice a life style and a pattern of development that is exploitative and based on self-aggrandisement. Poverty has deepened; meanwhile, we have excelled in the art of constructing a convincing camouflage, which leaves intact the structures of wealth accumulation while focussing on a superficial public discourse of ‘socially inclusive growth’. Exclusionary practices continue to leave millions without the dignity of basic material needs. We are creating a future in which millions will be unable to enjoy the benefits of an existence that lends respect to a joint responsibility for care and conduct. Instead, the imagination of intergenerational justice must be embedded in all our actions.

This is a follow up article of SID Journal Development Vol. 55.3 Gender and Economic Justice produced in partnership with AWID.


Shobha Raghuram is an independent researcher who has specialized in development studies and philosophy. She serves on a number of public-interest bodies. She is on the Editorial Board of the Development Journal (Macmillan), on the policy-advisory board of NWO (WOTRO), The Netherlands, is a Founder Member of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), Kathmandu, and is a Life Member of the Institute of Economic and Social Change, Bangalore. She has recently joined the Advisory Boards of Svalorna, a Swedish International NGO donor  working in India and Bangladesh, and of the Centre for Child and the Law at the National Law School University of India (NLSUI), Bangalore. From 2002-2007 she was Director of the Hivos India Regional Office, Bangalore. She has been a temporary adviser to WHO and UNDP, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University, and Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. She served on the Panel of Education and Law at the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, Govt of India. She consults for major national and international development institutions.  Her research interests include civil society action, gender equity and social justice, institution building at the grassroots level, ethics, and development aid.  She is working on her book, 'Rethinking Development: The Politics of Social Change'.

Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr