Alternatives to the Green Economy from Bolivian Civil Society

Excerpts from articled submitted to Global Transition 2012 by Guest Author. For complete article visit: Alternatives to the Green Economy from Bolivian Civil Society

cc licensed flickr photo by Martin_Heigan

Rio+20 will be the most important global summit for decades as the world faces financial, energy, climate, ecological and food crises. Multinational companies and developed countries want to impose the “green economy” at Rio+20 to save the capitalist system, says the Bolivian Climate Change Platform*.

The proposed version of the green economy aims to turn nature´s functions and cycles such as carbon capture and oxygen generation by trees into fictitious products, referred to as “environmental services”, to be bought and sold on markets. Not only does this fail to make sense in the real world (how do you sell air on a stock exchange?) but it is presented as Can proponents of the green economy really expect the same financial instruments that plunged the global economy into recession, will somehow protect nature and at the same time reduce poverty?

Alternatives to the Green Economy

We do not own nature; we are part of Mother Earth.

It will not be possible to find a solution to the current crisis in an economic vision based on the ownership of nature. We do not own nature; we are part of Mother Earth. There is an urgent need to change the paradigm of capitalist development and to begin a transition to a new global economic model to re-establish the balance with Mother Earth. But, alternative visions already exist.

The vision of Living Well (Vivir Bien) and the Rights of Mother Earth is to live in harmony with nature on the basis of complementarity and solidarity between peoples. There needs to be an equal redistribution of wealth and production models must be directed to meet the needs of women and men, whilst respecting and caring for Mother Earth rather than promoting the accumulation of wealth.

These ideas form the basis of the concrete proposals put forward by global civil society when over 30,000 people met at the World People´s Conference on Climate Change held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010. Proposals for other forms of development must respect and recognise the cosmovisions (world views) of indigenous peoples such as the right to collective territory, ancestral knowledge and holistic management of their economies.

We need to go beyond the concepts of “environmental services” and “natural capital”. Indigenous peoples have applied alternative models for the holistic management and use of forests, water and land for generations. There are ways to care for the environment without buying and selling it.

Putting a price on nature is not the solution and will only benefit big capital, while deepening the multiple crises we are facing.

* The complete text of the Bolivian Climate Change Platform position on Rio+20 can be found at this link ( The Platform is a civil society network with representatives from the two main indigenous movements who represent 36 indigenous nations, water movements, small-scale farming associations and key NGOs from across Bolivia. Website: