|The Rio Conference will
be decisive. For decades, associations and non-governmentai organisations
have been working in the field of environment and development, and for
a long tirne now they have been warning publie opinion as to the conséquences
of badly orientated world development and more especially to the under-developrnent
of the Third World. They have aiso stressed the indefensible notion, ecologically
speaking, of the same development in the North as in the South. Today these
warnings no longer fail on deaf ears. Governments assert their willingness
to enter into a round of negotiations with the aim of laying the ground-
rules of tenable development for people as well as for the planet.
What is the basis and what
are the means on which this good-wili can give rise to policies and actions
which wili meet the challenges in question?
1- Ecologically tenable
development must also be socially équitable.
Ecological balances cannot
be respected if there is no sense of mutuai responsibility and interest
between humans. Recently we have become aware that life itself is threatened
on the planet, in an extremely short time span historically speaking. Current
wrong directions taken by development condemn the majority of human-kind
to misery, disease and ignorance. Meeting the challenges of pressure on
natural resources, aggravated by the population explosion and by wastage,
wili be decisive for our generation (the greenhouse effect, ozone, désertification,
drinking water, waste ... ). This pressure could exclude generations to
come frorn a future.
Contradictions between environment
and development might seem inévitable. Recent progress has underlined
the dangers involved in modes of aggressive and uncontrolled development.
However, we are convinced that there is no insuperable opposition between
development and environment and that the ethical, philosophical or political
choices will determine solutions in overcoming the contradictions. Humanity's
future cannot be based on the acceptance of exclusions, on the ghettoïsation
of the poor in the societies of the North whilst maintaining whole nations
in misery in the South. The management of exclusion is a bad solution:
it is unjust and unstable. It can only lead to inefficient and détestable
policies. The future depends on finding new forms of ecologically tenable
and socially équitable development.
2- Environment is not
a concern of the North alone, development is not a concern of the South
For the poorest half of
humanity, Tenable clevelopment" is above ail the right to health, food,
a minimum of energy, which will assure - in at least relative security
- an existence which is not dominaied by harassment and restrictions. At
the other extreme, a small minority of countries, due to their over consomption
for more than a century, have seriously endangered possibilities of rejuvenation
in the biosphere. Nor must we forget that an "interior South" exists in
the North (the Forth World), and that the privileged classes of the South
could be calied the "exterior North".
The ecological crisis underlines
the untenable nature of known development models. Everybody achieving the
same living standards as the extremely well-off classes in the Northern
countries has been shown to be an impossible dream. lt is true that present
growth has allowed a minority within Humanity to have access to a whole
variety of goods and services, but these services and goods can never be
within the grasp of all of Humanity. This "prosperity" confronta Humanity
with the spectre of exhausting naturai resources. The current dégradation
is the conséquence of the appropriation by a quarter of the world's
population of four fitths of available natural resources. These growth
models, already questioned and condemned in their countries of origin cannot
be exported on a planet-wide scale.
The level of comfort and
of health that these development models have offered to the average populations
of the North can however be attained in the South by using new techniques,
which draw the line between energy consomption and pollution on the one
hand, and the expansion of material services on the other. We cannot underestimate
the possibilities opened up by a new form of production growth, sustained
by more rnodest levels of investment and exploiting high technology whilst
eliminating the wastage which goes with it.
For the developed countries,
it is of the ulmost importance to undergo a true cultural reconversion:
to start measuring development through the quantity of free time available
and the quality of human relations rather than through the accumulation
of material goods.
In différent forms
and at different levels, the link between controlled management of the
environment and controlled management of development is as strong in the
North as in the South.
ln the North as in the South,
propositions for 'lenable development" have to be coupled with the renonciation
of concepts associating development soiely to an economic logic, measured
in terms of growth in material production and in productive investments.
3- New North/South relations
are indispensable if we wish to further joint controi of development and
The cost to humankind and
the destruction of the environment which allowed the North to assure its
dominant position in the worid economy, designate the latter as the major
culprit in the worid environmental crisis. However, those who have vested
interests in the predatory production and consomption rnodels claim that
the most urgent décisions in the North can be put off if development
in the South is severely curbed.
lt seems evident to us that
in a world which is at the same time unified and extremely polarised, the
present state of North/South relations is inadéquate if we wish
to control the relation between environment and development.
Before going on it is important
to underline that considérable room for manoeuvre does exist for
a materially tenable ecological development. But the participation of al[
human-kind in tenable development implies important transfers of technology
and finance to the South, transfers forming part of a global project policy
based on a reconsideration of North/South relations. This project can already
be seen in the coopération belween social forces in the developed
countries who are questioning development in the North, and the social
forces of the South who are already conscious that environmental destruction
in the South must be avoided.
The countries of the South
wili accept sharing responsibil@y in environmentai conservation, the common
heritage of the whole world, if the North proves that it places the environment
above its own privileged interests. The North must be responsable for financing
tenable development as weil as new forms of intervention in the natural
milieu everywhere in the world by way of compensation for the destruction
which it alone has caused. This financing could be covered by additionai
credits and by taxation on harmful practices. It must include cancelling
the Third World debt since continuing the repayments places enormous pressure
on natural resources.
4- Controiling the relation
environment, developmnent irnplies global management.
The environment with which
we are concerned is that of human populations it is an environment highly
structured by independent dynamics as weil as by the voluntary or involuntary
actions, direct or indirect, of humans and human societies.
Probierns are posed ai différent
levels of biological and social organisation, on différent space
and time scales. They centre around the réconciliation of an economic
and qualitative well- being, and around detecting and eliminating throats
to human societies on the planet.
Determining a new set of
rules for life is, for human-kind, one of the most diff icult tasks. IDiff
icuit on a national scale, it is even more so on a worid-wide scale. Especially
since the international organisations are controlied by the Northern countries.
Institutions capable of elaborating texts which take into account the interests
of both North and South, capable of imposing their rule over countries,
capable of obliging them to renounce a part of their sovereignty in the
face of environmental impératives, must be creaied. Without international
democratic control, we run the risk of seeing a greater deterioration in
the situation and of failing prey to a technocratie eco- fascism.
We think that it is necessary
to consolidate alternative power structures by strengthening civil society,
increasing its importance above that of its judicial status as defined
in international law. In giving the necessary space to civil society, democracy
alone could play the role of counterweight to the state and to market forces.
Market forces are incapable of spontaneously regulating access to the naturai
heritage common to ail generations of humanity. Contained within norms
and balanced by taxes, the free market can allow societies to achieve common
aims in a decentralised way.
One objective of Rio is
related to the allocation and the regulation of righis of access to the
planet's resources (including their capacity for autoregeneration), encouragement
of ecologically sound practices, and the réduction of harmful practices.
Correct proportioning of taxes, subsidies and market forces is central
to the debate in the Rio Conference and will remain so in the différent
countries after Rio. We are convinced that the allocation of rights to
the planet's resources cannot be on the basis of "acquired rights to pollute"
(for example, by reducing each country's polluting factor by the same percentage).
It is only conceivable on the basis of equality between humans, and therefore
in relation to the population of each country. This criterion for the right
to natural resources is the most équitable. But it will not be suff
icient if people are deprived of the means to efficiently profit frorn
the resources. Again the question of financing tenable development is posed.
5- A universel conscience
must be built. Associations and scientiste must work together to consolidate
alternative power structures.
The formation of a universel
conscience and of a worid-wide informed public opinion pronouncing on what
is desirable and reasonable to outlaw or promote can alone guarantee efficiency
in applying the conclusions of the diplomate. In the process of forming
this world-wide public opinion, associations and NGOs have a decisive role
to play. Simply through their familiarity of working methods invoiving
voluntary action and partnership, they can maintain an independence from
economic pressure groups or from the vested or conflicting interests of
different countries. A consensus on the challenges ahead for humanity and
the means to meet them can emerge from these debates. This is our eminent
Scientific knowledge progresses
every day. New discoveries and new ways of thinking cail into question
our vision of the relationship between human-kind and the environment.
This constant évolution underlines the necessity of using scientific
rnethodology when laying the foundations of approaches to environmental
and developmentai questions. Putting into practice discoveries, possibilities
and thought modes generated by scientific research, the use of methods
of appraisai and of critical reflection specific to science are major tools
in this new approach. However, the work of scientiste must be directly
linked to social demand: this is particularly necessary in environmental
fields. Independently scientiste can research and find ground for vérifications
in environmental fields. Associations and NGOS can play an essentiel role
in explicating social necessities to scientiste, at times proposing invitations
to tender, from @Icivil society", to the scientific community.
The role of science in elaborating
policy is very important. Yet it is not the role of science and even less
the role of economic interests to define norms and regulations. These must
arise from democratic debate open to the public. This debate needs to be
deepened and broadened, avoiding exclusions or any monopoly on it by scientific
culture, the culture of technical training, or other experts. Without giving
people from the South or their countries access to scientific knowledge
and technical expertise, the problems we ask the scientific community to
resolve will only produce unilatéral solutions.
6- Harmony in developrnent,
environment and democracy can only corne from a political wili to link
them and give thern meaning.
Harmony implies defining
development priorities and the means to put them into practice in conjonction
with environmental policies compatible with these same objectives. It implies
above all a desire to widen democracy when taking political décisions
especially in regard to the conséquences of development.
Too often, in development
as well as in environmentai matters, non-democratic ways seem more efficient
even if they resuit in the worst abuses of power. They represent a short
term vision which privilèges the illusion of short term solutions
which in the long run are always shown to be catastrophic. Only democratic
approaches can assure the largest possible participation in decision-making
concerning the necessary measures which guarantee freedom, in order to
fight against social inequalities and assure the protection of the planet.
This desire to widen democracy
can be present at différent levels of power structures. Democracy
in the work place can facilitate non-polluting forms of production and
guarantee the rights of workers. Local democracy can be based upon direct
participation and on respect for ecosystems. National democracy could contribute
to a redistribution between différent social groups and in more
control of political choices, notably in energy and industriel matters.
Democracy on a regional basis could determine rights of access to resources
on the basis of geo-political and cultural communities of interest.
7- International democracy
is still ta be defined.
or the aggravation of unequai relations in the international economic system
is inconsistant with international democracy. Trends emerging from big
international negotiations such as those which have opened concerning international
commerce in the GATT, the World Sank's proposed structural readjustment
plans concerning the debt crisis or on the financing of development, are
worrying International democracy demands the largest possible circulation
of ail available information. The power of one individuel over another,
of an elite over the rnajority, of the "North" over the "South" originales
from a unilatéral possession of historic, social, economic and technical
information. We have to demand the end to secrecy in fields pertaining
to public interest and assure international diffusion of knowledge.
Urgency in the promotion
of international democracy is heightened by threats to the environment.
Broadening human rights and the rights of peopies must be the measure of
progress in international law. Access to resources must be defined without
becoming entrenched in the vested interests of the big financial holdings
or in the thirst certain countries, large or smali, have for power. The
means to put the décisions taken into practice and of controiling
the structures for so doing must be the responsibility of Humanity as a
From the starting point
of environmental and development dilemmas what really is at stake are the
processes involved in moving from a huge feudai planet belonging to warlords
to a démocratie planet.