The Venezuelan Vice Minister for North American Affairs and Venezuela’s chief negotiator at the Rio+20 Conference, Claudia Salerno, said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with TeleSUR that capitalism is damaging the environment. Salerno said that Venezuela will propose that the countries at the summit leave capitalism behind and work on a development model that is beneficial to all, especially to “guarantee the rights of mother earth.”
TeleSUR transcribed the following interview with Claudia Salerno:
Interviewer: Today we have Venezuela’s Vice Minister for North America and Venezuelan representative to the Rio+20 Summit, Claudia Salerno, who we welcome to teleSUR and “Global Connection.” Thanks for joining us.
Claudia Salerno: Thank you.
Interviewer: With just days until the official the Rio+20 Conference kicks off, people are beginning to hear the term “green economy.” Explain where this concept comes from.
Claudia Salerno: The green economy is in the broader framework of the conference, it’s one of the central themes. But before talking about the term, it is important to note that when [the first conference in] Rio concluded in 1992, the most important thing that happened was the creation of the concept of sustainable development or sustainability. This concept established three pillars of development which were the economic, social and environmental pillars as an inseparable whole. That is to say, it countered the idea that there could be economic development without social growth or without protection of the environment.
At Rio in 2012, what is the scenario? The international situation speaks to a global crisis of capitalism and a model that is running out of time, not only socially and economically but also environmentally. It is a predatory model. In some sense the question is: What needs to be done economically and in the economic pillar to ensure that growth and development occurs in a way that satisfies human needs, the social component, and also preserves the regenerative capacity of the Earth?
Everything that is happening at the planetary level tells us that the planet cannot take any more and that capitalist models of development have been exhausted, such that what is needed is a profound revision of these models.
When we talk about the green economy, there are two possibilities: Either we are putting forth the idea of a capitalist green economy to disguise the same model and continue to doing things in the same way, just under a different name, or there is a unique opportunity to generate a political discussion about what really must be done to change those unsustainable patterns of production and consumption on the planet.
Venezuela is going to Rio with the hope that it will generate that in-depth debate about how the capitalist model has been exhausted, and Venezuela also has experience in how to do things differently. How can we guarantee productive economic growth with great social benefits and respect for the environment, a different relationship between humans and their environment, with a holistic view of the environment. We no longer want a vision of the environment alone, but a comprehensive view of the environment, including man, living well, the rights of mother earth – all these are concrete proposals that we take with the hope of generating the debate that the world urgently needs.
Interviewer: The Rio+20 Conference is under the name of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and is also focused on two principal objectives: an economy that environmentally-friendly, as we mentioned, and the creation of an institutional framework for sustainable development. What is the position of Venezuela, and what is the position of the countries in the region that are going to send representatives to this summit?
Claudia Salerno: Well, as I said, Venezuela has a particular position with the overwhelming need to generate in-depth debate. What we want is an economy that isn’t green capital, green dollars, but rather green in a social, environmental, and human sense, our own kind of green, the kind that is required.
On the issue of the institutional framework we also have many proposals to create an broader forum of ministers to allow a substantive debate at the ministerial level with some regularity, allowing a general discussion of the three pillars of sustainable development.
The big mistake that the international community has fallen into is assuming that sustainability is a purely environmental issue, when in fact it is much more complex and must include a revision of the patterns of production and consumption. We will present a concrete proposal to generate such a revision and a mandate for a program that would revise production and consumption. For some instances we will join the countries of ALBA [the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas] with whom we have common positions. We want to incorporate the rights of mother earth, we also want to incorporate the concept of living well, to change the relationship between humans and the environment, all these are proposals that Venezuela brings to the conference.
Interviewer: Undoubtedly, there is a declaration circulating that is backed by social organizations, environmentalists and personalities like Adolfo Pérez Esquivel which is entitled: “No More Corporate Control Over the United Nations.” Do you think that at this summit corporate interests will prevail or that it will be an opportunity for the prevailing voice to be that of the region and its needs that are put forth in the discussions?
Claudia Salerno: The conference takes place around a central axis which is the issue of the economy, and it is clear that there will be a scenario in which the interests of capital will try to fight to prevail, and when I speak of the interests of capital I mean obviously transnational economic sectors that are behind certain very particular interests that want to push their own agenda. But that’s why voices like ours will be there to put up a fight.
We have built a very solid link with social organizations to take up their concerns, which are the same as ours. How do we really ensure that this green economy isn’t just whatever the interests of capital want to design? This is a very old debate in the world about the clash of two models. It is not for Rio+20 to solve that fundamental debate, it won’t take place on June 22, miraculously, a solution from the struggle and inherent conflict that exists between the capitalist model and those of us who believe that things can be done differently.
However, for Venezuela, the conference takes place at a very hopeful moment because, as we just saw on Monday with the introduction of the socialist plan of government for 2013-2019, one of the five objectives is dedicated to the preservation of life on the planet, not just what Venezuela can do with its position at the international level to ensure that the interests of capitalism and transnational corporations do not prevail, but what most fills us with hope is the possibility to begin building between now and 2019 a distinct and different planet.
We are willing to take on that debate, even at the national level. What are these transformations that must happen at the national level? The plan has an environmental component that is extremely rich and that is where we need to locate our hope.
If every country could come out of Rio with the challenge to create a plan like the one the Bolivarian government just presented, now that would mean a breakthrough for humanity. So we go forward with this plan just presented as some of the clearest evidence of the Bolivarian government’s commitment to a profound transformation.