"...Civil society must move on!..."
... "The method of democracy – inasfar as it is that of organised intelligence – is to bring … conflicts [of interest] out into the open where their special claims can be seen and appraised...” (John Dewey). We are all stakeholders!
In this event we want to share experiences of civil society participation by looking at different models from global, regional, national and local level. There is no right or wrong model, as long the dialogue and involvement were have come out into meaningful results and make an impact.
The European Economic and Social Committee has been actively preparing for this moment, in particular through fostering dialogue aiming at a joint understanding of the issues at stake and at common civil society recommendations. I am pleased to say that this work has been particularly fruitful with our Brazilian partners. We have been working for more than one year with the Brazilian Council for Economic and Social Development on our views on sustainable development. All this work has been synthesised in a joint report by the two organisations, which aims at contributing to the debates in Rio.
Partnerships are a very important model for involving civil society actors in sustainable development. They bring together governmental authorities and non-governmental actors, in particular NGOs and stakeholders from businesses in order to pursue common objectives. This makes transformative partnerships so important to us, the EESC.
The purpose of today's meeting is two-fold.
We thought it would be good if we, representatives from European organised civil society, would meet to exchange information about planned activities in Rio and to see how we could further foster our common values and positions throughout these diverse activities.
The second reason for today's meeting turns out to be very timely. Originally we had invited Timo Makela, Director of DG Environment, to give us a de-briefing on ongoing Rio negotiations in New York.
We have in place for many years now the EU-China Round Table. Within this framework (which was started10 years ago, and was supported in the EU-China summit 2004), the EESC meets regularly with the Chinese Economic and Social Council. Just a few weeks ago we had our EU –China Round Table in Hangzhou. Our declaration adopted by the end of our discussions in April focused on sustainable urban development. Our two rapporteurs, Evelyne Pichenot on the European side, and Professor Zou Ji on the Chinese side, have done a huge work together.
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The moment for this conference is very well chosen. Only some days ago negotiators from all over the world gathered again at United Nations headquarters in New York for so-called informal contacts trying to prepare agreements that enable the world community to shape the future we want.
Because we have to be aware that they are negotiating on our behalf and on behalf of our grand-children about the future we all want to have on our planet. Therefore they need to get our messages about what it is what we actually want and that we care and don't let them go home without a result!
With the ever more evident effects of the combined economic, financial, social and environmental crises, people are realizing that existing economic models and patterns do not work any more. That we not only have to talk sustainable development but that we have to act on our words.
Promoting a green economy must be part of an overarching sustainable development strategy, striking a balance between social, ecological and economic aspects while achieving distributional and inter-generational equity.
We do not need more recommendations, but a green economy roadmap which political leaders need to commit to, with clear goals and monitoring mechanisms, ensuring an economically efficient, socially just and environmentally sound transition to sustainable societies. The transition process must be based on continuous engagement with civil society, including social dialogue.