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CCS co-organises workshop on 'Beyond Uneven Development' in Maputo, 1-3 October


BEYOND Extractivism, Financialization and Uneven Development:
Alternatives for ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Maputo, Mozambique – 1-3 October 2013
with Friends of the Earth International, the TransNational Institute and the Centre for Civil Society


Injustices are increasingly inflicted upon peoples and the planet by a dangerously deregulated world economic system, leading to extreme uneven development. Southern Africa is possibly the most severely affected region of the world, showing the highest Gini Coefficient of inequality and the highest levels of uncompensated depletion of natural resources.

This is a period of global crisis and the region’s response needs international context. From austerity measures in Europe and the United States to the intensification of extractivism in Latin America, North America, Asia and Africa, to the potential for a Chinese ‘hard landing’, to the financialization of nature and so-called Green Economy all over the world, the economic powers and elites continue to concentrate power and wealth by attacking rights, grabbing territories, resources and commons and converting them into new markets.

The global crisis and its multiple dimensions – economic, financial, food, energy, health, environmental, geopolitical, ideological – are creating new opportunities to discuss concepts that were earlier taken for granted as historical inevitabilities. These concepts together imposed a trajectory that all societies ranging from global north to south, west to east, should follow.

In particular, the Western approach to consumer-centered modernization – i.e., hedonistic consumption far beyond meeting basic survival needs – is being questioned. This is due to the lack of sustainability of consumption patterns and resource extraction, in the midst of unprecedented environmental and climate crises. But it is also due to the homogenization of cultures and the corporate capture of states, and a widespread condition of ‘choiceless democracy’, ‘low-intensity democracy’, or simple dictatorship by credit-rating agencies on behalf of bankers who act with a herd instinct.

Some concepts we anticipate exploring, such as ‘The Commons’, still represent areas of dispute within competing theories, or are under construction and are object of political reflection, from the praxis of social movements to the debates among academics and activists. For example, ‘through and beyond rights’ is a new debate that has emerged, about whether civil society strategists should transcend ‘rights talk’. Civil and socio-economic rights narratives are often used by very effective community, environmental and labor advocates, but sometimes these set struggles on legal, consumeristic and individualized terrain, and as a result are too often unsuccessful. But a new generation of rights, including the debate over and implementation of the ‘rights of nature’, are stepping-stones to more respectful human-ecological relations, which are sometimes called the commons.

The commons can be seen as a means of transcending the limitations of civil and political rights, as well as socio-economic rights, by ensuring basic-needs goods are supplied as a human right but where necessary (e.g. water/sanitation or AIDS medicine treatment), via more collective strategies that can cross the society-nature divide. In short, a commons strategy joining humanitarian and ecological values across national boundaries should be capable of introducing not only new values but new alliances that can contest the politics of the neoliberal multilateral agencies, the state and capital.

But there are still weaker versions of the commons, appropriated by a patriarchal vision of world (as in some traditional societies where older forms of authority remain strong). Or worse, under the rubric of the commons, new repressive powers may be established in the context of a resources ‘race to the bottom’, such as state appropriation of the means of production for the sake of powerful elite interests (as did earlier versions of ‘Stalinism’ in Eastern Europe). There is also danger of the commons being hijacked by narrow exclusionary ‘communitarian’ interests based upon narrow community ownership, in which commoning is justified merely on the grounds of efficiency or promoting ‘public goods,’ as in the World Bank vision of ‘global commons’. These are all genuine dangers associated with an idea that is still being forged in struggles, as is the word ‘justice’ itself.

Regardless of the limits of the rights struggles and the risks of a commons approach, our economies and societies must be reinvented, based on justice principles at all levels: environmental, social, economic, gender, intergenerational, among living beings, etc. Experiences of new economies are regionally or locally-grounded in each people’s culture. They are unique experiences, but in their diversity they can bring lessons and light to movements all over the world. While recovering traditional knowledge, they are also born from the historical struggles that united a diversity of actors in resistance to the structural and institutional violence of the systems they faced.

System change is a matter of time, but now our world confronts crises with extreme urgency. The situation requires live debates about how to achieve economic justice, based upon activism that protects, restores, rescues, promotes and disseminates our cultures, ideas, creativity and ways of organizing communities and societies. System change is also about our desires to live, learn, adapt and reproduce on a daily basis. It is about the political dimensions of our organizations and networks, and about the ways of life and livelihoods that we generate in resistance to economic repression, as we seek greater harmony between nature and human beings. These include understandings – both in theory and practice – of the concepts of ‘Buen Vivir’ or, in the African context, ‘Ubuntu’, in which ‘you are who you are through others.’ These have ecological not just social overtones, and must be joined with other concepts regarding alternatives and with other real experiences.

In order to inspire and feed into the global movement, in the context of political uprisings in many countries, and to internationalize the struggle for economic justice, international networks and organizations such as FoEI, TNI and CCS are now increasingly reflecting on system change. The reflections are based upon environmental justice principles and upon resistances, mobilizations and transformations happening on the ground all over the world. They happen in parallel, in dialog or with similar approaches with other initiatives for building alternatives (such as Post Globalization Initiative, New Economy Network, Permanent Group of Alternatives to Development, Municipal Services Project, Reclaim Public Water Network, the Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade network, the Alternatives to Neoliberalism in Southern Africa project and many others).

Together, we propose a process for exchanging ideas to deepen analysis and to reinforce alliances and collaboration on alternatives for economic justice in the context of uprising movements for system change.

General objectives
• To share knowledge and critical thinking for system change, focusing on main drivers of economic crisis and on alternatives for economic justice
• To promote a debate between activists, intellectuals and social movement leaders working on proposals and initiatives that inspire our organizations, networks and movements
• To reinforce alliances and commitments for internationalization of the struggles that can be reflected in our current and further work for system change
• To contribute to the discussion on alternatives for economic justice and thinking on joint strategies at different regions
• To feed in to the process of the global campaign to dismantle the power of TNCs by building economic justice alternatives reported at a ‘peoples treaty’, sharing, debating and taking into account particular and common demands from the regions

The specific objectives for the International Workshop in Southern African are to
debate economic justice alternatives, explore competing theories and build knowledge and proposals based upon concrete cases of struggles in the context of Southern Africa.

This can only be done to maximum effect in dialogue with local/international campaigners and strategists in other regions and countries, and by considering lessons that will take us through and beyond development and rights, in order to build a commons strategy.

The objectives must be pursued in the context of the uprising movements and the main political opportunities in the calendar ahead for 2013 and 2014 (including the WTO Ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013 and the BRICS meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil in March 2014).

Content and Dynamics
The Workshop will deal with economic justice alternatives, highlighting the main drivers of the extractive “development model”, financial capitalism and neoliberal globalization and capitalist crisis, while exploring competing theories that involve the struggles for rights and commons, at their different levels and based on concrete cases, Such cases include the different ‘generations’ of rights, including rights of nature, and the different scales and dimensions of commons, including the natural commons, the produced commons and the peopled commons.

Rather than a conference-type atmosphere, there will be an opening and closing plenary, and animators can arrange discussions (covering issue-areas and getting everyone to contribute).


The general Workshop structure is presented below:

Day 1: context, debates on concepts and controversies

1.1 context (state of world economy, ecology, geopolitics, power relations, struggles for democracy and justice) and conceptual debates (beyond development, extractivism and globalization, rights and commons, buen vivir and ubuntu, etc) - especially led by Edgardo Lander (1/2 day)

1.2 competing political-economic theories, including role of state and whether/how commons is ‘liberal’ (global-public-good theory) or ‘radical’, that can help us relate to controversies within commons strategies (e.g. the autonomist versus socialist strategies - e.g. Soweto and Brazil), how to reach non-reformists reforms, dangers of the commons (e.g. patriarchal), and scale politics (e.g. Harvey versus Ostrom) (1/2 day)

Day 2: alternative experiences in commoning and economic justice

This day can work on a groups division into 2 or 3 groups per session, divided into the 3 ‘categories of commons’ (nature, produced, peoples) where presentation and dialog among similar cases: one from Africa, one from other region brought by participants, can be analyzed in the groups and shared in plenary by the end of each session.

2.1 struggles and success stories (eg AIDS medicines, water in Colombia, Basic Income Grant Namibia, others) (1/2 day)

2.2 struggles with commoning visions (eg Mozambicans versus Vale commoning solidarity, others ) (1/2 day)

Day 3: associated struggles and next-steps

3.1 other struggles underway now in Southern Africa and the context of uprising movements in the world (1/2 day)

3.2 next steps to link-up (connect the dots), and to achieve higher levels of scale (1/2 day)

Lucia Ortiz F FoE EJRN IPC Brazil
Nina Ascoly F FOEI IS Netherlands
Dipti Bhatnagar F FoEI CJE IPC India/Mozambique
Anabela Lemos F FoE Mozambique Mozambique
Danilo Urrea M FoE Colombia Colombia
Grace García F FoE Costa Rica Costa Rica
Meor Meorabdulrahman M FoE Malaysia Malaysia
Muhammad Ishlah M FoE Indonesia Indonesia
Malika Peyraut F FoE France France
Lyda Fernanda Forero F TNI Netherlands/Colombia
Nthavela Themba M LVC South Africa South Africa
Michelle Pressend F AIDC South Africa
Patrick Bond M CCS South Africa
China Ngubane M CCS South Africa
Christelle Terreblanche F CCS South Africa
Youngsu Kim M CCS South Korea
Molaudi Sekake M CCS South Africa
Gloria Chicaiza F Acción Ecológica Ecuador
Boaventura Monjane M UNAC / LVC Mozambique Mozambique
Renaldo Chingore João M UNAC/ LVC Mozambique Mozambique
Jeremias Vunjanhe M ADECRU Mozambique
Ruy Vascocelos M AAAJC Mozambique
Graça Samo F WMW Mozambique
WMW F WMW Mozambique
Tristen Taylor M Earth Life South Africa
Carolina Herrmann F FoE Brazil/Movesam/AV MG Brazil
Daniel Ribeiro M FoE Mozambique Mozambique
Ruben M FoE Mozambique Mozambique
Gizela Zunguze F FoE Mozambique Mozambique

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