global civil society the rio+10 interviews barry coates
The Global Campaign for Climate Action manages the TckTckTck campaign representing hundreds of millions of people united by a desire to see a strong global deal on climate change. Barry is also the Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. .
BARRY COATES: Politicians started the summit with a process of lowering everyone's expectations about what could be achieved. And the expectations, by the end, ended up even far lower than that. There was substantially nothing that was achieved that would make a tangible difference to people - particularly the poor in the world - or the environment.
What we had was a series of rather re-cycled words from other agreements that they just repeated. And most of the effort from NGOs and civil society lobbying here was to try and prevent moves backwards. The trade agenda completely dominated the agenda. And the World Trade Organisation agreements were allowed to completely trump sustainable development.
So what we had is essentially the World Trade Organisation in a superior position to the United Nations, and that's exactly the wrong way around! We should be insisting that trade serves the aims of sustainable development, rather than the other way round
What do you think can be done practically now, for NGOs and governments to move ahead?
There are massive campaigns, social movements in countries around the world against liberalisation and globalisation. Before any more international summits can take place, we need these campaigns to convince governments to act in the interests of their people, in the interest of the planet, rather than the self-interest of the corporations in their country, and rather than playing these petty political games that have completely marred this World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Do you think that citizens and civil society have real power and ability to make a difference?
I think the power has to be with the citizens and civil society. What we've seen here is essentially governments colluding with big business to follow an agenda which gives overt power to big business to deliver water supplies to the poor through privatisation, to deliver electricity, telecommunications etc. That's what a lot of these partnership agreements that have been announced here have been all about. And instead, civil society movements need to re-claim those services so that they are made publicly accountable and so that we get affordable essential services for the poor.