People's summit alongside Rio+20 to draw 20,000 daily
The people's summit will hold debates and panels on a variety of issues, with a particular focus on how businesses repackage green initiatives for profit.
Thu, May 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM
TO THE STREETS: People demonstrating in streets for the first day of the 2012 World Social Forum in Brazil in January. The people's summit happening in June was announced at this event. (Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP)
RIO DE JANEIRO — A "people's summit" of social movements set to take place in Rio de Janiero next month in parallel with the UN Rio+20 summit on sustainable development will draw nearly 20,000 people daily, organizers said on May 24.
"We have reduced from 1,011 to 600 the number of planned activities and scrapped all governmental ones" during the gathering which will take place June 13-22 in southern Rio's Flamengo park, spokeswoman Fatima Mello told reporters.
The people's summit will notably feature debates, forums and concerts as well as "171 territories of the future" and concrete experiments, on topics like solar energy, undertaken in various countries.
Mello said the activities will be carried out by 200 international networks, with representatives of groups like the farmers' organization "Via Campesina", indigenous people, Afro-Brazilians, women and youth.
They will denounce the "green capitalism" advocated by the Rio+20 gathering, which will draw 115 world leaders and more than 50,000 representatives from around the world from June 20 to 22.
"We view with mistrust the intrusion of the private sector in universal sectors like water and air which should be in the hands of the public sector," Mello said.
"It's a new way found by the big corporations to repackage capitalism and they will not abandon their profits based on ecological factors," said Marcelo Durao, a spokesman for Via Campesina.
"Today, we are present in the national environment commission and the government has earmarked $5 million for the organization of the people's summit," according to Mello.
Organizers fear that because of the international economic crisis, the summit's focus will be on only one debate: "recession versus development."
"We must take up social justice, full employment, other production models which do not view nature as an infinite resource," said Mello.
Next month's people's summit was announced at the World Social Forum in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in January.
The Forum, which drew around 40,000 participants this year, has its roots in 1999 street protests in the U.S. city of Seattle during a World Trade Organization meeting but it settled on Porto Alegre as its regular venue 12 years ago when it drew 20,000 activists from around the world.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition