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Peoples' Sustainability Manifesto

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Humankind faces multiple and daunting crises that are more than likely to confront and impact billions of people in the decades to come. In addition, research is showing us that our actions are very likely going to cause us to transgress multiple planetary thresholds and boundaries. Despite this, governments at Rio+20 are missing yet another opportunity to formulate an effective response to these crises. Indeed, since 1992, there has been a retrogression in the consensus that was reached at the Earth Summit—and reflected in such principles as burden sharing, articulation of rights, mobilization of support, and protection of the vulnerable. Repeated attempts to revive this consensus—at Johannesburg in 2002, Bali in 2007, Copenhagen in 2009, and now Rio de Janeiro in 2012—have come up empty handed, thus thwarting efforts to build upon it. Despite unprecedented growth in the global economy since 1992, governments are trapped in making insatiable demands for still more unsustainable growth and rising inequity to remedy problems that economic globalization itself has caused.

We, the signatories to this Manifesto, refuse to sit idly by in the face of another failure of governments to provide hope for a sustainable future for all. We announce our responsibility for undertaking actions, inviting and encourage similar actions and commitments by other rightsholders and stakeholders, communicating a vision for healthy communities, sustainable and equitable human well-being and its associated strategies, and coming together in the form of a global citizen’s movement to shepherd the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and democratic future.

We pledge ourselves to:

Equity is the overarching demand from the civil society world, and must be the foundation of the collective global response. We call for equity within generations, equity across generations, and equity between humans and nature. For this we need to revert back to making individual and societal decisions based on equity and ecological factors and not merely on monetary factors. A different sort of economics, a new approach to learning and education, a revised understanding of ethics and of spirituality then become the ways in which we can work toward a more Equitable society; one that recognizes our integral relationship with the natural worl

Localizing our systems of economies, decentralizing governance, and advancing sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods becomes the new social order of sustainable societies. Localism is the theme emerging across the board which is linked to the principles of devolution, of decentralization and of subsidiarity, turning localism into a world-wide movement becomes the key to unpacking many of the complexities we face, whether in the case of sustainable consumption and production or in the case of radical ecological democracy. Protecting the rights of Mother Earth and of humans, transforming our governance systems through radical ecological democracy, respecting cultural diversity, and strengthening sustainable economies is the way towards sustainable futures for all. It is thus essential that we create a more effective, responsible and democratic system of global governance

A Global Citizens Movement is the collective response towards transitioning to a sustainable world. All sections of society must thrive to converge upon their visions and convictions and find common ground for collective action that can bring about the transformation required to ensure the wellbeing of all on the planet—humans as well as nature. Such a global citizens movement would catalyze for a peaceful and prosperous new world that generates widespread happiness and contentment – thus propagating widespread practices of mindful intentional action. For this, a new sense of ethics, values and spirituality must be seeded within current and future generations through a redesigned system of learning, education and enlightenment.

Under these circumstances, this manifesto calls for action that helps us move simultaneously toward a more localized socio-economic structure and toward a supra-national mindset that helps us transcend the parochial concerns of a corporate-capitalistic globalization. We must work to activate a global citizens movement that will move us rapidly into a great transition toward authentic ecological sustainability and socio-economic equity in a manner that recognizes our inter-relationships with Mother Earth.


Time for the Sustainability Transition - navigating our planetary phase

Humanity has arrived at the planetary phase of civilization. This is reflected in a level of self-awareness of global interdependence as well as the peril of transgressing planetary boundaries. This awareness and sense of stewardship may well enable the radical transformations required in economic, political, and cognitive systems for ensuring sustainability. The Sustainability Transition envisions a profound transformation in world-views and values, a transformation towards human solidarity, understanding of our place in nature and affinity towards other species, and a dramatic re-emphasis on a decent quality-of-life for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

Equity: The Foundation of a Sustainable Society

We call for an unequivocal commitment to a holistic form of Equity, based on a shared vision of ethics, spirituality, and intentional mindfulness, as the foundation for building a different sort of economics, a new approach to education, and an improved and redesigned institutional framework. Equity is the foundation on which institutional structures, governance, economic arrangements, and technological choices must be built. Without an agreement on this foundation of Equity, it is foolish, futile, and dangerous to attempt to build the superstructure.

A New Social Order – the necessary governance architecture for a just and equitable society

Our primary challenge is to recognize the legitimate, even necessary role of civil society and of a post-national citizenry, viewed as an integral part of a planetary system that expresses itself as a nested formation of global, regional and local phenomena. A crucial basis for this is radical forms of democracy in which each person and community has the right, power, and capacity to participate in decisions affecting their lives. From within such a vision, we need to grow the processes of democratic global governance in a manner that implements the necessary transition toward planetary sustainability. We endorse the principle of subsidiarity in the redesign of global governance institutions, including the institutional framework for a system of global economic governance, sustainable energy systems, cultural integrity and diversity, and measures to promote sustainable consumption and production. Societal decisions should be no more global than they absolutely have to be, and should always be as local as they possibly can be.

A New Ecological Order –honourable lifestyles and livelihoods that respect our planet

The dominant model of development has failed to lift large sections of humanity out of poverty, achieve greater equity within and between nations, or protect the planetary bio-geo-chemical systems and natural landscapes. We propose a radically different vision of human well-being, one that appreciates that humans are a part of nature, is in tune with nature’s processes, respects other species, promotes socio-economic equity amongst all people, enhances the cultural, material, economic, social, and political opportunities for all, empowers each person and community to take part in decision-making affecting their lives, even as it leaves the natural world a better and much improved place.

A New Economic Order - a system of sustainable economies

The world comprises diverse economic systems, at many levels—not just the global economy, or the national economy, but a plethora of regional and local economies as well. Any alternative economic system must promote such economic diversity instead of being enslaved to a globalized capitalistic-corporate or state-dominated monolith. Without an agreement on the shared visions of equity, plurality, and subsidiarity, the green economy will again become a means of justifying the unjustifiable excesses of the current system. What is needed is a vision of a networked system of decentralized, community-based, sustainable economies in a diversity of settings, which stands on a foundation of ecological integrity, social accountability and an economically equitable distribution. A truly just and sustainable economic order will be one that increases or maintains the resilience of natural ecosystems, enhances the quality of life for all individuals, and creates a level of prosperity that allows all of humanity the opportunity to attain its full potential. A New Economic Order will be one that leaves both humans and nature better off, in perpetuity.


Another world is possible! We commit to our transition toward increasingly sustainable futures on earth.

The Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties identify a range of actions required to support the transition to a sustainable world. We resolve individually and collectively to undertake these commitments to action in our own personal and professional lives.

We invite all stakeholders to join the campaign towards advancing a global citizens movement by endorsing the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, committing themselves to action, and crafting and proposing additional treaties. We resolve to come together to build such a movement, to support its evolution and progress, to made it both a cradle and a touchstone for values and actions that lead to a sustainable future. We call upon all to join this movement and make it a reality.

Sharing a Vision

We resolve to come together to share knowledge, experience, and information through a diversity of channels, social media, the educational system, scientific panels, conferences, and symposia, and print and electronic media.

Undertaking Actions

The Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties identify a range of actions required to support the transition to a sustainable world. We resolve individually and collectively to undertake these actions in our own personal and professional lives.

Building A Global Citizens Movement

We invite all citizens, including students, teachers, representatives of indigenous people and local communities, farmers, fishers, pastoralists, craftspersons, workers, participants of social movements, representatives of women’s organizations, civil society representatives, businesspersons, journalists, lawyers, physicians, parliamentarians, government officials, and politicians, to join the campaign towards advancing a global citizens movement by endorsing this Manifesto and its associated Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, committing themselves to action, and crafting and proposing additional actions and treaties. We resolve to come together to build such a movement, to support its evolution and progress, to make it both a cradle and a touchstone for values and actions that lead to a sustainable future. We call upon all ecologically and socially sensitive people in the world to join this movement and make it a reality.


Signatories to this manifesto represent the sentiments and experienced thoughts of hundreds of civil society organizations consulted from around the world prior to Rio+20 who, with commitment, evolved the following fourteen Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties.

i. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on the Rights of Mother Earth

ii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Ethical and Spiritual Values for Sustainable Development

iii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Radical Ecological Democracy

iv. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Equity

v. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Rights for Sustainability

vi. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Consumption and Production,

vii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Economies

viii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Development Goals

ix. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Development Governance

x. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Corporate Social Responsibility and Accountability

xi. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Transitioning to a Zero Fossils World

xii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Environmental Education for Sustainable Societies and Global Responsibility

xiii. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education Towards Sustainable Development

xiv. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on a Charter of Universal Responsibility.

We are the signatories pledging to work together for a new world order as detailed in this manifesto;


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