Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Nasir asks - Can SDGs serve and survive as tools for sustainable development?

Syed Shah Nasir Khisro, National Convenor of FANSA Pakistan, is participating in the Rio+20 conventions from 13 June 2012. He shares his participation and learning from the conference to the larger audience of FANSA family. 

Sustainable Development
I attended a very interactive dialogue on sustainable development. Basically the topic of the dialogue was "For People, Rights and Sustainable Development." 
"The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) can only contribute to sustainable development if they address the structure that causes poverty and unsustainable development. SDGs must therefore address the three pillars of sustainable development and not merely represent the marriage between poverty reduction and environmental concerns. In this sense, the SDGs that respond to the whole range of system change and sustainable development will fulfill both the purpose of calling attention and ensuring focus but at the same time ensure a holistic approach to the systemic and structural problems of underdevelopment and poverty as well as environmental degradation". 
My question, "Can SDGs serve and survive as tools for sustainable development irrespective of loyalty, culture, religion, and geographical boundaries?"
I think the civil society needs more understanding about the SDGs and should take more precautionary measures because MDGs are very politicizing in most developing countries.
For more reading log on to
FAN Global session - Water, Energy and Extractivism
I attended the People's Summit and participated in one of the session organized by Freshwater Action Network (FAN) Global. The motion of the discussion was very new to me, it was on Water, Energy and Extractivism. It gave me an opportunity to learn knowledgeable and thematic arguments. The session was not at the official Rio+20 conference sites; it was organized in the main city centre on very beautiful landscape near the port and the domestic airport on very green lush surrounding.
The enthusiasm was far high comparing to the official conference, the participation and the spirits of the participants in the discussion were high and engaging. Everything at the Rio center under the shadow of high security checks was very artificial and cosmetically designed for high profile people discussing issues of the poor neighborhood.
On the People's Summit
Now let me tell you in detail about the People's Summit, why they organized a parallel conference to Rio+20 and what’s the significance. The Civil Society’s Facilitator Committee for Rio +20 (CFSC) organized the Peoples’ Summit. The space was organized into self-organized discussion groups, a People’s Permanent Assembly and a showcase space for organizations and social movements, to allow us to discuss with the general public our experiences and work. The expectation was to raise new paradigms and alternatives built by people and point out the political agenda for the next period.
The first two days of the Summit (15th and 16th of June) were allotted for activities organized by local social movements, which are in constant struggle to resist the impacts of major projects. Starting from that moment, a free access space were set up, where organizations and global civil society movements were provide spaces to exhibit experiences and projects that demonstrate how a sustainable and fraternal society is possible, unlike the current paradigm that we live in.
The territory of the People’s Summit aims be free from corporate presence and based on solidarity economy, agriculture, in digital cultures, actions of indigenous communities. These meetings of citizenship, which feature cultural attractions, will be open until the end of the Summit, on the 23rd. It is part of a historical process of accumulation and convergence of local, regional and global struggles, which have anti-capitalist, classist, anti-racist, anti-patriarchal and anti-homophobic political frames.
The People's Summit wants to transform Rio +20 in a moment of opportunity to address the serious problems that humanity is facing and demonstrate the political power of organized people. 
But at the end of the day, the million dollar question is, who is financing the People summit?* and no one among even in the organizers has a fair idea about the financial background. I like the idea of a space outside the big forums and events and discussing issue within the reach of common people but at the same time I think we lose contact with decision makers and politicians. The gulf may widen which ultimately create more hurdles for the poor communities and voiceless.


I think, why we do we need alternative forum? Why do we need people summit? We can collaborate with the government, policy holders and decision makers to engage them in the changes that we envisage. In this sense, we may lose the confidence of politicians and decision makers if we prefer to sit separately and develop our own world.
*The People's Summit is financed by the Brazilian government. 

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