In the face of a series of global crises, research organizations and political organizations across the world launched the Plan to Save the Planet on Thursday, November 25. Among the over 20 organizations that collaborated on the draft document were the International Peoples’ Assembly, the executive secretariat of ALBA-TCP, Instituto Simon Bolivar for Peace and Solidarity Among Peoples and Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. After receiving suggestions from left leaders and intellectuals from across the world, the final document will be submitted to the United Nations to be adopted as a resolution.
The plan was launched at an international seminar held by the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA) titled “Dilemmas of Humanity.”
At the opening of the seminar, the deputy director of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research Renata Porto Bugni explained that the document was created in the midst of the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, “It was written because we were moved by the crisis, as we analyzed who was being impacted by the worst social, economic, and political consequences, and precisely in a moment wherein globally conscience was growing about human fragility with regard to the inefficiencies of this mode of production.”
In the preface to the draft plan Sacha Llorenti, secretary general of ALBA-TCP, asserts that “The multidimensional and existential nature of the crises faced by humankind and by life on the planet compels us to create and strengthen all possible opportunities to gather towards collectively building a common, intersectional and inclusive horizon that enables us to reclaim our social and political initiative.”
The plan asks the countries to “push aside narrow nationalist concerns and engage in a common, cooperative response” for an “emergency global program” required to prevent the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on common people, millions of whom have died with millions more expected to be pushed into poverty due to it.
In his remarks given to the seminar, Sacha Llorenti pointed out that “Many of the consequences of the pandemic [such as hunger and avoidable deaths] happened before the pandemic, so if there is not a deep change, we will continue to experience these even when the pandemic is over.”
The director of the Tricontinental Institute Vijay Prashad reflected on the words of the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in emphasizing the importance of this plan: “Castro said, ‘the people will eventually wake up to the fact that there is something disgusting happening in the world. The world is becoming a disgusting place because profit is taking over our humanity.’” The plan they have drafted, he emphasized, “puts people before corporations, puts people before profit. The over 100 proposals we have are rooted in the principles of the UN charter which effectively is rooted in the common sense of humanity.” He declared: “The common sense of humanity is on our side…there is no tomorrow if we don’t win these battles today.”
The plan (Full Text) is broadly based on objectives of the UN resolution on New International Economic Order (NIEO) adopted in 1974 and the South Commission report called “The Challenge of the South” (1990) prepared under the leadership of Julius Nyerere. The NIEO resolution talks about “equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest, and cooperation among all states, irrespective of their economic and social systems.” The plan has a clear objective to “correct inequalities and redress existing injustices,” ultimately reversing “the widening gap between developed and developing countries, and ensure steadily accelerating economic and social development and peace and justice for present and future generations.”
According to the plan, in order to achieve the objectives envisioned in the NIEO and South Commission reports and to mitigate the ill-effects of COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to end the three existing apartheids in the world broadly categorized as money apartheid, medicine apartheid and food apartheid.
Money apartheid manifests through the continuation of external debt (USD 11 trillion) on developing countries as a result of “colonial theft, imperialist expropriation and plunder” and the existence of USD 37 trillion in tax havens. The end of money apartheid – cancelling this debt and recovering “offshore” money – will enable developing countries to strengthen their public health system and cope with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic better.
The inequality in the availability of COVID-19 vaccine is the cornerstone of today’s medical apartheid which the plan calls to eliminate. It explains that this has been cemented by vaccine nationalism and refusal of rich countries to share the knowhow with poorer countries through the elimination of intellectual property rights over their production.
The reversal of advances in food security and the rise in global hunger is referred to as “food apartheid.” According to international organizations, in 2020, one out of every three people on the planet did not have adequate food. The plan relates concerns of saving the planet with the need to eliminate global hunger.
These three apartheids have their root in the hegemonic control over science and technology, financial systems, weaponry, communications, and other resources by a handful of governments and companies. The plan declares that no attempts to end the above-mentioned apartheid will succeed until the end of such centralized controls.
What needs to be done?
Democracy and an alternative international order strictly based on the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are seen as necessary steps to save the planet. This must include promotion of regional mechanisms, demilitarization and disarmament, and promotion of individual and community rights.
In order to reduce the threats of global warming and environmental disaster, the world needs to adopt a vibrant and differentiated responsibility the plan outlines. It adds that developed countries must provide financial and technological assistance to developing countries to deal with the crisis and restrict the rise in global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Such transfer of resources and technology will not be a charity but the execution of shared and equitable responsibilities.
The plan proposes the elimination of all external debt of developing countries and the seizure of money stashed in global tax havens for their financial independence. In place of the current system characterized by inequality and domination, it proposes a more democratic international financial system with greater regulations on private lenders and multinational firms and reduced emphasis on international financial institutions. It proposes increased reliance on the regional trade mechanism and a greater role for the public sector in finance. It visualizes developing countries having greater control over the movement of money across their borders hoping it will provide relief from centuries of colonial plunder and reduce their financial dependency on the developed world.
The plan argues that in order to save the planet, the world needs to advance the cause of people’s vaccines and end all patents on the production of COVID-19 vaccines. In order to save the planet, the plan argues, the world needs to move towards decommodification of the health sector and increase public spending in all aspects of health care, as well as spend on public housing with vibrant rent control measures. Countries also need to increase public investment in food production and its democratization with greater restrictions on corporate houses in agriculture. It also demands greater public education and more job guarantees, allowing a vibrant space for trade unions with laws protecting the rights of the workers with compulsory equal wages. The plan calls for enhanced social protection and protection measures for marginalized communities and sexual minorities. It talks about greater protection of cultural diversity with the objective of inculcating values of scientific temper, equality, justice and takes a stand against all forms of exclusion and discrimination. The demand for a public and democratic digital space is also part of the Plan to Save the Planet.
With the seminar, ALBA-TCP, the Tricontinental Institute, the Simón Bolívar Institute, and the International Peoples’ Assembly began a process of consultation with the regions and movements that are part of the IPA process and with society in general, in order to strengthen what has already been proposed and collectively build this vital document which charts the way forward to save the planet.