Civil Society Voices: A new heritage for a new economy?
Rio de Janeiro – 18 June 2012 – The Earth Condominium is a civil society organisation working for the recognition of the oceans and climate systems as Natural Intangible Heritage of Mankind. In the context of the ongoing Rio+2o United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the Earth Condominium is launching the ‘What Unite Us All‘ documentary in a side event aimed at presenting their proposals to the Rio+20 participants and delegates. Below you will see the explanation of the main ideias advocated by this NGO:
The idea of a Condominium
Experience has demonstrated that the shared use of goods, or even a system, by a large group of individuals, results in an inevitable “tragedy of the commons”. The global natural systems such as the climate and ocean systems, can impossibly be divided or contained within the limits of a physical border. For that reason, we are confronted with it disorderly use by the global community.
The legal framework of the condominium is a form of hybrid property that has since long been used in buildings, rural communities and the management of common resources between neighboring countries. As the limits of individual and common property are defined, obligations and management tasks can be distinguished, conciliating individual and collective interests. Inspired by this example, the Earth Condominium consists of a proposal that would harmonize the existing tension between various interests that are common to all mankind, among which are the sustainable use of vital natural resources, the economic interests of states and avoiding a tragedy of the commons on the scale of the global ecosystem. This proposal includes two essential elements:
1) A legal international status for the global natural systems
2) A system for accounting and global management
An idea to better preserve the ecosystem services?
As the perception grows of a global natural system, it is understood as well that all human beings are in direct dependence of the quality of the vital resources these systems provide. This requires a legal response that harmonizes these global human relations. It is necessary to recognize a legal status to these ‘new’ resources and attribute them to someone. And since they are limited or finite, a system that manages these resource will need to be developed. Until this day, climate change has been considered through resolution 43/53 by the UN general assembly as a “common concern of mankind since the climate system is an essential condition for sustaining life on earth”. The climate crisis should result in more than the recognition of a problem or a concern. On the international level will have to appear a legal qualification comparable to the vital, intergenerational and planetary character of these resources. In the same way the ecological problems related to maritime space are strictly intertwined implying that also this space should be considered as a whole.
The need to provide juridical answers to this natural reality of systems may go through the creation of a new legal object: the recognition of a new heritage, the “Natural Intangible Heritage”, which as a vital resource, should belong to all of mankind and its future generations.
The application of the fundamental principles of the ‘Common Heritage of Mankind’ to the climate and oceanic system under the name ‘Natural Intangible Heritage of Mankind’ could mean a step to overcome the current juridical ‘black hole’ that those systems currently represent, as there are no clearly defined rights and duties regarding the use and benefits of these global systems. The notion of the natural intangible heritage can contribute to the legal support structure that captures the vital factors currently considered by the economy as ‘externalities’. It would allow the development of new environmental service offering activities in the common interest of all mankind and turn decisive the possibility to recover planetary biocapacity.
The creation of these new legal object of intangible systemic nature also serves to clarify other concepts vital to the green economy: the separation of ecosystem services (for example, climate regulation) from the infrastructure that sustains that service (for example, a forest). That way it is possible to capture and account for these benefits and create a compensation system for services that are in the common interest of all mankind. This may give origin to an economy with an incentive to invest in the maintenance and recovery of ecosystems since there exists an economic compensation for the benefits delivered to the common heritage.
With the recognition of the global natural systems as Natural Intangible Heritage of Mankind, the Earth Condominium seeks to establish a global agreement of management between the Global Commons and states through the adoption of an accounting system of consumption and provision of benefits. The inclusion of the benefits in these accounts of relations may alter the rule of predation of natural resources for economic compensation. It is a determinant element for the construction of an economy capable to generate biocapacity in articulation with its consumption. All considered, an economy that is able to re-put resources is a sustainable economy. That is the future that we want.
Visit the Earth Condominium website here.
A full presentation of the proposals by the Earth Condominium here.
Are you interested in this subject? Refer to the following IPC-IG publications for new ideas on inclusive sustainable development: