Eco-socialist declaration, call for global network

January 23, 2009

According to the signatories of the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration, "humanity today faces a stark choice: ecosocialism or barbarism".

The declaration was drafted by a committee tasked by the 2007 Paris Ecosocialist Conference and has more than 400 signatures from around the world so far, will be distributed as part of the official launching of the Ecosocialist International Network at the January 27-February 1 World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil.

"We need no more proof of the barbarity of capitalism, the parasitical system that exploits humanity and nature alike", the declaration states. "Its sole motor is the imperative toward profit and thus the need for constant growth."

A sick system

While capitalism has always been ecologically destructive, "assaults on the earth have accelerated. Quantitative change is giving way to qualitative transformation, bringing the world to a tipping point, to the edge of disaster."

The declaration argues that "the insatiable need to increase profits, is not an accidental feature of capitalism: it is built into the system's DNA". Therefore capitalism's tendency towards environmental destruction cannot be reformed away.

A plethora of strategies for confronting ecological destruction already exist. But, the declaration warns, "the great majority of these strategies share one common feature: they are devised by and on behalf of the dominant global system, capitalism."

"One example demonstrates the failure: in the first four years of the 21st Century, global carbon emissions were nearly three times as great per annum as those of the decade of the 1990s, despite the appearance of the Kyoto Protocols in 1997."

Instead, the declaration proposes "a revolutionary transformation" for a different kind of society: eco-socialism.

Revolutionary alternative

"Ecosocialism is grounded in a transformed economy founded on the non-monetary values of social justice and ecological balance. It criticizes both capitalist 'market ecology' and productivist socialism, which ignored the earth's equilibrium and limits. It redefines the path and goal of socialism within an ecological and democratic framework."

The declaration outlines the necessity for "both democratic decision-making in the economic sphere … and the collectivization of the means of production".

"Clean air and water and fertile soil, as well as universal access to chemical-free food and renewable, non-polluting energy sources, are basic human and natural rights defended by ecosocialism.

"Far from being 'despotic', collective policy-making on the local, regional, national and international levels amounts to society's exercise of communal freedom and responsibility."

Arguing that entire sectors of industry and agriculture "must be suppressed, reduced, or restructured and others must be developed, while providing full employment for all", the declaration notes that "such a radical transformation is impossible without collective control of the means of production and democratic planning of production and exchange".

"Such a process cannot begin without a revolutionary transformation of social and political structures based on the active support, by the majority of the population, of an ecosocialist program.

"The struggle of labour — workers, farmers, the landless and the unemployed — for social justice is inseparable from the struggle for environmental justice. Capitalism, socially and ecologically exploitative and polluting, is the enemy of nature and of labour alike."

In this struggle, the most oppressed elements of human society, particularly the poor and indigenous peoples who suffer the most from the effects of the environmental crisis, "must take full part in the ecosocialist revolution, in order to revitalize ecologically sustainable traditions and give voice to those whom the capitalist system cannot hear … Similarly, gender equality is integral to ecosocialism."

Today, "urban and rural workers, peoples of the global south and indigenous peoples everywhere are at the forefront of this struggle against environmental and social injustice".

Therefore, "we must further these social-environmental movements and build solidarity between anticapitalist ecological mobilizations in the North and the South".


As concrete proposals for radical transformations, the declaration lists four crucial areas.

Firstly, the energy system, by replacing carbon-based fuels and biofuels with clean sources of power under community control: wind, geothermal, wave, and above all, solar power.

Secondly, the transportation system, by drastically reducing the use of private trucks and cars, replacing them with a free and efficient public transportation.

Thirdly, present patterns of production, consumption, and building, which are based on waste, inbuilt obsolescence, competition and pollution, by producing only sustainable and recyclable goods and developing green architecture.

Fourthly, food production and distribution, by defending local food sovereignty as far as possible, eliminating polluting industrial agribusinesses, creating sustainable agro-ecosystems and working to renew soil fertility.

However, the declaration points out that "to theorize and to work toward realizing the goal of green socialism does not mean that we should not also fight for concrete and urgent reforms right now".

Such reforms include drastic and enforceable reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases, the development of clean energy sources, the provision of an extensive free public transportation system, the progressive replacement of trucks by trains, the creation of pollution clean-up programs, and the elimination of nuclear energy, and war spending.

[To read the full statement visit . Ian Angus, one of the founders of the Ecosocialist International Network and part of the declaration's drafting committee, will be a special guest speakers at the "World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st century" conference to be held in Sydney, April 10-12. For more information visit]

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