Earth Vikalp Sangam: Proposal for a Global Alternatives Confluence

Note for a brainstorming meeting at the 6th International Degrowth Conference, Malmo, 21 August 2018

Across the world, there is resistance to the dominant, ecologically destructive and socially inequitable model of ‘development’ that has been imposed by capitalist, statist, and patriarchal forces. Simultaneously there is a search for radical and/or systemic alternatives to this model. These range from initiatives in specific sectors such as sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing economy, worker take-over of production facilities, resource/knowledge commons, and inter-ethnic peace and harmony, to more holistic or rounded transformations such as those being attempted by the Zapatista and the Kurds in Rojava.

There is a great deal that such initiatives can learn from each other, if not the specifics of how transformation was brought about then at least the lessons, values, principles emerging from them. Even more important, there is a need for networking and critical solidarity amongst them to create a greater critical mass for macro-economic and political change.

Amongst the various global forums that have emerged in recent times to address the challenges humanity faces, the most visible and powerful is the World Social Forum (WSF). Through its various global and regional forums WSF has brought together a very large section of the resistance movements, and many of the alternative initiatives (with often the two being the same or overlapping). However, it appears that a predominant focus of the WSF remains critiques of the dominant system in all its dimensions, and strengthening resistance to it; the collective search for alternatives remains weak. This is not a criticism, just an observation, for the existence of a forum that can bring together and mutually strengthen resistance is itself absolutely crucial.

However, post-resistance visions and strategies for building a saner, equitable, wiser world are equally important. We therefore propose a Global Alternatives Confluence (GAC) that enables the following:

  • Mutual sharing of alternative initiatives along the full range of human endeavour, to learn from each other, strengthen meaningful hope and inspiration;
  • Building collaborations amongst these initiatives;
  • Strategising for advocacy and actions towards changing the macro-situation to enable the spread and deepening of such initiatives; and
  • Collective envisioning of alternative futures.

Clearly work on alternatives will not be successful without also being, or aligning with, work on resistance. The GAC is not proposed as a competitor to the WSF, but as complementary. If it can be held along with the WSF, in ways that enable fully democratic decision-making about its organizing, it is worth considering. Else, or additionally, it can be an independent (but linked) forum. And like the WSF, it can be global as also regional, and can build on ‘national’ or local Confluences (such as those being held in India, see footnote 1).

It is important that the GAC does not become institutionalized in ways that create bureaucratic, centralized structures of decision-making; it needs to remain a process, and an open platform, an identity that many can ‘own’ and run with.

Also important, this should be a forum for those seeking fundamental, systemic, radical transformation, not succumbing to the superficial, often ‘false’ solutions that are emerging in the form of predominantly market measures, technofixes and so on. A preliminary list of the kinds of initiatives / movements is in the Annex.

We hope to discuss the idea, desirability, and feasibility of such a global confluence at a gathering at the 6th International Degrowth Conference in Malmo, Sweden, on 21st August 2018. Amongst the issues we can address are:

  1. Is there a need for a GAC?
  2. If so, should it be held with the WSF, or independently?
  3. How will it link to other related regional or global events, such as those on the Commons, Degrowth, and Social/Solidarity Economy?
  4. What are the key principles for a GAC, e.g. democratic, flexible, inclusive, etc?
  5. What kind of structure (or unstructure!) would best meet these principles?
  6. What sorts of initiatives would the GAC be open to; what is a systemic/transformative alternative, how to distinguish these from superficial, ‘false’ solutions?
  7. How will a GAC be resourced?
  8. What are the next steps?

(note for discussion by Ashish Kothari with inputs from Liisa Haapanen, chikikothari@gmail.com)

5 June, 2018

Annex

Alternative initiatives / movements relevant for a GAC

(partial list; some of those listed below also have a range of initiatives only some of which may be radical/transformative/systemic)

Food / renewable energy / water /land sovereignty

Autonomy / self-determination (including of indigenous peoples)

Indigenous & community well-being (sumac kawsay, ubuntu, etc) / life plans

Swaraj / self-rule / radical democracy

Degrowth / decolonization / alter-globalisation

Social / solidarity /gift / cooperative economies

Commons

Peace / demilitarization

Worker / production democracy

Feminist / gender / sexuality

Social justice / equity

Climate and environmental justice

Ecosocialist

Radical and socially engaged spiritual

Alternative media and arts / arts for social transformation

Rights of nature

Transition towns / ecovillages

Anarchist

Community /complementary currencies

Meetings at Malmo conference (August 2018) 

1st session: 21st Aug, Room 202 (ABF), 10 am to 2 pm

2nd session: 24th Aug, Room Stora Salen (Moriskan), 2 to 3.30 pm

1 The Vikalp Sangam (‘Alternatives Confluence’) is a process carried out in India, bringing together initiatives on alternatives across the full range of human interests and arenas; seehttp://www.kalpavriksh.org/index.php/alternatives/alternatives-knowledge-center/353-vikalp-sangam-coverage and http://www.kalpavriksh.org/images/alternatives/VikalpSangamshandoutnoteOct2016.pdf

1 Comment

  1. Greetings friends of Degrowth. Here is a proposal that might be of interest to you:
    A VIRTUAL SUSTAINABLE TRANSITION TOWN TO SAVE THE WORLD
    Despite the high quality of life that some of the so-called developed nations have achieved, the truth is that the world, considered as a group of countries located in a fragile and geographically limited biosphere, is threatened with extinction due to human conflicts and the depredation of the environment.
    Notwithstanding the good and very important actions taken by groups and individuals in favor of a better world, deterioration at all levels continues to increase dangerously.
    After more than thirty years dedicated to these matters, and since “an image is worth a thousand words” we have come up with a novel idea of designing a self-sufficient and sustainable model city that has all the characteristics of infrastructure and organization inherent to the peaceful and sustainable society that we want for ourselves and our descendants, whose representation in the form of scale models, animated series, feature films, video games and theme parks, would constitute a model to follow to generate the necessary changes.
    The prototype that we present has some characteristics that are opposed, sometimes in a radical way, to the religious, economic, political and educational traditions and customs that have been transmitted from generation to generation, yet are the causes of the aforementioned problems, and therefore must be transformed.
    If you are interested in knowing about this project, or even participating in it, we invite you to visit our website https://elmundofelizdelfuturo.blogspot.com/ (written in Spanish and English), where we are working in that sense.

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