Towards an Economic System that Works for People and the Planet

On November 15, the leaders of 20 nations and the major multilateral financial institutions will gather behind closed doors in Washington to discuss the future of the global economy. Led by outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, this group includes many of the people, governments, and institutions whose policies are responsible for the current financial meltdown. As such, we believe they are the wrong group to be charged with reworking global economic rules and institutions. The world needs a process that is much more inclusive of other nations and the peoples of those nations.

This statement begins to sketch an agenda for change that would resolve the crisis by putting people and the planet first. It starts from the experiences of groups and communities around the world. It speaks to a financial meltdown triggered in the very heart of the globalized capitalist economy that has combined with the growing crises of climate chaos and hunger, and that now reaches into every corner of the planet. This new crisis of predatory and unregulated “casino capitalism” is destroying jobs, lives and livelihoods, while wreaking havoc on currencies and stock markets around the world. It has taken resources from the many, while concentrating wealth in the hands of the few.

To date, governments have largely responded by spending more than one trillion dollars bailing out private financial institutions and corporations. Meanwhile, the crushing needs of communities, ordinary citizens and fragile ecosystems have been largely ignored.
Now is the time to learn from this experience and from the consequences and devastating impacts of other recent crises, such as the debt crisis unleashed in 1982 and the financial crises in Mexico (1994-95), Asia (1997-98), Russia (1998), and Argentina (1999-2002). History continues to repeat itself. This pattern, culminating in the current global crisis, demonstrates quite definitively that a real transformation of the system is required.

New rules and institutions should be created in an open and inclusive process of dialogue. They should be based on a new set of principles to guide economic activity. We offer an overview of those principles and an outline of new rules and institutions.

1. We need a new set of principles to support new national, regional and global financial institutions. The following principles should underpin new rules and institutions:

• Economic democracy and equity, including the development of local economies, and community control and protection of water, seeds, genes, air, communal lands, fisheries, and other “commons”;
• ecological sustainability and environmental justice, including promoting long term, productive green investment;
• the fulfillment, protection, and promotion of all human rights, including the right to food, air, and water, and the rights of workers, small-hold food producers, rural and urban communities, indigenous peoples, women, children, and the elderly;
• gender, racial, ethnic and intergenerational justice and equality;
• self-determination and sovereignty of peoples and nations; and
• non-interference, mutual cooperation, complementarity and solidarity.

On the basis of such principles, finance should be aimed at and linked to strengthening national and local real economies to meet the requirement of sustainable and equitable development. And governments should support innovative new regional financial bodies such as the South Bank in South America, which has the potential to serve the needs of those regions more effectively than the IMF and World Bank. Regional emergency funds are also needed to help ensure the food and energy sovereignty of nations.

2. Enough with market fundamentalism: The world doesn’t need another “Washington Consensus.” The so-called “Washington Consensus” that has preached deregulation, privatization, the over-leveraging of banks, and trade and capital liberalization over the past 30 years has been extremely damaging to workers, communities and the environment. It is discredited and should be officially abandoned. It should not be replaced with any new “one-size-fits-all” dogma.

Rich world leaders and institutions not only promoted the frenzy of deregulation and privatization in their own countries, but pushed it on developing countries through aid and loan conditionality. As they mobilize trillions of dollars to clean up the mess at home, they must do their fair share to redress the devastating impacts of their mistakes on the South. This should include cancellation of all unsustainable and illegitimate debts claimed from countries of the South and restitution and restoration of the social and ecological debts owed to peoples of the South. These resources, together with the rapid and full disbursement of previously scheduled aid increases, should be provided free of macroeconomic and structural conditions. The right of all countries to define their own paths toward sustainable and healthy economies must be respected. The onerous conditions attached to existing aid, loan, and debt-reduction programs should be removed before they do further damage.

3. Curb the power of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO: The present crisis has again demonstrated how we are all impacted by three powerful global institutions whose policies have been instrumental in its creation: the IMF, World Bank, and the WTO. Nonetheless, much of the current debate among financial institutions and governments involves giving them enhanced roles. The WTO, for example, continues to press for further deregulation and privatization of the financial sector, principally through its General Agreement on Trade in Services. For individual countries and the global community to adopt critical new regulations of the financial sector, not only should the WTO’s current Doha Round be suspended, but also existing WTO rules constraining regulation of financial services should be rolled back. Likewise, efforts by the IMF and World Bank to expand their influence as a result of the financial, climate, energy and food crises should be rejected. Furthermore, global, regional and national economic governance institutions must be democratic and accountable to the women and men they are supposed to serve.

4. Regulate the global economy effectively: Governments should take immediate action to develop a new international regulatory architecture with democratic checks and balances that is aimed at promoting the interests of workers, small-hold farmers, consumers, and the environment and preventing future financial crises; the United Nations should play a central role in its development. This should cover not just banks but also the parallel and under-regulated financial system, including hedge funds and private equity funds. Some first steps should include regulating derivatives, stopping speculation on staple food commodities, applying stricter international capital reserve requirements, a speculation tax on international transactions, closing tax havens, and stronger transparency rules. Governments will also need to renegotiate the dozens of free-trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties that currently ban governments from placing controls on capital flows and applying other sensible conditions to foreign investment and other financial transactions.

Such steps are possible and many more will be needed to build a truly just global economic system that works for people everywhere, local communities, and the environment. This is the change that the world needs and for which we will continue to struggle.

Signatories (526 total: 211 organizations from 52 countries and 315 individuals):

International and Regional Organizations (10)
1. ActionAid International, Johannesburg, South
2. Africa
3. Africa Jubilee South
4. CADTM International Network (Com. para la Anulación de la Deuda)
5. Comité Ejecutivo Regional Asamblea de los Pueblos del Caribe
6. European Solidarity Towards Equal Participation (EUROSTEP)
7. Jubilee South
9. Social Watch
10. South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

African Organizations (10)

11. EHRCEPA (Ethiopian HHRR and Civic Education..), Ethiopia
12. African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Kenya
13. Kenya Adult Learners’ Association, Kenya
14. Kenya Debt Relief Network – KENDREN, Kenya
15. Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Center, Nigeria
16. Centre for Civil Society Economic Justice Project, South Africa
17. Network of Ugandan Researchers and Research Users (NURRU), Uganda
18. Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center, Kenya
19. African Forum on Alternatives, Senegal
20. ARCADE, Senegal

Asia-Pacific Organizations (37)

21. Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), Australia
22. Foundation for National Renewal, Australia
23. Jubilee Australia, Australia
24. BanglaPraxis, Bangladesh
25. Equity and Justice Working Group (EquityBd), Bangladesh
26. Unnayan Dhara Trust, Bangladesh
27. Humanist Association of Hong Kong, China
28. Public Services Committee, HKCTU, China
29. All India Bank Emp Association (AIBEA), India
30. Alternatives Asia, India
31. Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India
32. IT For Change, India
33. Public Agenda, India
34. Anti Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesia
35. Cakrawala Timur, Indonesia
36. Cindelaras paritrana Foundation, Indonesia
37. IMPARSIAL – Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Indonesia
38. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Indonesia
39. LSM Bismi, Indonesia
40. Jubilee Kansai Network, Japan
41. Himalayan & Peninsular Hydro-Ecological Network (HYPHEN), Nepal
42. Least Developed Countries Watch (LDC Watch), Nepal
43. Nepal Policy Institute – NPI, Nepal
44. Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), Nepal
45. Water & Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal (WAFED, Nepal
46. creed, Pakistan
47. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Philippines
48. Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines
49. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines
50. Philippine Indigenous People’s Links (PIPLINKS), Philippines
51. Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement – PRRM, Philippines
52. Social Watch Philippines
53. Women’s March Against Poverty and Globalization (WELGA!), Philippines
54. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform ( MONLAR), Sri Lanka
55. Focus on the Global South, Thailand
56. Local Talk Project, Thailand
57. Social Agenda Working Group, Thailand
58. Center for Encounters and Active Non-Violence, Austria

European Organizations (68)

59. Attac Austria, Austria
60. ECA Watch Austria, Austria
61. 11.11.11- Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement, Belgium
62. European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD), Belgium
63. Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Bulgaria
64. Pancyprian Public Employees Trade Union – PASYDY, Cyprus
65. Finnish NGDO platform to the EU, Finland
66. Attac France, France
67. Les Amis de la Terre, France
68. Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED), Germany
69. Global Policy Forum Europe, Germany
70. terre des hommes Germany, Germany
71. The Hunger Project-Germany, Germany
72. URGEWALD, Germany
73. Attac-Hellas, Greece
74. Greek Forum of Migrants, Greece
75. One Earth, Greece
76. Anthropolis, Hungary
77. Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Ireland
78. Kimmage Development Studies Center, Ireland
79. ARCI, Italy
80. Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Italy
81. Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale (CRBM), Italy
82. Fair, Italy
83. Federazione Italiana Metalmeccanici FIM-CISL, Italy
84. Transform! Italia, Italy
85. Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali) Malta, Malta
86. Tax Justice NL, Netherlands
87. Transnational Institute (TNI), Netherlands
88. SOBREVIVENCIA, Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay, Paraguay
89. Network of East-West Women, NEWW (Polska), Poland
90. Association for the Development of the Romanian Social Forum, Romania
91. Civil Society Development Foundation, Romania
92. Romanian Social Forum, Romania
93. ACSUR – Las Segovias, Spain
94. Área de Justicia y Solidaridad de CONFER, Spain
95. Asamblea verde, Spain
96. Asociación Ecologista Solidaria”Kima Berdea”, Spain
97. Asociación Nexos, Spain
98. Associacio Audiovisual Debitas, Spain
99. Attac España, Spain
100. Attac Galicia, Spain
101. CEPAC (Asoc. d’Educació en DDHH i de Prevenció de Conflict), Spain
102. Comitè de Solidaritat amb els Pobles Indigenes d´ Amèrica, Spain
103. Comunidad Carmelitas de Vedruna, Spain
105. Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
106. Fed. Humanista Centro de las Culturas, Spain
107. Fondo de Solidaridad, Spain
108. Fundació Quepo, Spain
109. HUACAL (Solidaritat amb el Salvador), Spain
110. Icaria Editorial, Spain
111. Jesús Santamaría, Spain
112. Mundo sin Guerras (Marcha Mundial por la Paz y la No Violencia), Spain
113. Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Spain
114. Periódico digital El Guanche, Spain
115. Plataforma 2015 y más, Spain
116. unaymedia, Spain
117. Alliance Sud, Switzerland
118. Terre des Hommes International Federation, Switzerland
119. Bretton Woods Project, United Kingdom
120. Fahamu – Networks for Social Justice, United Kingdom
121. Foundation for Gaia, United Kingdom
122. Jubilee Debt Campaign, United Kingdom
123. Jubilee Scotland, United Kingdom
124. MEDACT, United Kingdom
125. War on Want, United Kingdom
126. World Development Movement, United Kingdom

Latin America and Caribbean Organizations (29)

127. Ecoportal.Net, Argentina
128. FOCO – Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Der, Argentina
129. FUNDACION DA VINCI, Argentina
130. Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario – CEDLA, Bolivia
131. Centro de Mujeres Aymaras Candelaria, Bolivia
132. Fundación Solón, Bolivia
133. Radio Emisora Saywani, Bolivia
134. Red de Comunicaciones Apachita, Bolivia
135. IBASE, Brazil
136. Asoc. Inmigrantes por la Integración Latinoamericana (Apila), Chile
137. Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Mujer (CEDEM), Chile
138. Chile Sustentable, Chile
139. Asoc. De Fomento De Integracion De Las Negritudes, Colombia
140. Instituto Latinoamericano Servicios Legales Alternativos (ILSA), Colombia
141. Instituto FRONESIS, Ecuador
142. SERPAJ Ecuador, Ecuador
143. PAPDA, Haiti
144. Colectivo Parlamentario Partido Unificaciòn Democratica, Honduras
145. Americas Policy Program, Mexico
146. CACTUS-Oaxaca, Mexico
147. México nación Multicultural -UNAM- Oaxaca, Mexico
148. Federacion Nacional de Trabajadores del Agua Potable del Peru, Peru
149. Comité de apoyo al Llamado Mundial de Acción contra la Pobreza, Perú
150. Food and Water Watch Latin America, Uruguay
151. ICAE, Uruguay
152. Instituto del Tercer Mundo – ITeM, Uruguay
153. International Council for Adult Education – ICAE, Uruguay
154. REDES – Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay, Uruguay
155. Asamblea Popular Revolucionaria de Caracas (APR), Venezuela

Middle East/North African Organizations (2)

156. El Amel Association for Social Development, Algeria
157. Forum des Alternatives Maroc, Morocco

North American Organizations (54)

158. African Reform Group, Canada
159. ATTAC-Québec, Canada
160. centre des femmes, Canada
161. Centre justice et foi, Canada
162. Common Frontiers-Canada, Canada
163. Femmes Entre-Elles, Canada
164. Halifax Initiative Coalition, Canada
165. Sudanese Calgarian Community Centre, Canada
166. TROVEP Estrie, Canada
167. Africa Action, United States
168. African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), United States
169. Alliance for Democracy, United States
170. Anglican Consultative Council, United States
171. Bangladesh Development Research Center (BDRC), United States
172. Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice, United States
173. Center of Concern (COC), United States
174. Colombians For Sovereignty, ASOCOL, United States
175. Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, United States
176. Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, United States
177. Congregations of St. Joseph, United States
178. Democratic Socialists of America, United States
179. Essential Action, United States
180. Food First, United States
181. Foreign Policy In Focus, United States
182. Friends of the Earth-US, United States
183. Gender Action, United States
184. Global Policy Forum, United States
185. Hal F. Keene, United States
186. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, United States
187. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project, United States
188. International Accountability Project, United States
189. International Forum on Globalization, United States
190. International Labor Rights Forum, United States
191. International Women’s Anthropology Conference, United States
192. Jubilee Montana Network, United States
193. Jubilee USA Network, United States
194. Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas, United States
195. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, United States
196. Missionary Oblates, United States
197. National Family Farm Coalition, United States
198. New Rules for Global Finance Coalition, United States
199. Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, United States
200. People-Centered Development Forum, United States
201. Planning Alternatives for Change LLC, United States
202. Quixote Center, United States
203. Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, United States
204. Sisters of St. Joseph, United States
205. Transafrica Forum, United States
206. Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, United States
207. United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Res, United States
208. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, United States
209. USAction, United States
210. Wheaton Franciscans, United States
211. Witness for Peace, United States
Individual Signatories (315): For a full list, see:

John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies, a member of the New Economy Working Group, and co-author of Development Redefined: How the Market Met its Match (Paradigm, 2008).

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