Friday, October 31, 2014
8

里约不可持续的胡说

纽约—要是乔治·奥威尔还活着,看到如今游说集团各打各的算盘、数不清的钱被驶向“可持续发展”的诱人前景牢牢套住,他一定会感到既惊且怒。事实上,联合国的里约+20可持续发展会议是一次所有人各自争利的会议,许多人对里约地球峰会的主要遗留问题——气候变化等重大环境问题根本不关心。

因此,国际劳工组织和工会游说集团想方设法将“体面工作”加入到里约会议的七大主要议题中。我衷心祝愿世界各地所有人都能得到体面的工作。但这和环境和“可持续性”有关系吗?

没人会假装认为我们可以像变法术那样为非正式部门大量志向远大的穷困工人提供体面工作。这样的工作只能通过采取合理经济政策创造。事实上,许多发展中国家所面临的真正紧要的任务是实施通过加快增长扩大经济机会的政策。

里约会议的一大特色是根据公司社会责任(CSR)的公司“可持续性指数”。该指数堪与会计标准媲美。但后者是“技术性的”,具有标准化的优点;而前者则否,且必须反映多样化。

当然,公司可以被要求遵守“禁止”清单——禁止向河道排放汞、禁止让儿童进行危险活动,等等。但它们以利他主义“做事”的行为毫无疑问被它们认为是把钱花在了应该花的地方。

以自主行为者为主体、辅之以政府和国际机构参与者,如此便能通过CSR决定公司应该做什么,这一概念与我们应该要求求善但不应该规定做法的自由理念相悖。当今世界强调的是多样化和包容,认为公司应该将其如何向全世界推销商品的理念标准化是无耻的想法。

即便里约+20日程包括了更符合“环境”性质的内容——比如供水问题——也多是陈词滥调在唱主戏。因此,如今,获得安全饮用水被奉为一项“权利”。传统上,我们会在人权会议上将(强制性)公民和政治权利(如人身保护权)与(愿景性)经济权利区分开来,因为后者要求投入资源。模糊其中的区别,从而忽视稀缺性问题,不是解决问题的办法。

毕竟,“获得”一词可以用多种标准来进行数不清的解读:多少水?与不同家庭的距离多远(还是通过水管送入千家万户)?成本几何?这些问题的决定对水的获得具有不同的影响,且它们必须随时与其他“权利”和资源用途竞争。

因此,说到底,称获得水为“权利”是不恰当的。它应该是一项“紧迫任务”,各国将该问题列于问题解决序列的哪个位置不可避免地会有所不同。

相比这些“做不该做的事”,里约+20“不做该做的事”的问题更加严重。该会议本是为了解决“可持续性”,在会议上看不到人们拿出京都议定书的后续条约的豪情壮举实在令人悲哀。如果忽视环境变化所隐含的灾难性后果成为现实——我得说一下,极端估计可能看起来没人会信,甚至造成“尼禄效应”(罗马大火日,尽情派对时),因此可能形成政治上的反作用——那么里约+20的不作为将会钉上历史耻辱柱。

但还存在一个相伴而生的、受社会政治不可持续性与日俱增推波助澜不作为问题,该问题不是由于困扰欧洲、威胁世界的紧迫金融问题引起的,而是因为现代媒体让贫富差距无所遁形。应该敦促富人不要再炫富了:在贫困遍地时铺张浪费会引发愤怒。

与此同时,穷人需要有增加收入的希望。这只有通过让穷人获得教育和经济机会实现,不管在穷国还是富国都是如此。

 “更多获得、更少过度”:唯有基于这一信条的政策组合能够保证我们的社会保持稳定、实现真正的“可持续性”。

Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (8)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. CommentedAdrian Sym

    the author should have looked at the corporate Sustainability Forum, organized by the UN Global Compact, as a barometer for corporate action on sustainable development. In short, amongst many "leading" corporates CSR has long since evolved into the notion of "corporate sustainability", i.e. recognizing that the viability of the business depends on the viability of the external environment (people and nature). this also highlights the value of including "decent jobs" in a holistic approach to sustainable development, rather than the "all about the environment" approach that used to be prevalent.
    In a very challenging political environment I was more encouraged by the leadership shown at the Corporate Sustainability Forum than anything I witnessed at the intergovernmental summit. Overall, Rio (and the G20 just before) emphasized the accelerating and parallel shifts from US/Europe to BRICS and from governments to private sectors as we look for long term and, yes, sustainable solutions.

  2. CommentedTenzin Namdhak

    Sustainable development is the way forward for all the countries irrespective of its GDP percentage. How we come to the conclusion where all the nations abide by the law of clean environment is the question of when? sooner or later it has to come because we have already paid heavy price for the pollution caused by the industrial development. The next question is whether economist can come with the idea of growth as well as clean environment model for the nation in future. We have huge moral incentive to work for clean environment for future generation and i dont think the idea of trade off can't be applied here bewteen clean environment and growth.

  3. CommentedMatthew Guenther

    Interesting commentary on the Rio+20 Summit. His argument that corporates should follow only a virtuous path of their choice is ideal, but by aligning a company's CSR agenda with sustainable development goals (i.e. MDG) and its corporate strategy adds credence to their endeavours. Company's that do not see a link to their corporate strategy and the sustainable development agenda are probably not looking hard enough.

  4. CommentedJoão Tiago Barriga Negra Ascensão

    As I see it, sustainable practices, along with other forms of social responsability, are an obligation instead of some kind of favor or virtue or whatever you may call it. Don't agree at all with Professor Bhagwati because such arguments are totally deprived of any notion of moral commitment, equity or social good.

    In a sense, environmental standards are no different from accounting standards: a set of requirements conductive to the implementation of sustainable business practices, favoring the construction of more resilient economic systems.

    I do believe auto-regulation may be the way to go but some kind of indexing is desirable, in my opinion. Sooner or later, companies will have to include sustainability in their governance structures.

    JTA

  5. CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

    The problem is that corporation doing CSR experience all the problems of a for-profit enterprise trying to be less so, and only for a specific project. Leaving aside the issue of corporations' intent, there are many cases where CSR enterprises fail for lack of proper development know-how. So while I don't know about Rio's specific agenda with regards to this, to argue under the banner of tolerance that corporations should engage in development work/self promotion in whichever way they see fit seems irresponsible.

  6. CommentedKeshav Prasad Bhattarai

    I really agree with many issues raised by the author. Undoubtedly the world has made some progress since 1992 Rio Summit. Individually many countries have made some progress especially in research and development in sustainable energy use, reducing CO2 emissions and combating climate change. Lots of researches have been made in Europe and America. World bodies like United Nations and World Bank have done tremendous work and research on environmental problems and solutions on it. Enriched reserves of knowledge on environment have been made available for people around the world and greater consciousnesses among them have pushed their governments follow effective environmental protection measures.
    But on the part of political leaders less has been achieved. For example U.S. President, German Chancellor and British Prime Minister could not find their way to Rio and address worldwide concerns of billions of people on their environment and their future. Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers visited there but they have already mentioned that they are not prepared to sacrifice their developmental needs for environment.
    Expectations and plights of billions of people were again betrayed in Rio. The world leaders disappointingly repeated their failures to produce a negotiated action programs for sustainable development as in the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.
    But In a leader less world, politicians as well as those 50 thousands activists assembled in Rio as mentioned by the author succeeded in burning millions of dollar in the name of sustainability in a quite unsustainable way - leaving a question unanswered – was the huge crowd really needed and honest to their purpose? And does such crowd can produce any good framework for sustainable development? Have they gone there to as a tourist or as persons committed to the sustainability of development? They should come with answer to these questions.

  7. CommentedHamish Harding

    If our "leaders" can't lead us them I fail to see the point of this exercise. If we're now in a situation where our political elite can't tackle serious threats, then the future looks grim indeed.

    Hamish Harding

  8. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    Ignoring the problem of distribution or "thereby disregarding the problem of scarcity" is certainly no solution. The monetization of natural resources formerly held in common is happening quickly across the world.

    If a resource is truly scarce there is a simple choice: pricing or rationing. The rich generally favour the former and the poor the latter.

Featured