Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties Movement

peoples transformative, agenda 2015


While the nations of the world tussled with the official documents and the statements and proclamations at the Rio+20 Summit, a vigorous Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties movement had begun to take shape—presenting an alternative, grass-roots view of what people think sustainable development might look like. The Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties (PST) were initiated by civil society organizations to develop collective agreements for sustainable futures beyond Rio+20 and a post 2015 agenda of the multilateral system. The PST’s are evolving a new narrative and agenda towards the transformation to a sustainable world order, providing a common platform for a collective global peoples’ movement to emerge. The PST process leads us to a deep investigation into social and natural science perspectives such as distributed leadership, collective action, resilience, the ‘commons’, and subsidiarity come into play as alternative frameworks for the well-being of all.


The prevalent model of development has not only failed to lift a large section of humanity above unacceptable levels of poverty, but has also greatly increased the inequities between the wealthy and the poor, and led directly to the breakdown in ecological sustainability we see around us. The dominant growth-based development model is fundamentally flawed, in that it is predatory both of nature and of people, ecologically unsustainable, and socio-economically inequitable. In this context, a radically different vision of human well-being, one that is in tune with nature and respects other species, promotes socio-economic equity amongst all people, enhances the cultural, material, economic, social, and political opportunities for all, and one that empowers each person and community to take part in decision-making affecting their lives.

The world needs profound transformations in the fundamental values and organizing principles of society; new values must ascend, values that emphasize human solidarity, affinity with nature, and quality-of life. This new paradigm seeks to change the character of planetary civilization, validating cultural cross-fertilization, economic connectedness, and the rights of communities to meet global responsibilities in diverse ways. Such a transformation has to be built on a process of economic and political localisation where local communities (rural and urban) have control over decisions that affect their lives. Without radical political, economic and ecological democracy, the current form of globalisation will continue to undermine individuals, communities and the ecosphere.

Despite unprecedented growth in the global economy since 1992, governments are trapped into making insatiable demands for still more unsustainable growth and rising levels of inequity to remedy problems which economic globalization itself has caused. The post 2015 agenda and the SDG agenda needs to build a convergence, providing us all a new common agenda for a sustainable 21st century. Such an agenda-building exercise needs new common partnerships.

SPEAKERS (more to be confirmed):

Uchita de Zoysa (Sri Lanka) is a thinker, writer, speaker, strategist and frontline leader in mobilizing civil society alliances for shaping policy for the global sustainability movement with connections to the UN process that extend back to the 1992 Earth Summit. Since then, he has worked hard to nurture and grow an alternative voice to counter-point the Nation-State view of sustainable development. He is author of the important book ‘It has to be Climate Sustainability, and has authored a number of critical reports and alternative policy papers that seek to democratize the United Nations process. He is the initiator and Global Facilitator of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, Chairman of Global Sustainability Solutions (GLOSS), and Executive Director of Centre for Environment and Development (CED).

Ashwani Vasishth (USA) is an Associate Professor in Environmental Planning, and directs the Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College and is also engaged with urban ecology projects from within a social-ecological-systems perspective, at Ashwani has been foundationally engaged with the conception and implementation of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, coordinated the Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Economies, and has been involved with the post-Rio+20 action planning process.

Ashish Kothari (India) is the Founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh. Ashish coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process, served on Greenpeace International’s Board and chaired Greenpeace India’s Board, served as co-chair of the IUCN Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, Communities, and Livelihoods (TILCEPA), on the Steering Committees of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), the CBD Alliance, and the ICCA Consortium. Ashish coordinates the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Radical Ecological Democracy and is the author or editor (singly or jointly with others) of over 30 books including ‘Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India’.

Leida Rijnhout (Netherlands) is Global Policies Director at the European Environmental Bureau and leads the Global Policies and Sustainability unit. She studied cultural anthropology and has years of field experience in development cooperation. Before, as the Executive Director of ANPED – Northern Alliance for Sustainability, she advocated the “strong sustainability” approach at the UN, OECD and EC. She also led an international working group on ecological debt and environmental justice. Her principle focus is on ecological economics, the sustainable economy, sustainable consumption and production and resource justice. She is the Organising Partner for the NGO Major Group, facilitating their participation in the SDG/post 2015 process at UN-level. She is Dutch and speaks Dutch, English and Spanish.

Gaston Meskens (Belgium) is a researcher at the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry of the University of Ghent. His research advances on a critical analysis of the working of the knowledge-policy interface in the context of ongoing global governance policy processes and focuses on a human rights perspective related to intellectual capacity building in the interest of global sustainable development governance. Gaston has more than fifteen years of experience in participative and transdisciplinary research on governance related to issues such as sustainable development, energy, climate change and radioactive waste management and with working in and around the assemblies of the policy processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty process (UN-NPT) and of the research-related activities of the European Commission. He is the coordinator of the Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Rights for Sustainability.

Rick Clugston (USA) is executive director of Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE). Rick was Project Coordinator for the Earth Charter Scholarship Project at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education (CESE) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) from 2009-2012. He served as executive director of the Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE) in Washington, DC, from 1989 to 2007 and was director of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) from 1997 to 2007. Rick was the Deputy Editor of The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education (MCB University Publications), and publisher and editor of Earth Ethics: Evolving Values for an Earth Community. He is the coordinator of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Ethical and Spiritual Values.


Activists from different parts of the world will come together, face-to-face and online, in this five hours of dialogue. Speakers and contributors are drawn from among key actors engaged with the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties process, as well as from participants in other local-global campaigns advancing a global peoples’ transformative agenda. The event is organized in the immediate aftermath of the 10th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, to engage the wider civil society fraternity in the emerging UN agenda, as well as to provide a platform from which to organize themselves to influence the forms of the 2015 UN outcomes. This platform aspires to extend the process of convergence towards a post-2015 people’s transformative agenda through collaboration and through the gathering together of synergistic movements across the world. It is expected that the dialogues will assist in advancing a global peoples’ movement.


At the end of the day, participants will:

1. Grasp the nature of the debates about sustainable development at the global level: a post Rio+20 dialogue that is heading beyond 2015 to replace the MGDs with SDGs, relationships between the official UN events and Stakeholder Initiatives

2. Appreciate the power of civil society to shape the Nation-State level dialogue about sustainable development; equity, ethics, lifestyles, livelihoods, rights and responsibilities in a great transition to sustainability

3. Appreciate what it is that grass-roots movements want out of the sustainable development discourse and what obstacles they face in attaining these objectives; the progress of Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, peoples’ alternatives and movements


08.30 AM – 09:00 AM Registration

09:00 AM – 11:00 PM Session 01: Transformation and the People

 Opening Remarks & Setting the Context: Ashwani Vasishth (Ramapo College)

 Engaging in the Post 2015 Agenda Building UN Process: Leida Rijnhout (EEB/ANPED)

 The Need for a Peoples’ Transformative Agenda Post 2015: Uchita de Zoysa (GLOSS/CED)


11.00 AM – 01.00 PM Session 02: People & Their Alternatives

 Peoples’ Alternatives in a Transformative Agenda: Ashish Kothari (Kalpavriksh)

 Equity in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda: Gaston Meskens (XXX)

 Spirituality in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda: Rick Clugston (XXX)


01.00 AM – 02.00 PM Open Dialogue: Convergence for a Peoples Agenda

 Moderated by: Uchita de Zoysa (GLOSS/CED)

02.00 PM+: Optional – Lunch & Networking (followed by strategy session)

CONTACTS: Ashwani Vasishth [email:, tel: (323) 206-1858]

Uchita de Zoysa [email:, tel: +94 777372206]



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