The Treaties - 11 - Treaty on Alternative Economic Models


1. Today, the world is marked by an interrelated crisis of environment and development. This crisis is rooted in the dynamics of an economic model which is centered on the pursuit of profits rather than the promotion of the welfare of communities. This system assumes the consumption of infinite resources in a finite planet. This model of development is particularly manifested as follows:

2. The free market/free trade model legitimizes an economic order in which unbelievable affluence is the privilege of a few and globalized poverty becomes the common condition of humanity. It has led to destructive consequences such as poverty, disease, the devastation of the environment and people's cultures, and spiritual misery.

3. The social, cultural, political and economic injustices in the international system, support the elites of both North and the South, and widen the gaps among classes, races and sexes. 80% of the world's resources are consumed by 20% of the population and 80% of global environmental degradation is created by the same 20%. The disparity in wealth, power and resources is also increasing. The concentration of wealth within the richest 20% of the population has jumped from 70.2% in 1960 to 82.7% in 1989.

4. The neo-liberal State uses its power and violence to enforce and expand this oppressive economic system under the coordination of the authoritarian Bretton Woods institutions, particularly the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), for the benefit of transnational corporations' growing monopoly and their control over the world resources. The Brundtland model of sustainable development will perpetuate this situation.

5. Present expansions of the free-market/free trade ideology undermine the power of the States to formulate policies for the protection of natural resources and human livelihoods and transforms social relationships and eco-cultural and grassroots communities into mere economic variables.

6. The patriarchal nature of the dominant industrial system has the effect of increasing the gap in power and income between men, on the one hand, and women and children on the other. For example, domestic work is not valued in the computation of Gross Domestic Product and data show a marked difference in the compensations of women and men for the same work done.

7. We, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social movements have drafted this treaty to define and establish alternatives to the dominant economic model and set forth the following principles, political commitment, action plan and follow-up mechanisms. In so doing, we declare our autonomy from both the market and the state.


8. Our vision of the alternatives to the current economic model is grounded on the following principles:

9. The fundamental purpose of economic organization is to provide for the basic needs of a community, in terms of food, shelter, education, health, the enjoyment of culture, as opposed to a concentration on the generation of profit and on the growth of production for its own sake. Economic life must also be organized in such a way that it enhances rather than destroys the environment and safeguards natural resources for the use of future generations.

10. An alternative to the current system must be based on indigenous, community-based, people-empowering models that are rooted in peoples' experiences, history and eco-cultural reality. This implies incorporating diversity of alternative production systems, decision-making processes and technologies, especially those drawn from indigenous peoples and peasant communities.

11. An alternative economic model must recognize and institutionalize a central and equal role for women in shaping economic life.

12. An alternative economic model should be based on the relative self-sufficiency of communities, regions and nations, rather than on free trade, the world market and large domestic and transnational corporations as the central institutions that determine production and distribution.

13. Economic life must be informed by bottom-up development strategies, in which people and communities have the power to make economic decisions that affect their lives, in contrast with the dominant model which marginalizes grassroots communities and fosters international economic relations in which the center subjugates the periphery.

14. One of the central ethical foundations of an alternative economic model is the interdependence of all peoples and the interdependence of peoples and communities and the non-human material world. This interdependence demands a system of sharing resources based on autonomy, equality, participatory democracy and solidarity. As members of a community, individuals must also take responsibility for living within the limits of the earth's resources, in contrast with the Northern model of excessive consumption.

15. Human and economic development indicators should no longer exclusively or principally reflect material growth and technological advance but must take into account individual, social and environmental well-being. Such indicators would include health, gender equalities, unpaid family work, equalization in the distribution of income, better care of children and the maximization of human happiness with minimal use of resources and minimal generation of waste.

16. In an alternative economic system, the state will be transformed from being chiefly a facilitating agent of the present economic system that is dominated by domestic and transnational corporations, into a mechanism that genuinely represents and serves the people's will and promotes a strategy of relatively self-reliant, community-centered development.

Political Commitment

17. Based on the above strategic vision, we the under-signed representatives of NGOs and social movements at the NGO Forum of the June 1992 Global Forum, commit ourselves to:

    a. Return to and identify ourselves with our grassroots communities in order to realize community collective self-reliance and establish alternative community-based economic models.

    b. Build mutually empowering mechanisms and institutions to establish the alternative economic order.

    c. Participate in building a people's environment and development movement, starting from bio-regional networks' alliances to a global solidarity.

Action Plan

We will:

18. Mobilize to counter and make democratically accountable the operations of the Bretton Woods institutions and the so-called "economic development models" dominated by transnational corporations. This includes the Brundtland model of sustainable development.

19. Work to eliminate existing international debt and to dismantle the unjust system that perpetuates international debt creation.

20. Reject the transfer of outdated technology and industrial complexes, as well as agricultural export projects which entail high environment and social costs. We demand the payment of the environmental debt which the rich countries have incurred with the poor countries. This payment will ensure that all society benefits from clean, environmentally sound technologies, to support ecological industrial transition policies for both the north and south, readdressing the existing industrial economic model.

21. Pressure our governments to restructure and redirect the GATT to work toward creating a global trading system that is fair and serves the interests of all people, as well as promoting local self reliance and community-based enterprises.

22. Mobilize for the reduction of military budgets in all countries, and for the abolition of the international sale of military weapons, and to transfer these budgetary resources into socially and environmentally appropriate purposes in both the North and the South.

23. Work to establish a carbon emission tax in all nations where the average emission is one ton or more per person and apply the tax revenues to a fund for the development of alternative technologies to be shared worldwide.

24. Mobilize for drastic reductions in energy consumption and excessive consumer lifestyles, while encouraging local-regional maintenance economies, centered on sufficiency and frugality.

25. Work to develop new socio-economic relationships that are non-exploitative and that regenerate cooperative customs which protect communities and their environments. These customs and institutions will be supported by the mobilization of voluntary exchange programs at all levels.

26. Work to develop alliances that build and strengthen solidarity with and among workers (e.g. for better salaries and working conditions), urban poor (e.g. for drinking water and sewage facilities), rural laborers (e.g. land reform), women (e.g. equity and political participation) and indigenous communities which are threatened with displacement.

27. Work in our respective communities to advocate for a development fund for the South in which Southern nations and people play a central role.

28. Mobilize to make transparent all information about development projects and decision making processes that select and evaluate technologies.

Follow-up Mechanisms

29. The NGOs and Social Movements will organize in a decentralized, horizontal and democratic way at all levels: local, national, regional and international, where coordination should develop in the context of actions.

30. Although the alternative models will be autonomous and self regulating at all levels, networking structures as suggested below are imperative to insure accountability and transformative impact and coordination with other treaty networks.

31. Because the Alternative Economic Models Treaty process incorporates the alternative development model, it is important that the treaty be given a central place in the entire Global Forum alternative treaties follow-up process.

32. The follow-up process for alternative economic models will be an open and porous networking which will:

    a. identify innovative experiences of developing alternative economic models, networks and networks of networks

    b. convene, in cooperation with these existing networks, working groups that pursue alternative experiential and theoretical models that can be diffused to and evaluated by community based groups

    c. sponsor, in cooperation with any interested group, national, regional and international forums, which promote, refine and actualize the Alternative Economic Models Treaty.

33. In order to continuously represent the evolving alternative economic model treaty process at the international inter-treaty level, we need to develop mechanisms that keep this model before all of the other treaties. We therefore propose as a possible governance mechanism that:

    a. each treaty team will designate six representatives - one for each of the following regions: America Latina, Africa, Asia, North America, Europe and Australia and Pacific Isles - to a new NGO and Social Movements Assembly

    b. this assembly will elect from its membership an international coordinating committee, with representation from all regions

    c. a parallel interlocking network structure will be established at all levels.

© 2001 by Ulrich Schmitthenner • Bildschirm-Version