Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Citizens' Assembly in Oceania



Oceania citizens’ Hui and “Sharing Power” conference in January 2011

Translations : English . Español . français

Betsan Martin mentioned the possibility, during the Citizens’ Assembly facilitators’ meeting in Paris, to debate and advance Responsibilities, Governance, ’Oeconomy’ in a local indigenous hosted context, and with a significant international presence. Some discussions have confirmed this as an important ’assembly of citizens’ to discuss in cooperation with the "Sharing Power" conference organized by the Commission on Environment, Economy and Social Policy – CEESP - of the International Union for Conservation of Nature - UICN. One feature is that Elinor Ostram, the Nobel winner for Economics (on collective management of common property), will be there. We know that assemblies are about citizen gatherings - but it is rather cool to gather with people who are advancing our thinking with their capacity to guide action.

"Sharing Power" is about people exercising our citizenship responsibilities towards the environment and the governance of biocultural resources. It is about enabling indigenous peoples and local communities to have greater rights and responsibilities in governance and the management of the landscapes and ecosystems they live in and around. Communities and Cities show leadership in local management and governance; yet Governments struggle at both national and UN levels, as the Copenhagen Climate change talks clearly demonstrated. What are the successful models of indigenous and community managed natural resources?

A New Vision for Development suggests the current capital based model has flaws that have created social and economic inequities, and lead to large scale environmental damage. What other development models exist? What are the key components of shared responsibility in governance for ensuring a sustainable future? How can local and indigenous visions of sustainability in development be nurtured?

There are a multitude of global initiatives underway which signal a rapidly growing movement amongst indigenous peoples and citizens generally, to look beyond capitalism without boundaries and to consider a future which requires us to make more of a commitment to nature - to Mother Earth. For example, the Earth Charter, the Charter of Responsibility, the World Assembly of Inhabitants, the Durban Accord for World Parks (5th Congress), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Bariloche Declaration, the Draft Universal Declaration of the Common Good of the Earth and Humanity (being considered in Cochabamba, Bolivia-April 2010) and many others.

These movements all share the principle of solidarity even though they are diverse in origin. They express a common desire to build another possible world. Governance has come into focus as a key challenge for environmental stewardship and safeguarding the integrity of living ecosystems. Governance is the level that must address financial responsibility and the market- driven economic commodification of life. The symptomatic malaise of gross inequality is an imperative to be managed through Governance. The dynamic tension between more localized forms of governance and responsibility and the need for responsibility to be generated through globalized systems will be key issues for this gathering. The IUCN is uniquely placed to contribute to these local imperatives and global scale challenges because they have played a significant part in creating global agreements, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Biodiversity Strategy and so on.

The Sharing Power assembly will be open to all - both locally and internationally. From our discussions so far, we are going to specifically support young people to attend. This will build on our "Lets Take Care of the Planet" networks, as well as spreading these to include those of the Commission on Environment, Economy and Social Policy - CEESP. This is to be an indigenous- hosted assembly. We are actively supportive of indigenous forums for reasons of historical justice, as well as because indigenous knowledge systems are what the world needs now!

There is much to be brought forward in terms of systems that recognize the interdependence between humans and the planet Earth, societies that prioritize obligation (responsibility) and reciprocity, localized forms of governance, and where relationship is the heart of all interaction. Indigenous knowledge needs to be a primary source for all global governance systems because this is a knowledge base which gives respect to the ’life-forces’ which guide and hold together the massively complex and wondrously inter-related systems in ways beyond human comprehension. Every now and then these things need to be said because so little happens in practice. A lot of lip-service is paid to indigenous people, but there is minimal actual engagement with these communities internationally.

We are activating our Australia and Pacific networks to bring people over to share in and contribute to this event. Te Kawehau and I are coordinating a panel and are preparing to lead a discussion on Governance and Responsibility, and hopefully also a panel on international initiatives such as the Charter of Human Responsibilities (including “Lets Take care of the Planet”), the Charter on the Rights of Mother Earth, the Earth Charter and so on.







Pacific Summer Assembly


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