Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–Activists from Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch disrupted Sir Branson’s speech with chants and placards at the Rio+20 Earth Summit event titled “Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for Deforestation-Free / Sustainable Agriculture” today at the Windsor Barra hotel in Rio.
“We came here to interfere with this event because we recognize that the negotiations inside the UN’s official Rio+20 Conference are essentially irrelevant”, stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “The real negotiations that will determine the fate of the planet are being held outside of the UN space at these industry-sponsored events”, she added.
Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of USAID was clear on this point when he stated during his presentation at the event, “these [public-private partnership] events are not side events, these are the main events”.
“Biofuelwatch took part in this action because of Richard Branson’s key role in promoting large-scale biofuels for aviation, geo-engineering and other destructive techno fixes”, stated Almuth Ernsting. “Branson is responsible for vast carbon emissions from his airline to which he now wants to add space tourism – his ‘solutions’ include more destructive monoculture plantations which harm forests, peoples and climate”.
Parallel to the negotiations that have been going on around Rio+20, the UN Climate Conferences and other UN forums, industry is coming together with countries like Norway to create ways to implement highly controversial market-based approaches like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that cannot be passed in the multilateral meetings.
Participants in the event included executives from Coca Cola and Unilever, both of which are implicated in serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction.
“We took this action in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, local communities and small farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the privatization of their lands for Green Economy-style projects”, stated Keith Brunner of Gears of Change and Global Justice Ecology Project. “Public-private partnerships, such as those discussed here, are driving a vast transfer of wealth, resources and land into private hands–from the 99% to the 1%”.
After the disruption, participants in the action left the premises.