There are indeed many valuable initiatives supported by the

ECOSOC High Level Segment
Annual Ministerial Review
Statement by Maria Arce Moreira
Co-chair Development and Environment Group/Practical Action
United Kingdom
2 July 2008
Mr Chairman, Ambassadors, Delegates,
Similar to Nicholas Stern’s influence now, back in 1973 during the energy crisis
and the emergence of globalization Fritz Schumacher, another economist,
published a very influential book called “Small is beautiful. Economics as if
people mattered” that has powerful connotations for the context in which we
operate and live today. Wherever there are imbalanced power relations and
inequality preventing democratic choices that could benefit the majority then
‘environment, ‘development’, ‘food’ ‘politics’, ‘technology’ should be dealt with as
if poor people mattered’
At this particular juncture the scale of the challenges we face are enormous,
progress is still limited and we need to continue challenging the orthodoxies
about development as Schumacher did in his time. NGO networks such as the
UK BOND’s Development and Environment Group, have been closely following
up initiatives and processes led by the UK government in order to promote that
these are designed and implemented “as if poor people and the environment
matter”. Some reflections emerging from that interaction on the impact of climate
change in development are:
 Climate change is the result of unsustainable patterns of production and
consumption and the most obvious example of environmental degradation.
The poor who depend directly on natural resources and ecosystem services for
their livelihoods and to ensure their basic needs are directly affected by
environmental degradation. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has already
warned that 15 out of 24 essential services provided by ecosystems are being
used unsustainably. In this context it is often implied that addressing climate
change would deal with existing environmental sustainability challenges as well.
However, fundamental environmental concerns such as ecosystem services,
biodiversity loss, natural resources degradation, desertification are not well
addressed in the current debates and rather subsumed into the “climate change
box”. There is a risk that the support for existing environmental agreements will
take a second place in the priorities and will not be used strategically to address
the impacts of climate change.
In view of climate change we require a fundamental different approach to
development. The unquestioned faith on the macro economic growth paradigm
does not match well with increasing unsustainable consumption, unsustainable
exploitation of natural resources and the fact that there is an environmental limit
to growth. Emphasizing economic growth without addressing serious issues of
social and environmental justice will not have a substantial impact on poverty
eradication or on environmental sustainability. The UK knows from own
experience how challenging social mobility is and in Latin America inequality is
still a big problem. We need to think outside the box and engage in a serious
dialogue and support more sustainable and equitable development models.
The urgency to address climate change should not prevent us from
internalizing key lessons learned from decades of development practice that will
ensure sustainability and impact. Inclusiveness, participation of the poor, gender
responsiveness, appropriateness of solutions, accountability and time -essential
to ensure the development of sustainable processes- should not be sacrificed in
favour of fast technological fixes, often without proper assessment of all the
social and environmental impacts involved, especially on the poor and their
livelihoods. Biofuels have proved to be a questionable “green option” that
depicts well that short term thinking and uncomprehensive approaches miss the
complexity and trade offs involved. At any scale, technologies and alternatives
proposed should be socially and environmentally accountable and not only a
good business opportunity.
Nobody can deny that new sources of financing are needed and we were
keen to engage from early stages when the Environmental Transformation Fund
was launched by the UK. At the core of our proactive engagement laid our
interest that this financial flow contributes to transform global environmental
governance. Environmental transformation should capture more of our thinking
and efforts in the near future. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that
powerful actors such as the World Bank/IFIs transform radically to meet the
existing challenges of poverty and environment but also to ensure that
developing countries play a stronger role and have a saying in the early design of
any such initiative.
Not surprisingly climate change is also slowly but surely “rebranding”
development without much questioning involved. These days we are all
carbonized, being “low carbon” seems to provide a more desirable situation
than being sustainable.
For us the clear challenge is how to construct a global future with justice for all
through sustainable development pathways in a climate constrained world
addressing the urgent needs of the billions of poor women and men living without
water, sanitation, energy, land and rights while simultaneously transforming the
essence of an unequal development model that has resulted in climate change.
Schumacher was called a crank by his critics; however a crank can generate
great changes from small movements. The small movements of Schumacher’s
‘crank’, have grown to highly articulated global demands for change that we need
to listen to and learn more from.
Thanks for your attention