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Aid for Trade
"Aid for Trade" is one of the models, with which the trade functionaries intend to help developing countries and the poor.

But questions must be asked, such as
  1. Who are the poor? Do they really benefit?
  2. Who has the profit? Locally, internationally?
  3. How does agricultural trade affect their local food security and environment?
  4. What do the poor (the ruling classes or the poor populace) get in return?
  5. How long can trade last on the downslope after the Peak-Oil era?
Fair trade is said to counter the negative aspects of trade by the big players. But the vision stays the development by exporting local produce, products, and manufactured goods. We believe the strengthening of local sustainability should be a first priority.
Sustainability means human society in the balance with nature. The balances are maintained if resources are not consumed at a higher rate than needed for regeneration.
A sustainable society can carry on unchanged for a very long time.

The sustainability question is the most important one.
That's why we wrote the below email to the www.sawtee.org,
after visiting the www.ictsd.org website.

We could have addressed any other organisation because the issues are similar. But time and energy are limited resources.


We hit on the SAWTEE.ORG page via the the site of the ICTSD in Geneva. Looking at your membership institutions we decided to send them a copy of this mail.

Your social goals make a fine impression:

Yet, if you allow us to be frank, you should be aware of some ecological facts that cast doubts on the feasibility of your economic vision.

Firstly, growth is not sustainable and can never be sustainable, because it increases the depletion of non-renewable and renewable resources alike. In a country with physical limits one can not keep growing. Only economists' theories grow endlessly.

Secondly, humanity has horrendously overshot the earth's carrying capacity, because of the exploitation of nonrenewable fossil fuels and the destruction of renewables (forests, soils, water) alike.

Far too many people have a far too high per capita consumption. World population 6.9 billion, plus 75 million each year, ongoing economic expansion (growth). This is very unsustainable development indeed! Compare www.ecoglobe.ch/overshoot.

There is no replacement for fossil fuels, neither qualitatively not quantitatively. And if there were other fuels, this would only confirm our false idea that we could continue to live at this level of overexploitation (overshoot) of the planet.

Thirdly, Aid For Trade is grounded in a number of illusions, of which the most important are:

1) The belief that we could grow eternally, if necessary immaterially or with the internalisation of environmental costs (Pascal Lamy's angle), which is obviously wrong.

2) Trade would be good for people, although in reality it is
(a) a race to the bottom of the lowest common denominator of social and environmental standards,
(b) it tends to increase the difference between the rich and the poor, nationally and internationally,
(c) it increases the depletion and destruction of mineral and living resources, i.e. it is harmful to the environment, in as far as it increases the GDP, and
(d) its overt rationale is the promotion of economic growth and development, which is not a sustainable goal.

Fourth, we are at peak oil production level, which can only last for a fairly limited number of years. Modernity, industrial and agricultural production and trade are totally dependent on fossil fuels, for which there are no sustainable alternatives.

On the downslope after peak oil those countries will be best off who locally produce food and basic necessities with a minimum of fossil fuel inputs and industrialisation.

Therefore, instead of Aid For Trade, countries, including the rich, would be better off if they elaborate an AFRAC programme, to prepare for the PPOD
i.e. "Aid For Relocalisation And Contraction" to prepare for the "Post Peak Oil Decline".
Peak Oil and Overshoot are scientifically confirmed concepts, albeit beyond the scope of most people in influential positions - be it the leadership or many functionaries in national governments and international organisations such as WTO, UNEP, WBCSD, WB, IMF, many NGOs and the media.

Many of those leaders have built their career and identity upon the growth model. One has to be very courageous indeed to rethink and accept a different paradigm that corresponds with ecological realities. Most leaders that we've met and discussed with so far showed no sign of rethinking.

But locally, in your own countries, you have no other obligation than to serve your own people and look after your own well-being.

That's why you can reconsider the usefulness of the AFT programme under an angle that differs from the one you discussed at your conference in Katmandu on 19 January 2011. This counts for Nepal but similarly for India (cuts.org), and in fact all other countries, because of Overhoot and Peak-Oil.

We intent publishing an edited version of this mail in our ecostory www.ecoglobe.ch/agri/e/rice1130.htm

We are at your disposal for any questions and scientifc critique.

With kind regards ... Helmut Lubbers

Some random links:
  • http://agritrade.cta.int/en/Key-topics/Aid-for-trade
  • http://socek.se/node/220
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