We share the presentation given at the 2nd World Forum for Water, Land, Climate and Diversity, promoted by Senator Andrea Blandini, which took place on 1 November.
In it, we talked about who is ultimately responsible for climate change, the poverty and famines that accompany it, and how the way to begin to repair this injustice, this historical debt, can be through the delivery of a universal, unconditional, individual and sufficient basic income to every human being, that is, to all of humanity.
Climate change is indisputable, we experience it every day… but the great powers and their servant governments continue to operate without taking into account the seriousness of the situation. It doesn’t matter what statements they make or how they justify their actions, what matters are the facts and they speak for themselves. We will see how the COP27 that will take place [is already taking place] in Egypt these days will end … but unfortunately we do not expect much if we look at its sponsors, among whom there are major representatives of those who continue to “play” for death in the form of wars and various forms of violence, representatives of those who have once again opted to return to polluting energy sources, to the defence of food that is harmful to human and environmental health, companies whose relocation policies are causing more and more misery etc. … The same companies that defend nuclear energy in the form of weapons or nuclear plants, with all the danger that this entails and the pollution that it generates throughout the process: from the time the minerals to be used are extracted from the earth to the treatment of nuclear waste… Incidentally, it is the areas of indigenous peoples that are most affected by nuclear tests and it is mainly Africa that is being used as a “cemetery” for radioactive waste, without the populations being aware of it.
We would like to draw attention to the consequences for climate change of a nuclear accident or the use of nuclear weapons. We know today that never – since the Second World War – have we been in such serious danger of such a thing happening. We need to be aware of this and take a stand.
But who are already the biggest victims of climate change, without nuclear accidents or attacks?
The great majorities, those at the bottom, the social base of any country, and especially the global south… While much of the northern populations have so far benefited from the abuse of the south, this is no longer the case, with an increasingly wealthy minority driving and benefiting from this disaster.
And what does this disaster look like?
It has many faces, no doubt: famine, poverty, forced migration… pain, suffering and death, in short.
We will focus on poverty, hunger and wealth distribution. And we will do so on the basis of reports from organisations that are hardly suspected of being “revolutionary”. In all cases they raise the alarm about the situation that has arisen since the COVID pandemic and which has worsened considerably with the war in Ukraine.
- Let us look at some reports that provide more than relevant data:
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says in its 2022 report:
“Up to 828 million people have suffered from hunger in 2021: 46 million more people than the previous year and 150 million more than in 2019″.
And it points out that women and children are the most affected and sounds the alarm for the coming years and the goals that had been set: “Looking ahead, almost 670 million people (8% of the world’s population) are projected to remain hungry in 2030, even taking into account a global economic recovery. This is similar to 2015, when the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by the end of the decade was set as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- It is noted in the World Bank’s September Report this year:
‘For nearly 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined steadily. However, the trend was interrupted in 2020, when poverty increased due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the effects of conflict and climate change.
The hardest hit, have been: women, youth, and low-wage and informal workers. Inequality increased both within and between countries.
And it warns… Governments can often mitigate the impact of rising inflation on poor households through social protection policies. However, unlike previous periods of high food price inflation, public finances have been stretched by various fiscal measures enacted throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
The World Bank certainly does not report on how that wealth that has “disappeared” has ended up in a few hands, and how it will operate in those countries where public finances are unable to respond.
- Let us now turn to some data from OXFAM’s annual report 2022, entitled “Profiting from Suffering“.
This organisation has calculated that, in 2022, 263 million more people than there were already, will move into a state of poverty or, in other words, one million more people every 33 hours… In parallel, in the two years of the pandemic, 573 new billionaires have emerged around the world.
The study reveals that globally, companies in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors are making record profits.
It states: Together, five major energy companies (BP, Shell, Total Energies, Exxon and Chevron) earned $2,600 in profits per second last year.
Another fact noted by Oxfam and already pointed out more sweetly by the World Bank: almost 60% of low-income countries are on the verge of bankruptcy, unable to pay their public debt.
- To finish with the data, we find it interesting to rescue the analysis made by the NGO Manos Unidas in 2015, an analysis that we can subscribe to today and whose data are much more alarming at the present time:
More than 670 million people go hungry in the world… This is a chilling figure that will increase according to all the reports. It is chilling, especially considering that we have the productive capacity to feed 12 billion people (at the time, we were about 7.3 billion).
The report went on to say…
World hunger is therefore a problem with a solution. But the international leaders cannot agree. They hold the key to the eradication of world hunger in their hands, but they do not use it. Do they have the real will to put an end to the problem of world hunger? This is a question we are also asking ourselves.
And below, we read and agree with what was stated:
There are several causes of hunger in the world, among which we can find: the suffocating foreign debt of poor countries; unfair trade relations between North and South; the immoral role of large corporations; speculators and banks and, of course, the corruption of some of the African, Asian and Latin American leaders….
This report corroborates what we think. It is a minority in the global North that is ultimately responsible for the widespread economic and environmental disaster we are experiencing and for the famines that are spreading mainly in the global South, even though hunger and precariousness are affecting populations all over the planet, while the social protection measures that some governments have put in place are being called into question, if they do not change their policies…
It is a minority in the global North that is ultimately responsible for this disaster. In other words, this minority has a historical debt – as we pointed out – which it is time to repair.
But how can this reparation be made concrete? Let us recall a few points:
There is more than enough wealth to feed the whole of humanity. A wealth that is growing, by the way… and that belongs to all of us, since it has been generated by the historical accumulation of all the generations that preceded us and the contribution of all humanity today.
The big beneficiaries of this wealth, among which are the big energy companies, the communications companies, the arms companies, the banks, international finance capital… operate on the basis of a global model. Borders do not exist for them, only for the poor… If it is possible for them, why accept that they are an impediment for the majorities?
Another point: In general, all these companies do not pay taxes because they have their headquarters in tax havens or because of legal loopholes… and, when they do pay, they do so at very low rates, based on tax systems that tax the poorest for the benefit of the richest.
We are immersed in a situation that has no way out if we do not opt for measures and policies other than those we are already familiar with and which deepen the disaster every day. Measures that will be branded as naive but that we consider courageous, moral, urgent and possible, including the demand for NO to nuclear weapons and NO to wars. Measures that we must demand from the social base, since it seems that governments on their own will not be able to carry them out.
Ensuring subsistence through a Basic Income
One of these first measures must be to ensure that every human being, by the simple and sacred fact of being a human being, has a guaranteed subsistence.
And to ensure this subsistence, we propose the implementation of a basic income, according to the denomination in each country.
Let us remember what we are talking about when we talk about basic income: we are talking about an income that every person would receive as soon as they are born, that is to say, it would be universal. Moreover, it would be unconditional, it would be given to the entire population (although not all people would benefit from it, the richest would receive it, but they would pay more in taxes, for example, to be able to implement it), it is individual (unlike family benefits), and sufficient (i.e., it would be above the so-called poverty line).
Of course, at the moment, the amount would be different depending on the country, but in the future, from the Humanist Network for Basic Income we defend that it will have to be equalized as we move towards the elimination of borders for people, and in the direction of the construction of a universal human nation, as we universalist humanists defend.
And how can this be done?
At the state level, there are countries that can implement it, but, for a good number of states that do not have the capacity today to carry it out, we propose that the United Nations take on the task of implementing this measure, receiving funds from states and large companies and making it reach the furthest corners of the planet (there are experiences of this). What better time for the United Nations to take on a transcendental role in favour of life!
We will point out just a few measures that would make it possible to have funds for the implementation of a Basic Income
At the state level, by changing their tax system, advocating a progressive system with specific taxes on large fortunes. This is something that governments are resisting under pressure from the very companies that are currently benefiting from the current crisis.
The payment of fair prices and taxes for the big companies, which today plunder the natural resources of the entire planet, in the countries of origin of the materials they plunder, so that their populations can get ahead.
Cancellation of the foreign debt of the countries, which is fundamentally private and therefore illegitimate.
National and international legislation to tax stock market operations.
The introduction of taxes on machines, since they are replacing more and more workers every day… An element, by the way, that can free human beings from the “slavery” of employment.
We could go on… but if these measures are implemented and an organisation like the United Nations is given the power and means to implement them, we would be putting an end to hunger in the world in one fell swoop; people could also start to implement economic and agricultural projects… which could also help to change the course of events on a climatic level.
Friends, we are living the end of a civilisation that is leading us to death. Let’s rebel, let’s look for global solutions that will liberate us. Let’s try, let’s push, let’s dare to demand measures that are the basis of a new civilisation, at the level of the human being and that put Life with capital letters at the centre.