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[French Version]

Democracy, Earth Rights and Ecotaxation Seminar

Summary Story by Alanna Hartzok

An educational seminar entitled Democracy, Earth Rights and Ecotaxation was held on March 7, 2002 immediately preceding the Congress of the Federation of African Green Parties in Dakar, Senegal. The seminar was an opportunity to consider how land rights ethics and taxation policy can work together to support green initiatives, policies and agendas.

The Earth Rights Seminar speakers included Anne Goeke (USA), Sunny Akuopha (Mali), Gordon Abiama (Nigeria), Alanna Hartzok (USA) and Papa Meissa Dieng (Senegal).

Representatives of the following African Green Parties participated in the seminar: South Africa, Burkina Faso, Benin, Central Africa, Congo Brazzavile, Ivory Coast, Cameroun, Guinee Conakry, Guinee Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tchad, and Zambia. Green Party leaders from Europe and Mexico also participated.

Alanna Hartzok introduced the theme of the seminar. She explained that the terms "Earth Rights" and "Ecotaxation" have several meanings.

"By Earth Rights we mean that democracy needs to include the human right to land and resources and also that the earth has the right to maintain ecological health and integrity," she said, "And we are connecting these subjects of earth rights and democracy with taxation, with public finance policy."

"We are using the term "ecotaxation" also in two ways. One is "economic justice taxation" specifically, economic justice in land and resources. The other meaning of ecotaxation, green taxation, refers to the payment of fees and polluter taxes for the use of land, air and water resources."

Hartzok said that many goals of the Green Party can be strongly met within the framework of sustainable development by getting a handle on how we finance governance. The proper source of finance for government is very important for sustainable development, she said. The emerging Green Tax movement provides guidelines for financing development based on the threefold bottom line: (1) social and economic justice (2) environmental protection and restoration and (3) strong and sustainable economy.

Anne de la Bouillerie Goeke was the next speaker. She has been a leader in the Green movement on local, state, national and international levels since 1989. Twice elected to Co-Chair the Steering Committee for the Association of State Green Parties in the United States, she is now Co-Chair of the International Committee for the newly formed Green Party of the United States. Goeke is also the elected 'English speaking' spokesperson for the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas and as a delegate for the Global Green Coordination helped organize the Global Greens 2001 Conference in Canberra, Australia. She co-founded both the Lancaster Greens and the Green Party of Pennsylvania where she ran as a statewide candidate for the Auditor General seat in 2000, and is co-author of the book "Fire Up Your Brilliance."

Goeke spoke about Green Politics and the Economics of Sustainable Development. She said that the theme of rights to the earth and green taxation policy was very important for the Green movement worldwide and urged those assembled to "pay close attention to what will be presented here today."

"Globalization has confronted us with a whole new set of development problems - problems which keep compounding as we continue down this path," she said. "This form of globalization has increased our capacities to destroy much of our planet whether it be through the environment or through the widening spread of conflicts leading us to a possible world war."

Pointing out that many development projects worldwide have essentially complicated the economic problems that previously existed, Goeke said that there needs to be a new concerted policy effort to find an alternative developmental framework that "gives rise to a new hopeful foundation for Africa to be a full participant in the 21st century."

"Now is the time for us to become experts to promote an alternative economic system which supports our green initiatives, policies and agendas," said Goeke. "The time has come for us to create a partnership with organizations that have been focused on how we can shift the economy towards supporting an ecologically based society. Let us as Greens develop our own skills and widen our knowledge so that we are prepared to bring about a culture of peace, to make our communities healthy and to ensure that each person on this planet is gi