Union, the umbrella group for over 250 environmental NGOs
in the former USSR, held its annual conference April 4-7
in Nizhny Novgorod. The conference involved over 300
participants including British, Dutch and US observers.
Nizhny Novgorod Declaration
We understand that existing social, political and economic system are based on unlimited growth of production, the continued increase of consumerism, and the use of force and coercion in relating to humans and nature. Furthermore, not one of these systems makes it as its goal to consider alternative forms of development.
We realize that the majority of the earth's population either is unwilling to or cannot reject these system's realities or values.
We understand that political activities
including participation in power struggles, lobbying, or
trying to reform the framework of existing governmental
and inter-governmental bodies that are based upon an
economic system that is dependent upon artificially
stimulated rates of production and consumption and that
promotes an ideology of anthropocentricism and justifies
the use of coercion in relating to nature and humankind -
is unable to bring about changes necessary to achieve
social peace in society
We also understand that using revolutionary methods to change these existing systems is not a viable option since the majority of people do not share our idea. Given their opposition, coercion and force would have to be employed and such methods are contrary to our principles.
Unwilling to tolerate the suicidal practices of the majority, however, we are ready and able to create a society that is distinguished from existing ones as it is based on principles of solidarity between peoples, of living in harmony with nature, of equal rights for all living things to live under conditions of natural freedoms, in a society void of hierarchies, police who act above the law, taxes, and leaders and subordinates, and without oppression of the minority by the majority or vice-versa.
The Land of People
The first principle of our alternative society
is founded in the concept of a voluntary confederation of
free territories, the populations of which have accepted
Such areas may range from small pieces of private land to whole countries, a monastery to a commune, an alternative community to a nature reserve, an inherited estate to a reservation, or any other piece of land where the owners or managers take the responsibility upon themselves to ensure and provide for the lands sustainability and preservation.
In accordance with this principle, there will be no system of management except for self-management, no system of redistribution except for a voluntary and cooperative one, no use of force except in cases of self-defense, and no imposed limitations on activities except for those self-imposed.
The second principle of our alternative society is founded in the voluntary union of alternative production unites where the workers themselves have accepted this declaration.
Any place of production can join the union, independent of its legal status, that undertakes its activities without causing harm to the environment, does not stimulate over-consumption patterns, nor whose work supports the existing destructive industrial system.
Such places of production can include sustainable agricultural enterprises or cooperatives, environmentally safe mills or power stations, cottage industries or homecraft shops, waste recycling plants or an oil spill clean up crew.
The third principle is a society of cultural freedom that includes inventors, people involved in the arts and enlightenment, and scientific and information collectives who have accepted this declaration.
This community is open to any collective whose activities work towards the education of society and spread of environmental knowledge, to protect and foster ecological ethics and traditions, etc. irrespective of the legal status they hold.
Such groups include alternative schools or cultural centers, publication or information networks, institutes or scientific laboratories, art studios or musical ansembles, environmental clubs or student biology clubs.
All three principles of our alternative society are closely interconnected, complement each other and act on the basis of solidarity, mutual assistance, harmony with nature and the equal right of all living things to existance.
This does not mean that we do not struggle to protect the environment and humankind and will just hand society over to technocrats to let them destroy the biosphere; nor does it meant that we isolate ourselves from the existing system or propose saving only a selected few.
Our alternative society is ready to include all those who share the spirit of this declaration. And we, by personal example and propaganda, will try to increase the awareness of our position and attract people to join us.
Furthermore, we will actively protest the destruction of Nature and construction of environmentally harmful factories, militarism and chauvinism and we will continue struggle to protect the human rights and social peace.
We intend to gather in a year's time to concretely identify our plans.
Coordinating Center - The People's Land
Socio-Ecological Union, S.I. Zabelin.
Svet and Nina Zabelin .37ha, Kirzhachsky rayon
Vladimirskaya Oblast, Russia