Ramapo Workshop postcard (final)



While the nations of the world tussled with the official documents and the statements and proclamations at the Rio+20 Summit, a vigorous Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties movement had begun to take shape—presenting an alternative, grass-roots view of what people think sustainable development might look like. The Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties (PST) were initiated by civil society organizations to develop collective agreements for sustainable futures beyond Rio+20 and a post 2015 agenda of the multilateral system. The PST’s are evolving a new narrative and agenda towards the transformation to a sustainable world order, providing a common platform for a collective global peoples’ movement to emerge. The PST process leads us to a deep investigation into social and natural science perspectives such as distributed leadership, collective action, resilience, the ‘commons’, and subsidiarity come into play as alternative frameworks for the well-being of all.




The prevalent model of development has not only failed to lift a large section of humanity above unacceptable levels of poverty, but has also greatly increased the inequities between the wealthy and the poor, and led directly to the breakdown in ecological sustainability we see around us. The dominant growth-based development model is fundamentally flawed, in that it is predatory both of nature and of people, ecologically unsustainable, and socio-economically inequitable.  In this context, a radically different vision of human well-being, one that is in tune with nature and respects other species, promotes socio-economic equity amongst all people, enhances the cultural, material, economic, social, and political opportunities for all, and one that empowers each person and community to take part in decision-making affecting their lives.


The world needs profound transformations in the fundamental values and organizing principles of society; new values must ascend, values that emphasize human solidarity, affinity with nature, and quality-of life. This new paradigm seeks to change the character of planetary civilization, validating cultural cross-fertilization, economic connectedness, and the rights of communities to meet global responsibilities in diverse ways. Such a transformation has to be built on a process of economic and political localisation where local communities (rural and urban) have control over decisions that affect their lives.  Without radical political, economic and ecological democracy, the current form of globalisation will continue to undermine individuals, communities and the ecosphere.


Despite unprecedented growth in the global economy since 1992, governments are trapped into making insatiable demands for still more unsustainable growth and rising levels of inequity to remedy problems which economic globalization itself has caused. The post 2015 agenda and the SDG agenda needs to build a convergence, providing us all a new common agenda for a sustainable 21st century. Such an agenda-building exercise needs new common partnerships.



SPEAKERS (more to be confirmed):

Uchita de Zoysa (Sri Lanka) is a thinker, writer, speaker, strategist and frontline leader in mobilizing civil society alliances for shaping policy for the global sustainability movement with connections to the UN process that extend back to the 1992 Earth Summit.  Since then, he has worked hard to nurture and grow an alternative voice to counter-point the Nation-State view of sustainable development.  He is author of the important book ‘It has to be Climate Sustainability, and has authored a number of critical reports and alternative policy papers that seek to democratize the United Nations process. He is the initiator and Global Facilitator of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, Chairman of Global Sustainability Solutions (GLOSS), and Executive Director of Centre for Environment and Development (CED).


Ashwani Vasishth (USA) is an Associate Professor in Environmental Planning, and directs the Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College and is also engaged with urban ecology projects from within a social-ecological-systems perspective, at  Ashwani has been foundationally engaged with the conception and implementation of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, coordinated the Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Economies, and has been involved with the post-Rio+20 action planning process.


Ashish Kothari (India) is the Founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh. Ashish coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process, served on Greenpeace International’s Board and chaired Greenpeace India’s Board, served as co-chair of the IUCN Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, Communities, and Livelihoods (TILCEPA), on the Steering Committees of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), the CBD Alliance, and the ICCA Consortium. Ashish coordinates the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Radical Ecological Democracy and is the author or editor (singly or jointly with others) of over 30 books including ‘Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India’.


Leida Rijnhout (Netherlands) is Global Policies Director at the European Environmental Bureau and leads the Global Policies and Sustainability unit. She studied cultural anthropology and has years of field experience in development cooperation. Before, as the Executive Director of ANPED – Northern Alliance for Sustainability, she advocated the “strong sustainability” approach at the UN, OECD and EC. She also led an international working group on ecological debt and environmental justice. Her principle focus is on ecological economics, the sustainable economy, sustainable consumption and production and resource justice. She is the Organising Partner for the NGO Major Group, facilitating their participation in the SDG/post 2015 process at UN-level. She is Dutch and speaks Dutch, English and Spanish.


Gaston Meskens (Belgium) is a researcher at the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry of the University of Ghent. His research advances on a critical analysis of the working of the knowledge-policy interface in the context of ongoing global governance policy processes and focuses on a human rights perspective related to intellectual capacity building in the interest of global sustainable development governance. Gaston has more than fifteen years of experience in participative and transdisciplinary research on governance related to issues such as sustainable development, energy, climate change and radioactive waste management and with working in and around the assemblies of the policy processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty process (UN-NPT) and of the research-related activities of the European Commission. He is the coordinator of the Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Rights for Sustainability.


Rick Clugston (USA) directs the Ethics and Spirituality Initiative for Sustainable Development of Forum 21. He is also the Co-Director of the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF).  Rick was Project Coordinator for the Earth Charter Scholarship Project at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University from 2009-2012. He served as Executive Director of the Center for Respect of Life and Environment in Washington, DC, from 1989 to 2009. Rick was the Deputy Editor of The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education (MCB University Publications), and publisher and editor of Earth Ethics: Evolving Values for an Earth Community. He is the coordinator of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Ethical and Spiritual Values.


Carmen Capriles (Bolivia) is founder and coordinator of Reacción Climática, a non-profit organization formed to advance the participation of the youth of Bolivia in finding solutions to climate change. Capriles earned her degree in Agricultural Engineering with a specialty in Sustainable Development and Agro-ecology from the University of San Andres in her country. She has also received specialized training in Rural Development in EICA in Egypt. She has over 10 years of work experience as a consultant on environmental issues for national NGOs as well as International Cooperation and has organized over 20 campaigns for raising awareness on ecological problems


Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka) is Founder Chairman of the Munasinghe Inst. of Development (MIND), Colombo; KIVA Guest Professor at Darmstadt University, Germany; Visiting Professor at the Vale Sustainable Development Inst., Federal Univ. of Para, Brazil; Distinguished Guest Professor at Peking University, China, and International Advisory Board member at SCI, University of Manchester, UK. He was Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-AR4) that shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace. Munasinghe has authored 96 books and over three hundred and fifty technical papers. He is a Fellow of several internationally recognized Academies of Science, and serves on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals.


Faiz Shah (Pakistan) is the head of Development Management at the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, and is the director of Yunus Center AIT. In a 30-year change management and capacity-building career as volunteer, educator and development manager in the public, private and citizen sectors in a number of countries, Shah has advised government- and UN agencies, worked with major corporations in the China, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, groomed over 3,000 grassroots officials and social entrepreneurs in Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, overseen over 300 community-level development projects in diverse communities from Himalayan villages to the Thar desert.


Yuxin Hou (China) is a postdoctoral research fellow at the NGO Research Center, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He earned his doctorate in Anthropology in Peking University in 2012. He is the honorary membership of the Indigenous People’s and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA) Consortium anda also the member of Brazil and Bhutan Learning Journey, Global Wellbeing and GNH Lab—Innovating Beyond GDP, 2013. His principal focus is on the study of social anthropology, visual anthropology, disadvantageous people, nomadic peoples, GNH , NGOs and civil society, etc. He pays much attention to the implementation of the alternative way of GNH and the fate of disadvantageous people in China including the disadvantageous ethnic groups such as Tuva, etc.


Rob Wheeler (USA) has represented several organizations at the United Nations for the past 16 years including Commons Action for the United Nations, Planetafilia, and the Global Ecovillage Network, and the World Alliance to Transform the UN. He has participated actively in the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development during this time. Rob developed and organized a Sustainable Community Campaign in Santa Cruz, California for five years in the 1990s; was the primary civil society representative on the UN’s Initiative on Access to Basic Services for All; and served on the Executive Committee for the UN’s Millennium NGO Forum. Rob taught environmental education for more than ten years in Outdoor Education Schools, UC Berkeley’s Summer Science Camp, and Youth Conservation Corps programs. He is a foremost advocate for an integrated, multi-sectoral community based approach to rural and impoverished urban development; and often claims that we need to plan to make a complete transition to full sustainability as rapidly as possible.


Helene Finidori (Canada) is a researcher on systemic change and collective human action. She has a background in business strategy and communication and teaches management and leadership of change on the international program of Staffordshire University in Barcelona. She has been part of Commons Action for the United Nations since 2012 and has contributed to the setting up the Commons Abundance Network (CAN) in 2013: a co-learning, research, innovation and action network operating both offline and online as a laboratory for transformative action towards commons based abundance. Within the framework of the CAN, she is exploring the archetype of the commons (and in particular growth of the commons) as underlying logic for the convergence and the vetting of sustainability initiatives, leading to the design of a pattern language as building blocks for commons growth. The Federating efforts towards a thriving world presentation is an introduction to this integrative yet distributed approach.


Richard Jordan (USA) was the 60th DPI/NGO Conference Chairman. Over the course of his 22 years at the UN, Mr Jordan has represented a number of NGOs affiliated with DPI and ECOSOC, most notably Global Education Associates and currently International Council for Caring Communities. Among his most notable achievements is having been one of the five co-founding editors of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), the journal of record at environment and development meetings worldwide. Richard has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the NGO Committee on Peace, Development and Security, Symphony for United Nations and Friends of the United Nations, and is the Chairman of the CONGO NGO Committee on the UN and Sports.Outside the UN, Richard has served as an elected Trustee of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the National Arts Club and serves as President of Concerned Citizens Speak, a 26-year-old non-profit city-wide citizens organisation.



Activists from different parts of the world will come together, face-to-face and online, in this five hours of dialogue. Speakers and contributors are drawn from among key actors engaged with the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties process, as well as from participants in other local-global campaigns advancing a global peoples’ transformative agenda. The event is organized in the immediate aftermath of the 10th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, to engage the wider civil society fraternity in the emerging UN agenda, as well as to provide a platform from which to organize themselves to influence the forms of the 2015 UN outcomes. This platform aspires to extend the process of convergence towards a post-2015 people’s transformative agenda through collaboration and through the gathering together of synergistic movements across the world. It is expected that the dialogues will assist in advancing a global peoples’ movement.




At the end of the day, participants will:

  1. Grasp the nature of the debates about sustainable development at the global level: a post Rio+20 dialogue that is heading beyond 2015 to replace the MGDs with SDGs, relationships between the official UN events and Stakeholder Initiatives
  2. Appreciate the power of civil society to shape the Nation-State level dialogue about sustainable development; equity, ethics, lifestyles, livelihoods, rights and responsibilities in a great transition to sustainability
  3. Appreciate what it is that grass-roots movements want out of the sustainable development discourse and what obstacles they face in attaining these objectives; the progress of Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties, peoples’ alternatives and movements



08.15 AM – 08:45 AM                     Registration


08:45 AM – 09:00 AM                     Opening Remarks: President Peter P. Mercer, Ramapo College


09:00 AM – 10:00 PM                      CONTEXT: Transformation and Peoples Alternatives

  • The Need for a Peoples’ Transformative Agenda Post 2015: Uchita de Zoysa (Sri Lanka)
  • Advancing the Decentralization and Localization Agenda: Ashwani Vasishth (USA)


10.00 AM – 12.00 PM                      CONTENT: Post 2015 and Peoples Agendas

  • Equity & Rights in a Post 2015 Transformative Agenda: Gaston Meskens (Belgium)
  • Minorities & Futures in a Post 2015 Transformative Agenda: Yuxin Hou (China)
  • Climate Alternatives in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda:Carmen Capriles (Bolivia)
  • SCP in a Post 2015 Transformative Agenda: Leida Rijnhout(Netherlands)
  • Social Entrepreneurship in a Post 2015 Transformative Agenda: Faiz Shah (Pakistan)
  • Ethics & Values in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda: Rick Clugston (USA)
  • Commons in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda: Rob Wheeler (USA) & Helene Finidori (Canada)
  • CSO Engagement in a Post 2015 Peoples’ Transformative Agenda: Richard Jordan (USA)
  • Peoples’ Alternatives in a Transformative Agenda: Ashish Kothari (India)


01.00 PM – 02.00 PM                       CONVERGENCE: Towards a Peoples Transformative Agenda Post 2015

  • DIALOGUE KICKOFF – Wellbeing & Sustainability in a Peoples Transformative Agenda Post 2015: Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka)
  • Open dialogue moderated by: Uchita de Zoysa
  • Synthesis by: Michael Edelstein (Ramapo College)




CONTACTS:                         Ashwani Vasishth [email:, tel: (323) 206-1858]

Uchita de Zoysa [email:, tel: +94 777372206]

INFORMATION:         or





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