Common Action Forum 2019

A new path to development
Mexico City, Mexico | 13 – 14 October 2019

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There was a time, not long ago, when one could entertain the firm belief that the world was moving in a virtuous direction. There was a clear path in which present and future were connected by a straight, linear vector of unstoppable development. It was only a matter of time before the benefits of progress could reach beyond a small elite of people or countries, to include all of those whose efforts where deserving of such benefits. This perspective was shared even by the primary competing ideologies, which were already disputing at the time whether Market or State would triumph as a transforming agent par excellence.

However, this snapshot serves as one of the last chapters in the long ontological process of separation between humanity and nature. Since we began to dominate and objectify the forces of the world, we have overcome a series of frontiers: the continental ones in the explorations during the 15th Century; that of energy with the Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century; and the boundaries of space, body and information with the Knowledge Society in the 20th Century.

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The 21st Century, however, presents us with a new, harsh and unpredictable reality. The righteous promises of development based in limitless economic growth have given way to a landscape of social inequality, financial unease and stretching of ecological limits as never before. Regions like the Global South seem increasingly unwilling to continue internalizing the evils and externalizing the benefits of the current model of development; it is increasingly evident that investing blind hope in new technologies as a manner in which to solve these challenges, without first correcting the regimes of accumulation, will lead us to an even more profound inequality.

In spite of everything, the good news is that this challenge generates the ideal conditions in which to confront these paradoxes, which have become normalized in our current world system. And it is in facing this pressing challenge, which is no small feat, that the Common Action Forum proposes to inaugurate its events in Mexico: we are encouraged by the new political ethos of reconciliation and innovation that pervades the country, which makes it an unparalleled laboratory, with potential to inspire not simply the whole region, but also the world.

Problems such as poverty, which affects half of humanity, or the global warming that affects us all, are only part of a dystopian reality that no longer allows us the luxury of time for local utopias. Citizenship and the intellectual, political and economic elites must invariably obtain a new regenerative heterotopia. This means going beyond reformism and changing conceptually how we think, act and exist. Reconceptualizing a new path to development and beginning its implementation is a mission that awaits us in the coming years. It’s time to usher in a new era.


Recognizing diversity, governing the commons

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Accelerated transformations in the past decades have brought with them profound challenges in understanding the world’s entities and the laws that govern them. Within this there is a difficulty in administering our shared commons, which would allow us to solve the present’s precarities and correct our paths to the future. While massive extinction of animals and plants occur and natural resources are contaminated at unprecedented speeds, technology becomes hybridized and hyperlinks society. The concept of the cloud essentially becomes a more comprehensible virtual sphere than the phenomenon of water condensation in the atmosphere.

This session lends itself to identifying a new state of the world, in which the natural, the human and the technological are more interconnected than ever, to explore principles of governance that maximize the potential of these new formulations to reverse trends of transforming the marginalized into the permanently excluded.

Capital flight and the crossroads of the theory of value

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Value is created, extracted and destroyed. Historically, traditional economists have attributed an overstated influence to companies in the creation of wealth, while minimizing the contribution of the state or the worker. The real nature of the theory of value is quite different: the creation of wealth is a complex process of co-creation and co-participation. The current manifestation of globalization is at a crossroads: there is a choice between whether to distribute wealth or to extract and circulate it through flows that are far from transparent.

Capital flight is a threat that endangers the domestication of what has become a savage globalization, that of a capitalist system fed by an unbridled financial economy. The regulation of and fight against capital flight, offshore companies and tax havens is a necessary condition, but not enough, to draw closer to an economy of hope.

GDP and development from outside of Plato’s Cave

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According to the famed Platonic allegory of the Cave, contact with a projected reality limits and obscures the complexity of reality itself. What if we conceptualized of the Cave as our current perception of the world, governed almost exclusively by an economic dimension? Would the GDP, that unit of measurement so repeatedly mentioned in the news, not then symbolize the referential projection in this dimension? Would it not embody the tension between the sensible and intelligible worlds at the zenith of the so-called «Information and Knowledge Society»?

Based on the lessons learned precisely on the margins of this society, we have discovered that growth becomes a paradox when the planet approaches the point of demographic saturation and common resources are at risk of collapse, overexploited by barely or non-sustainable lifestyles. It was not so long ago that the promise of social progress, the true indicator of collective benefit, proved a disappointment and was replaced by the debacle of a growth oriented towards division. Now, more than ever, we need to allow social progress the transformative protagonism it deserves.

The global south leadership and the green new deal

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The absence of immediate global strategies to address the climate crisis hast the potential for incalculable impact, and we must look beyond Paris. For almost a decade, the possibility of a Green New Deal has been gaining momentum among progressive actors, serving as a common agenda for international political platforms. The idea appears simple: to end austerity, invest locally, restore social welfare and found a sustainable economy based in resources and technologies that do not harm the environment.

But can the most vulnerable countries afford to adopt this vision? Is it compatible with the accelerated and extricative digital transformation of developed countries? No matter which version of the Green New Deal we look at, there always seems to be a reproduction of colonialist and North-Atlantic tendency amidst an era of transnationalization, with no consideration for the future vision of the Global South. This is where the imbalance driving this unequal world is lived and suffered, but it is also where the possibility for a radical change in the system lies, and where new leaderships, voices and ideas must emerge; they must hold the relevant actors accountable in taking action regarding the current climate catastrophe, to ensure a prosperous future for all.


Martha Delgado

Martha Delgado has been the Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2018. She chaired the Secretary of the Environment of the Federal District from 2006 to 2012.

Paola Félix Díaz

Paola Félix Díaz is the General Director of the Mexico City Joint Tourism Promotion Fund. A recognized social activist for combating human trafficking, she has also served as a federal deputy in Mexico City.

Wadah Khanfar

Wadah Khanfar is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Common Action Forum. Former Director-General of the Al Jazeera Network, he was named one of the «Young Global Leaders» in the 2008’s World Economic Forum and was first in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011.

Rebeca Grynspan

Rebeca Grynspan is an economist and former Vice-President of Costa Rica, who currently serves as Secretary General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB). She has also served as former Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

Pedro Brieger

Pedro Brieger is an Argentinian journalist and sociologist, and Professor of Sociology of the Middle East at the University of Buenos Aires. He directs Nodal, an online media resource centered on sociopolitical and cultural news in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Leticia Merino

Leticia Merino is an anthropologist and Professor at the Institute of Social Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Her expertise lies in environmental policy, specifically collective action and the communal management of natural resources.

Melanie Dulong

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, PhD in law, is associate research professor at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and director of the Center for Internet and Society of CNRS. Her research focuses on digital commons, regulation by technology, information technology law and policy.

Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso is an author, activist and professor specializing in the field of the commons. The Advocacy Coordinator of the P2P Foundation, he also works as the project lead for Commons Transition, the P2PF’s main communication and advocacy hub.

Andrés Lomeña

Andrés Lomeña holds degrees in Journalism and Literary Theory, as well as a PhD in Sociology. He is the author of Ficcionologia (2016), El Periodista de partículas (2017), Rescoldos Mentales (2018) and the scriptwriter of the awarded short-movie Psicopolis. He is also a regular contributor at Huffington Post.

Andrés Arauz

Andrés Arauz is an Ecuadorian economist specializing in regional integration, finance and technology. He served as Minister of Knowledge, Deputy Minister of Planning and General Director of Ecuador’s Central Bank. Currently he collaborates with several civil society organizations in the Americas and is a doctoral fellow at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Eduardo Barcesat

Eduardo Barcesat is an Argentinian jurist, UNESCO expert on Human rights, Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He is also a founding member of the American Association of Jurists.

Magdalena Rua

Magdalena Rua is a Public Accountant, doctoral candidate in Economic Development, and teacher at the Faculty of Economics of the Buenos Aires University (FCE-UBA). She is also an investigator on economic crimes at the Argentinean Public Prosecutor’s Office and a prolific academic author.

Javier López Casarín

Javier López Casarín is the Chairman of the Fundación Reinventando a México (FRaM), a new non-profit organization that promotes international events in Mexico and develops an indispensable community of ideas. He holds a Doctorate Honris Causa degree of the Mexican Academy of International Law and is expert on innovation and technology.

Laura Carlsen

Laura Carlsen is Director of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy, Mexico City branch. Former correspondent for Latin Trade Magazine and editor of Business Mexico, Carlsen is a renown expert in social political and economic development in Mexico and Latin America.

Alicia Puyana

Alicia Puyana Mutis is an Economics professor and academic at the FLACSO University and. Se has published extensively about integration and the socio-economic dynamics of Latin America.

Gaspard Estrada

Gaspard Estrada is Director of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences Po, France. His research focuses on political communication, electoral campaigns and French foreign policy in Latin America.

Rafael Heiber

Rafael Heiber is the Co-Founder and Deputy-Chairman of the Common Action Forum. Geographer and Climatologist with a MSc in Territorial Planning and a PhD in Sociology, his expertise includes the political links between technology, space and citizenship. He participates in academic activities and publishes in the international media.

Guillaume Long

Guillaume Long is a French-Ecuatorian politician and academic, who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, as well as Minister of Culture and Heritage and Coordinating Minister of Knowledge and Human Talent under the Correa government.

Magdalena Sepúlveda

Magdalena Sepúlveda is the Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and member of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT).

Renata Ávila

Renata Ávila is a Guatemalan lawyer and activist with a human rights and technology focus. Member of Diem25, she serves on the Creative Commons Board and the OCDE’s Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council.


Photo gallery CAF 2019


CAF 2019
A new path to development

CAF 2019 – 2nd SESSION
Capital flight and the crossroads of the theory of value

CAF 2019 – 3rd SESSION
GDP and development from outside of Plato’s Cave