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Abstract: In 2000, 189 nations committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goals, namely a promise to free people from extreme poverty and deprivations. Unfortunately, UN reports and estimates show that MDGs are far from being achieved. Although the objectives are certainly ambitious, the lack of improvements in the basic life conditions of the world population is strictly connected to the fact that these 189 nations have identified fundamental goals without challenging the current system: despite adjustments and resolutions, the present model of development, based on economic growth and profit, will never reduce poverty and improve equality.
On the contrary, the Western paradigm of progress itself has been the origin of severe disparities and human rights violations, that the international community is now unsuccessfully trying to address. The damage directly or indirectly caused by the consumistic-capitalistic model includes climate change, environmental crimes, human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, land grabbing, dumping of hazardous substances and e-waste, disasters and conflicts.
As long as the global system is based on the selfish search of profit, it will be difficult to actually address the basic needs and rights of the world population. Given that a wide-ranging change is unlikely to begin from the governmental and financial sector, the improvement of rights protection and human equal development relies upon a raising in global awareness. It is necessary to increase consciousness on the fact that every action accomplished implies consequences for the environment and the human kind and affects others’ opportunities: what Western citizens buy or consume is often a surplus, while what is taken away from others through that action is not a surplus but a fundamental right, for instance, the right to a minimum standard of living or the right not to be held in slavery.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.