Policy-making processes in South American politics include deeper participation from civil society actors than are included in conventional international summits, and this phenomenon may help radicalize international policy positions. Bolivia and Peru offer two examples. These alternative processes are likely to have increasing impacts in international negotiations around Climate Change, and could inspire challenges to fundamental negotiating processes themselves.
Gonzalo Alcade of FORO writes,
Although it surprised some governments, Bolivia's position at Cancun was consistent with agreements reached at the Summit of the World People's Conference on Climate Change in April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which included civil society and nongovernmental representatives from around the developing world. President Evo Morales embraced the conclusions of this alternative process (which held its next summit in Bangkok in April 2011) and promised to take them to Cancun. Besides the topics already mentioned, an important conclusion of the Summit was the rejection of market mechanisms, such as ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’ (REDD), as climate change solutions.
So far, countries have acted alone but more attention to the proposals coming from civil society in each country's government could change these attitudes even without external influence. For example, Peru did not attend previous summits holding proposals agreed upon with neighboring countries, but an important consensus proposal from civil society led by the Citizens Movement Against Climate Change (MOCICC) criticizes and rejects the weak agreements reached at recent summits and demands negotiations as a bloc of South American countries articulated by UNASUR.
This influence from civil society could help form the foundation of a South American-based political bloc (see Bolivia emerging as a leader in a potential South American-based political bloc and pushing radical policies), which in addition to challenging existing policies could also challenge decision-making and policy-formation processes.
“So far, South American countries have not acted as a single bloc or consistently as a set of blocs in these international negotiations, despite having important common issues, for example, the management of the Amazon basin. Nevertheless, a look at the positions of Bolivia and Brazil, by far the most important regional player, in the major summits sponsored by the United Nations and other parallel processes, reveals emerging possibilities for joint action by South American countries in future processes. [a potential] bloc would adopt a more confrontational attitude vis-àvis the industrialized countries and look for changes in the rules and procedures of these negotiations.”
FORO June 2011 pages 4 – 5: