Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Many struggles, one movement

People’s Climate Activities were Historic… UN Climate Summit, Not So Much.

by Sha Grogan-Brown, Grassroots Global Justice

Ebulletin-banner-PCMYou probably heard this many times last week, but it’s worth saying again—the People’s Climate March on Sunday September 21, 2014 was a major historic event. It was historic because of the sheer numbers who came out to march (it’s being called the largest climate march in history, with estimates around 400,000 people in the streets of New York City). It was historic because the participants and leaders of the march reflected the voices and bodies of the people on the frontlines of the crisis, who are most impacted by climate change and the economic crisis. It was historic because of the way that the grassroots organizing sector and climate policy organizations came together to collaborate in the planning of the march, and laid the groundwork for strengthened relationships and a broader united movement for climate justice.

In the days following the march, people took action to continue pressuring the United Nations and global leaders to take real community-led action on Climate Change.

Unfortunately, the UN response was far from historic. You may have also seen the UN Climate Summit’s branding last week: “I’m for Climate Action.” At first glance, that may seem like a good thing. We want action on climate, right? However, what the UN calls “Climate Action” is not the kind of action that communities around the globe need, so much so that members of the Climate Justice Alliance called the UN Climate Summit “little more than a pep rally pushing carbon trading offsets and weak voluntary or limited pledges for emission cuts leading up to the global climate treaty negotiations in Paris next year.”

President Obama’s response was disappointing as well. He shared the UN’s rhetoric about “taking action” and “reducing emissions” yet the pledges the US made will not get us anywhere close to where we need to be in order to prevent major climate catastrophes.

Pablo Solon of Focus on the Global South shares some analysis in his article “How Did Leaders Respond to the People’s Climate March?“:

  • Insufficient Pledges: “With the weak voluntary pledges made under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)… emissions will be… about 30% more than the maximum amount the earth can handle, according to science… The United States ratified its current weak pledge of 3% of emission cuts by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, which means that they will do even less than what was agreed for the first period of the Kyoto Protocol which they never ratified and which ended in 2012.”
  • Weak Financing: “The other key point to assess is funding for developing countries that are suffering from climate change while being the least responsible for the problem… Based on what happened at the New York Summit, there would be no significant increase in funding for developing countries from public sources in developed countries.”
  • Clever Packaging of Markets: “For Ban Ki-moon, some heads of state, the business sector and the World Bank, the Climate Summit was a success because, from the beginning, their aim was not to close the emissions gap or to fill the Green Climate Fund. Rather, they sought to use this event – which is not part of the official process of UN negotiations – to launch more initiatives and carbon markets and to use the “summary of the chair” (Ban Ki-moon) as a way to introduce these proposals in the coming official negotiations in Lima, Peru, this December.”
  • The UN’s two clear goals were focused on “carbon pricing” and “Climate Smart Agriculture,” both of which are false promises that actually serve more to develop carbon trading markets than they do with reducing emissions or creating any tangible changes for frontline communities.  Click here to read more about Climate Smart Agriculture in this press release from La Vía Campesina.

Despite inaction from global leaders, the People’s Climate activities made last week historic. But what happens next matters even more.  GGJ is organizing on the Road to Paris for the UNFCCC COP21 meetings in December 2015. Between now and then, global movements are coming together through a People’s Climate process to push global leaders to take the kind of climate action that frontline communities need.

donate-bar_PCM

Follow Grassroots Global Justice on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned for next steps in this historic People’s Climate Process.

Click here to check out some of our favorite articles and news coverage from this past week

While UN Climate Summit Makes False Promises, People’s Climate Justice Summit Brings Community-Led Solutions

by Matt Feinstein, Worcester Roots Project

10580238_10152410161510888_6488408035743214878_nIt takes roots to weather the storm, and these roots stretched across most of Manhattan on Sunday for the People’s Climate March (#PeoplesClimate). They then filled Wall Street with creative action and connected globally though discussions in auditoriums on Monday with the People’s Climate Justice Summit, and today will be holding a People’s Tribunal at the Church Center of the United Nations.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVESTREAM of the People’s Tribunal from 10am-5pm Tuesday Sept 23.

Members of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) brought thousands of people to participate in the 400,000 person march on Sunday, and hundreds are staying through Tuesday for the People’s Tribunal, to deliver a message to the United Nations that they are not taking the action frontline communities desperately need.

3rd panelThe Summit kicked off with powerful and clear testimonies of how the UN’s climate “action” is in contrast to what the people want and are building through the #OurPower Campaign. We say yes to climate justice, to indigenous rights, to food sovereignty, to public transportation, to zero waste systems, and to a just transition to the next economy. We see through the UN’s false promises and say no to biofuels, no to big dams, no to GMOs, no to climate-smart agriculture, no to the XL pipeline, and no to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and carbon trading in all its forms.

CLICK HERE to read a statement from over 330 organizations representing over 200 million people around the globe calling for the right kind of Climate Action, which is not the kind the UN is taking.

CLICK HERE for press release and contacts for interviews at the People’s Tribunal

In the opening panel of the People’s Climate Justice Summit, speakers were in consensus about rejecting the financialization of nature, but the question arose: might we need to use pieces of this approach to keep corporations accountable or to protect natural resources? Maureen Santos from Henrich Böll Foundation in Brazil points out that it is possible to give value to parts of nature we want to preserve, but that the real danger lies in the marketization of aspects of nature and making them into tradable assets.

Other panelists and participants came from France, India, Peru and elsewhere. “It’s time to stop colonial rule and it’s time for a systemic approach led by affected peoples,” says panelist Meena Rahman of the Third World Network – India. She also suggested that as a Climate Justice movement, we could do more to build with groups that are countering bilateral trade agreements and other parts of Trade Justice movements.

In discussing mobilizing approaches for future global climate justice actions in Lima, Peru (December 2014) and then in Paris, France (December 2015), panelists and participants debated tactics used here in New York and elsewhere. This theme continued into the next panel in the summit. Christophe Aguiton of ATTAC France, encouraged us to continue to build “broad alliances including grassroots groups and large NGOs by looking at targets and finding common agreements such as reducing emissions and not holding responsible the global south for the emissions of the north, but also being intentional around the controversial points. These include the push for binding agreements and accepting the market mechanism.” The latter brings into light important questions of targeting corporations and understanding incinerators, nuclear power plants, agrofuels, big dams and other supposed alternatives to fossil fuels as false promises, not solutions, each with devastating effects on our communities and the planet.

false_promises_panel

Ananda Lee Tan of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives moderated the next panel on “False Promises: Dams / Waste to Energy / Federal Policy” and discussed creating trans-local networks. It also included Elisa Estronioli from the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) – Brazil, Jorge Tadeo Vargas from Revuelta Verde – Mexico, and Ana Baptista of the Ironbound Community in New Jersey. Local movements from rural Brazil to urban New Jersey are realizing their struggles are not just against dams and incinerators, but are connected by common desires to completely transform the extractive economy and are joining up in Climate Justice organizing. They also share similar paths for local self-determination in the form of creative community-controlled energy, zero-waste and agro-ecology projects.

Moderated by Mamadou Goita of IRPAD Africa, a third panel explained how “Climate Safe Agriculture” – as corporations and the UN are promoting – is essentially bringing farmland into the reach of corporate-led carbon offset programs. This threatens communities and the planet since it takes the form of continuing the technological “fixes” of the so-called green revolution. It deepens the research and implementation of practices that are profitable for corporations such as patenting seeds and genetic modification of foods. Social justice is also an emphasis of the climate justice movement and a strong theme running throughout this summit. “Food sovereignty means addressing racism and working for racial justice” by Sara Mersha of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Evening Event Indigenous World ViewRoberto Nutlouis, a Dine (navajo) leader from the Black Mesa Water Coalition, reminds us of the younger roots that we need to nurture to weather the storm: “We need to stop treating youth as the leaders of tomorrow. We need them now and we need to make space for them to get equipped to be leaders in our movements today.”

The climate crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem. The extraction economy must go. This economy that benefits a few at the expense of communities and the planet is being transitioned out. Today at one site of the People’s Climate Justice Summit, we discuss building community resilience through a just transition and the creation of grassroots, living solutions and systems change. Simultaneously, we will hold a People’s Tribunal to make a judgement on the Climate Action that the Ban Ki-Moon Climate Summit is proposing.

1610819_10152410161545888_957477183392190974_n

What does environmental justice have to do with tenant organizing?

by John Tieu: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities

Jeff Lau of CAAAV takes in the view of the Chevron refinery in Richmond CA. Photo by Ryan Sin

Jeff Lau of CAAAV takes in the view of the Chevron refinery in Richmond CA. Photo by Ryan Sin

The Our Power National Convening kicked off on August 6th, 2014 in Richmond CA, a diverse city that houses the Chevron Richmond refinery. This refinery is also one of the larger greenhouse gas emitting factories in the nation. The city itself is an example of what happens when capitalism’s method of exploiting the working class, extracting their profit, and commodifying our environment reaches a peak. An alarming number of people in Richmond have suffered, and are currently suffering from breathing issues such as asthma due to the city’s harmful air. Crime has been consistently high, and disinvestment in the city is affecting urban space. The refinery itself, which provides jobs to a sizeable amount of the population in Richmond, is also a highly unstable and dangerous work environment.

Our Power participants hold a vigil for Richmond residents impacted by the 2012 Chevron explosions. Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood

Our Power participants hold a vigil for Richmond residents impacted by the 2012 Chevron explosions. Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood

At a community vigil on August 6th, participants of the convening learned about and paid tribute to the victims of an explosion that happened at the refinery two years ago in 2012, sending 15,000 to seek treatment.

The city’s population itself is constantly being reminded of their struggles with bombardments of smoke plumes and advertisements from Chevron citing modernization and expansion as positive changes. I’ve never seen or experienced any neighborhood like it on the east coast. A resident in the city of Richmond seems to have almost every aspect of their life permeated by the Chevron corporation, as it seems to always and constantly be in the collective conscience of the neighborhood. As an intern who did not have any background in environmental studies, did not focus on issues in my own neighborhood that dealt with clean air and energy issues, and did not ever have to live in the shadow of a massive refinery, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I became involved with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities this past summer, and had dealt with multiple issues ranging from organizing tenants in Chinatown, to doorknocking in NYCHA owned complexes, to putting on a screening of Delano Manongs, a film about the Filipino Farm Workers movement. While all somewhat varied in its subject, the projects had no readily apparent connections to the themes of the convening, which were mostly based on environmental and climate justice. Throughout the event I struggled to understand my place, as well as CAAAV’s place in the fight for a just transition into a new economic system, when there hasn’t been a direct connection of organization’s work focused on these issues. It had taken the majority of the conference to understand why Grassroots Global Justice would want to send Jeff (a fellow member) and I here to Richmond… Read more of this post

Next Steps for the Venezuela Social PreCOP and the Margarita Declaration on Climate Change

by Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, and member of the GGJ Coordinating Committee

tomGAs a delegate of GGJ to the International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change, held on the Isle of Margarita, Venezuela, I was always mindful of the question of how to engage, from a grassroots position, coming from a rural Native community. Additionally, as an Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), I have a mandate on climate justice in our work with Native/Indigenous communities directly experiencing the effects of a changing climate, extreme weather events, and with some communities; fighting existing and expansion of fossil fuel development.

The Margarita Declaration on Climate Change, as the outcome document from the Social PreCOP included the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the human rights of vulnerable communities and peoples, as a result of climate related impacts. This is consistent with the platforms of GGJ, IEN and the Climate Justice Alliance related to the link of rights and climate change. It is also in line with our demand for “System change not climate change” that requires an end to the global empire of transnational corporations and banks. Many of those corporations and banks have roots in the United States. Only a world that has democratic control over resources that is based on the rights of Indigenous peoples, workers (including migrant workers), women’s rights, the rights of future generations and youth, and that respects people will be able to guarantee economic, social, cultural and environmental-climate justice. As we are beginning to know, systems’ change requires a break from the patriarchal society in order to start looking at a new U.S. and global paradigm, from a property rights regime of ownership, to a paradigm that recognizes the rights of Mother Earth, of Nature. This redefines our relationship to the sacredness of the planet and its ecosystems and all aspects of life.

In Venezuela I witnessed civil society, peasants, small farmers and Indigenous peoples coming together to articulate the concerns with the failure of the world leaders within the United Nations climate negotiations (called Framework Convention on Climate Change-UNFCCC) to reach an international treaty-level agreement for real solutions for mitigating the climate crisis. At the recent Conference of the Parties (COP) of the world leaders in Warsaw, Poland in December 2013, frustrations and distrust lead to the walk out of civil society organizations from the Warsaw climate talks. This raised awareness, and shifted the focus to mobilizing people and to send a clear message: “People and communities around the world are already implementing climate-safe, local energy alternatives, just transition and governments should listen to them and not to polluting corporations.” This is the message of Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ), Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). This message was also expressed in the Social PreCOP.

Read more of this post

Post Venezuela Social PreCOP Reflections by Diana Lopez

by Diana Lopez, Southwest Workers Union

Recently I was selected to be part of a delegation attending a preparation meeting for the Social PreCOP scheduled for November in Venezuela. I was part of the Grassroots Global Justice delegation along with Ife Kilimanjaro from East Michigan Environmental Action Council and Tom Goldtooth from Indigenous Environmental Network.10416604_10204340322731837_3030574767626517247_n

Southwest Workers Union’s work within North America, the belly of the beast, is grounded in our struggle for justice for people who by systematic design have more obstacles to overcome. Our members come from all over Latino America but most are native to the US/Mexico border region, which became a border through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Our ancestors where betrayed, lynched, hunted and slaughtered because they were brown, because they didn’t believe in the racist, oppressive laws that were imposed to keep the white, male landowners in power. The same story can be said throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. And while we hold similar histories we also hold similar solutions and ways of organizing around climate change.

This convergence focused around 5 strategic themes that will collectively construct a new climate agreement. Youth, elders, negotiators, organizers and everyone in between were part of these meetings.

  1. Social impact of climate change
  2. Climate ethics:  Differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities
  3. Social participation in decision making Salón Santiago
  4. Fighting climate change. Direct action for Transformation
  5. North-South responsibilities. Commitments by the North to strengthen action in the South.

Read more of this post

Post Venezuelan Social Pre-COP Reflections by Ife Kilimanjaro

DSC01468

Photo taken by Ife Kilimanjaro

Submitted by Ife Kilimanjaro, Co-Director of East Michigan Environmental Action Council

Climate change is a geo-physical reality, the evidence of which is captured in numerous geologic  formations around the world. The destabilization of natural climate and ecological systems that we are experiencing today, however, are due to unnatural forces. Specifically, climate disruptions, extreme weather events, global warming and similar events are fueled by conditions put in motion by generations of resource intensive industrial production driven by profit, organized to meet the interests of the capitalist ruling race, class, gender and culture.

Solutions to this global crisis must come from a global community concerned about current and future generations’ ability and capacity to live, work, love and create.  Unfortunately governments do not agree on what to do or who should do it.  Well, to clarify, there is consensus that something must be done; but some world leaders say that those who have been polluting longer have a greater responsibility and should shoulder a higher proportion of the burden to reduce emissions, mitigate impacts of climate change on hard hit nations, etc. Other world leaders, such as those from the Unites States, Europe and her other children, contend that current governments and corporations shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of their forefathers and that the playing field ought to be level. (Although we know this is not the case).

At the heart of this difference are questions of historical responsibility, differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.  Though I am pretty green on the UN process, it would appear that these issues were raised in the development of the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in December 1997.  The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement between member nations to commit to setting binding emission reduction targets. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities reflects the recognition that countries with a longer history of industrial development are “…principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity…” (Quote source). The Kyoto Protocol places a heavier burden on these countries for reducing emissions now and in the future than those who have more recently begun to follow similar paths of development.

Read more of this post

July 17 2014 2 023 2  GGJ delegate Diana Lopez, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas (in the red dress) is helping translate for the Spanish speaking Indigenous Peoples participating in the International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change, at the Isle of Margarita, Venezuela. This was an Indigenous caucus meeting organized by Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, a member organization of GGJ. The indigenous person participating that came from the furthest distance was Mrinalini Rai, from Nepal. Photo taken by Tom BK Goldtooth

GGJ Delegate Tom BK Goldtooth Presents on Social Participation in Decision Making at the Venezuelan Social Pre-COP

July 17 2014 2 019

Tom BK Goldtooth, GGJ delegate, and Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network was a presenter on the thematic topic on Item III. Social Participation in Decision Making.  This was part of the Mesa process on the second day of the historical International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change, Isle of Margarita, Venezuela. The description of this thematic topic was: Adequate and effective participation of social movements in the decision making process to face the climate crisis.  The guidelines for the discussion was to discuss the question of effective participation of grassroots organizations, local communities, children and youth, indigenous groups and minorities in decision making to face the climate crisis.  Guidelines included: Different forms of social organization, its characteristics and effective forms of participation; Specialized language as an element of exclusion; Gender, cultural and ethnic diversity and equity; Local, national and global participation; and Recognizing traditional knowledge, experience and wisdom. Tom focused on the topic of Indigenous Peoples and did a 10-minute intervention that started out the process for discussion.

These were the talking points that Tom covered:

  1. Indigenous Peoples, from the North and global South have a political, legal and cultural-spiritual relationship within the countries they come from. It is not just social.
  2. Indigenous are not mere stakeholders, but rights-holders, because they are the original-First Peoples in the countries they come from. Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who originally inhabited the territory of a country before the arrival of colonizers from other parts of the world, either by conquest, settlement or other means.
  3. Politically, within climate policy initiatives, Indigenous peoples’ consistently reaffirm their rights to self-determination and to own, control and manage their ancestral lands and territories, waters and other resources.
  4. Indigenous peoples have the right to meaningful participation in decision-making matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making processes and institutions.
  5. Indigenous peoples have a distinct spiritual and material relationship with their lands and territories. The link to their lands and territories are inextricably linked to their survival and to the preservation and further development of their indigenous knowledge systems and cultures, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and ecosystem management.
  6. In order to participate in climate discussions, Indigenous peoples need popular education and training on the topic of climate change and global warming, including the pros and cons of mitigation and adaptation mechanisms. This especially applies to those living in far remote and rural locations. This education and training includes the crosscutting issues, solutions and risks, such as violations of treaty agreements by the U.S. and Canada; violations to the access and right to water; human rights instruments; just transition; etc;
  7. These popular education materials need to be available in the Indigenous Peoples’ language;
  8. The need to de-mystify the negotiating language of climate change within the UN climate meetings.
  9. Apply the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially related to the standards and principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Indigenous peoples’ need to be fully informed on all aspects of climate change as a condition for decision making.
  10. Financial mechanisms need to be increased for Indigenous participation in national, regional and international meetings, seminars, workshops and conventions on climate change and its crosscutting issues.

Submitted by Tom BK Goldtooth, IEN and GGJ delegate

At the Venezuelan Social Pre-COP: Reflections by Diana Lopez

IMG_0274 - Copy

The International Preparatory Meeting for the Social PreCOP on Climate Change taking
place July 15 to July 18 will basically discuss the effects and causes of climate change but mainly its to create solutions though unity and education. Social Movements and the Venezuelan Government are coming together in Venezuela for a preparatory meeting in anticipation of the Social PreCOP happening in November. The meeting takes place on La Isla Margarita, which is part of Venesuelas Nueva Esparta state. Nueva Esparta means New Sparta, it was named after the Revolution for independence when native islanders fought until death, like Spartans, for liberation from the Spanish. La Isla is also where Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez converged on ALBA to unite the Caribbean and Latino America.

As US organizers prepare for the UN Climate Meeting in New York City this September this meeting comes together at a critical moment within the international movement for climate justice. Going back to the past four UNFCCC there has been great push against binding agreements that would force the worlds worse polluters to cut emissions. China, Canada and the US are among the countries that attempt to dominate the landscape in oder to continue extracting resources. Going back even further the US Government has played a key role in colonizing the economic and social structures of Latino America and Caribbean countries. Thus we go into this meeting with a deep analysis of our own country which also continues to create systemic structures that keep poor people, people of color from reaching justice.

Within in official UN international spaces there is always a lack of representation from the people most affected by climate change. Grassroots organizations/ civil society brings the solutions and understanding of how to live well in connection with mother earth. Venezuela sees the need to have civil society and youth present during meetings which is why there is a strong presence from Latino America’s base building organizations. However the reality is that there is a global south within the global north that is being left out of many international spaces. There is a strong force of people taking on climate change at the local level, building community owned energy, creating intergenerational community planning, and connecting the need to not only fight for environmental justice but also to address the economy, reproductive issues and governance.

Coming into this meeting there are may thoughts and questions that link our work and understanding of political and social movements.

  1. To begin there is a long political history around liberation and independence in Latino America that shifts the way conversations are developed and who is part of the discussion. We understand that power comes from the base, from people of color, farmers, women, indigenous community, and youth that have traditionally been left out of decision making space within the US and international spaces. Knowing the struggle and how the US has played a part of those movements is critical to building international relationships and developing united solutions that have systems change at the center. In general the GGJ delegation is looking to to deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices.
  2. Building relationships and solidarity movements are necessary to break down systems that keep oppressing our people. One of goals of the GGJ delegation is to deepen relationships with national and international groups who demonstrate understanding of the intersection between capitalism, ecology and justice and that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change.

Submitted by Diana Lopez, Executive Director, Southwest Workers Union

At the Venezuelan Social Pre-COP: Preliminary reflections by EMEAC’s representative

IMG_0297

As one of GGJ’s three delegates to the social pre-COP on climate change sponsored by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, i am glad to be part of the process of shaping, with others, the country’s official statement on climate change going into the 2015 negotiations.  Venezuela invited civil society organizations and movements from around the world to engage in this process as a way of inviting the voice of the people into what has become a very closed and corporate-led UN space. Though there are some questions circulating about the underlying intentions of the Venezuelan government and caution by people who know what it is like to be tokenized or have their work/ideas appropriated by larger bodies and institutions (be spoken for by them), one thing is clear; that this is a huge (though not unprecedented) undertaking deserving of note. Why? For one, the document that emerges from this process will be on par with those that other nations produce around the world, discussed and debated by world leaders.  Additionally, if its essence remains after the governmental ministers make their revisions in November (meaning that if it doesn’t get gutted of the essential parts that our organizations and movements bring), then the document will embody the lessons, expectations, hopes and visions of people who are harmed by and who fight against a system that exploits people and the planet.

I join Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) and Diana Lopez (Southwest Workers Union) on the delegation.  While here, we aim to  deepen relationships with national and international groups that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change; deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices; and build unity and support toward the Our Power national gathering (Richmond) and the People ‘s Summit (New York).  It is within a broader context, articulated above, that we seek to fulfill these aims.

As i represent GGJ in this space, i too represent the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) as we have some concrete organizational interests in so doing.  For one, we are able to share with and learn from other frontline communities around the world in ways that help to deepen our understanding of the global impacts of local practices, particularly of corporate polluters.  For example, in such spaces, we often meet folks who are at the points of extraction for raw materials that get processed and/or consumed in places such as Detroit.  Additionally, we are working alongside many – some of whom are political allies – to craft a draft document that will ultimately inform the official position that Venezuela takes during global talks on climate change.  So the experiences, stories and lessons we offer from Detroit will be a part of this process.

Finally, we are interested in meeting new global allies in the march toward system change.  In Detroit, where the struggles are intense, the fights are real and the enemies attack from all sides, it will help in the long run to link our struggles with those around the world. So that as we fight in Detroit, we are also fighting the same opponents in San Antonio, in Senegal, in Bolivia, in the Philippines and more; but we are doing it together, with strong voices and solid conviction.

Our work is significant over the coming days in Venezuela and back at home in Detroit.  A lot is required of us, but we’ve been prepared to take up the task and will do so with dignity, honor and respect of ourselves, our communities, those who’ve come before us and those who will follow.

I look forward to sharing more later.

Submitted by Ife Kilimanjaro, Co-Director, EMEAC

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.