Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Many struggles, one movement

Monthly Archives: December 2014

First day at Cumbre De Los Pueblos 2014

Conferencia Internacional de Sistemas de Produccion Ecologica y Cambio Climatico

by Arturo Trejo, Southwest Workers’ Union

When I was introduced to agroecologia by the Roots of Change Cooperative in San Antonio, the concept seemed very simple; a discipline of climate consciousness, land sustainability in agriculture—of both urban and rural—and the practice of food sovereignty.  In the inter-disciplinary concept that Roots Of Change Cooperativa has set in it’s community is to thrive and accomplish work on it’s own land; by opening the work to community volunteers (collectivism), using techniques of reusable sources for regional and local crops; compost, sowing seeds, seasonal crops; and food justice for local farming and access to fresh, organic and non-GMO foods.

Day one and those that followed at Cumbre De Los Pueblos in Lima, Perú, has given me a new approach of such praxis of agroecologia. My envisioned questions are, “What is agroecologia in Latino America?” “What is agroecologia for a new-coming member of the community?” and “How do we transition such rooted concept in Sudamerica to an urban community?”  As an advocate from the US urban perspective of agroecológia through Roots Of Change Cooperativa, these discussions at the Cumbre De Los Pueblos; I will witness a new outlook of grassroots and political action.

The title of the conference Conferencia Internacional de Sistemas de Produccion Ecologica y Cambio Climatico (Conference of the International Systems of Ecological Production and Climate Change), reflected on work of biodiversityadaptation, self-sustainability and self-management of the lands of Perú. Biodiversity was a main topic during these dialogues, at a time when the Northern Western agriculture focuses on the production of mono-crop for our diets and promises the land to privately owned US companies, Western culture dismissed the current exploited land of Sudamerica from it’s own crops and import it to our markets. The trend of quinoa in our diet has been a proof of this argument, such grain has been taken away from it’s own land and sold in a large profitable-margin; a similarity in the trails of NAFTA, where maize, a native crop of Mexico, is taken and re-sold to it’s own producer; quinoa is at the same pedestal of it’s own economy.

Three speakers stood out to me and gave a new value into the meaning of agroecológia, Board Director, Gladys Rurush of the ARPO ANCASH (http://www.anpeperu.org), agrarian reform advocate Victoriano Fernández of the city of Huánuco  and agrícola leader Faustino Morales of the ARPPE Piura is a second base organization that belongs to ANPE PERÚ along with 12 agricultural associates—who explained, the input and outcome of biodiversity in their land, has helped the development of new techniques of water supply, nurtured crops and leadership. Such leadership has established Juntas Directivas (Board Directors) in the transformation, as well, as the local and national socio-economic impact of Perú.

An example of transformation, in a time frame of 5 years, she went from picking one box of mangos to now successfully collecting up to 10-15 boxes. She continues her new methodology as a campesina in the low lands of 2,5000 km to the higher lands of 3,000 km above sea level.  As Victoriano followed, he emphasized the importance of the organic versus natural. His objective was to reinforce his community’s decision of being a commune of libre de transgenicos (GMO-free) farmers; supporting it by their continuous growth of local crops, like humus. The validation of Eco-Ferias (Eco-Fair) where seed trading and other exchange of their work; my interpretation of a Farmer’s Market, as a member of the audience asked why should campesinxs pursue these new trends of local fairs, as he simply replied, it sustains our work, and it challenges the extractive corporations.

During the end of the conference, Faustino explained in a very brief manner, it is about the development of a local, a collective society and the survival of their culture.

My three new understandings of agroecológia are simple and bigger; human participation, through Gladys diverse talks of non-binary labor and harvest. I learned, biodiversity does not occur naturally, for it is a tool of engineering of soil enrichment, resilient vegetation and self-sustainability. Gladys tackled the importance of womyn in the role of labor, decisions making and leadership, as her organization is a non-patriarchal and non-hierarchal. In the subject of economy– mainly local– as Victoriano said, “Eco-ferias (local eco-friendly fairs) are the window to our production and harvest,” with such demand of organic foods and communal labor availability for the manner of practicing self-management and self-sustainability. Ending with the subject of society, in which Faustino found all their labor credible to be inclusive and broader. There is no need for transnational corporates to hold the socio-economical survival of Perú and kidnap their lands with contaminated water, exploited soil, mining and GMOs.

From Lima, Perú,

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From San Antonio,TX to Lima: Peru the Pueblos Call for System Change NOT Climate Change

by Diana Lopez, Southwest Workers Union

The Cumbre de los Pueblos in coordination with COP20 took place in Lima, Peru the second week of December. The summit split into 5 tracks which all addressed a piece of climate change, from food to rights of mother earth to alternative energy and economies. While the People’s Cumbre was happening at the Parque de la Exposision, down the street the 20th Conference of the Parties/ Meeting of the Parties, referred to as COP 20 held hundreds of politicos and heads of state that were meeting in reference to the Kyoto Protocol.photo-2

The overall mood of the Cumbre was very solutions-based and highlighted local work, although there seemed to be three different moods depending on who was leading the workshop. On one level you have global funders, who made space for their grantees to speak about their work.  On another there were more academic, technology and policy spaces and finally there were the organizer spaces, which were self-organized and concentrated on front line experiences, movement building and alignment around solutions.

People seem tired and frustrated talking about policy and what the government should be doing. While its important to know and keep track the policies that will ultimately affect our communities the most, people are passionate about shifting towards a systemic change framework. The UN process does not provide that space for people to create and build together while uplifting local solutions and struggle. During the trip the GGJ delegation and SWU focused on the Cumbre to build on existing relationships with social movements from the South and to share our local solutions.

The pueblos are interested in learning how to integrate new sustainable technology into traditional farming practices while still healing mother earth. We are talking about fighting against the extreme corporations that continue to destroy communities while developing an alternative space where our people can thrive and begin the healing of Pachamama.

The message is clear that in order to really create solutions to climate change we must also talk about the disparities among funding, patriarchy within our own movement and the role US plays in the destruction of communities. IMG_0509

One of the main reasons why I participated was to exchange knowledge around how we create systemic change. A central question I have is “What is the work that needs to happen on the ground these next few years to begin to see small shifts within our communities?” The other piece is strengthening our ties with the global south people’s movements and talking about aligning the work happening on the ground in the US. This year we have been through heartache around police violence and the attack of women, students and over all people of color so part of this is also addressing violence and gender issues within our community. If corporations and governments value power and money over everything else what makes us believe that they will fight for mother earth. These are only a few initial questions and thought that will lead us the our next work of implementing our goals at the local level while maintaining a national/global vision for change.

After the weeks of the 20th Meeting of the Parties the final negotiations coming out of the UN meetings did not meet the standards for the pueblo and truthfully an agreement will probably never fully focus on community and mother earth healing while corporations and trans-national organizations are the only ones that have access to those spaces. Leading up to Paris COP 21, where a climate agreement is scheduled to come out, there needs to be an increase in negotiators that value the local expertise of the community and that will fully focus on community solutions and not corporate bail outs. And while our allies will continue to represent our communities on the inside we will support on the outside by voicing our demands, uplifting front line struggles and building the community we want to see.

We are saying Enough is Enough. No War, No warming, its time to Build an Economy for the People and the Planet!

Report from Rights of Nature International Tribunal, Lima, Peru

Part 1 of a series by Dania Flores – Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island

Dania Flores is one of 12 members on the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance delegation to Lima, Peru for the People’s Summit on Climate Change. 

Monday December 8, Day 1: After preparing with each other by conference calls for the past month, we finally were all together for our first morning meeting at 7AM in our great Hostal Las Camelias. We started the day by hearing some context on what had happened in the last 3 days, including the Rights of Nature International Tribunal and the work of people inside and outside the UN negotiations, the difference in the dynamics. Tom Goldtooth described it as “Schizophrenic” – like night and day: the agenda of the UN is about extraction, market and remediation/mitigation, a capitalist one. Here at the peoples summit we have a conversation about sustainability and life one of respect, human rights and nature rights, that painted a frame work for us of what it was to come. Last night we had dinner and bonded, we all had been very excited of the different things we are about to witness and also be part of, I am loving this… We are loving this.

Report on the Rights of Mother Nature Tribunal.

TribunalTo see the list of judges on the diverse international panel, and the cases and lead presenters, visit this website: http://therightsofnature.org/lima-2014-tribunal/

As the world looks to Lima, Peru for the 20th UN COP on Climate Change, the International Rights of Nature Tribunal convened in Lima. The Tribunal heard twelve international cases that were aligned with UNFCCC COP 20 priorities. What was unique to this hearing is that each case was reviewed within a framework based on Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

“We the people assume the authority to conduct an International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. We will investigate cases of environmental destruction which violate the Rights of Nature,” declared Prosecutor for the Earth, Ramiro Avila during the opening of the world’s first Tribunal on the Rights of Nature on Friday January 17, 2014 in Quito, Ecuador.

Indigenous rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca from Oklahoma, USA) and Patricia Gualinga, an indigenous of the Amazon and director of Sarayaku, provided expert witness testimony on the critical importance of Rights of Nature.

TribunalThe Global Alliance for Rights of Nature was founded at a gathering in Ecuador in 2010, two years after Ecuador became the first nation in the world to adopt Rights of Nature in its Constitution and Bolivia passed its Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. Across the United States dozens of communities have adopted local rights of nature laws within the framework of a Community Bill of Rights in recent years. Click here for more on the declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Rights of Nature movement draws on the wisdom and cosmovision of indigenous peoples in positing a new jurisprudence that recognizes the right of nature in all its forms to exist, persist, evolve and regenerate.

One of the most impacting stories was the Yasuní National Park Oil drilling struggle. Anyone would think that if you have a national park that is conserved and preserved as a nature preserve, this would mean to keep and safeguard the natural state. But this case has been a perfect example of governmental land grabbing with a legal instrument, and instead of saving it for the preservation of the planet, it has been sold to the powers of the capitalist elite who have criminalized community organizers. By labeling organizers as “terrorist” the elite have twisted the stories of social fights to stop a public referendum that is guaranteed by the constitution and by standards of the law of Ecuador. Click here to learn more about the Yasuni struggle to defend their land

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COP 20: Conference Of Phony climate “solutions”

by Matt Feinstein, Worcester Roots Project

COP 20, the Conference Of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is meeting in Lima, Peru to advance false solutions to climate change. These solutions are market-based and flawed by the same economic system that has created this climate crisis. Or they are technological fixes such as “climate-smart agriculture” that will strengthen agribusiness and other large corporations at the expense of indigenous peoples, farming communities and poor folks. As an activist with No REDD+ Africa in Kenya, Ruth Nyambura, states, “market mechanisms are not solutions to the climate crisis. A primary mechanism thatDelegation_Group_Cumbre the UN proposes, REDD+ (Reducing of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), is not a solution, in fact it violates the rights of indigenous people and mother nature. The market is made for profit, not to safeguard nature.”

No REDD+

This movement to stop REDD+ is one of the strongest campaigns represented here in Lima at the People’s Summit on Climate Change – a four-day conference convening hundreds of organizations from around the world, including Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. As Indigenous Environmental Network coordinator, Tom Goldtooth explains, “REDD+ means the privatization of nature on a scale so massive that it boggles our minds.” He goes on to say “REDD+ is like carbon stocks,” allowing corporations and governments to continue to pollute by IMG_7475purchasing credits that are then often used to fund the false solutions such as large unsustainable agrofuels.

When asked what one can do about stopping REDD+, Ruth brings a systemic critique. “Divestment can have an impact, but let’s be careful about focusing on the individual. Real system change comes from strong grassroots organizations.” Tom Goldtooth adds to this, “We have to organize. We have to mobilize our resistance. We have to be strategic.”

Energy Sovereignty

Similar to food sovereignty – where people have local control and can ensure sustainability of resources – energy sovereignty is a central theme here at the People’s Summit on Climate Change. Read more of this post