I am lucky enough to have my own personal link with this stuff but here is a report back from some of the few UK based campaigners to get over what with tierra madre stopping the planes.
REPORT BACK FROM THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE CONFERENCE, COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA,
19-22 APRIL 2010
Our trip to Bolivia started a couple of days before the World People's
Conference on Climate Change, when we attended the 3rd International Water
Conference, which was also commemorating the tenth anniversary of the
Water War. The people of Cochabamba were celebrating their victory against
Bechtel, the multinational company that in 2000 was pushing for water
privatization, and the people resisted through blockades and mass
Local and international organisations took this opportunity to come
together to share experiences and even start preparing a strategy to make
the right to water an important part of the upcoming conference. Tucked
away in the corner of all this excitement, we found the carpa tematica
(themed tent) that would later be transformed to mesa 18 (the 18th working
group/table). It was here that discussions started to point out the
contradictions between the external discourse on capitalism of the
conference and the ongoing domestic mega-projects and extractive
industries contributing to social injustice and climate change within
Bolivia and Latin America.
Mesa 18 was organised by CONAMAQ (National Council of Ayllus and Markas of
Qullasuyu) and other social movements from across the continent joined it
along the way. They wanted it to be a part of the conference, which was
why it was named the 18th working group, but it remained unofficial and
controversial. Rumours were that the government met with the organisers
earlier in the week to dissuade them from establishing this space, and
opponents of the government latched onto this opportunity to try to
undermine Evo Morales. However, everyone we spoke to was clear that this
was to complement the conference by looking deeper into the local effects
of global industrial capitalism - and not to oppose it.
Around the same time 500km from Cochabamba the San Cristobal community
took action against the Japanese owned mine company that is the world's
third largest producer of silver and sixth largest of zinc. It is also
extracting natural resources and contaminating the community's water. They
blockaded the company and started overturning trains full of mineral ore -
a real example of the struggle against extractive industries and one that
set the context for the conference during the following week.
If there were doubts at the beginning of the conference that this was a
set up by the Bolivian government to get social movements to give their
blind support, then it subsided by the end. And there was doubt! When the
Forest Working Group went to meet for the first time they found a
moderator who turned out to be a UN bureaucrat and that the draft
declaration included a description of the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Programme as a solution to
REDD is a market solution which, through commodification of the forests,
allows the global north to offset their emissions instead of reducing
them, threatens communities and peoples who live in these areas, and
replaces forests with monoculture plantations. The movements responded
quickly - they used the process, and their interjections, to overturn this
draft, and in the end REDD was outright rejected in the final declaration.
The strength and dignity of the voices representing people from all over
the world made it clear that this process, if it was to be in our name,
would not advocate any false solutions. So, when the final declaration was
read most people from various working groups were happy with the outcome.
Indeed, the declaration is inspiring – it spells out capitalism as the
root cause of climate change and outright denounces the carbon market. But
beyond its engagement with the UN process, it is missing a real plan on
how to move forward.
That's why the space that the conference provided for movements/peoples to
meet, share stories, strategies and continue the process of building a
linked up global movement to fight for climate justice was crucial.
We met with Rising Tide from Mexico, Ecuador and Australia, each with many
inspiring stories and actions. It was interesting for example to find out
that climate camps are put on by Rising Tide along with other groups, but
generally actions throughout the year are organised outside a 'camp'
We attended side events and listened to struggles against extraction,
displacement, and contamination. In these side events what stood out the
most for us were the voices that questioned the credibility and legitimacy
of the UN process and that called for actions now.
We shared our stories as well - many people here don't hear a lot about
the resistance to capitalism and the direct action that happens against
social injustice and climate change in Europe. The best reaction was when
we announced – in the middle of a heated drafting of the mesa 18
declaration - that in London there would be a solidarity stunt with the
San Cristobal community. Everyone in the room applauded and cheered – this
is how we can work together in the fight for climate justice.
DECLARATIONS AND ACTIONS
The blockade in San Cristobal was instrumental in showing that words were
not enough and that action is needed. Mesa 18 may not have succeeded in
throwing out a multinational out of Latin America that week, but they did
draw up their own declaration that outright denounced all megaprojects in
Latin America and called for a new model for the management of natural
resources with the direct control of the workers. As far as we know, the
(Read a rough translation of the declaration on our blog:
In this same spirit we participated with other climate activists from the
UK and Europe spreading the call out that Climate Justice Action took up
from call out by various social movements in Latin America, under the name
Minga Global, for a day of direct action for climate justice on the 12th
of October - the day in defence of the mother earth.
On the last day of the conference we hosted a side event entitled
'Building Bridges Across Continents.' See it here: We used some of the
time to brainstorm who were our allies and what/who were our obstacles in
building climate justice, and the rest of the time brainstormed on how we
can work together in building a global movement, using the 12th of October
as a specific example. We were all excited to share ideas and start
planning some action!
La lucha sigue / The struggle continues !
Agi and Ben
International working group
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Read more about the conference (including conclusions from all working
Read our blogs, see pics/videos from the conference:
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Join Minga Global and participate in a Day of Direct Action for Climate
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