Bolivia hosts alternative summit on people and Mother Earth

Published on People’s World, by W. T. Whitney Jr., April 22, 2010 – in spanish: Conferencia Mundial sobre Cambio Climático y defensa de la Pachamama, published on Mercosur Noticias.com.

The conference came about in reaction to last December’s failed UN Copenhagen Climate Conference. Dim prospects for a 17th UN Climate Conference in Mexico next December were confirmed at an interim UN climate conference in Bonn earlier this month … //

… The United Nations last year made good on his proposal to name April 22 the International Day of Mother Earth. According to Mercosurnoticias.com, “Climate change [for indigenous peoples] is a problem not only of atmosphere, technology, or financing, but one of the western model of life, of the ambition and greed of capitalism.” Some 7,500 indigenous people attended the Cochabamba conference. 

The names given to 17 conference working groups suggested the broad range of topics undertaken. They included: structural causes, harmony with nature, the rights of Mother Earth, climate migrants, indigenous peoples, climate debt, climate change adaptation, forests, agriculture and food sovereignty, Kyoto Protocol requirements, development and transfer of technologies, “shared vision” for action, financing, action strategies, and “carbon market dangers.” Morales’ proposals for a climate justice tribunal and a world referendum on climate change filled out the list. Crammed into four days were 164 two-hour presentations carried out on the initiative of environmental, indigenous, energy, peasant and food sovereignty groups at the summit.

The gathering took on the colors of a “people’s summit,” reflected in commentary by one participant that “Confrontation on climate change had to proceed from the bottom up.” Social movements dominated at the WPCCC, just as they have done in the new Bolivia. “It’s not by accident,” explained writer Eduardo Galeano, unable to attend, that this “summit of mother earth” took place in “this nation of nations.”

The Bolivian setting for the summit indicated world recognition of Evo Morales’ expanding leadership role in popular struggle. The United Nations last August named him a “World Hero of Mother Earth,” identifying him as the “leading exponent and paradigm of love for mother earth in this world.”

The WPCC’s message ultimately came down to the idea expressed by Galeano: that “human rights and the rights of nature are two names for the same dignity.” The People’s Summit unfolded on the anniversary of popular victory marking Cochabamba’s “Water War.” Ten years ago, street clashes with security forces ended up dumping water privatization plans set in motion by U.S.-based Bechtel Corp. From then on popular mobilization grew, leading to the election of Morales’ socialist government in 2005. (full text).

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