Latin American activists meeting at the Klimaforum.
Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS
NGOs Getting Ready for Mexico
By Daniela Estrada
COPENHAGEN, Dec 21 (Tierramérica).- Before the outcome of the international climate conference here was even known, Latin American civil society organizations had already begun discussing their strategies for the next climate summit, to be held in a year’s time in Mexico.
The primary challenge is to broaden and strengthen the links between the different civil society movements and networks in the region, the international coordinator of Jubilee South, Beverly Keene, told TerraViva.
Jubilee South is a network of social movements and people’s organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, formed in 1999 to fight for “freedom from debt and domination” in developing countries.
Keene spoke at a session of Klimaforum09 - the civil society meeting held parallel to the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Copenhagen - focused on what directions to take on the road to COP16, in December 2010 in the Mexican capital.
“Frankly, I do not expect anything (from COP15). We have stated very clearly that no agreement at all is better than one which only reinforces the false solutions we have been fighting,” Camila Moreno of Brazil, a member of Friends of the Earth International, told TerraViva at Klimaforum session.
Activists concur that the international movement for climate justice has grown stronger over the past year.
One of its main achievements was the first hearing of the International Court of Climate Justice, celebrated in October in the eastern Bolivian city of Cochabamba by NGOs from all over the world. Seven cases, claiming environmental harm contributing to climate change, were presented by Latin American communities and civil society organizations.
A people’s tribunal independent of formal justice systems, the aim of the Court is to pass ethical and moral judgment on transnational corporations and complicit states in order to raise the visibility of environmental crimes and the changes needed to coexist in balance with nature.
“The invitation is to begin the journey toward Mexico 2010. This time the COP is coming to our house (Latin America), and we must start mobilizing,” said Lyda Fernanda Forero, of the secretariat of the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA), an umbrella group for over 60 social networks in the Americas.
Nicola Bullard, of Climate Justice Now (CJN), a global network of organizations and movements, said climate change provided an opportunity to forge stronger links between the struggles of civil society against the World Trade Organization and other multilateral institutions.
The destruction of the environment goes hand-in-hand with social inequality, she said, at the session that was also addressed by Keene.
The issue of climate change must become a political problem, one that challenges the capitalist model of development, and that does not allow governments and transnational corporations to take a short cut to “green capitalism,” with low greenhouse gas emissions but the same financial architecture, activists argue.
Amparo Miciano, of the World March of Women, highlighted the fact that during the two weeks of COP15 and Klimaforum, people from the industrialized North and the developing South joined together to confront the climate crisis.
“I have experienced big civil society mobilizations. I’m from Porto Alegre (in southern Brazil), where the World Social Forum (WSF, an annual global gathering held as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum) came into being, and what is happening here reminds me a lot of the first WSF there. It’s like a huge public education event,” Moreno said.
“Copenhagen will be a watershed,” said the Brazilian activist.
In the view of CJN’s Bullard, world public opinion is on the side of the concept of “climate justice,” and this support must be utilized.
For his part, Diego Azzi, a Brazilian labor activist responsible for regional integration for the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), said that Latin American trade unionists will have a greater presence at COP16 in Mexico.
“We are trying to raise awareness among Latin American trade unionists about these environmental issues, through what we call ‘auto-reforma sindical’ (internal reforms of labor unions), which is linked to the trade union perspective on models of development, production and consumption,” he told IPS/TerraViva.
The NGOs are planning a timetable of actions for 2010, but some priorities are already clear: working at grassroots level, raising public awareness and putting pressure on those in government.
One of the most concrete proposals so far is to hold many more sessions and hearings before Courts of Climate Justice, and present the cases dealt with in Mexico.