People’s Action and Voices on the Global Climate Crisis PDF Print
Written by Reileen Dulay   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 16:31

[This article is coming out with the EDM Magazine November-December issue. EDM is being produced by IBON International.]

Climate change is a global issue which needs to be seriously addressed appositely through the recognition and inclusion of the basic sectors and marginalized groups in society being the most affected by the negative impacts brought on by the incessant exploitation of the environment and injustices inherent in the existing economic system.

In order to significantly forward the issues and concerns of the most affected peoples and to rightfully address the issue of the climate crisis, there is a need to develop and push for a peoples’ agenda in the different arenas of advocacy.

The Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) was formed as the collective network expression of a global campaign which involves individuals and organizations from the different global regions. It has a Facilitation Group that leads the discussions and coordinates the work in the network, and is composed of IBON Foundation, Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), Peoples’ Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES), International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Arab NGO Network on Development (ANND), IBON Europe, Global Justice Ecology Project, Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN), Green Movement of Sri Lanka (GMSL) and AidWatch.

The PMCC has taken the lead in research-education and awareness-raising among grassroots and peoples organizations in various countries around the world. Also, the PMCC has developed linkages with other climate justice formations such as the People’s Climate Action, KlimaForum, Climate Justice Action, Climate Justice Now!, Peoples’ Action on Climate Change and others where PMCC and its members have made significant contributions.

In the last two years, the PMCC has promoted the Peoples’ Protocol on Climate Change (PPCC) which is a framework declaration that captures the people’s stand on this most urgent problem confronting humanity. It articulates the values and principles that should guide international action and people’s struggles against climate change and its associated ecological and socioeconomic destruction. This declaration has been further developed in consultations and workshops held by the PMCC across the globe.

Campaigning for climate justice

Workshops and consultations were organized in the last two years by the PMCC in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and key European countries with the hopes of developing a strong global movement for climate justice.

Asia Regional Workshop - Bangkok, Thailand (March 23-24, 2009)

A two-day regional assembly cum planning workshop in Asia signaled the start of a process of consultations with different grassroots organizations, movements and other stakeholders. Some 67 participants came together in Bangkok, Thailand from March 23-24 to work together and develop the discussions and positions in the climate change campaign as expressed in the Peoples’ Protocol. In addition, the activity became a venue for the different stakeholders to forge cooperation on the climate change campaign and to plan activities to be taken up by PMCC leading up to, during and even beyond the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen this December.

The activity started with a presentation on the outcomes of the COP 14 negotiations, the political dynamics in the current negotiations and the implications of these for COP 15. Also discussed were the different civil society initiatives on climate change.

This was followed by a series of presentations and workshops on key issues surrounding climate change such as EU trade policies, biofuels, Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) Rights, carbon trading, and food security, among others.

Middle East Regional Workshop - Beirut, Lebanon (August 17-19, 2009)

At a regional workshop organized by the Arab NGO Network on Development, PMCC shared the southern perspective on climate change and information on on-going international initiatives leading up to COP 15. The PMCC shared the panel with other civil society representatives from Egypt, Lebanon, and Bahrain in which the key messages from the Asia Regional workshop were also presented.

The Arab Climate Alliance was formed during the activity and a draft position paper was discussed. Here, the Arab CSOs will stress on leading up to COP 15 strategy. The document will include specific issues of the Arab Region with regard to the global climate crisis, one of which is water and also the problem on war as a specific concern of the region.

Africa Regional Workshop - Nairobi, Kenya (August 27-28, 2009)

The PMCC together with KENDREN and IBON Africa organised a two-day regional consultation in Africa. This event brought together representatives of 37 peoples organizations, grassroots organizations and other stakeholders and individuals from seven African countries.

Accordingto the country positions presented during the workshop, the climate crisis being experienced in Djibouti, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya is brought on by the exploitative economic framework created by the Northern countries in Africa and the unjust policies of the government as dictated by the developed countries, transnational corporations (TNCs) and global bureaucracies.

It was recognized in the consultation workshop that the groups most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change are peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous people and low-income consumers. The negative effects of climate change are sharply felt in agriculture with adverse implications for people’s food sovereignty.

The meeting further affirmed that the irresponsible and unaccountable consumption concentrated in the industrialized North and some countries of the South continues to cost Africa by creating ecological crises. This makes Africa play the role of unwilling creditor of ecological debt to the North.

The leaders of various peoples’ movements, community based groups, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations in Africa unite to demand that human rights and values be placed at the center of all global, national and regional solutions to the problem of climate change. Furthermore, they urge the African governments to engage civil society groups and to collaborate with them to build a common national and international response to the problems of climate change. The workshop also paved the way for the formation of the Africa Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change.

Other key events and actions

Peoples’ Assembly on Climate Change

A Peoples’ Assembly is scheduled on December 9, 2009 in Copenhagen and simultaneously in other countries. This is the activity that will ‘ratify’ the Peoples’ Protocol on Climate Change and also as a preparatory event for the Global Day of Action on December 12 as well as other coordinated actions from different civil society groups and social movements, including the December 13 Countdown to Copenhagen and the December 16 mobilization led by the Climate Justice Action.

The Peoples’ Assembly will be held in the KlimaForum space, and will set up webcasts of national assemblies to be staged in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Canada.

It is a high time for the People to be heard and recognised

It is urgent and necessary for the people to create their own spaces to raise their concerns and aspirations. It is time for the people to raise their level of engagement with governments and other institutions, and proclaim that what is needed are genuine solutions to the climate crisis, and not the market-based false solutions peddled by the corporations and their apologists.

The PMCC has created a breakthrough to consolidate representation of the people around the globe and the Peoples’ Protocol on Climate Change is the message that people wish to deliver in Copenhagen and elsewhere. It is founded on the principle of people’s sovereignty and rallies the people behind the values and principles of social justice, democracy, equality and equity, gender fairness, respect for human rights and dignity, self-determination, stewardship, social solidarity and participation.

This is the people’s challenge to the UNFCCC and to governments negotiating a post-2012 climate framework. This is the people’s rejection of market mechanisms that impose the cash nexus on ecological priorities. This is the people saying the needs of the planet and its people must take precedence over the push for growth and profits.

Reileen Dulay is a Program Assistant with the Asia Pacific Research Network

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