Thursday, May 6, 2010

GCAP launches Coalition of Climate Communities during the People's World Summit on Climate Change in Bolivia

As 20,000 people from all parts of the world gathered in Bolivia to attend the People’s World Summit on Climate Change, GCAP launched a Coalition of Climate Communities in a side event during the summit.

“Communities who are living with the affects of Climate Change should not be seen as victims,” said Chrisitan Mamai, a representative of the community of Yakupacha in Cochabamba, Bolivia, “We are agents of change. Our traditional knowledge, our history of living in harmony with forests and nature means we have a significant contribution to make to combating climate change.”

The Coalition will work to mobilise communities around the issue of climate change at both local, national and international level, to lobby for their voices to be a key part of the debate around climate justice.

Recognising that in many cases women are more dependent on natural resources for their subsistence and as a result, have been more severely impacted by climate change, the GCAP event started with a presentation of the Women and Climate Change Tribunals organised by the Feminist Task Force (FTF) in November 2009. Ana Agostino, Co-Convenor of the FTF gave an overview of some of the testimonies and conclusions of the Tribunals which took place in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Brazil while Anita Nayar from DAWN made an overall presentation of the structural causes of climate change from a feminist perspective and Gabriela Segura Cárdenas, from GCAP Mexico, presented experiences of the tribunal in Mexico with special emphasis on the situation of women.

This was followed by a more general discussion around the Coalition of Climate Communities starting with presentations from a panel of GCAP representatives - Rocio Valdevellano (Peru), Patricio Larribe (Chile), Gabriela Segura Cardenas (Mexico) as well as two community leaders, Christian Mamani and Rita Bustamente, from the province of Cochabamba where the summit took place.

The panellists spoke of successful actions that had been taken by communities as agents for change in the debate around climate change. This included: a media campaign in Peru on “The Voices of Climate Change” which worked to raise awareness through the mainstream media on the reality of climate change in the country and the need to take urgent and concrete action to combat it ; a decision by the community of Yakyupacha in Bolivia to took legal action against the local government for the pollution of their land with the case leading to a declaration in favour of the community from the Bolivian Supreme Court and the forming of a youth network in Mexico to mobilise young people and work together and participate in local actions around climate change.

A draft strategy for the Coalition of Climate Communities was developed which focused on three key issues – 1) the systematisation of information that emerged from the GCAP Climate Justice Tribunals in 2009 to identify key and cross cutting issues to develop a global campaign, 2) the continuation of events such as the Tribunals or Hearings to develop a space for the communities to share information and develop action plans and 3) Media strategies to raise awareness of the role of Climate Communities. The document and video of the event will be available soon.

GCAP also participated in the broader events related to the climate summit including the 17 working groups which came together to draft recommendations to world leaders around key issues such as Adaptation, Mitigation, Climate Debt, Kyoto Protocol, the development of an International Climate Crimes Tribunal, Indigenous People and Climate change and Action Strategies towards COP16 in Mexico. The results will be presented to all 192 Governments participating in the UNFCC process.

The summit represented an unprecedented coming together of civil society representatives, scientists and a number of government delegates to discuss and reach consensus around key issus related to climate change. Over 20,000 people participated over the three days The Declaration was launched in an event in the city of Cochabamba with over 50,000 people gathering to listen to the results as well as the rousing speeches from Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who called on leaders of the world to listen to the voices of civil society who had come together during the summit. “The only way to get climate negotiations back on track, not just for Bolivia or other countries, but for all of life, biodiversity, our Mother Earth, is to put civil society back into the process. The only thing that can save mankind from a climate tragedy is the exercise of global democracy," said President Evo Morales, “Here in Cochabamba there were no secret discussions behind closed doors as there were in Copenhagen. The debate and the proposals have been led by communities on the frontlines of climate change.”

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.