Action Strategies Working Group, Part 1

Working groups started this morning. As I said in my last post, we missed some of the discussions because of registration. So, I’m picking up halfway through the day of discussions over Action Strategies to deal with the climate crisis. This is one of the many working groups set up for the conference.
Here’s the full list:
14. Forest
More details are available on the conference website.

Now, after that brief background info, let me get straight to what’s unfolding in front of me in the conference. Right now there’s a line of people standing waiting to get access to the microphone in front of a standing room crowd.


Right now a woman is speaking about the need to organize ourselves. Who can participate in this organization? It doesn’t have to be a hierarchical society. We have to see how we can involve communities, non-governmental organizations, and also governmental groups. We also need to define what are going to be our objectives.


Another woman from Via Campesina in Paraguay talking about the need to begin protecting subsistence farming and the sovereignty of nurturing and family & women farmers. This will then allow us to begin thinking about sustainable farming. Subsistence farming is not the enemy. We also need to protect small fisher-folk and artisans. We as a country demand that all of the agro-industrial and food processing companies be brought down. These are the models that have taken away the wealth of nature from its true owners, and are producing pollution and garbage. We must have sustainable farming and we must prohibit all use of GMOs. We reject industrial farming and fossil fuels. We embrace millions of small producers from all around the world instead of industry.


Now a man from Cochabamba, who begins by saluting us all as compañeros and compañeras, is talking about the need to protect life from transgenics. We have failed to create a global organization to support social movements supporting the environment. We need to oblige governments to respect mother earth through legal means.


A woman says that we need to focus our efforts on three main axes: timely decision-making and complete actions – which means that not all countries can be grouped together, because we’ve seen in forums like the Organization of American States that nations are often excluded; we need an organization that will link up the grassroots social movements – we have to create a network, not just on the web since so many don’t have access; we also need a strong national organization.


Next up, a man talks about the problem of the autonomy movement within Bolivia and the need for unity. So here we must say that it’s not just capitalists who are responsible for global warming. We’re also responsible. We see the effects all around us. We need a proposal to cut global emissions, but we also need to behave differently.

The moderator then intervenes to ask how we can make many of the issues concrete.
The next speaker is a man who belongs to a network of alternative systems of production in Cochabamba. We do need to create an alternative network of communications. But I also want to share with you how we were able to publicize human rights violations here in Cochabamba. We began filming all abuse and disseminated videos to farmer communities, because citizens in general didn’t know about this abuse. This is an essential means to articulate the social movements. We my proposal is that we create radio systems in communities and means to transmit audio-visual means of dissemination. We need to establish a TV station called Coca-TV; what’s the point of this? It should be an open channel where people can walk in and say what they’re thinking. Bolivian law doesn’t allow for community owned radio and TV.  How can we generate spaces that are open and get legal approval to have access to such media.
German guy from Climate Action Network talks about carrying out actions in Copenhagen. But after the total failure of this summit, the global movements have to develop and show our power to change the world from below. We can’t wait for elites to have another world summit. So we want to propose a global day of direct action for Oct. 12, 2010. We believe that in order to save earth, we have to start breaking the ‘normal’ rules, close industries and mines, interrupt the craziness of industrial agriculture, disrupt the insanity of carbon trading. We’re carrying out a workshop to help build this day of action. Take action and break the rules of normality to reclaim our power!
Next up is a member of our New York delegation, Taleigh, who talks about being part of the delegation representing poor and struggling people from NYC, an alliance of people fighting for social justice. People are starting to challenge the lies of the government and the press. My proposal is that this idea of a network would help create messages and links that would help people understand what’s happening. For example, the mainstream press covered Copenhagen in a way that suggested that Obama had gone there in order to save the planet. People need to know what really happened there. And we need to galvanize action around simple and popular ideas such as green jobs.  People will be able to see links between local and global awareness. People of USA are with you.

Ashley Dawson

Ashley Dawson is professor of postcolonial studies in the English department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and the College of Staten Island. His latest books include People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons (O/R, 2020), Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change (Verso, 2017), and Extinction: A Radical History (O/R, 2016). A member of the Social Text Collective and the founder of the CUNY Climate Action Lab, he is a long-time climate justice activist.