Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An analysis on Naomi Klein, Bolivia and the Rights of Mother Earth Summit, and Our Working Groups!

The quoted content appears in Naomi Klein's April 21st, 2010 article in the Nation entitled 'A New Climate Movement in Bolivia'.

Speaking about the statements made by Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. climate negotiator in Copenhagen, Naomi writes: "Pershing's message was chilling: if you are poor, you don't have the right to prioritize your own survival." That is right on point, and exactly the type of hypocrisy and arrogance that is reflected from the actions of the US and neoliberalism.

She describes the call for the conference as "a revolt against this experience of helplessness," ei. that the small economically disadvantaged countries are not allowed a voice in the international forum. I do not agree that the call for the Rights of Mother Earth Summit was a response to a feeling of helplessness, perhaps that is the feeling coming from the victimized governments who feel cheated and short-handed following the experience of Copenhagen, but NOT from the people. The new Climate Change, Ecosocialist, Rights of Mother Earth, 'Bien Vivir', Indigenist social movement, whatever you want to call it - that is the beauty of it, that it appeals to so many different constituencies - from the people's point of view and contrary to a response to helplessness, is an action and a show of strength and confidence, an understanding that it is our responsibility to take the fight into our own hands, a recognition that the struggle is entering into a new era, and a display of the momentum that we have gained in the last year. But she goes on to say, and provides a great explanation, in describing the new movement as "an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive."

Next she writes about the structure of the Conference itself and the way the working groups were carried out; "The next stage was to invite global civil society to hash out the details. Seventeen working groups were struck, and after weeks of online discussion, they met for a week in Cochabamba with the goal of presenting their final recommendations at the summit's end. The process is fascinating but far from perfect..." Yes, the working group process did have its problems and weaknesses, which I will not discuss here because it is a large topic on its own, but with hundreds of people involved in every working group, seemingly unsolvable disagreements and long drawn-out discussions were inevitable.

Nevertheless, the working groups were fruitful, and creative, and very educational for many people who had the opportunity to participate in this kind of process for the first time. Essentially the summit organizers reflected that the grassroots remains relatively voiceless vis-a-vis the climate change crisis which affects them most directly, so lets create a channel for their ideas to take shape and be concretized, to let them decide, to let them create, and to let them articulate their demands. Naomi comments that "Bolivia's enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit's most important contribution." I think this is an accurate and insightful analysis of what transpired in Cochabamba/Tiquipaya.

As successful as the Summit was, the declarations and demands drafted in Cochabamba were far from perfect, and far from complete. At times encumbered, at times lacking in content, they are nevertheless a great start and a work in progress, and we can hope that next year's Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth Summit will yield, with more scrutiny and more detail, an even better, more dynamic and more comprehensive product.

Naomi closes with this analysis:

"in reality, it is such small groupings—like the invitation-only club that rammed through the Copenhagen Accord—that have caused us to lose ground, weakening already inadequate existing agreements. By contrast, the climate change policy brought to Copenhagen by Bolivia was drafted by social movements through a participatory process, and the end result was the most transformative and radical vision so far."

"With the Cochabamba summit, Bolivia is trying to take what it has accomplished at the national level and globalize it, inviting the world to participate in drafting a joint climate agenda ahead of the next UN climate gathering, in Cancún. In the words of Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, "The only thing that can save mankind from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy.""

"If he is right, the Bolivian process might save not just our warming planet but our failing democracies as well. Not a bad deal at all."

Good words worth quoting. And with that,

Cheers, Solidarity,

And Viva the New Movement and its March of Giants, which finally links Humanity and Mother Earth as one!


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