Category Archives: Africa

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

Orin Langelle: Artist of the Month

Note: Orin Langelle is a co-founder of Global Justice Ecology Project and is currently GJEP’s Board Chair.  He is assembling 40 years of his photography that chronicles the movements for social and ecological justice around the world.

From Orin Langelle: I received an email on Friday, 30 August, from Melody Hay, Assistant Editor, TheArtList.com, saying, ‘I found your work to be very fascinating and inspiring.  That said, I would love to offer you the opportunity to be showcased as TheArtList.com’s September 2013 Artist of The Month.’

And on 3 September The ArtList.com Newsletter came out.  Joseph Hollinshead, Editor, TheArtList.com stated, ‘This month we are very excited to showcase Buffalo, NY artist, Orin Langelle, as the September 2013 Artist of the Month… his interview and photography are fascinating and inspiring:’

The Art List: Artist of the Month – September 2013 – Orin Langelle – Buffalo, NY

At the World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil 2009 - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

At the World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil 2009 – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

Orin Langelle is a concerned photographer, who for four decades has been documenting peoples’ resistance to war, corporate globalization, ecological destruction and human rights abuses.

Langelle’s first photographic assignment was to cover the protests against the Vietnam War at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.

He has worked behind rebel lines to document the struggle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Mexico. He also co-produced the film Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico to expose the links between the destruction of the resource-rich Lacandon rainforest and the conflict of the government and the Zapatistas.

Langelle has also documented Indigenous movements in Brazil, Nicaragua, Chile, Paraguay, James Bay, Quebec, Indonesia, Kenya and across the US.

United Nations climate conference protest, Durban, South Africa 2011 - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

United Nations climate conference protest, Durban, South Africa 2011 – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

He has photographed and participated in forest protection campaigns, protests, direct actions and other events at national and international forums including UN climate and other summits, World Bank meetings, the U.S. Democratic and Republican Conventions, the World Water Forum, the World Social Forum, and meetings of the G8 and G20.

Awards: In 1988 and 1989 Langelle received awards from Environmental Action Magazine for “…recognition of photographic excellence in exploring humanity’s effect on the earth and action to protect the environment.

Publications: Langelle’s photographs have appeared in numerous print and online publications from La Jornada, to USA Today, and have illustrated numerous book covers.

Nicaragua man listening in meeting, Bosawas Jungle, Nicaragua 1998 - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

Nicaragua man listening in meeting, Bosawas Jungle, Nicaragua 1998 – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

Exhibits: Langelle’s photography has been displayed in New York City, Buffalo, NY, Boston, Washington, DC, Madison (WI), San Francisco, Santa Cruz (CA), Eugene (OR), Vermont, Copenhagen, Denmark, Amador Hernandez, Chiapas, Mexico, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Campo Loro, Gran Chaco, Paraguay.

TAL: How and when did you start creating art?
OL : I became active in the struggle to stop the Vietnam War in 1968 following the police riot against nonviolent protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I began teaching myself photography in addition to being an anti-war organizer and journalist, and my first assignment was documenting the protests at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach in 1972.

TAL: What media and genres do you work in?
OL : Photography, photojournalism

TAL: Who or what are your influences?
OL : Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Brisson, W. Eugene Smith and other concerned photographers influence my art. Indigenous Peoples around the world standing up against all odds to protect their communities, lands and livelihoods inspire my passion for social and ecological justice.

The Comandante in La Realidad... - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

Comandante in La Realidad… – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

TAL: What was your inspiration for : “Comandante in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico—headquarters for the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, General Command of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation)”?
OL : On January 1st, 1994, the Zapatistas, a small group of Indigenous Peoples In Chiapas, Mexico, rose up against the government of Mexico in protest of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which they called “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.” The defiance of the Zapatista struggle to defend their land and livelihoods in the face of extreme repression and military might was my inspiration for this photo.

G8 protest, Rostock, Germany 2007 - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

G8 protest, Rostock, Germany 2007 – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

TAL: Describe your creative process.
OL : I attempt to capture, what noted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson describes as ‘the decisive moment.’ To me this decisive moment is the instant a visual image is recorded—when light, composition and the subject unite. As a concerned photographer, my goal is not just to document and expose the harsh reality of injustice—much of which is linked with the struggle for the land—but to inspire viewers to participate in changing the world, while helping empower those striving for justice because they know that photographs of their struggle are revealed to a larger audience.

Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protest, Miami, FL 2003 - 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protest, Miami, FL 2003 – 11 x 14 inches matted and mounted 16 x 20

TAL: What are you working on currently?
OL :  I am currently reviewing and four decades of my work. I am also collaborating with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York to document the effects of the Peace Bridge that spans the Niagara River and connects the Canada to the U.S. Ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, commercial traffic has increased with trucks idling on the bridge and in customs for hours on the NY side. These toxic diesel fumes are having major impacts on the health of the people in Buffalo, NY. The Latino community, which is closest to the Peace Bridge, is the first and worst impacted. I will document this community and tell the stories of the residents and their suffering due to this unjust situation, with the aim to raise awareness of the problem and help change it.

TAL: What are your near/long term goals as an artist?
OL : My near term goal is collaboration with the Clean Air Coalition of Western NY (described above). My long term goal is to putting my photographs—which document decades of the global struggle for soclal and ecological justice–in order so it can be used to counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer. This is not merely a chronicling of history, but a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history. For there has been no time when such a call has been so badly needed.

TAL: Where can people view/purchase your work?
OL : PhotoLangelle.org

All Images © Orin Langelle
All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, UNFCCC

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: Maasai community violently evicted for World Bank-funded geothermal project

July 30, 2013.

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, World Bank

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: La Via Campesina international gathering ends, rejecting capitalism and promoting agroecology, solidarity

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: World Social Forum in Tunisia closes with declaration denouncing capitalism, patriarchy, and the “green economy”

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: On the ground at the World Social Forum in Tunisia with Cindy Wiesner

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Cindy Wiesner, Director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, joins us from the World Social Forum in Tunisia, happening from March 26-30th.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show for weekly Earth Minutes every Tuesday and Earth Watch interviews every Thursday.

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Events, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Women

Radical Anthropology 2012 on Commodification of Life, Occupy and more

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 9.58.21 AM

Cover photo: March for climate justice in Durban, South Africa December 2011 by Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project

To download the PDF of the current edition of Radical Anthropology, click here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Civil society groups denounce Sustainable Energy for All initiative promoted at Rio+20 Earth Summit

As the final negotiations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 conference get underway in Rio de Janeiro, almost 50 civil society groups have published an open letter denouncing the UN Secretary General’s new “Sustainable Energy For All Initiative” (SEFA). The letter states: “The SEFA process and Action Agenda are deeply flawed and threaten to further entrench destructive, polluting and unjust energy policies for corporate profit under the guise of alleviating energy poverty, while undermining community rights to energy sovereignty and self determination.”

The “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative was announced in September 2011, and a “high level panel” was established by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon. The panel includes major investors in the fossil fuel economy including, Statoil, Eskom, Siemens and Riverstone Holdings. The initiative’s stated goals are to 1) double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, 2) double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030, and 3) provide access to modern energy services for all of humanity. An action agenda is being put forward for endorsement at Rio+20, along with commitments for action from countries and groups.

Groups denouncing the initiative view it as an attempt to use claims of poverty alleviation to further expand corporate control over energy policies with the aim of gaining access to new markets and investment opportunities. The letter points out that the initiative’s goals are inadequate,that it promotes dangerous and unsustainable forms of energy and that there is a deplorable lack of transparency and democratic participation in the process thus far.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Rio+20