La Via Campesina, the largest federation of peasant farmers in the world, has brought a delegation of hundreds from across Africa to gatherings in and around the UNCOP 17 Climate Summit. As a federation of smallholder farmers and fisher groups, La Via Campesina opposes the kinds of top-down, market-driven policies promoted by the World Bank and the UN Climate Regime.
Yesterday we were invited, along with several of our friends and colleagues, to participate in a working session with La Via Campesina at their encampment near a highway overpass miles from the official summit.
Forthcoming, we hope to report on what La Via itself is doing here in Durban. For now, here are some snapshot portraits of GJEP’s allies and what they had to say yesterday. (Reporting: Jeff Conant. Photos Orin Langelle/GJEP)
“The talk now on the table at the COP is to base the Green Climate Fund on private investment. But if there is an investment, they need a return. What does that mean, a return on investment? It means the corporations, the private sector, and the financial industry want to set up the Green Climate Fund in a way that returns money to them. That’s why we call it the Greedy Corporate Fund.”
Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South
“They say we are talking about the transition to a Green Economy – that capitalism has to turn green. This is like saying that a tiger is going to become a vegetarian.”
Lucia Ortiz, Rede, Brazil
“Before you trade anything, you have to determine, whose property is it? Before they can trade seeds, they have to determine, ‘who owns that seed?’. Some corporations own that seed. Well, who owns the carbon dioxide in the air? That’s what they are working out in the carbon markets and at these UN climate conventions. That’s why we call the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the World Trade Organization of the Sky.”
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
“More than half of the gases that cause global warming come from the industrial food system. They say the industrial food system feeds the world. It’s bad food, it’s toxic food, it’s not very nutritious, but they say, ‘we are feeding the world,’ so we have to live with it. Well guess what? They’re lying. The industrial food system produces 30 percent of the food. The other 2/3 is produced by small farmers and fishers. Now they say they will stop using all the oil. Don’t believe them. They will use every drop of oil. But with that excuse, they say now, they will make green fuels. They will make fuels out of biomass. What is biomass? It is forests, it is fields, it is your harvest. They want to use all of this to make their fuels.”
Sylvia Ribeiro, ETC Group
“The FAO and others have reduced agriculture to counting carbon and putting a price on it. The value of the carbon is added to the value of the water and the crops that could be grown on the land, and this makes it appealing to investors, which leads to land grabs. But today, a ton of carbon is worth about 3 euros – less than a pizza. This may explain the somber mood of the talks in Durban.”
Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch
Renaldo Chingori Joao, Member of the International Coordinating Committee of la Via Campesina, Mozambique