Tag Archives: indigenous peoples

The Warsaw, Poland Exhibit at the UN Climate Conference

On 21 November 2013 various non-governmental organizations walked out of the Warsaw climate talks.  I am glad I have not attended for the last two years as I feel corporate interests have taken over the UN Climate Conference.

At this point I have no idea after the walk out if my photo exhibit was seized by UN security.  I hope the photo exhibit was up long enough for the the High Level Ministers to view and see the reality of neoliberalism and climate chaos. They may have glanced, but unfortunately those with power did not really see or care. – Orin Langelle

The photos in the exhibit were on display at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland at the IBON International booth.  The name of the exhibit was titled Neoiberal Globalization and Climate Chaos.  This exhibit took  place during the High Level Sessions of the UNFCCC meetings 18 – 23 November 2013. The conference was held at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.*1 UNFCCC Gag, Indonesia(This photo was scheduled for the exhibit, but because of increased UN pressure on criticism of the UNFCCC, the photo was not shown.)

The exhibit included thirty photographs documenting Indigenous Peoples, organizations and social movements working for climate justice.  The photographs were taken at events on six continents–from Bali, Indonesia to Espirito Santo, Brazil – Durban, South Africa and Chiapas, Mexico, to name a few.

All photographs by Orin Langelle.  Courtesy Global Justice Ecology ProjectGlobal Forest Coalition, and Langelle Photography.

Above: An Indigenous man with his mouth covered by a UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gag during a protest at the UN climate talks in Bali, Indonesia.  The gag symbolized their systematic and forceful exclusion from a UN meeting with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary they were invited to the day before.  It also symbolized and their exclusion from the official negotiations even though it is their lands that were being targeted for climate mitigation schemes.

You can view the entire photo exhibit here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Indigenous Peoples, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Political Repression, Warsaw/COP-19

Audio–Rio+20 Peoples’ Summit: Indigenous peoples speak out against REDD

Audio and photo by Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project

Marifel, of the Asia-Pacific Indigenous Youth Network speaks. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Indigenous Peoples held a press conference to denounce the negative impacts of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) during the opening activities of the People’s Summit, Friday, 15 June, 2012. To download or listen to the interview, click on the link below:

Marifel of the Asia-Pacific Indigenous Youth Network Speaks on REDD

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Filed under False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

Last Week’s Earth Minute: Indigenous Blockade of the Tar Sands–in Colorado

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 30:04 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

KPFK Earth Minute Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

On March 10th, Members of the Stop Suncor and Tar Sands Coalition, including the American Indian Movement and other groups, occupied the site of a Suncor Energy oil spill on the shore of Colorado’s Sand Creek.

Suncor Energy boasts of being the first corporation to begin extracting the tar sands in Athabasca, leading to the deforestation of thousands of square miles of Boreal forest and the destruction of First Nations cultures. Suncor produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil per day at its refinery in Commerce City, Colorado.

Tessa McLean of the American Indian Movement said, “the oil that’s being spilled here came from Athabasca, a First Nations community. My people up are suffering there because of the oil we’re refining here.”

Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado added, “Suncor has so poisoned this land that oil is bubbling up through numerous burst sub-surface pipelines.  Benzene levels in this water—that fish, ducks, geese, beavers and other beings depend on—are 100 times the safety limit.”

While the spill was first reported last November 27th, it is believed to have begun in February 2011.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Pollution, Tar Sands

KPFK Earth Minute: Occupy in 2012 and Indigenous Response to the Occupy Movement

This week’s Earth Minute addresses the Occupy Movement mobilization in Oakland, California last weekend, as well as a gathering of Indigenous leaders in Toronto on January 23rd in which the meaning of the word “occupy” to Indigenous People was discussed.

To listen to the Earth Minute, go to the link below and scroll to minute 40:07

Earth Minute 1/31/12

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Text from this week’sEarth Minute:

Earth Minute for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This past weekend, Occupy Oakland rose up to take over a vacant building and transform it into a new community center.  They were met with brutal police repression.  Four hundred people were arrested.

One week ago, in Toronto, Indigenous leaders came together for an event called “Occupy Talks: Indigenous Perspectives on the Occupy Movement.”  During this event they acknowledged the crucial role this movement is filling.  But they also questioned use of the word “occupy” in its name; pointing out that for indigenous Peoples fighting the occupation of their homelands, Occupy implies injustice.

Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network explained that economic injustice is perpetuated by the same system that is marginalizing and oppressing Indigenous Peoples; and that far from being broken, this system is functioning exactly as it was intended.  Understanding this allows us to build a movement that will fundamentally change this deadly system of inequality into one that serves not just all people, but all living things.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann, from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Minute, Indigenous Peoples

Earth Minute: Climate Chaos Impacts the Indigenous Tarahumara People of Mexico

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

This week’s Earth Minute discusses the impacts of the climate crisis on the Indigenous Tarahumara people of Mexico who are suffering from a food crisis brought on by both a record drought and a disastrous freeze.

To listen to this week’s earth minute click the link below and scroll to minute 57:48.

KPFK Sojourner Truth Show Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

The Indigenous Tarahumara People, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, are some of the latest victims of the climate crisis. Their crops have been destroyed by a combination of the worst drought in 70 years compounded by a record-breaking freeze.

The Tarahumara, known for extreme long-distance running in their mountainous homeland, have been an inspiring symbol of strength and self-reliance in Mexico.  The idea that these fierce people are now starving has mobilized a rapid relief effort in Mexico.

While some may think that the impacts of climate change are a problem of the future, more and more people are experiencing the impacts of extreme weather today–droughts, floods, out-of-season tornadoes, record warm spells and freezes, wildfires and severe storms.  And these impacts are only projected to get worse.

It is time we get serious about challenging the dependence on fossil fuels, industrial agriculture and over-consumption that are driving the climate crisis.  Systemic transformation is essential.   We cannot wait until it is too late.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Minute, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Natural Disasters

Mexico can’t see the wood for the trees

Note: This article arose out of the heated debates on REDD (the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme) at the UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.  GJEP actively campaigned against REDD there and supported the important work of our Indigenous allies who were there to oppose REDD.  As a result, GJEP is quoted opposing REDD in the article below.

Another outcome of our work against REDD in Cancun is a new video documenting opposition to REDD by Indigenous peoples, forest dependent communities and Northern communities all of whom are negatively impacted by REDD.  This video, “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests,” which we co-produced with Global Forest Coalition, will be officially released on the 16th of January.”

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Le Monde Diplomatique (English Edition)

January 2012 Edition

An indigenous community in Mexico wants to drop protected conservation status for its area because it feels it has lost real control of its land and way of life. Concern about carbon emissions is blinding policy makers to the failures of some of their conservation policies

by Anne Vigna
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“That’s the one,” said Arcenio Osorio, pointing at the huge mountain that towers over the village of Santiago Lachiguiri, in Oaxaca state, part of southwestern Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec. “It provides water to all the towns in the area, and to us, the Zapotec people, it’s sacred. That’s the mountain we wanted official protection for.” Osorio is secretary of the community assembly, a traditional elected body that represents the people of the village. The 8,000 inhabitants of the county have always been involved in the conservation of their mountain, the Cerro de las Flores (“Mountain of the Flowers”). An official from the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) told me it is classed as an area of “exceptionally high biodiversity” due to the “excellent state of preservation of its ecosystem”.

In the valleys at the foot of the mountain, they grow organic coffee. The slopes are covered with little woods and patches of maize, but after several hours of walking and clambering you come to forests of pine trees, under which grow hundreds of species of wild flowers. Because of its altitude (2,200 metres) and the rock it is made of, the mountain acts as a kind of sponge, which stores the greater part of the area’s water supply.

Cerro de las Flores is a textbook case of conservation policy. In August 2003 it became Mexico’s first “voluntary community preserved area”. My source said Conanp defines this as an area protected by a “conservation mechanism put in place at the request of the local community, that protects the area’s natural riches and offers sustainable economic alternatives to its inhabitants”. According to Conanp, 207,887 hectares of land are managed in this way in Mexico. But at the meeting of the community assembly in January 2011, the people of Santiago Lachiguiri voted to drop the area’s “preserved area” status. “The government deceived us,” explained Osorio. “We are still the legitimate owners of the land, but we have lost control of it.”

Osorio was clearly irritated, and with some justification. The village’s land commissioner, Enan Eduardo, explained his choice of words: “We discovered that the certification of the 1,400 hectares of Cerro de las Flores entailed a conservation period of 30 years, rather than the five years we had agreed on when we voted.” Did that imply deception, and loss of control? “The conservation policy means we also have to change our production methods, even if it makes no sense in ecological terms.”

Certifying land involves the establishment of a development plan, preceded by a diagnostic survey; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government institutions (Mexico’s ecology ministry and Conanp) handle both tasks. The process is supposed to begin with “participatory workshops”, to inform the local inhabitants and allow them to make their opinions heard and take part in decision-making. But in Santiago Lachiguiri this procedure, seen as essential for the success of any conservation initiative, wasn’t followed correctly. Conanp insists the local inhabitants participated and were properly informed. Osorio said: “We went everywhere with them, and answered all their questions. But we had no idea what they were planning.”

Slash and burn

As a result, the conservation area ended up including the flanks of the mountain, where 140 smallholders had been growing maize. A further 517 hectares were included in the “payment for environmental services” programme, under which agricultural activities are forbidden, but the community receives an annual payment of 400 pesos (US$30) per hectare, that is $15,510 a year. It’s not much — and less than they were making from farming the land. The conservation plan also described a range of activities that would supposedly enhance the area’s resources without damaging the environment. The two flagship projects were an ecotourism initiative and a water-bottling plant. Both were abandoned after four years. Two cabins intended to accommodate tourists were never used — this remote area attracts few visitors — and the cost of transporting the bottled water proved prohibitive.

But it was farming that stirred up the most trouble. The local community practised slash-and-burn cultivation (land is cleared, burned and then planted every seven years). The ash serves as a natural fertiliser and the wood is used as cooking fuel. Typical crops are maize, beans, tomatoes and peppers.

Anthropologist Eckart Boege says that, when properly managed, according to strict rules, itinerant cultivation is the best way of farming without destroying the environment; the Mayas were masters of this technique, in both production and reforestation. But Mexican and international institutions have identified this farming method as the latest big threat and they all want a ban on burning, since carbon capture has become the central element of conservation policies. Slash-and-burn has in fact caused environmental damage in Mexico, leading to deforestation, soil impoverishment, water shortages and reduced biodiversity.

But this is not the case with land occupied by indigenous peoples such as the inhabitants of Santiago Lachiguiri, who have established strict community rules (1). “If it’s properly used, the technique can actually increase the biological diversity and mass of the forest. We release CO2 by burning, but we capture more during the regeneration phase,” explained Alvaro Salgado, agronomist and author of a study on slash-and-burn. These facts have been recognised in scientific publications but are denied by Conanp, which is busy imposing another project on the village — agro-forestry, a system that integrates trees into a system of permanent cultivation, in this case apricot trees and maize. The results have failed to convince the locals. In three years, the soil has become impoverished and the trees are scrawny. “Since the maize yields were poor, Conanp advised us very early on to use chemicals to enrich the soil,” said Eduardo. Another result was that most of the 140 smallholders who had lost their land left the village. Some emigrated to the US, some moved to the city, some went to work on a motorway construction site, and the youngest joined the army after a recruitment campaign.

The villagers demanded the removal of the mountain’s protected area status and an end to the payments for environmental services. They also sent two representatives to the Alternative Global Forum that was held at Cancún in December 2010 in parallel with the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16). Their aim was to denounce the conservation policies that were being imposed. Their testimony was of the highest importance: it was COP 16 that approved the agreement on forest conservation proposed at COP 13, in Bali in 2007 — the REDD (Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

Unable to agree on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the signatories hoped that REDD would kill two birds with one stone, cutting emissions by 15% while preventing deforestation. Diego Rodriguez from the World Bank had no doubts REDD would enable the world to prepare for climate change.

’We want to be able to say no’

Yet REDD shows little concern for the 300 million people across the world who depend on forests for their living. The programme is based on “compensation”: any business enterprise or country that pollutes can compensate for its greenhouse gas emissions (quantified in terms of tons of carbon) by “protecting” a forest. Advocates of REDD claim this approach is scientific but it does not appear to have convinced everyone. Research by Stanford University in California shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change overestimated the amount of carbon stocked in a forest in Peru by one-third (2).

Anne Petermann of the NGO Global Justice Ecology Project says the idea that carbon can be stocked implies a ban on the felling of trees. Indigenous groups are opposed to REDD, she says, because they believe it will inevitably displace communities or have a serious impact on their way of life, without doing anything to reduce pollution or climate change. Representatives of indigenous peoples, who came to Cancún in large numbers, hoped to impose a requirement that free, prior and informed consent be obtained before the implementation of any REDD project. “We want to be able to say no if a company wants to use our territory to compensate for carbon emissions,” said Onel Masardule, representative of the Kuna people of Panama.

But REDD’s final text merely refers to “social and environmental safeguards”, which have yet to be defined. It mentions the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which says that “indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources”), but the declaration isn’t binding. Two recent reports (3) on respect for indigenous peoples in REDD programmes indicate that the land rights of local inhabitants and principles of consultation and information have been systematically flouted.

Over the past six years, a range of projects have been financed by enterprises (Shell and Gazprom in Indonesia, BP in Bolivia, and Rio Tinto in Australia), by countries (Norway in Brazil and Indonesia, France in Mexico) and special funds belonging to international institutions such as the World Bank and UN agencies. The Cancún Agreements did not decide how the REDD programme was to be financed but the idea, still championed by the World Bank, of offering REDD carbon credits on the global emissions market already seems less viable.

It is now accepted that the markets have done nothing to help reduce carbon emissions or to promote the financing of a less polluting economy. Kate Dooley, an expert on forests at the NGO Fern, says carbon trading does not encourage people to use less carbon but gives the illusion that it’s possible to compensate for pollution. She fears that if REDD were to become part of the carbon trading market, there could be a wave of land speculation based on assigning a “carbon value” to forests. But the so-called developed nations, which are historically responsible for climate change, have refused to finance REDD alone. A decision on the issue has therefore been put off until COP 17, to be held in Durban, South Africa, 28 November—9 December 2011.

All the World Bank reports stress that public money will not be enough to finance the establishment of REDD; private funding is also needed — estimates range from $15bn to $50bn per year, but the funds currently available amount to only $2bn. And a question remains: what is to be done about the smallholders who want to continue growing maize while conserving some of their land? At COP 16, Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón declared: “We will pay the smallholders to plant trees instead of maize on the mountain, and live on payments they will receive for environmental services.”

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, UNFCCC

KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles Interview with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann on the Durban Disaster

Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director Anne Petermann was interviewed on the Sojourner Truth show with Margaret Prescod on KPFK on Thursday, January 5 about the outcomes from the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa and the civil society protests there.

To listen, click on the link below and scroll to minute 37:56:

http://archive.kpfk.org/mp3/kpfk_120105_070010sojourner.MP3

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute every Tuesday and weekly interviews with activists on key environmental and ecological justice issues every Thursday.  In addition, during major events such as the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, we organize daily interviews Tuesday through Friday.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC

Preview: Photo Essay Feature–Global Day of Action in Durban

Note:  Just in from the streets of Durban.  Thousands protest Conference of Polluters.  These photos are just a sample.  Feature photo essay will be posted soon.  Stay tuned.  Below photos: Langelle/GJEP.

-The GJEP Team

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, UNFCCC