Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 14 - May 2016
International Developments

Cooling Our Planet (COP21): Frontline Communities Lead the Struggle

Small-scale food producers and consumers, including peasants, indigenous peoples, hunters and gatherers, family farmers, rural workers, herders and pastoralists, fisherfolk and urban inhabitants all form the “frontline communities” increasingly confronted by the grabbing of natural resources and by systematic violations of human rights. This dynamic is integrally linked to, and directly affected by the impacts of climate destruction. The climate change mitigation schemes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), presented as “solutions” to the man-made climate crisis at the December 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP21) seeking to mitigate climate change.

The Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles was present to assert the these are false solutions, given that they are intrinsically linked to these resource grabs and human rights violations. According to the Global Convergence, the specialized conference did not sufficiently take these causative factors—or their remedy—into consideration. 

At a public event on 10 December, leaders of the struggle for climate justice stated their case in panel sessions that sought to replace the false solutions of the UNFCCC to the climate crisis with the real solutions that are rooted in peoples` knowledge and experiences. The activists of the Global Convergence on Land and Water Struggles also proposed measures to advance the struggle for systemic change.

The Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles, which HIC-HLRN has joined, is an initiative led by grassroots organizations and social movements, in order to link and strengthen the struggles for food and peoples’ sovereignty and human rights. This process started in October 2014, as several social and grassroots movements from Africa, as well as civil society organizations gathered at the African Social Forum in Dakar to protest all forms of natural resource grabbing and the systematic human rights violations that accompany them.

The founding declaration of the Global Convergence,“Rights to Water and Land, a Common Struggle. Dakar to Tunis Declaration of the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles” sets out the vision, principles and aspirations of the Convergence and is intention to serve the process toward a strong and united movement.

The Convergence addressed COP21 about the most-immediate effects of the false solutions to the current man-made climate crisis is people`s loss of access to land and water, the very natural resources upon which people depend for their livelihoods and food sovereignty. It pointed out how privatization and financialization of nature is the intended result of UNFCCC schemes such as REDD+ is well known to evict and dispossess masses of people. Already pushed to the fringe, deprived of access to land and water in rural and urban settings, frontline communities also face the increasingly frequent natural disasters that accompany climate change and the inability of governments to agree to real solutions. This suffering is not the result of their own doing, while the cutting-edge development community response now calls for affected communities to “be resilient.”

Systemic changes—the real solutions articulated by frontline communities—derive from local livelihood strategies and practices. A commonality of the diverse and locally adapted real solutions are to built on the needs and interests of the people and require a fundamental shift away from solutions that are developed by and for a minority elite, including the Habitat III leadership’s call for further urbanization.

At Paris, the Global Convergence showcased its collective expertise on the day’s most crucial issues and practices affecting climate change and its solutions. These encompassed the issues of mega dams, Blue Carbon, REDD/REDD+, mining and extractivism, climate-smart agriculture, bioenergy, zero carbon and sustainable cities, and urban-based consumer issues within the global Food Sovereignty movement.

The Global Convergence on Land and Water Struggles proposes to articulate and further develop real solutions through frontline dialogue. The public event at Paris sought to advance this dialogue by giving the platform to frontline communities and ensuring space for interaction with the audience. This approach will continue to be a reference in monitoring the implementation of the lofty agreement at COP21. [Arabic]


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