Tuesday, June 11, 2013

System Change not Climate Change- Report-back on the "Climate Space" at the WSF

On May 16, 2013, I had the opportunity to hear two respected leaders in the climate and social justice movements report back on the the California contingent's experience at the World Social Forum, where the U.S. contingent (the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance) hosted the WSF's first "Climate Space."

Maria Poblet, the Executive Director of Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC), and Miya Yoshitani, Associate Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), both based in my home city of Oakland, CA, talked about their experience in Tunisia. They also asked the audience (which was a packed room, a mix of old and young, speaking Spanish, Chinese, and I think Tagolog, with three simultaneous translators working at the back of the room) what was the root of climate change. People offered science (the greenhouse effect), mistaken science (the ozone layer), and economics (capitalism). We ate take-out Chinese food and shared in some of the contingent's favorite photos, memories, and songs from their week in Tunisia. They closed out the report-back by leading us in some of their favorite chants, including: 
No war! No warming! Build the people's economy!
In the slide show of photos from the trip, I noticed these signs:
Another World is Possible
REDD+ = Colonialism
System Change not Climate Change
Climate change was really and truly on the agenda at the Forum. Read the Climate Space declaration produced by its 19 international facilitating organizations at the 2013 WSF. It reads, in part:
We need a new system that seeks harmony between humans and nature and not an endless growth model that the capitalist system promotes in order to make more and more profit. Mother Earth and her natural resources cannot sustain the consumption and production needs of this modern industrialized society. 
To get a flavor for the report-back, read Revolution Under Construction, Maria's post for the blog Organizing Upgrade on the WSF experience. It's not about the Climate Space, but about the particular moment in Tunisia of the WSF, in terms of political change. With a great photo gallery.

Read Miya's blog post about the 2013 WSF: Confessions of a climate denier in Tunisia, about how she came to link the environmental justice movement with the work of  "stopping the world from mass suicide by carbon." She writes:
The point is, that the climate justice fight here in the US and around the world is not just a fight against the ecological crisis of all time, it is the fight for a new economy, a new energy system, a new democracy, a new relationship to the planet and to each other, for land, water, and food sovereignty, for indigenous rights, for human rights and dignity for all people. When climate justice wins we win the world that we want.
We can’t sit this one out not because we have too much to lose, but because we have too much to gain.

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