Alternative climate summit opens April 20 in Bolivia to address concerns of the world’s poor.

Bolivian villagers, with government encouragement, are proposing an international court to adjudicate claims for compensation from communities whose lives have been affected by climate change, but do not have the money to adapt, the BBC reports. Their announcement comes as the country kicks off the people’s summit on climate change this week.

Tens of thousands of people will attend the conference in Cochabamba, which addresses social issues that were ignored by world powers during the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen last December.

Delegates will consolidate ideas from the meeting for submission to the next U.N. climate conference in Mexico in December. Indigenous populations in Bolivian are using this conference to ensure those talks will include their concerns.

Adaptation to climate change is a pressing issue for the 40 or so Aymara who live in Khapi village in the Bolivian Andes. Two million Aymara inhabit the Andean region, and are scattered across Bolivia, Peru and Chile. In the Khapi village, they depend on the run-off from the Illimani glacier to sustain their agricultural way of life, but scientists predict the glacier will disappear in seven to 10 years.

“We want those countries to compensate us for all the damage they have done to nature,” said Alivio Aruquipa, the group’s leader, to the BBC.

“We don’t know how to calculate the compensation because we are not professionals, we are simply farmers,” Aruquipa added. “But we would like assistance, and then to receive some money and, with that money, to build dykes to store the water, improve the water canals.”

Aruquipa attended the Copenhagen climate summit to raise awareness about the fate of the Khapi community if the Illimani glacier disappears.

“We don’t know where we are going to go. Like the ice, the source of our lives will be disappearing too. Where are we going to go?”

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales would like to see the activists lobby for the creation of an international environmental court of justice, which would hear cases involving compensation for poor people suffering from the effects of climate change.

Specific details about the composition of the court, how it would decide which cases to hear and its position in the international justice system have yet to be determined.

Source: BBC, April 21, 2010