The US Social Forum´s Ecojustice Peoples Movement Assembly just wrapped up in Detroit. Peoples as participants from diverse social movements throughout North America, join the global people’s movement for Mother Earth, demanding that North American federal governments and the United Nations climate change negotiations be inclusive, transparent, and equitable, and incorporate the proposals presented by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. (Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010).
This forum supported the “living well,” in harmony with each other and with Mother Earth. Also, support the process, conclusions to embrace the Cochabamba People’s Accord and the Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
The US Social Forum just wrapped up in Detroit. For 5 days 15,000 people from the labor, environmental, social justice, and peace movements (among many others) gathered under the banner of “Another World is Possible. Another US is Necessary.” To me one of the most exciting parts of the USSF was the Ecojustice People’s Movement Assembly where representatives from grassroots environmental and climate justice groups came together to find common cause and plant the seeds for an uncompromising, justice based environmental movement in this country. Indigenous peoples, Gulf Coast residents, Appalachians, and inner city residents on the frontlines of the fossil fuel industry’s war on our planet and their allies came together to draft the following statement. To me this is a very exciting step forward in the fight for a clean and just future. And our movement would do well to align itself with the principles it lays out.
Declaration from the US Social Forum’s Ecojustice People’s Movement Assembly
As participants from diverse social movements throughout North America responding to the ecological, economic and social crisis created by corporate-controlled industrial production and exploitation of land, water, soil, air, work and life; we honor the struggles and are inspired by the resiliency of the people of Detroit. Detroit has epitomized the inevitable boom and bust cycles and class, race and gender oppression that Capitalism inflicts on communities; however this city has also come to represent a beacon of hope for communities across the US.
Detroit is a window into the future. Through this window we see an inspiring site of deeply grassroots and living visions of a just and democratic community. Community resistance to corporate polluters in Detroit, including oil refineries, coal power plants and the world’s largest waste incinerator, continue to hold the frontline against the destruction of the planet. Meanwhile resistance to such corporatization strategies such as predatory lending, water privatization, prisons and police brutality are matched with equally powerful models of resilience; such as community gardens, cooperative economics, freedom schools and transformative justice. Detroit can be a model of the Just Transition to sustainable communities that we require; one in which exploitive jobs that cause ecological devastation and compromised health are replaced with meaningful work in our own interests; restoring our labor and our resources to the web of life.
In standing with the people of Detroit today, we stand in solidarity with other frontline communities around North America and the World. As we gather here at this US Social Forum, in solidarity with protestors at the G20 summit in Toronto, estimates of the oil gushing from a gaping wound inflicted on the Earth’s sea floor by BP in the Gulf of Mexico continue to escalate—now possibly over 1 million gallons per day. Gulf Coast communities are forced to survive the fossil fuel economy’s devastating effects. From Indigenous communities on the frontlines of tar sands oil extraction in Canada to Laotian, Latino and African American communities fighting Chevron’s refineries in Richmond, California to poor White communities in Appalachia fighting mountaintop removal coal mining and others fighting hydro-fracking for natural gas extraction – we stand in solidarity with the people of the Gulf Coast in reclaiming control over our land, air, water, and livelihoods.
We call for an end to all climate pollution and false corporate solutions! And we call for the rights of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina to return, to reconstruction of communities, and to restoration of healthy wetlands. So many of us, migrants – old and new – were stolen or forcibly displaced by socio-economic forces, ecological impacts, or imperialist wars to leave our homelands and migrate to North America while the Indigenous Peoples of this land were systematically massacred. Immigrant communities are facing increasing criminalization as manifested by SB 1070 in Arizona, police-ICE collaboration around the U.S., and increased border militarization, as well as exploitation by unscrupulous employers. Immigrant communities are frontline communities, both in our home countries and in the US and Canada, who face devastating ecological adversities from historic and future effects of climate destabilization.
We reaffirm the outcomes of the 2010 People’s World Conference on Climate Change’s Climate Migrants Work Group, especially the demand to the right to free movement, the right to home, and the right to not be displaced by force. We condemn legislation that further criminalizes immigrants without addressing the root causes of climate change, as well as anti-immigrant forces who attempt to “green the hate” through racism and fear. We demand legislation and government action that redresses the injustices against displaced communities and addresses the ecological conditions faced by immigrants.
We support the process, conclusions and the call for North American based social movements to embrace the Cochabamba People’s Accord and the Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth reached by social movements, indigenous peoples and international civil society at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010. We join the global people’s movement for Mother Earth demanding that North American federal governments and the United Nations climate change negotiations be inclusive, transparent, and equitable, and incorporate the proposals presented by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in order to find real solutions to the climate crisis and to save humanity and our Mother Earth, as we know it.
We condemn and reject the US and Canadian governments’ moves to undermine and threaten the international climate negotiation process including the Copenhagen Accord that would allow a global temperature rise of 2 degrees or more and endanger all living species. We support the conclusion that only by “living well,” in harmony with each other and with Mother Earth, rather than “living better,” based on an economic system of unlimited growth, dominance and exploitation, will the people of this planet not only survive but thrive.
Therefore, in alignment with the international Climate Justice movement, and all peoples’ struggles for freedom, self-determination, and dignity, we demand and will fight for:
1) Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground. We call for a moratorium on all new oil, gas, coal and tar sands exploration as a first step in the phase out of fossil fuels. No drilling, digging, damming, chopping, burning, on bombing. We must phase out fossil fuels, mining, mega-dams, agro-fuels, waste incineration, and nuclear energy. All these resource-intensive energy systems compromise the life-support systems of communities and Mother Earth herself. Furthermore, we – both frontline communities and workers – will guide the just transition towards dismantling climate polluting industries and ending the corporate control of our economies.
2) An End to False Solutions. No more business as usual— no commodification of atmospheric space or people’s rights through carbon markets, carbon offsets, or offsets associated with the protection of Indigenous People’s lands, agriculture and forests such as REDD program. We reject “clean” coal, natural gas, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration, landfill gas to energy, geo-engineering, industrial agro-fuels, and all other corporate techno-fixes which fail to address the root causes and deepen existing inequalities and environmental problems.
3) Real and Effective Solutions. Our communities will win back control of our land, food, water, labor, energy, and decision-making. We will fight for sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples. We demand investment in infrastructure for participatory budgeting, public transportation, local food systems, local watershed and wetlands management, worker cooperative business development, and local economies that take care of the places we live in.
4. Rapid Reductions and Reparations for Ecological Debt. We shall hold responsible the governments of all industrialized “developed” nations and the corporations that control them. We demand that North American federal governments move towards a zero emission economy by 2050 and honor its responsibility for both local and global climate and ecological debt.
5) Respect the Cochabamba Protocol and the Rights of Mother Earth. We call on the North American federal governments and all governments engaged in the UN to incorporate proposals from the Cochabamba Protocol and to adopt and implement the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
6) Transformation, not Criminalization and Militarization. We reject government responses that criminalize Black, Arab, immigrant, and other communities in North American and around the world as manifested through SB 1070 in Arizona, police-ICE collaboration and raids, increased border militarization, Fortress Europe, the E.U. Directive and many other such inhumane and unjust policies. We demand full employment in the roles we need to transform our communities—healers, counselors, mediators, facilitators, organizers, bus drivers, bike mechanics, deconstruction and reconstruction workers, (zero) waste workers, and more.
Today, we call on our North American social movements unite with clarity that the root causes of joblessness and the housing crisis in our cities; the toxic contamination of our air, water, soil and climate, and ecosystems; and the displacement and criminalization of our communities are the same. These root causes—capitalism, imperialism, and the systems of oppression that uphold them– are the same root causes that put the earth’s ability to sustain human life in peril. We are forging a new movement of movements in which grassroots groups in frontline communities provide key leadership for a just resolve to our global crisis, working in concert with environmentalists, policy advocates, artists, healers, and more.
We call our movements to action on the following:
– Stand with the people of Detroit for the Saturday action at the Covanta Waste Incinerator and ongoing actions against local polluting corporations such as Marathon and DTE.
– Stand with the people of Arizona against SB1070, the militarization of the borders, and other repressive enforcement measures, on July 29th as we mobilize for Cancun.
– Coordinated actions in solidarity with Gulf Coast residents on August 29th in commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
- Demand federal recognition of sovereignty of United Houma Nation.
- Creative actions around the country in protest of BP, Chevron and other dirty fuels industries.
- Demand the protection and restoration of wetlands, rights of return and reconstruction for Gulf Coast residents.
– Support Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization to abolish mountaintop removal and all strip mining on September 27 in Washington, DC
– Strategize and mobilize locally across North America to bring our power to bear on the UNFCCC’s COP 16 in Cancun November 29 – December 10.