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Climate justice activities in Mexico City

This morning, Coalicion de Organizaciones Mexicanas Por El Derocho Al Agua (COMDA / Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water) organized a press conference in Mexico city. Maude Barlow (Chairperson for the Council of Canadians), Andrea Harden (Council of Canadians climate campaigner) and Claudia Campero (COMDA/Blue Planet Project organizer) spoke about the COP climate negotiations, the relationship between water and climate change and the need for climate justice.

After the press conference, Maude Barlow, Claudia Campero and I met with several Mexican civil society organizations to share stories about our work on water issues. We met with Alicia Cariquiriborque from FIAN, Jaime Rello from the Popular Union Emiliano Zapata (UPREZ, part of the Urban Popular Movement), Maria Gonzalez’s organization from the Mexican Institute for Community Development (IMDEC) and Silvia Emanuelli from Habitat International Coalition.

Maria Gonzalez shared a very moving story about her work with Temacapulin, a community that is at risk of being flooded by a dam. The community is embroiled in a long standing struggle against the Zapatillo dam. The dam is being built to provide water to the city of Leon.  However, the dam will destroy three communities the largest of which is Temacapulin. The town is a beautiful and culturally rich community.  There is about 1000 people in these three communities. The government argues that these communities can simply move in order to provide the big city with water. However, this dam threatens the homes and culture of these communities.

This issue is currently the biggest struggle against dams in Mexico. There is a strong network of people that has developed over the last five years in order to fight this dam.  The Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and their Allies was held this past October. This meeting galvanized the movement and really motivated the network to save these communities.

There has not been public consutation. Temacapulin found out about the project through the media. Therefore the communities and NGOs are organizing their own consultation process. The governor promised that if over 50 per cent of the communities oppose the dam, the dam would not be built. The communities are certain more than 5O per cent of their people oppose the dams and will hold their own public consultation on January 7th, 2011 to prove this. These communities are seeking international support to save their communities.

Maude Barlow briefed the organizations on how the UN General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the right to water and sanitation this past July. We discussed how this resolution can be used to move forward. A second resolution on the right to water was passed by the UN Human Rights Council in September. Although this second resolution provided a role for the private sector in the provision of water services, the strength of this second resolution is that it makes the UN General Assembly resolution binding. The next step is to determine how to implement the right to water and sanitation on the ground. In the new year, we will be calling for the Canadian government to recognize the right to water and sanitation (they abstained in the UN General Assembly vote and have consistently refused to recognize this critical human right). We will also be demanding that the develop a plan of action for this binding resolution. We discussed how Mexican NGOs can also work toward ensuring that there government develops a plan of action to implement the right to water and sanitation.

Maude Barlow, Andrea Harden, Brent Patterson (Director of Campaigns and Communications at the Council of Canadians), Leticia Adair (Board Member of the Council of Canadians) and I participated in a march for climate justice this evening. It was a great march with an estimated 4,500 who participated in the 7-kilometre march.

We are heading to Cancun tomorrow to participate in panels and workshops for the UN climate summit. Stay tuned for more!