I spent the day at Foro International de la Justicia Climatico de los Pueblos (the International Forum of Climate Justice - Dialogue of the Communities) and heard many interesting presentations. After speaking on the panel The Rights of Mother Earth: The Time Has Come for a New Paradigm, I attended another panel on the rights of Mother Earth called Los Pueblos Indigenas, los Derechos de la Madre Tierra y la Justicia Climatic (Indigenous Peoples, the Rights of Mother Earth and Climate Justice). The gymnasium was packed with approximately 400 people. There were three panels on the Rights of Mother Earth today.
Roly Escobar Ochoa from CONAPAMG (Guatemala) spoke first about the negative impacts that a miming company had on a local community. Sandy Gauntlett from New Zealand started off with a Maori song to thank the people of Mexico for having him here. He asked for support and solidarity for the Maori people.
Ben Powless from the Indigenous Environment Network (IEN) spoke about the need for free, prior and informed consent of First Nations in Canada. He highlighted the similar challenges that the indigenous peoples of Mexico faced in mining and other development projects. He highlighted IEN’s main messages of ‘Leave it in the ground,’ reducing emissions by 95%, the need for industrialized countries to pay for their ecological debt and the need for real solutions that will benefit communities and not simply corporations and government. He stressed the importance of striving to live well (not just better) and to live on harmony with nature.
In the afternoon, I attended a panel on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). There was a much smaller crowd for this panel – about 60 people – so we all formed a semi-circle around the panelists which created a more intimate atmosphere. Tom Goldtooth was the moderator and began the panel with an introduction on IEN and talked about the need to address environmental racism. The panel consisted of speakers from Carbon Trade Watch, Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and Society for Threatened Peoples International. The panel of experts attempted to demystify the complexity of REDD, REDD+ and REDD++.