Save the Planet, Not Wall Street

Apr 19, 2010

“The debate about climate change is a debate between two ways of life and of culture: the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death.” Evo Morales.

Here in Cochabamba, activists from across the globe are gathering as the Climate Conference starts Tuesday morning with a rally led by Bolivian President and host Evo Morales.

The Conference is being held at a University just outside the city in a town called Tiquipaya, which from the visit I made to it today to get registered has certainly never seen or had to deal with a gathering of this scale before!

The Programme for the conference is available here, reposted below is the introduction to the programme which outlines the philosophy behind the event.

The People Facing Climate Change

The starting point

The Fifteenth Conference of the United Nations on climate change in December 2009 was both an achievement and a failure at the same time. The struggle of many affected countries, including Bolivia, managed to prevent the rich countries from imposing a prearranged agreement behind the world’s back, that would have freed them from their responsibility as the principal countries causing of climate change. Yet, it was also a failed opportunity to achieve an agreement to save the planet. The nations, which are wrongly regarded as “developed”, demonstrated their enormous irresponsibility and their lack of real commitment to confront the problem.

Convinced that the solution to the climate change problem should be assumed by those who would suffer its consequences, Evo Morales Ayma, the president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, announced the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (CMPCC) to take place on April 19- 22, 2010 in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It would be a broad forum to debate the causes and the solutions in a open manner, without excluding the representatives of the different peoples as was done in the “summits” of the governments. The governments of the countries committed to Life were also invited, so they might dialog with the people and take this valuable opportunity to explain their vision of climate change.

As a representative of native peoples and as the host of this historic conference, the Plurinational State of Bolivia hopes to receive around 15 thousand participants among the representatives of governments, scientists, academics, jurists, social movements, and organizations from more than 120 countries, which are active in the defense of life and the fight against climate change. An even larger audience is anticipated in the virtual spaces and in the activities of the conference’s last day on April 22, which is the World Mother Earth Day.

The goal of this People’s World Day is to advance an agenda promoted by the organized communities and social movements in dialog with the governments committed to Life and in favor of working with their people to construct the principal of Living Well and prevent the impacts of climate change.

The conference proposes to analyze the structural causes of climate change. For the survival of the planet Earth and in defense of life, proposals, strategies, and specific actions will be developed to attack the causes.

From life Itself

We, the indigenous nations, want the world to listen to us. We seek dialog and debate and want to spread our principles, codes, values and culture, which is the Culture of Life.

We, the indigenous nations, believe that all of us living beings live on the skin of the Mother Earth. We nourish from her milk, the water. At the same time, we know that she needs us to be able to continue living in full health. We nations that live in harmony with nature have always respected the earth, water, air and fire. We care for nature in same way that we care for ourselves. We share with her, and we never take more than we need. She is part of our life, and we are part of her.

Since the time of our parents and grandparents, we have been a people who feel and respect our potato, our cassava, our maize, our mountains, our days, and the nights with all their stars. The animals, rocks, stars, and even the dewdrops are our brothers and sisters. Since time immemorial, we have been accustomed to speaking to and respecting our waters, our sun, our moon, our winds, our cardinal points and all the animals and plants which accompany us in our lands.

The basis for what we currently are lies in our principles. We have always considered nature to be just as important as ourselves. The water that we receive from the sky, the mountains, the forests and the lands still live in the hearts of our people. We, the indigenous peoples, still taste the sacred flavor of the living water.

In relation to our Mother Earth, we have learned to read the fog, the cold and the heat, the slight trembling of the earth, and the eclipses. We have learned to interpret the sound of our rivers and to talk with the wind that comes from the natural wells and subterranean rivers, in order to be able to interpret natural phenomena and plan our activities for the year.

We now realize the grave threat that climate change represents for the existence of humanity, for living beings, and for our Mother Earth. We reaffirm that our wisdom and our way of life tied to the earth is the only alternative for the world in this Global Crisis.

In Copenhagen, our President said “we are the ones called to lead this fight to defend the Mother Earth and to make the Mother Earth be respected.” Following our principals of solidarity, justice and respect for life, we, the native indigenous nations, are obligated to take up the challenge of uniting the world’s people to save humanity and the Mother Earth.

The Paths Taken

On October 12 2007, we, the Peoples and Nations of Native Indigenous Peasants, met in the town of Chimoré, Cochabamba to proclaim this day as “the day to begin our struggles to save Mother Nature”. We made known the Mandate for an Indigenous Peoples’ World Meeting. Its principal points demanded that the countries of the world:

1) Construct a world based on the Culture of Life.

2) Make national and international decisions to save Mother Nature from the disasters provoked by the decadence of capitalism.


3) Declare that access to water is a human right, since it is a vital element and a social good of humanity which should not be an object of profit.

The Chimoré Mandate concluded, calling for unity: “Let us strengthen our identity and our struggles, until we manage to build unity among the world’s people and return to a balance which saves life, humanity and the planet Earth.” Since that day on October 12 2007, we have put into action a strategy which seeks to achieve the reconstruction of Living Well, in order to save the Mother Earth and reestablish balance in the planet Earth. The convergence between climate change, the energy and financial crises, the future water crisis, and the deficit in food production represents an increasingly grave threat.

On April 23 2008 in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, our brother President Evo Morales continued advancing on the path indicated by the Chimoré Mandate and proposed for the first time the Ten Commandments to Save the Planet, Humanity, and Life. On this occasion, our brother President said, “Here lies two paths: either we continue down the path of capitalism and death, or we advance on the indigenous path in harmony with nature and life.”

In 2009, our fight for life together with the people and the nations which also fight for life bore fruit when we managed to get the United Nations General Assembly to declare April 22 as International Mother Earth Day. On that same day, our President requested that the world begin a debate to approve the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. We proposed it to the world as a step for achieving harmony with nature and saving the planet Earth.

On that day in the UN, our President said: “In order to live in harmony with nature, we must recognize that not only human beings have rights, but we also must recognize that the planet, the animals, the plants and all living beings have rights which we must respect. What is currently occurring with climate change is happening precisely because the rights of Mother Earth were not respected. The great challenge of the United Nations and the twenty first century is to contemplate and watch over the rights of everyone and everything.” The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth. The rights of the Mother Earth are the right to life, the right to regenerate her bio-­capacity, the right to a clean life, and the right to harmony and balance with all, among all and from all.

On September 23 2009, our President proposed that one of the topics to consider in the Copenhagen climate change summit would be the creation of a Climate Justice Court,“ which would judge those who do not fulfill their commitments and continue destroying the planet Earth. If we work and fight for the well- being of our people, first we must guarantee the well- being of the Mother Earth. ”

Another important achievement in the fight to defend the Mother Earth and reconstruct the concept of Living Well occurred on December 21 2009, when the United Nations approved Resolution 64/196, which will include the topic of “Harmony with Nature” in the agenda of the next General Assembly (2010- 2011). This resolution invites member countries of the United Nations“ to consider the topic of promoting life in harmony with nature and to make their visions, experiences and proposals on this subject reach the Secretary General.”

Facing the impossibility of the heads of states and governments ever coming to an agreement in the UN’s Fifteenth Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 17, 2009 our President proposed carrying out a World Referendum on Climate Change:

“Let us consult the people and respect what our people say. Let what the people say be binding in its application in all the world’s countries. Only in this way are we going to resolve the profound differences between one president and the next, between one government and the next, between one continent and the next, and especially the differences with the capitalist countries,”

President Evo Morales Ayma declared in Copenhagen. “The debate about climate change is a debate between two ways of life and of culture: the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death.”

The Time for Proposals and Action

Just 18 days after the conclusion of the climate summit in Copenhagen, President Evo Morales made a public call on January 5, 2010 for the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Its goal would be to principally analyze:

1) The structural causes of climate change;

2) Propose alternative models for Living Well in Harmony with Nature;

3) Discuss and agree upon a Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth;

4) Work out the mechanisms that would permit carrying out a World Referendum on Climate Change;


5) Develop a proposal to create a Climate Justice Court.

We believe that there are two paths in this time for proposals and action: Either we continue down the path of capitalism and death, or we advance on the path of the world’s people and the native nations for harmony with nature and the Culture of Life.

The Responsible Ones

Faced with the exponential increase in global warming and the extraordinary changes in the climate, it can be established that this climate change is the consequence of Western culture’s domination of nature. It is the response to unbridled consumerism, ambition, avarice, and the search for so much individual and collective wealth, such as irrational industrialization. The current Western development models prioritize only rapid economic growth. This selfish search for growth, however, increasingly requires more and more natural resources and provokes climate change, since above all else, it is based upon oil and coal as sources of energy. Notonly have these models become exhausted, but they also represent the main threat to humanity and the planet Earth.

The richest 20 percent of the world’s population consumes 30 percent more of the resources than the Earth manages to regenerate each year. This consumption drastically reduces the planet’s basic resources until they will run out. Urbanization, industrialization and the greater use of energy implies the greater consumption of water, leading to a grave crisis for underground resources of fresh water.

If the world does not immediately change its course, the current policies of the Western development model could bring about a collapse of nature’s balance with very grave consequences for the production of industry and food, and thus for the very survival of Western civilization itself. This collapse could be catastrophic if the gradual change in global temperatures and oceanic currents suddenly jumps at once bypassing certain critical thresholds.

Accelerated by feedbacks capable of giving rise to abrupt cataclysmic events, climate change will create much greater difficulties for the adaption of species, until they will be threatened even with extinction. Waking up these sleeping giants could bring us great surprises. They ought not be considered hypothetical possibilities, but rather probable events.

We, the native nations and peoples, affirm that climate change is not in essence just an environmental or echnological problem, or even a problem of financing. Rather, it is a problem of the model of life, the Western model and the ambition and avarice of capitalism.

Climate change is not a cause, but it is an effect that comes from the capitalist system. If we do not understand the profound differences held by those people who defend life, we will surely never resolve the problems of life, humanity and nature.

We propose Living Well, which implies not living at the cost of others. Instead of seeking unlimited growth and always competing between countries and human beings, rather, seek equity among human beings and harmony with all and from all in nature.

Going back many years, the Western culture of development and domination of nature began destroying the ways of life practiced by communities and the people. Their systems of socioeconomic and cultural production, the balance and harmony with the Mother Earth, and the concept of Living Well were destroyed in such a way that the logic of man dominating the Earth began to be imposed. This logic is found where man is placed above all else (me first, after myself and always me) and there is domination and exploitation of man by man.

The West does not take Life into account. For them, neither the mountains nor the rivers have life. The only ones who have life are human beings and what moves. The capitalist system places the individual and the personal or individual interests before the interests of the community. The essence of living in a close relationship and understanding among beings is set aside, as well as the energies to harmonize the interaction between a human being and the Mother Earth.

The developed countries, which gave birth to the process of aggressively industrializing natural resources beginning in the Industrial Revolution during the nineteenth century, base their development upon the capitalist model. Up to the point that they bear 80% of the responsibility for the emissions of polluting gases, despite only having 20% of the world’s population. Meanwhile, 80% of the population (which are the least developed countries) is responsible for 20% of the emissions of these greenhouse gases.

It all began with the Industrial Revolution of 1750 which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the countries, which are wrongly dubbed “developed”, have consumed a great part of the fossil fuels created in 5 million years. The competition and the thirst for unlimited profits in the capitalist system are destroying the planet.

According to capitalism, we are not human beings, but consumers. According to capitalism, there is no Mother Earth,but only raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation, and waste for the few, while millions die of hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism, everything is converted into commercial goods: water, land, the human genome, ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death…even life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, is bought and sold under capitalism—even “climate change” itself has been converted into a business.The Planet is much more important than Wall Street.While the United States and the European Union allocate 4.1 trillion dollars to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves provoked, the programs linked to climate change only receive 13 billion dollars. In other words, they receive 313 times less.

The resources for climate change are poorly distributed. More resources are directed to reducing emissions (mitigation), while less resources are allocated for counteracting the effects of climate change which all the countries suffer (adaption). The great majority of resources flow to the countries which have polluted the most, not to the counties which have been preserving the environment. Eighty percent of the projects under the Clean Development Mechanism have been concentrated in only four emerging countries.

The capitalist logic promotes the paradox that the sectors which most contributed to damaging the environment are those that most benefit from the programs linked to climate change. Likewise, the transference of technology and financing for clean and sustainable development in the southern countries have not moved beyond mere talk.

This is the reality as we enter into a period of crisis and global changes. The crises of water, food, energy, and the economy have an influence on climate change and on our possibilities for confronting it. For that reason, it is necessary to analyze these trends and identify how they mutually affect each other in order to find a solution to climate change which integrates this and the other crises into a general vision.

Our Responsibility for the Mother Earth

In order to attain a harmonious relationship between humanity and the Mother Earth, based upon Living Well with the planet Earth, we must recognize that the Earth does not belong to us, but rather, we belong to the Earth. We human beings must recognize that we should not think solely about ourselves, but we must adopt the practice of being responsible for the Mother Earth and all living beings.

Since we bear responsibility for living in harmony with nature and the planet itself, it is up to us human beings to strengthen the harmonious life between man and nature and fulfill our commitment to the Mother Earth. It is up to us to take care of the Pachamama and care for the balance and capacity for self- regulation by Mother Earth and life, thus assuring and maintaining in balance the conditions of the existence of Mother Earth and the planet’s harmony.

More than trying to “humanize” nature, it is up to us to “naturalize” human beings, maintaining respect for the Mother Earth. It is up to us to influence all the social sectors, both urban and rural, and persuade the ruling economic systems,so they may understand that the Earth is our mother and so they may respect her and our way of Living Well in community. These are the tasks to be initiated in the People’s Conference in Cochabamba.

Fighting to Reestablish the Health of the Mother Earth

The international organizations inform us that the past has obligated our countries to implement economic policies against our people. They tell us that climate change is already irreversible and all is lost; now we can only learn to survive it. They tell us that we have to learn to “adapt ourselves” to a planet destroyed by the effects of global warming.

We know that these organizations lied to us in the past. They are doing this now so that we will all conform and resign ourselves when facing the effects of climate change. We know that the Mother Earth can be cured and set aright again. Our fight is for the reestablishment of the heath of the Mother Earth and for the health of her forests and our glaciers which are the source of Life.

We demand that the rich countries invest their wealth not only in repairing the damages which have been caused, but also in reestablishing our Mother Earth’s health. We demand that science be put to the service of the Mother Earth. We want a science which serves the principal of Living Well for the entire planet.

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