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By Robert A. Vigna
May 6th, 2016
April has been an exceptional month for Indigenous groups in Brazil.
On April 19th, which happens to be Indigenous people’s day in Brazil, Ibama, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, suspended the license of one of the biggest hydroelectric dam projects in Brazil, São Luiz do Tapajós in the Amazon, which was to be started this year. The company building the dam was planning on flooding about 7% of the Mundruku peoples land, which would be unconstitutional once the indigenous status of land is confirmed.
By Jonathan Leaning
April 29th, 2016
Homes washed away…cars tossed around like they were toys…people swept up in the torrent…the once verdant countryside leveled and coated in thick clay-colored sludge. The cacophony of crumbling debris and rushing water were the only warning received by the 2,000-plus people living in Brazil’s Rio Doce Valley when the dams burst. Dozens of people died and hundreds of families were left homeless.
November 5, 2015 will be remembered as a day where the blind pursuit of profit crushed people in its wake.
Despite all the fanfare, the bottom line from the Paris Agreement is that emissions from fossil fuels will continue at levels that endanger life on the planet, and the trading schemes the agreement promotes will lead to an increase in natural resource grabs.
While government dignitaries engaged in UN climate negotiations (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as the COP21) we had a chance to participate in 10 days of powerful strategy sessions and actions for climate justice in Paris alongside many of Grassroots International’s Global South partners. We will tell you more about movement proposals and accomplishments soon, but let's start by reviewing the official agreement.
When two dams owned by transnational mining companies burst in Brazil, a flood of toxic mud and wastewater poured into neighboring villages and began its journey down the Rio Doce (“Sweet River”). This tragedy could have been avoided if companies heeded warnings sounded more than two years ago. Instead, authorities estimate over 2,000 people have been affected in the immediate area of the dam, with more than 600 people evacuated (many rescued by helicopter), hundreds left homeless, and dozens of people who are still unaccounted for feared dead.
Since 1994, August 9 has been dedicated as the UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. The primary purpose of this commemorative day is to help promote and protect the rights of indigenous people around the world.
Grassroots International supporter Richard Smith has just published Green Capitalism: The God That Failed (a downloadable e-book). It's an important read because it argues convincingly that environmental destruction is an inevitable result of production for profit, so that advocates of "regulated" or "green" capitalism are raising false hopes.
Social movements around the world, including Grassroots International partners, take action on World Environment Day (June 5) to highlight the importance of ecological justice. On this day, we are happy to share a video from a recent talk that Grassroots International had the opportunity to be a part of, along with Anim Steel, founder and Executive Director of the Real Food Challenge, and Mark Bittman, New York Times journalist and author.
People who are concerned about climate disruption and hunger are talking more and more about agroecology, that is, using ecological, economic, cultural, and gender justice principles to inform agricultural practices and systems. And those people are joining Grassroots International and our global partners in advocating for a shift toward agroecology to create a more sustainable future.
Small-scale food producers and global movement leaders gathered in Mali earlier this year to lay out a plan to transform and repair our food system and the rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production. Their declaration (below) spells out specific values, strategies, challenges and next-steps to not only feed the world, but also address climate change by advancing agroecology.
Hosted by Grassroots International grantee CNOP (the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations) and La Via Campesina, among several other leading agroecology organziations, the International Forum on Agroecology outlined agroecology is a key form of resistance to the commodification of food and seeds, and moves toward a healthy planet.
Grassroots International is hard at work across the U.S. and beyond putting issues such as climate justice, food sovereignty, resource rights, Palestine, women’s leadership—even when they are controversial or unpopular—into the limelight.
Spreading the word is a key strategy we use to advance resource rights, particularly when it comes to connecting our Global South partners to sources of solidarity, funding and support, and making changes in policies here in the U.S. We do more than give grants; we build solidarity right here in the U.S. for our partners and their social movements. It is also a key reason why funders and donors choose Grassroots International as a vehicle to support them.