1000 Cancuns

Emilie Novaczek

Today, all over the world, thousands of people are mobilizing and calling for immediate and meaningful action on climate change. Via Campesina, an international movement for climate justice, has called out for “thousands of Cancuns” to recognize both the people who are affected by these issues and the fact that many of the crucial climate solutions are coming from grassroots movements and local communities.

The inspiration for this project began last year, in Copenhagen. Our governments were incapable of cooperating and ultimately their actions led to a devastating loss of trust between developed and developing nations. In a desperate attempt to leave COP15 with a “success”, the US strong-armed in the “Copenhagen Accord”, a non-binding text that grossly disrespects the UN process. Recent Wikileaks have revealed that many countries were coerced with international aid money to sign on, yet even our own Canadian government continues to tote it as a legitimate agreement. Frankly, the Copenhagen Accord is a token agreement that does nothing to prevent or reverse climate change; it simply provides lazy governments with an excuse not to move forward on Kyoto and allows them to push forward free-market false solutions, like carbon trading.

We demand the application of thousands of people’s solutions to climate change.

(Via Campesina)

1000 Cancuns is a call for everyone to provide solutions to climate change, including our representatives here in Cancun. The movement is demanding clear action from the negotiating parties, emphasizing the need for strong and binding agreements based on scientific targets and cooperation between our nations.  Our governments are not simply trading paperwork here– they are shaping lives. The droughts,  floods, increasingly severe storms, water contamination, soil erosion and degradation,  are forcing thousands of people (mostly small scale farmers) from their rural communities and driving them towards cities, social crises and unsustainable lifestyles. Fifty million are now “climate refugees” and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next 40 years. A recent report by Oxfam estimated that over 21 000 lives have been lost already this year due to the extreme weather event related to climate change. This number is more than double the figures from 2009 and will continue to grow if we don’t act now.

Frustrated by lack of cooperation and action in Copenhagen, more than 35,000 people gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the People’s Conference on Climate Change and for the Rights of Mother Earth. This working conference recognized the fundamental connection of climate change and human rights, establishing a text defending climate justice, and calling for real solutions. The People’s Agreement from Cochabamba and the Via Campesina movement target some specific policies currently under negotiation in Cancun, such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), the Clean Development Mechanisms that first allowed developed nations to export emissions reductions to cheaper, developing markets and any involvement of the World Bank.

Instead, the focus is on small scale solutions. Moving from our mono-crop, industrial agricultural system to low impact, species-rich peasant farming is one of many answers that could reduce emissions, but also increase quality of life, food security and environmental integrity. “It remains the best way to combat hunger, malnutrition and the current food crisis,” asserts the Via Campesina call to action.

Thousands marched today through Cancun, calling for “System Change, not Climate Change” and they were joined by movements all over the globe. Showing our solidarity with actions here, across South America, Canada and as far away as Brussels and Indonesia, we decorated the Canadian Youth Delegation booth inside COP16 to support Via Campesina and all 1000 Cancuns.

We have great opportunities, both here and at home. It’s crucial that solutions are brought forward by the people, but also must be addressed on the international level. Our governments have an opportunity here to hold up, improve and act on Kyoto. We have the opportunity at home to pressure our governments to make these decisions, to reevaluate our own systems and to act on what we believe in. Ultimately all the answers can’t come from one place, one room, one negotiation: in a way, we need 1000 Cancuns. 1000 different, creative, ambitious Cancuns.

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