Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sometimes you gotta raise your voice to be heard

A Peruvian Indigenous woman stands in front of a colorful banner at the "National Conference of Women for Climate Justice in Defense of Mother Earth." Some of the rights that they are asking for are the rights to water, seeds, and dignified work. (originally published in "Peru: Women Raise their Voice Against Climate Change")
The U.N.'s Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals was recently called out by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for erasing all direct reference to Indigenous Peoples in their latest draft for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. With a brief reference to the expression "Mother Earth" and "the recognition of the rights of nature" in some countries, the working group built in subtle reference to the people now deleted from their dialogue. Meanwhile, indigenous women met in Lima for a "National Conference of Women for Climate Justice in Defense of Mother Earth" to demand their place in the discussion. Of particular interest were their calls for an increased focus on sustainable agriculture for domestic markets: 
"They argue that peasant agriculture contributes to the carbon balance of the planet, increases biodiversity, restores soil organic matter and replaces the industrial production of meat for a diversified small-scale food production." 
(International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, "Peru: Women raise their voice against climate change." July 16, 2014)
This request works in direct opposition to the mechanizations of a neoliberal, Free Trade global economy that increasingly demands a narrowed focus on crop specialization for international export. It also contradicts a troubling trend among the heavily corporate/Bank of America-influenced U.N. Green Climate Fund:
The mandate of the fund is to support a transformational shift in the global south away from fossil fuels and toward clean, climate-resilient development. But tucked away in the fine print of the fund’s governing document is support for technologies like carbon capture and storage (aka “clean coal”) — a technology that is not viable at scale and does nothing to address the cradle-to-grave environmental and social devastation that coal wreaks. 
In fact, any mention of phasing out fossil fuels is conspicuously absent in the new climate fund, even as other international financial institutions are finally moving to wind down some of the coal-fired excesses of their energy portfolios. 
(Janet Redman & Oscar Reyes, "A Devil’s Bargain on the Climate." Foreign Policy in Focus. Feb. 20, 2014)
With major coal reserves, a hyper-focus on economic growth, lax environmental regulation and a history of ignoring Indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent, Perú could be especially vulnerable to the push for "clean coal." And once again, indigenous women could find themselves tacitly acknowledged and systematically ignored.

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