Last November 9, 2021, the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness joined allied people’s movements in Glasgow for a workshop titled “From Grassroots Resistance towards Revolutionary Reconstruction: Visions from the Ground of the World We Want to Create”.
This workshop for People’s Summit for Climate Justice was held both physically in Glasgow and virtually through Zoom with the goal of gathering and promoting visions and demands of peoples from the grassroots towards a world that is socially just, equitable, and environmentally sustainable.
While government and industry leaders, climate experts and civil society convene in Glasgow to chart forward the fate of the world for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), grassroots insights, inputs and initiatives are notably absent, if not intentionally sidelined and disregarded.
Discussions around the right to develop, common but differentiated responsibilities, just transition, resource mobilization by global powers for adaptation, and reparations for loss and damages are downplayed. Degrowth, decarbonization, and divestment ring the halls of universities and governments, while conversations around hallmarks of especially Global South grassroots resistance such as collective action, direct engagement, and revolution are hushed. Additionally, radical alternatives are dismissed without understanding their transformative potential.
The event was organised by the International League of Peoples Struggle – an anti-imperialist and democratic formation of people’s movements, organizations, along with its partner organisations and formations – the Southern Peoples’ Action on COP26 – a campaign formation of Global South grassroots organisations for COP26 – the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA), an initiative seeking to create solidarity networks and strategic alliances amongst all these alternatives on local, regional and global levels, and Adelante, a group of eight global networks for collective and solidarity action in the future.
The hour-and-a-half-long activity featured discussions on “The Liberating Potential of a People’s Green New Deal” by Dr. Max Ajl, an associated researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment and a postdoctoral fellow with the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. He described a vision of a just world with overall developmental and environmental convergence, one shared by many movements, from agroecologists to liberation movements, and how we need to overcome the massive obstacles – imperialism, militarism and colonialism – to achieve this.
Ashish Kothari from The Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA) then talked about “Weaving a Tapestry of Radical Alternatives,” emphasising the need to concretely link the system of injustice to demands that show constructive alternatives. He also identified other gaps that movements face such as collaboration and promotion of radical alternatives, which the GTA is trying to fill or fulfill. He called on people to be aware of false, partial, and post-truth solutions of the dominant system such as net-zero carbon, technofixes, and market mechanisms. He said it is time to choose a radical path of alternatives that includes:
- resistance to all forms of oppressions (to capitalism, state domination, patriarchy, racism, human-centeredness, etc.). It is about changing our ways of being, knowing, doing, dreaming
- a pluriverse of constructive solutions including agroecology/permaculture, biocivilisation, degrowth, transition, commons, ecofeminism, ecosocialism, solidarity economy, etc.
Finally, he spoke on filling the gaps and creating links between resistance and construction of alternatives, cross-sectoral and cross-cultural learning and collaboration, documentation and promotion of radical alternatives, enabling environment and democratic spaces for voices of grassroot communities, and space for other species and earth as a whole.
These speeches were followed by a panel discussion aimed at sharing visions from the ground. The panel shared how they are resisting the dominant, unjust, imperialist, colonial, patriarchal, and militarist system. It included “Indigenous Peoples’ Experience and Alternatives” by Thum Ai from Myanmar Mining Watch, “Confronting False Climate Solutions” by Helda Khasmy from Sarikat Perempuan Indonesia, “Adaptation, Loss and Damage” by Ruth Nyambura from Coastal Development Partnership-in Bangladesh, “Feminist Agroecology” by Ruth Nyambura from African Ecofeminists collective, and “Urban Grassroots Organizing”, by Justin Kenrick from Grassroots2Global. All of them shared their visions, experiences, and best practices from the ground.
The Open Forum following these presentations was a venue for participants to discuss further all the above-mentioned topics. IBON International Climate Justice Programme’s Ivan Enrile insisted that while we are pushing for alternatives, the struggle for political power should be pursued because it is critical to make the changes that we wish to happen, and this power must not be left to the elite.
The closing remarks were were delivered by GTA’s Vasna Ramasar, and Beverly Longid, CPDE Co-Chair and Indigenous People Sector Representative, who noted that although more effort is needed in terms of cross-cultural translation and there were missed opportunities for speakers who were unable to come to the COP26, there is a critical importance for such discussion on resisting false solutions and the need to create alternatives at the grassroot level in different parts of the world.
You can watch the recording of the event here.