Women Rising For A Thriving Earth and Communities: WECAN International Report-Back From GCAS and Peoples Movement Actions, September 2018

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Women for Climate Justice on the steps of San Francisco City Hall at the end of the Rise For Climate march – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

“We are speaking out on behalf of a growing movement of diverse women for global climate justice. We are speaking out in recognition of the sacred interdependence of all life on Earth, and with respect for the Rights of Nature, and with the knowledge that business-as-usual economic models predicated on fossil fuel extraction have ushered in an era of unprecedented planetary distress, in which life as we know it is dangerously threatened.”- From the ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action’

For several days in mid-September, the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) brought international political, business, and other representatives, to Indigenous Ohlone Territory, San Francisco Bay Area, California to discuss efforts to accelerate the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

Aware of the extremely dangerous gap between rhetoric and reality within the GCAS – WECAN International joined allied women’s rights, human rights, racial justice, climate change, labor, and Indigenous rights organizations (amongst others) – to seize upon the moment to call out false and inadequate solutions; demonstrate community-driven solutions; and put forward an uncompromising vision for real climate leadership that breaks free from the fossil fuel industry, and is led by those most impacted by social and environmental injustice.

WECAN International team members spent a week on-the-ground in the Bay Area, participating alongside many allies in vital peoples movement actions, events, and activities parallel to the Global Climate Action Summit – and were also joined by various WECAN International coordinators and advisors.

Our work included organizing and marching with a ‘Women for Climate Justice’ Contingent at the Rise For Climate march; holding a press conference featuring prominent grassroots leaders; hosting a full day public event, the ‘Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice’; writing and presenting a vital ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’ to the GCAS leadership; advocating inside of the GCAS; and joining allies in the streets for actions to denounce false solutions and corporate greenwashing – and instead lift up community-led solutions, Indigenous rights, rights of nature, and feminist leadership.

Women organizing together in parallel to and inside of GCAS was an opportunity to lift up narratives on the effectiveness of  regional solutions specific to place and local communities, and show how these community-led programs and projects are essential for just climate solutions. We brought forward the question of how women’s groups can and are influencing the political discourse – and can address root causes of the climate crisis and social and economic injustices, thus creating a counter- narrative to business as usual by many elected officials.

Our strategy and analysis at GCAS, and far beyond, is best summarized with the words of our ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’, which reads –

“We are calling for a transformation of how we relate to the natural world and to one another. We must transition from an extractivist, colonial paradigm of “exploit and extract” to a sustainable, globally-conscious one of “respect, restore and replenish.” We must rapidly halt the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, while simultaneously building a new economy predicated on community-led solutions and women’s rights, Indigenous rights, the rights of nature and the rights of future generations.

This starts with policies to promote energy democracy, in which women, Indigenous people, communities of color, low-income communities, municipalities and small businesses are empowered to own and manage our energy resources. We must recognize the inalienable rights and invaluable traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, and follow their environmental justice leadership in climate solutions. Such a plan must also prioritize and advance women’s leadership, as women are disproportionately harmed by climate change while possessing unique knowledge and skills to drive innovative solutions. Finally, we must protect biodiversity, seed sovereignty, and food security, and respect the rights of nature for the forests, oceans, rivers and lands upon which all life depends.

Crucially, we must do everything we can to ensure justice is respected in the transition to 100% renewable, regenerative energy. Any solution that does not safeguard the dignity and flourishing of people and the planet must be rejected. False solutions, such as dangerous nuclear power plants; increased natural gas extraction; mega-dams that cause irreversible damage to biodiversity, food sovereignty and livelihoods; geo-engineering; bioenergy; carbon trading schemes; and carbon capture and storage have no place in the Just Transition.

Finally, we call on all governments to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest, and to immediately halt the criminalization of land defenders, whose efforts are central to a climate-just world.”

Learn more about core actions and events via this recap blog of analysis, resources, photos, and videos.

Women For Climate Justice Press Conference

To begin our week of activities, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action network organized and hosted a live press conference ‘Stories and Solutions From Grassroots, Frontline, and Indigenous Women’, featuring women living and working on  the frontlines of climate change: Kandi Mossett White (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lead Organizer on the Extreme Energy & Just Transition Campaign with the Indigenous Environmental Network); Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action, Canada); Jacqueline Patterson (Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program); Thilmeeza Hussain (Former Deputy Ambassador to the UN from the Maldives; WECAN Advisory Council Member; Founder of Voice of Women, Maldives); and Antonia Juhasz (Energy author, investigative journalist and analyst); with Osprey Orielle Lake (Executive Director of WECAN International)..

Watch the full press conference here – and learn more via the press conference recap press release here.

Women For Climate Justice In Action For ‘Rise For Climate, Jobs, and Justice’

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Women for Climate Justice prepare to march together in San Francisco – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

For several months leading up to September,  WECAN International worked to mobilize our global, online network to take action as ‘Women For Climate Justice’ at worldwide, local ‘Rise For Climate, Jobs and Justice’ actions – including by providing a Women For Climate Justice contingent organizing toolkit, and serving as core organizers of the Women For Climate Justice, People’s Climate Movement hub page.

In the San Francisco, Bay Area, California, we also organized a local Women For Climate Justice march contingent, including through the hosting of July and August art builds, in collaboration with the remarkable movement artist, David Solnit.

Women from across the Bay Area joined us in Richmond, to learn art-ivism skills, connect with each other, and prepare signs, flags, and other art pieces for the September march. The second art build was held as a collaboration between women organizing a #MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) contingent; the 1,000 Grandmothers Bay Area group; and WECAN International and women organizing for the Women for Climate Justice contingent.

Local Bay Area women come together to learn art-ivism skills and prepare banners for the march

As with many of the actions and events held throughout September, the WECAN International team was thrilled to be able to strengthen old relationships and build new relationships with partners and network allies in Northern California, where our offices are based!

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On the day of the September 8th ‘Rise for Climate, Jobs, Justice’ march,  we took to the streets in San Francisco, while worldwide, over 900 diverse, creative, and powerful actions were held in 95 countries to demand climate action, and a just transition away from the extractive industries endangering the health of our communities and the Earth.

The San Francisco  march was led by the original inhabitants of the Bay Area, the Coastal Miwok and Ohlone,  alongside other Indigenous Peoples of California, across Turtle Island (North America), and around the world.  Frontline California community members and youth also played an important role at the forefront of the march.

With over 30,000 marchers coursing through downtown San Francisco, the march was hailed as the largest climate march ever to be held on the West Coast.

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WECAN International Executive Director with allies from Indigenous Climate Action, Amazon Watch, and the Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador – at the Rise For Climate march

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network  was honored to provide art and banners, and rally the coalition of women’s rights, gender and climate organizations and individuals to marching as a collective ‘Women For Climate Justice Contingent’!

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Several hundred women and allies joined our contingent on the streets of San Francisco, taking a stand for all future generations to live in a healthy and thriving world, and demonstrating women’s collective power to build just climate solutions!

Click here to explore more photos of Women For Climate Justice at the San Francisco Rise For Climate march

The march in San Francisco, and actions taken worldwide, made visible the immense and ever-growing power of peoples movements – and served as important days to continue to gather our hope, inspiration, and collective will to challenge the inter-twined injustices of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy at the root of the climate crisis.  

Mass Action At The Meeting Of The Governor’s Climate and Forest Task Force

In the days leading up to the start of the Global Climate Action Summit, WECAN International stood in solidarity and action with our allies during a mass action outside of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting. The action was organized as part of the It Takes Roots Sol2Sol week of action, and was called to draw attention to the inappropriate and rights-violating conservation mechanisms being posed inside of the meeting, including forest programs, which allow corporations to continue to extract and pollute, while paying for this pollution through purchasing credits in forest programs.

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Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation Councilwoman and WECAN International Advisory Council member, during the action outside of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting

These programs are most often on Indigenous lands, and cause negative impacts for local communities and Indigenous peoples who are the original custodians of the forests, and who have not given consent for the forests in their traditional territories to be involved in carbon trading schemes. Additionally, there has not been proper respect given to studies that demonstrate that the most effective way to protect forests is by investing in Indigenous people.

The mass action sought to highlight the voices of Indigenous community leaders and their allies, who oppose market mechanism approaches to climate change, and are demanding a seat at the table when their lands are being negotiated.

Several hundred protectors filled the streets with speeches and chants, until a representative of the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting agreed to come outside and speak with community leaders, ultimately allowing several Indigenous leaders, including Mirian Cisneros, President of the Kichwa Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador; and Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation Council Woman and WECAN Advisory Council Member, to enter the closed-door meeting and present a vital letter from Indigenous Peoples to the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, and his Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force.  

(Left) Kandi Mossett White of the Indigenous Environmental Network speaks out – (Right) Representatives from Indigenous Climate Action and the Pueblo of Sarayakyu, Ecuador, read their open letter to the Governors Climate and Forest Task Force meeting

As we have for many years, WECAN International was honored to stand in solidarity with this Indigenous-led action, to say – stop pollution at the source – and support Indigenous peoples in their rights to their territories and forests.

WECAN International Event – Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice: Women Leading Solutions On The Frontlines Of Climate Change

“We need to move forward as women and take our rightful place. What men have done, continuously done to the land, by raping it – they also do to our bodies. It’s time for us to draw the line and tell our brothers it is time for them to stand with us, behind us, holding us up – and do the right thing by following women’s leadership and leaving everything, everything, 100%, in the ground. We need to clean our waters, clean our air and give something better to the next seven generations and beyond.” – Corrina Gould

On September 11th, WECAN International presented the ‘Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice: Women Leading Solutions On The Frontlines Of Climate Change’, bringing together over 30 international advocates, grassroots, Indigenous, and frontline women leaders to present their stories, analyses, and solutions for climate justice and a just and healthy world for generations to come.

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Left to right – Amy Goodman (Host and Executive Producer of Democracy Now!; Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action, Canada); Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca, Ponca Nation Council-Woman, and WECAN International Advisory Council Member); and Jacqueline Patterson (Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program)

Women leaders from across the U.S., as well as Canada, Ecuador, Marshall Islands, Ireland, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazil explored topics including the intersectionality of gender and environment; Indigenous rights and resistance; the just transition; forest protection and regeneration; fossil fuel resistance efforts; agro-ecology and soils; violence against women land defenders; and much, much more.

“Criminalization and violence against Indigenous women has taken our lives. We put our bodies, our lives, on the front row to protect the forest, the environment and the wildlife…by trying to protect the rivers, the sacred nature of the sacred space we have been very violently murdered, threatened, killed, actually killed. The reason why all the violence have been happening is to build up dams, build up roads, that are going to be used to build up the dams. And also for agrobusiness to plant soy or corn and sugarcane, huge monocultures. To export! It is not even going to stay in the country. I ask you friends, sisters, people from my own family, to think about that because it’s in the name of development that all this abuse been done, and all this violence and all these cruel things are happening. And when we talk about preserving the forest we talk about preserving it for all of us, for the whole planet.” Valéria Paye Pereira

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Valéria Paye Pereira – (Tiriyó and Kaxuyana) Member of Executive Coordination for APIB (Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) in Brasília/DF – speaks on the dire escalation of violence and criminalization against defenders of the land

The Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice was held on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) – and included the launch of the ‘Call for Climate Justice and Immediate Action’, a vital document from women for climate justice to GCAS, denouncing false solutions and calling for community-led solutions and real action for climate justice (more information below!).

The Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice can be watched via Facebook video links: Part 1Part 2  – Part 3 – and Part 4

Portions of the event can also be watched via Vimeo here

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Wanda Culp – (Tlingit) Artist and forest defender, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator in the Tongass, Alaska – shares a traditional song before beginning her presentation on protection of the Tongass rainforest

The event featured powerful stories and analysis from: Corrina Gould (Ohlone, Spokesperson Confederated Villages of Lisjan, Co-Founder of the Sogorea Te Land Trust, and Co-Founder of Indian People Organizing for Change); Pennie Opal Plant (Yaqui & undocumented Choctaw & Cherokee, Co-Founder of Idle No More SF Bay, Co-Founder of Movement Rights); Her Excellency President Hilda C. Heine (President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands) via letter/message to the event read by her daughter, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner (Poet and Co Founder of Jo-Jikum, Marshall Islands); Honorable Mary Robinson (President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate ;Justice, former President of Ireland); President Mirian Cisneros (Kichwa, President of the Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador); Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca, Ponca Nation Council-Woman, and WECAN International Advisory Council Member); Amy Goodman ​(Host and Executive Producer of Democracy Now!); Jacqueline Patterson (Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program); Kandi Mossett White (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lead Organizer on the Extreme Energy & Just Transition Campaign with the Indigenous Environmental Network); Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action, Canada); Nina Gualinga (Kichwa, Leader from the Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador); Michelle Cook (Diné, Human rights lawyer, and Founder and Co-Director of the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign); Neema Namadamu (Founder of SAFECO, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo); Antonia Juhasz (Energy author, investigative journalist and analyst, specializing in oil); Wanda Culp (Tlingit, Artist and forest defender, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator in the Tongass, Alaska); Valéria Paye Pereira (Tiriyó and Kaxuyana, Member of Executive Coordination for APIB (Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) in Brasília/DF); Dr. Gail Myers (Agri-Cultural Anthropologist, Co-Founder of Farms to Grow, Inc., and co-initiator of the Freedom Farmers Market in Oakland, California); Miriam Nobre (Representative of World March of Women in Brazil, and member of the technical team of SOF, Sempreviva Organziação Feminista); Leila Salazar-López (Executive Director of Amazon Watch); Bridget Burns (Co-Director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, WEDO); Shannon Biggs (Co-Founder of Movement Rights); Elizabeth Kaiser (Regenerative farmer, Owner/Operator of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, California); Doria Robinson (Executive Director of Urban Tilth, Representative of the Climate Justice Alliance); Amira Diamond (Co-Director of the Women’s Earth Alliance, WEA); Crystal Huang (Coordinator of Energy Democracy National Tour and Founder of CrossPollinators); Morissa Zuckerman (Representative with Sunrise Movement); and Karina Gonzales, Emily Arasim, and Osprey Orielle Lake of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International).

(Left) Miriam Nobre, Representative of World March of Women in Brazil, and member of the technical team of SOF Sempreviva Organização Feminista – (Right) Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner,  Poet and Co Founder of Jo-Jikum, Marshall Islands reads a statement from her mother, Her Excellency President Hilda C. Heine – President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Click here to learn more about and support the work of  all of the fantastic speakers

Click here to explore more photos from the event

“We can take swift action to localize our food choices, localize our diet, by deciding where we spend our money and who we seek to spend our money with. I suggest local farmers, sustainable farmers, women farmers, diverse farmers, who are always attuned to the agro-ecological systems and balancing the ecosystem. They grow food in a traditional way. And with growing this food with every seed they plant they recover a memory. There’s a memory in those seeds and it takes us back again to a time when everything was intact. When the farmers and the women and the traditional people made decisions around what was going to be planted and what was going to be harvested. It was a diversified system….Decolonizing the food system and the way we see it is about alternatives to capitalism, cooperatives, [because] we have got to get rid of this capitalism.” – Dr. Gail Meyers

(Left) Keynote speech by President Mirian Cisneros, Kichwa, President of the Pueblo of Sarayaku, Ecuador, and Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch – (Right) Panel featuring Jacqueline Patterson (Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program); Bridget Burns (Co-Director of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)); Morissa Zuckerman (Representative with Sunrise Movement); and Antonia Juhasz (Energy author, investigative journalist and analyst, specializing in oil)

Amongst the many esteemed individuals, organizations and groups featured at the event, WECAN International was thrilled to have the opportunity to feature the work of several of our projects and collaborations.

As part of the presentation of Wanda Culp, Tlingit artist, forest defender, and WECAN International Regional Coordinator in the Tongass, Alaska – we premiered our new video, A Call To Action To Protect The Tongass Forest.

The video, which features Wanda, was filmed during a WECAN delegation to Alaska to meet with local Indigenous women, to develop a strategy and campaign to increase awareness and highlight the violent logging impacting the land, water, and their communities and traditional life-ways.

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Wanda Culp and Osprey Orielle Lake

The Tongass is the largest remaining global temperate rainforest; the largest national forest in the U.S; and has been called ‘America’s climate forest’ due to its unsurpassed ability to sequester carbon and mitigate climate impacts. The video was released at the September 11th event, as part of an acceleration in work to block  the Trump administration attempts to strip down remaining protections, and open more of this ancient forest to logging.

We also heard from Neema Namadamu (Founder of SAFECO, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo) about her work with the WECAN  reforestation project in the DR Congo, where women leaders are working to restore their home ecosystem through the planting of ten of thousands of native trees.

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Neema Namadamu – Founder of SAFECO/ Hero Women Rising – Maman Shujaa, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Michelle Cook, Diné, Human rights lawyer, and Founder and Co-Director of the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign, shared about the struggle for Indigenous rights and the work of the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations, which embarked in October 2018 on the fourth delegation to pursue strategic action to pressure institutional divestment from extractive industries in Indigenous lands. WECAN’s Osprey Orielle Lake is honored to Co-Direct the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign with Michelle, and to facilitate the Delegations.

“As Indigenous peoples we remember a time before wall street, we remember a time when women were in control of their economies – and in fact, we are just doing what we’ve always done as indigenous women, and that is to protect our people and protect our future generations. And so I’m just carrying on that tradition of my ancestors….Land as possession is occurring in the United States against indigenous peoples and it is normal. It is normal here in the United States for our people not to have rights. And so, if we are serious, serious, about saving this planet, and keeping our world from burning, we have to secure indigenous peoples land rights in the United States. And that means challenging the domestic legal system here and implementing human rights standards that are found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” – Michelle Cook

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Karina Gonzales and Emily Arasim of WECAN International share the Women Speak database

In a special presentation, Karina Gonzales (WECAN Women Speak Program Coordinator), and Emily Arasim (WECAN Communications Coordinator) shared the Women Speak: Stories, Case Studies and Solutions From The Frontlines of Climate Change storytelling and research database, as a tool for all event participants to take home with them!

The ripples from this gathering continue to expand as new projects and working relationships were firmly seeded at the Assembly, as women collectively set forward their strategic analysis and campaigns.

 

 

Delivery Of The ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action’ To The Global Action Action Summit Leadership

In the months leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, WECAN International worked to write and circulate – The ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action; A Message from Women for Climate Justice to the Global Climate Action Summit Steering Committee, Government Representatives and Participants‘.

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Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International Executive Director, presents the Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action to a GCAS representative

The ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action’ presents six core demands, including a call for assertive plans to keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground and ban new extractive energy projects; the centering of women’s leadership; the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples; the promotion of decentralized and democratic and regenerative renewable energy systems; the upholding of the Rights of Nature; and the protection of biodiversity and food and seed sovereignty.

As it reads in it’s opening –

“We call on elected officials to steadfastly commit to keep global warming below 1.5°Celsius, as stated in the Paris Climate Accord, via policies that simultaneously prioritize social, racial and economic justice for all.”

On the opening evening of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), members of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network and a contingent of allied women took action to deliver this bold set of demands and calls to action from global women for climate justice, to the formal GCAS leadership.

WECAN International Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, presented the document to Mr. Nick Nuttall, Director of Communications for the Global Climate Action Summit, calling on him to ensure the delivery of the Call to Action to the GCAS leadership and participating elected officials.

At the time of delivery, the document had been signed by over 40 international organizations representing tens of thousands of people, including – Indigenous Climate Action (Canada), Indigenous Environmental Network, Greenpeace, Global Grassroots Justice Alliance, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Women In Solar Energy, Amazon Watch, Global Forest Coalition, Voice of Women (Maldives), Australian Earth Laws Alliance, TierrActiva (Peru), Adéquations (France), Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (Uganda) – and many others.

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Honorable Mary Robinson discusses the Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action during her speech inside GCAS

On September 14th, after obtaining credentials to enter the GCAS summit, WECAN representatives attended the morning session hosted by Mary Robinson titled “To Act On Climate, Empower Women”.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, used her platform to point out the need for more representation of frontline, Indigenous, and directly impacted women. She also mentioned the importance of the powerful and diverse women leaders who spoke at WECAN’s Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice earlier in the week – and drew the attention of fellow GCAS participants to the Call To Action document that was released at the Women’s Assembly.

Inside the closed doors of the summit, WECAN International continued to distribute The Call To Action to GCAS delegates and government officials.

‘Stand With Communities Not Corporations’ Direct-Action With Allies

Led by Idle No More SF Bay, Diablo Rising Tide, the Ruckus Society, It Takes Roots, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sunflower Alliance and Brown’s Last Chance – many hundreds of people collectively and peacefully blockaded the entrance to GCAS on the conferences first full day, in an effort to make their voices heard by representatives inside of GCAS making decisions and deals largely without community involvement or consent.

(Left) Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN International and Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights during the #StandWithCommunitiesNotCorporations direct action – (Right) Frontline California youth leaders in action during the #StandWithCommunitiesNotCorporations direct action

The rallying call of the day, which rang true throughout all of the week of action, was for elected officials to ‘stand with communities, not corporations’. The direct action was covered by various major news outlets, helping draw vital national and international attention to the lack of real ambition and commitment; and the corporate green-washing taking place in the GCAS space.

In the Call to Action, WECAN also spotlighted issues within the US, recognizing the unique potential of the Global Climate Action Summit to drive change in the United States, the country with the largest emissions per capita in the world and with disproportionate geopolitical power and privilege. Therefore, we urged leaders in the United States, especially Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg to demonstrate true climate leadership: banning all new fossil fuel leases and development, from offshore oil extraction to natural gas build-out countrywide (and in California through the Browns’ Last Chance campaign); prioritizing and respecting the rights and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples in North America, from the resistance at Standing Rock to the Bayou Bridge and Line 3 pipelines; refusing contributions from the fossil fuel industry by signing the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge; and advancing visionary climate justice policies such as Green New Deal and a Federal Jobs and Green Infrastructure Guarantee.

Advocacy In Solidarity With Indigenous Women Leaders Of The Kichwa Pueblo Of Sarayaku

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In action with women leaders from the Pueblo of Sarayaku, President Mirian Cisneros, Nina Gualinga, Samai Gualinga, and ally Leila Salazar Lopez of Amazon Watch

Over the course of the week, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network  representatives were honored to be able to stand in solidarity with Indigenous women leaders from the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon, as Sarayaku representatives continued to share and advocate for their Living Forests Proposal and to fight for Indigenous rights.

“I am here to say, that we cannot negotiate with Earth, we cannot negotiate with climate. The economic, and the governments approaches to solutions is not getting us out of this crisis. The way this climate summit is being run, and the way that the governors climate and forest task force is being run, is not protecting the forests, water, and frontline communities that are key in preventing the worst effects of climate change…Before I came here, I spoke with many communities, and they have not given their consent to carbon trading. The only way to cease climate change is by keeping fossil fuels in the grounds, and protecting forests, and that means supporting and listening to Indigenous peoples who have been living in and protecting these forests for many many hundreds of years.” – Nina Gualinga

On the first afternoon of GCAS, Nina Gualinga took to the GCAS stage and delivered a powerful first hand account from her community, and analysis on  Indigenous leadership, rights, and solutions.

Watch Nina’s full speech to GCAS here.

Other Key Events and Actions With Allies

While in action over the course of the week, WECAN International had the opportunity to attend and participate in diverse events and actions hosted by allied organizations from across California, the U.S., and the world. A few select events are highlighted below.

As an opening to the action-packed week, WECAN International representatives were honored to attend an Inter-Tribal Teach In and Direct Action training led by Save the West Berkeley Shellmound, and local Ohlone leader,  Spokesperson of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, Co-Founder of Sogorea Te Land Trust, and Co-Founder of Indian People Organizing for Change, Corrina Gould.

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Signs to reclaim space at the Berkeley Shellmound site

The day of ceremony, sharing, and training took place at the West Berkeley Shellmound, an ancient burial and ceremonial site of the Lisjan/Ohlone tribe, which is considered to be one the oldest sacred site in the Bay Area. While most of the Shellmound has already been eaten up by the surrounding city, one small section remains, and local Indigenous leaders and their allies have been engaged in a multi-year efforts to stop a proposed retail and housing development from being built atop the sacred ground, while simultaneously educating the community about the original inhabitants of the land, and their continue right to survive, thrive, and protect ancestral memory. Learn more and support this vital effort here.

On September 12th WECAN International’s Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, was invited to attend an event held by the former Prime Minister of Ireland, Mary Robinson, titled “Changing the Climate Conversation: Enabling Women’s Participation to Advance Climate Justice.”

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Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN International, with allies Achala Abeysinghe, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim during the ‘Changing the Climate Conversation’ event

The aim of the event was to broaden the awareness among decision makers to the lack of female perspective at the table and the more on-the-ground experiences indigenous women can provide. The event brought together heads of state, ministers, climate change policy-makers, civil society representatives, business leaders, activists, organizers and Indigenous leaders – who sat side-by-side and talked through problems within the climate change regime, and discussed ways to incite change.  Participants included Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, Minister Inia Seruiratu of Fiji, Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainability Energy for All and the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, as well as representatives of indigenous communities and grassroots activists from all corners of the globe. Key messages from the dialogue were highlighted in a formal GCAS session later in the week.

On the evening of September 13th, WECAN International attended the premiere of the documentary film, The Condor and The Eagle – which WECAN has contributed content to, and which prominently features our Advisory Council Member, Casey Camp Horinek, a Ponca Nation Council-Woman who recounts stories of the impacts of oil extraction on her community in Oklahoma, and on relatives from Standing Rock, North Dakota. Watch a trailer of the documentary here.

All throughout the week, were were also thrilled to be able to take part in various other events and actions held by the Sol2Sol #ItTakesRoots coalition, and by allies at Idle No More SF Bay and Amazon Watch.

The work engaged in by WECAN International and our allies during GCAS will continue to echo forward and grow, as land defenders, water protectors, advocates, activists, and community organizers continue to push forward for climate justice at the local, national, and international level, including the upcoming COP24 climate talks in Poland, where many of us will continue to press governments for action.

The people, united, will never be defeated as we stand for our beautiful planet and future generations.

(Left) Women for Climate Justice in action at the Rise For Climate march – (Right)WECAN International Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, with long-time allies and collaborators, Pennie Opal Plant (Idle No More SF Bay) and Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca Nation Council woman and WECAN Advisory Council member).

More information and photos from Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network’s work on the ground in California during GCAS and peoples movement actions can also be explored via media stories including:

 

 

 

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