Uplifting Rights of Nature to Protect Our Living Earth: 2016 WECAN Training Recap

Blog by Emily Arasim, WECAN Communications Coordinator

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Living forests of the Ecuadorian Amazon – Photo by Emily Arasim

For just and effective climate change solutions, we must transform dominant economic, legal, social, political and cultural frameworks surrounding our relationship with each other and the living Earth.

On April 25, 2016, activists, educators, students, mothers and many other diverse allies joined together to explore this vital concept via an open online training, ‘Rights of Nature: Protecting and Defending the Places We Live’, presented by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International.

Over the course of the training, presenters Shannon Biggs (Movement Rights) and Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN) shared the paradigm-shifting work of Rights of Nature, and explained how it is already being used around the US and the world to challenge legal systems based on exploitation of the Earth, and instead usher in a new set of frameworks based upon the inherent rights and natural laws of Mother Earth.

Osprey Orielle Lake began the training by presenting an overview of the dynamic international Rights of Nature movement.

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WECAN presents at a Rights of Nature press conference in Paris during the UN 2015 COP21 Climate Negotiations. Pictured left to right: Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network), Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN) and Pablo Solon (Fundación Solón) – Photo by Emily Arasim

Osprey is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, working internationally with grassroots and Indigenous leaders, policymakers and scientists to mobilize women for climate justice, resilient communities, systemic change, and a just transition to a clean energy future. Osprey serves as co-Chair of International Advocacy for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and as a member of the Bay Area Alliance for the Rights of Nature, acting as a judge and secretariat at numerous Rights of Nature Tribunals and events in recent years. She is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature’.

For Osprey and WECAN International, encountering Rights of Nature was a breakthrough, defining moment which allowed the organization to begin to address climate change at the deep systemic level that crisis of this magnitude demands – a level that confronts and calls for changes in our entire way of being, from the personal to the political.

“Rights of Nature is a revolutionary and evolutionary concept – which at the heart, at a very deep level, can address the dysfunctional economic and legal frameworks that are currently destroying people and planet,” Osprey began.

“After decades of environmental protection laws, which have had some notable successes, we can see that modern legal frameworks overwhelmingly fail to prevent the threats of climate change, degradation of our ecosystems and the growing displacement of humans and other species. So to live sustainably, we really need to change the very DNA of our legal frameworks,” she continued.

Osprey explained that the vast majority of modern legal frameworks treat nature as property, meaning that life giving forests, mountains, rivers and lakes can be sold, consumed and devastated under the protection of trade, property rights and commerce laws.

Because the Earth is treated as property, it has no legal standing of it’s own, rendering violations and harms to the Earth invisible in the modern ‘justice’ system.

“Yes we have environmental laws, but who is writing them? Yes we have regulation, but they are just giving limits to pollution, not attempting to halt it.”

“It is clear that we cannot solve this crisis by further subjecting the Earth to the very same system and worldview that caused this crisis,” she explained, outlining how capitalism and extractive modern economies inherently and by their very nature rely upon this legalized ownership of the Earth.

According to Osprey, the consequences of dominant legal frameworks reach deeper than just empowerment of destructive economics and failure to protect the growing threats of climate change.

“In adhering to current structures of law, we are furthering a dangerous human relationship with the natural world, and a vision of exploitation that cannot be allowed to continue. It all comes from, and continues to support this old paradigm, based in patriarchy and colonialism. A paradigm of ‘dominion over’ – dominion over women, dominion over the Earth, and dominion over Indigenous cultures. This is why at WECAN our four founding principles are the Rights of Women, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Rights of Nature and the Rights of Future Generations. ”

“Just as we recognize that it is wrong for men to consider women property, we really need to have an entirely different legal configuration that recognizes that Earth’s living systems are not the property of humans,” she continued.

Osprey went on to share inspiring news – action to challenge dominant systems of law and usher in a vision of rights and respect for the living Earth is not just theoretical, but rather is being put into action by a growing body of organizations, communities and countries.

Countries like Bolivia and Ecuador have adopted Rights of Nature measures within their national constitutions (albeit with serious problems in implementation). In New Zealand, a river has been giving legal rights and standing. Across the US and beyond, communities are passing local Rights of Nature ordinances to stop fracking, GMO’s, corporate theft of water and much more.

“Rights of Nature is a tool to directly stop corporate activities by raising human and Earth rights above those of the corporations,” Osprey emphasized, “We can change our laws, and we have the right to do that.”

With this strong vision, Rights of Nature thus emerges as a tool to challenge extractive industries, corrupt trade deals, carbon trading and false climate solutions, while also opening a door for personal and collective return to a life affirming relationship with the Earth.

“There is a real need to also change our fundamental personal values and what we uphold as meaningful in our lives…In this sense the development and implementation of Rights of Nature is best understood as a deep and necessary shift in our human understanding of our tie to Earth, as well as a change in legal and economic structures. It is about changing our values, our laws and our culture at the same time.”

In closing her presentation, Osprey highlighted a parallel and deeply interconnected movement from Indigenous leaders of South America.

“‘Sumak Kawsi’ or ‘Buen Vivir’, ‘good living’ has been described by Indigenous allies in many ways, including living in ecological and economic balance; harmony in relationships; personal and collective growth appropriate to local conditions; good health; living well in community, including the larger ecologic community; and a worldview centered on a “living cosmos that we are part and particle of.”

Sumak Kawsi is a worldview poised to helping bring life and actualization to the critical ideas encompassed within Rights of Nature.

Another avenue through which Rights of Nature are being put into action is International Rights of Nature Tribunals, a growing body of events in which expert judges and witnesses try diverse cases of Earth rights violations to demonstrate how Rights of Nature could be implemented, and the incredible momentum and results that can be engendered by their use. Osprey closed with a short video on the recent Tribunal in Paris during COP21 climate negotiations.

As the enchanting final words of Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca Nation) closed the video, Shannon Biggs took the floor.

Shannon Biggs is the Co-Founder and Director of Movement Rights, an organization born in 2015 out of 12 years of work with Global Exchange, where she served as Director of Development before beginning the Community and Nature’s Rights Program.

Shannon is a leading international speaker, author and activist on the growing movement for Rights of Nature, and is the co-author of two books and many reports, including ‘Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots’ and ‘The Rights of Nature’. She is a lecturer of weekend ‘Democracy Schools’ that explore the rights-based framework for change, and leads Rights of Nature trainings around the country and world.

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Shannon Biggs presents on fracking as a violation of the Rights of Nature at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris during COP21

Shannon began her presentation my framing two critical questions – ‘What would it look like to live in a world in which the Rights of Nature are upheld?’ and more importantly, ‘How do we get there?’.

Shannon’s reply to the second question was short and powerful; “System change starts where you live.”

Through Movement Rights and other allied organizations, Shannon is working to build towards system change by “shifting law and culture”.

Her works sits at the intersection of Rights of Nature and community rights, focused on helping communities take back power in their locale by writing new laws that recognize their right to protect the Earth and determine what happens in their community, effectively placing their rights and Earth Rights over the supposed ‘rights’ of corporations.

“We are told that things like fracking, or dams or water withdrawals or the many other things that makes our homes sacrifice zones, we are told that we don’t have the ability to say no to say to those things,” Shannon explained.

“…but the kind of rights we are talking about are not gifts from governments, the kind of rights we are talking about are inalienable – the right to clean water, clean air… We cannot give these away and this is not something the government can grant us.”

“So our work is about changing the rules. If the law is standing in the way of us protecting our children, protecting our families, protecting Nature – then it is time to change the law and change where decisions are made.”

“Imagine, for example, what would it look like for the Gulf coast if the ecosystem had rights in a court of law to sure BP for full restoration? How quickly would we have changed how deep sea drilling is done, or if it is done at all?” she questioned.

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Shannon Biggs and Osprey Orielle Lake pictured in front of open hydraulic fracking flares in North Dakota, USA – Photo by Emily Arasim

Shannon framed law as “how we use power to make real a worldview”. Currently, law is empowering a worldview based on patriarchy, rights and dominion over the Earth and endless material growth, but this need not be the case. In challenging and changing law, we break down structures of power and dangerous worldviews.

“History shows us again and again that culture changes law, and law in turn broadly changes culture,” Shannon explained, drawing attention to Right of Nature as a continuation of the trajectory of past peoples movement for rights, including movements to abolish slavery and fight for women’s rights.

Shannon also spoke deeply to the centrality of Indigenous rights and leadership within the context of Rights of Nature.

“This is a time for Indigenous leadership. This is about learning from the original instructions… and this is what we need most desperately – how do we begin to restore our relationship with the Earth – in our mind states, laws and cultures?” she reflected.

“Indigenous people are standing up at this time, all around the world, to showcase how to protect the Earth. They are the defenders and protectors of the most biodiverse places on Earth, and from them we have so much to learn about how to live in balance. As part of Rights of Nature we must support global communities to make sure that Indigenous lands stay in Indigenous hands.”

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Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca, Oklahoma) and Gloria Ushigua Santi (Sapara, Ecuador) standing in mutual solidarity in Paris for the COP 21 (in front of their respective portraits by Mona Caron. Photo via Movement Rights.

Shannon closed by sharing the case of Tamaqua Borough, Pennsylvania, USA, the first global community to enact a local Rights of Nature ordinance.

In the face of attempts to fill a nearby mine site with contaminated sludge, citizens organized successfully to create a local law declaring the right of the ecosystem to be free from further contamination. Since this 2006 victory, the movement has spread quickly.

“What started as a ripple in the pond in Tamaqua Borough went to Ecuador, to Bolivia, to New Zealand, to India and it also came back to countless small communities who began asking ‘how can we do that here?’.”

Shannon noted that most Tamaqua Borough residents did not necessarily see themselves as environmental defenders, or as beings spiritually connected to the Earth, but rather saw Rights of Nature as a practical and effective tool for community, home and land protection.

“This is very important to consider as we explore how this movement can grow and spread. We must meet and start where people are.”

Nonetheless, Shannon explained that recognizing Rights of Nature and the legal standing of the Earth does ultimately means taking responsibility for our personal stewardship, recognizing that we are part and parcel of the Earth, and involving ourselves in organizing and action to defend and ensure that her rights are effectively and justly upheld once recognized.

Shannon closed by sharing information about the Bay Area ‘What Would The Delta Say? Rights of Tribunal’, held in April 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Tribunal was used as a stage to discuss and try corporate and state actors seeking to build tunnels to take water from Northern to Southern California to spur development and continued fracking and oil drilling.

“Through the Tribunal we want to give a voice to the Delta ecosystem. It is an opportunity for the fish to speak, for the marshes to speak, for us to truly look at how this affects the people and ecosystems of the Delta. It is an opportunity to pursue environmental justice and to envision a world in which rights were upheld.”

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Mobilizing to protect the Bay Area Delta. Photo via Movement Rights.

In closing the training, Osprey framed Rights of Nature as a powerful tool to take back power in our communities, reassert our democracy, and challenge corrupt ‘1%’ governance structures facilitating environmental and social abuses around the world.

The training ended with a fascinating Questions and Answer session in which participants delved into topics including the applicability of Rights of Nature to movements to protect seeds, farmers rights, and stop GMOs; connection between Rights of Nature and work to defend and support land defenders; Rights of Nature as an element of preparations and community capacity developments for Treaty negotiations of Indigenous peoples in US, Canada and beyond; problems with commodification of the Earth and assigning monetary value to ecosystem functions; and reflections on identity, “deep and ancient reciprocal relationship” and our sacred interconnection with the Earth.

More information about this and other recent WECAN US Women’s Climate Justice Initiative Education and Advocacy trainings available here.

Rights of Nature Training Resources (shared by presenters and training participants):

 

 

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‘Rights of Nature: Protecting & Defending the Places We Live’ Training Resources

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On July 28, 2015 the U.S Women’s Climate Justice Initiative presented the final session in a series of free, online advocacy and education trainings. ‘Rights of Nature & Community Rights: Protecting & Defending the Places We Live’ featured climate women leaders Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights and Osprey Orielle Lake of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network.

During the training Shannon and Osprey provided a background on Rights of Nature and the importance of a legal framework that honors Earths living systems rather than treating them as property. They described how Rights of Nature can be used to take immediate, concrete steps to protect our communities and the planet– and also as a tool for furthering deep, long-term shifts in culture, law, policy, and our relationship with the Earth. They shared techniques for asserting community rights and Rights of Nature over supposed corporate ‘rights’, power, and profit, and told stories about communities across the US and the world who are already using local Rights of Nature ordinances to take back their ability to protect the Earth and make decisions about the places they call home.

A collection of resources presented during the training is provided below.

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International Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal Climate Change Case Statement

On December 5 and 6, 2014, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature convened the second ‘International Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal’ in Lima, Peru, using the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth to examine and make formal observations on cases of exploitation of the Earth that have remained outside the consideration of formal institutions.

Cases on trail included the BP Deep Horizon oil spill, the Belo Monte mega-dam in Brazil, threats to the Great Barrier Reef, fracking projects in North America and Bolivia, REDD initiatives, the persecution of defenders of the Earth, and unmitigated fossil fuel and mineral extraction in sites such as Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park and El Mirador gold mine, and Peru’s Four Rivers Basin.

WECAN International Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, served as a judge during the Tribunal, focusing specifically on the case analyzing the ways in which Earths inherent rights have been violated by the impacts of climate change and false climate solutions. Her final statement is presented below, alongside photos from the event.


Honorable President of the Tribunal and Ladies and Gentleman,

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Blanca Chancoso, Kichwa leader, Ecuador.

I want to express my deepest appreciation for all the witnesses for Mother Earth who have spoken so powerfully in the defense of Pachamama and their communities these past two days. Particularly, I want to honor the voices of the Indigenous women who have spoken here.

Thank you to the presenters of the climate change case for such a compelling and critical testimony about global warming and false solutions.

The presentation reminded me of a forum I participated in during the Peoples Climate March in New York City this past September. Scientists were reporting on their research concerning the harmful effects of increasing CO2 emissions on pregnant women and their growing babies. What was almost too difficult to grasp at this forum was that we, as a species, we are literally weighing the very health of our babies against a destructive system that has gone completely mad.

Today the climate change presenters have made well-founded arguments illustrating the ways in which the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth have been fundamentally violated by global temperature rise, and by a myriad of false solutions being proposed for mitigation.

If the global mean temperature warms by more than 2 °Celsius (and likely less than that given the dangerous change we have already witnessed), risks to ecosystems and livelihoods will surpass tolerable levels. Your arguments have made it clear that the consequences of climate change are leading to irreversible and fatal changes to the very web of life.

President of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil, Ninawa Kaxinawá (Hunikui)

Because of a world view based on domination of Nature, and a destructive capitalist framework based on endless material growth and extractivism, grave violations of Mother Earth’s rights are taking place, destroying not only animals, plants, rivers, oceans and the atmosphere, but bringing into question the very existence of the human species.

The fossil fuel industry, our governance structures, and corporate institutions must be held accountable for these violations against Nature. While many world leaders hold on to the notion that we can postpone serious reductions in fossil fuels, nature is clearly demonstrating that Earth’s natural laws cannot be manipulated, compromised, or ignored.

From the arguments of the presenters, we can see that false solutions, such as geo-engineering, carbon capture and storage, nuclear energy, and ‘climate smart’ industrial agriculture are only furthering violations of Mother Earth’s rights. These are a techno fixes that interfere with the natural laws of our planet and further promote the commodification and financialization of living systems.

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Mary Louise Malig.

Geo-engineering is doubly dangerous and destructive because it not only interferes with the Earth’s natural ability to balance herself, but it also does nothing to address the root causes of climate change.

As Naomi Klein stated in her book This Changes Everything, “The appeal of geo-engineering is that it doesn’t threaten our worldview. It leaves us in a dominant position. It says that there is an escape hatch.” In other words, it allows us to just keep doing what are doing, despite the fact that it is clearly not working.

Likewise, you have shown us that market mechanisms are a violation of the Earth’s rights, allowing for escalating destruction through the buying and selling of the right to pollute through schemes like carbon trading.

It is not a surprise that in these schemes Nature is assumed to be an object of the marketplace, as the commodification and financialization of nature is inherent in the capitalist system.

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Osprey Orielle Lake.

We must ask ourselves: Does it make any sense to try to protect the Earth and heal our damaged ecosystems by further subjecting nature to the very logics and systems that caused the damage in the first place?

Our Mother Earth is calling out to us and our hearts are breaking. She is letting us know that we are on a path of great devastation. Today, our hearts also break for our fallen sisters and brother, defenders of the land, whose stories we have heard throughout the Tribunal.

And while it is true the Earth will live on and survive even we do not, it is tragic to think that our mark as species on this beautiful, luminous planet will be one of destruction and violence, instead of beauty, dignity and harmony with Nature.

Your presentation makes it clear that our legal and economic frameworks are at war with the sacred web of life. We need an entirely different legal configuration that recognizes that living systems are not enslaved human property for our exploitation. In order to live in harmony with the Earth and safeguard a healthy world for present and future generations, we need to reform the destructive aspects of our modern life.

The testimony of the climate change presenters highlights this urgent need to address climate change with solutions based on climate justice and respect for the natural laws of the planet.

I will name here just 9 of a myriad of actions we need to take in concert given the scale of this crisis.

  1. We need to advance a new society, based on social justice and environmental sustainability that recognizes human rights and Rights of Nature.
  2.  We must limit global warming to below 2.0 °Celsius, but we should and can aim for the 1.5° limit proposed by acutely vulnerable nations.
  3.  All CO2-emissions must fall to net zero by mid-century, at the very latest.
  4.  We must divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy.
  5. We need to respect all governmental treaties with Indigenous peoples and defend their right to continue to inhabit traditional lands, undisturbed by industrial projects and extractive industries.
  6.  We must reject greenhouse gas emissions reductions schemes that come from high-risk technologies, like geo-engineering and nuclear power.
  7. We must address unsustainable consumption and production in the Global North, and governments must recognize the historic responsibilities of industrialized countries.
  8. We must leave at least 80% of the remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground and stop further fossil fuel exploration and development
  9. We must transition to 100% renewable energy sources and decentralize and democratize ownership of this new energy economy.
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Domingo Ankuash, Shuar leader from Ecuador led the case against the El Mirador gold mine. He is calling for an investigation of the tragic death of Shuar leader J. Tendentza, killed a few days ago as he prepared to travel to Lima to testify at the Tribunal & other events.

We need to support movements and governance and economic structures that are not based on endless material growth, and instead envision a new way of living that is based on care for each other and Pachamama, Mother Earth. A society with a new understanding of ourselves, progress, and well-being.

Sumak Kawsy, or ‘living well’, a concept coming from the great wisdom of our Indigenous sisters and brothers, offers us an important direction forward to help us overcome current misconceptions of ‘development’ and well being. As we think about reparation, mitigation, restoration and prevention of further harm to each other and the Earth, we need to embrace these ideas of Sumak Kawsy.

In this way, uplifting the Rights of Nature can help us address our dysfunctional systems and support the transition we need by reconnecting us with the world around us. This is essential because underlying so many of the root causes of our destructive relationship with the Earth is a belief that we are somehow separate from nature.

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Casey Camp Horinek of the Ponca First Nation.

This sense of disconnect from our living Earth has proven to be not only spiritually heartbreaking and ecologically devastating, but a disaster in the human experiment. My hope is that in uncovering how our current legal and economic systems violate Natures rights, and in confronting the false climate change solutions being put forward by policymakers, we will have a deeply needed societal transformation. That we will come home, back to Mother Earth with respect and care, and rather quickly given the small window of time we have before we pass ecological tipping points.

As case presenters and Mr.Pablo Salon stated, climate change is very complex and far-reaching, consequently, the judges affirm that this case will remain open for further evidence to be collected and prepared for a Tribunal during the UN climate negotiations in Paris next year.

Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal members held a press briefing to present Tribunal findings at UNFCCC COP20 climate negotiations. Pictured from left to right: Nnimmo Bassey, Atossa Soltani, Tom Goldtooth, Pablo Salon, and Osprey Orielle Lake . Photo via Andrew Miller.

You can watch the press conference on the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal here: http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-09-14-00-amazon-watch

Statement of the Meeting of Women on Climate Change and Extractive Industry Issues/ Declaracion del Encuentro de Mujeres Frente Al Extractivismo y al Cambio Climatico

On October 14, 2014, a group of women leaders gathered for ‘the Meeting of Women on Climate Change and Extractive Industry Issues’ in Quito, Ecuador. During powerful presentations and discussions, these Indigenous women and their allies spoke out against the fossil fuel and mineral extraction which is poisoning the Earth and the mental, spiritual, and physical health of their communities. Denouncing false development paradigms and territorial dispossession, the women ultimately gave voice to their concerns and solutions in the ‘Statement of the Meeting of Women on Climate Change and Extractive Industry Issues’ (Declaración del Encuentro de Mujeres Frente al Extractivismo y al Cambio Climático).

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International) stands in solidarity with these women, and is working to help distribute and increase the visibility of their statement during the mobilization surrounding the UNFCCC COP20 climate negotiations happening in Lima, Peru this week. On December 8, WECAN International will collaborate with members of the delegation of Ecuadorian women who have brought the statement to Peru, reading and discussing the document as part of the ‘Women Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change-Lima’ event.

The full declaration is presented below in Spanish and English.

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Photo by Felipe Jacome


Statement of the Meeting of Women on Climate Change & Extractive Industry Issues

Quito, Ecuador. October 14, 2014

“It is when there are great threats to life, when life itself is at stake, this is when women who seemed marginal rise with all their might, it is with all their commitment, all their resistance, all their energy, this is what is now happening with the daughters of corn, with the daughters of the earth.” -Vandana Shiva

One way to exploit nature is through the extraction of oil and minerals, which uses huge amounts of water while it contaminates and produces toxic waste; these chemicals also sicken the soil and people. When oil and mining companies reach the territories, they cause big problems- they break the community ties and replace them with conflicts within the families, the division of communities, and leave confrontations between them. The damage caused by these extractive activities are for the long term, and last much longer than the economic profit they say to generate.

Women in the areas considered oil zones, suffer the impacts of extractive activities in our bodies; we have reported the increase of gastrointestinal, respiratory and dermic, diseases, the growing cancer in our bodies and in our families. Women are wise when we say that “we do not want alcoholism, we do not want prostitution and we do not want men beating us. We do not want a life in which even though we can be offered schools, latrines or zinc houses, we do not feel worthy”, as pointed out by Patricia Gualinga, leader of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, in reference to the consequences that Oil Round XI would bring to their lives. With oil and mining activities agricultural products also decrease due to pollution, animals die, there is loss of growing crop areas, affecting the livelihoods of families and the community.

With oil and mining expansion, the dispossession of lands and territories of peasant and indigenous communities has intensified. Throughout this process of dispossession there has not only been violated and ignored social, economic and collective rights of peoples, but also, there has also been a physical and cultural wiped out of entire villages in order to take away their lands and exploit oil and minerals. An example of this, is the disappearance of the Tetete and Sansaguari people. And, women are one of the groups who suffer the most with the stripping of their rights and territories.

Our presence as women in socio-environmental struggles has gained prominence, allowing to denounce the exploitation of oil, minerals, and the exploitation of women. All these forms of exploitation have a common origin: the subjection to a development model that subordinates life to the accumulation of capital expressed in extractivism, that devalues, in practice, the conservation work and the care for life and natural heritage that, for centuries, women have done in these rural communities. Besides defending life, water and land, we ensure the health of families, food sovereignty, the rights and defense of Mother Earth by facing the capitalist system that is expressed in the predatory extractivism, that is inequitable, unjust, and that ignores women and prioritizes the reproduction of capital above the reproduction of life.

While it is true that the degradation and pollution processes affect the community as a whole, there exists greater vulnerability in women, children and the elderly due to direct exposure to pollutants and for not knowing the risk factors associated with them. The impacts of extractive activities alter the reproductive life cycle, whose regeneration rests on the shoulders of women. This is why we have the challenge to build the true “good living” recovering the memory of our peoples, where women play an important role to rebuild the future.

Today, women affected by oil and mining gather together. We are the women who fight tirelessly against the threat of mining expansion with the Mirador Project in Zamora Chinchipe; the San Carlos Panantza project in Morona Santiago; We, as women of different communities, are threatened with evictions from our territory in Intag by the Llurimagua project; We are women who face the violence of militarization of our territories as much as of our children, cousins, parents; we are women who are criminalized for resisting the mining project in Quimsacocha because we defend our water and life; We are Amazon women who walked from the jungle to the Ecuadorian capital to demand the government to stop oil exploitation in Shiwiar, Kichwa and Sapara territories and the exploitation of Yasuni; The women who gather today, represent the peoples who confront the evident disregard of the rights of indigenous peoples, peasants and the Pachamama.

THIS IS WHY WOMEN IN QUITO, GATHER AT THE MEETING OF WOMEN AND EXTRACTIVISM TO DEMAND REAL SOLUTIONS:

We do not want development alternatives that have meant the extinction of cultures and people; This is a development of death, of destruction, focused on exploitation, mainly of oil and minerals. This development has no future, we know it because we have already lived it for over 500 years. We have the alternative to development.

Therefore, we propose:

  • To recover food sovereignty
  • To recover water sovereignty
  • To recover energy sovereignty, which means the recovering of Mother Earth as a nutrient of our bodies, of our people
  • To produce to generate healthy food for the Good Living

So we are fighting for minerals to remain in the subsoil and for the oil from the Amazon to remain unexploded. These are the real solutions to climate change and a way to preserve our biodiversity, which is our true wealth.

And, this is also a way to demand reciprocity from urban areas, from which we have traditionally been victim of racism, from which we have been denied our rights, our cultures; now we propose and recognize that, mutually, it is necessary a common look of the different territories including urban ones to generate greater ties of integrated work.

WE HAVE THE REAL SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

WE DO NOT WANT DEVELOPMENT, WE HAVE OUR WEALTH AND LIFESTYLE THAT ARE RESPECTFUL OF LIFE AND NATURE.

Testimonies collected in “Life in the center and the oil underground: The Yasuní in feminist key” from Collective Critical Perspectives of the Territory from Feminism. 2014.


Declaración del Encuentro de Mujeres Frente al Extractivismo y al Cambio Climático

Quito, Ecuador. 14 de octubre de 2014

 “Es cuando hay grandes amenazas a la vida, cuando la vida misma está en juego, que las mujeres que parecían marginadas se levantan con todas sus fuerzas, con todo su compromiso, toda su resistencia, con toda su energía, es lo que ahora esta ocurriendo con las hijas del maíz, con las hijas de la tierra.” -Vandana Shiva

Una forma de explotar a la naturaleza es la extracción de petróleo y minerales que utiliza enormes cantidades de agua y la contamina pues produce desechos tóxicos; estos químicos enferman también a los suelos y a la gente. Las empresas petroleras y mineras cuando llegan a los territorios causan grandes problemas, rompen el tejido comunitario y lo reemplazan con conflictos en las familias, la división de comunidades, la confrontación entre unos y otros. Los daños producidos por estas actividades extractivas son a largo plazo, y duran mucho más que las utilidades económicas que dicen generar.

Las mujeres de las zonas petroleras sufrimos los impactos de las actividades extractivas en nuestros cuerpos; hemos denunciado el aumento de enfermedades gastrointestinales, respiratorias, dérmicas, el cáncer que crece en nuestros cuerpos y en nuestras familias. Las mujeres somos sabias cuando decimos que “no queremos alcoholismo, no queremos que haya prostitución, no queremos que los hombres nos golpeen. No queremos esta vida que, por más que nos ofrezcan escuelas, letrinas o casas de zinc, no nos haga sentir dignas”, como bien señala Patricia Gualinga lideresa del pueblo kichwa de Sarayaku haciendo referencia a las consecuencias que la XI Ronda Petrolera traería a sus vidas. Con las actividades petroleras y mineras también disminuyen los productos agrícolas debido a la contaminación, hay muerte de los animales, pérdida de zonas de cultivo, afectándose las fuentes de sustento de las familias y de la comunidad.

Con la ampliación petrolera y minera se ha intensificado el despojo de tierras y de los territorios de las comunidades campesinas e indígenas. Con este proceso de despojo no sólo se han vulnerado y desconocido los derechos sociales, económicos y colectivos de los pueblos sino que se ha exterminado pueblos enteros física y culturalmente para arrebatarles su tierras y explotar petróleo y minerales Un ejemplo es la desaparición de los pueblos Tetete y Sansaguari. Las mujeres sufren más con el despojo de los derechos y de sus territorios.

Nuestra presencia como mujeres en las luchas socio-ambientales ha cobrado protagonismo, esto ha permitido denunciar que la explotación de minerales, del petróleo, así como la explotación de las mujeres. Todas estas formas de explotación tienen un origen común: el sometimiento a un modelo de desarrollo que subordina la vida a la acumulación del capital expresado en el extractivismo que desvaloriza, en la práctica, el trabajo de conservación y cuidado de la vida y del patrimonio natural que durante siglos hemos realizado las mujeres en estas comunidades rurales. Nosotras además de defender la vida, el agua, el territorio, velamos por la salud de la familias, por la soberanía alimentaria, por los derechos y la defensa de la madre Tierra haciéndole frente al sistema capitalista que se expresa en el extractivismo depredador y que es inequitativo, injusto, ignora a las mujeres, prioriza la reproducción del capital por encima de la reproducción de la vida.

Si bien es cierto que los procesos de degradación y contaminación afectan a la comunidad en su conjunto, existe mayor vulnerabilidad en mujeres, niños y niñas y personas de la tercera edad, debido a la exposición directa a los contaminantes y al desconocimiento de los principales factores de riesgo asociados a ellos. Los impactos de las actividades extractivas alteran el ciclo de reproducción de la vida, cuya regeneración recae sobre las espaldas de las mujeres. Por eso Tenemos el desafío de construir el verdadero “buen vivir” recuperando la memoria de nuestros pueblos, ahí las mujeres jugamos un rol importante para reconstruir el futuro.

Hoy nos juntamos mujeres afectadas por petróleo y minería. Mujeres que luchan incansablemente contra la amenaza de la expansión minera con el Proyecto Mirador en Zamora Chinchipe, el proyecto Panantza San Carlos en Morona Santiago; estamos mujeres de comunidades amenazadas de ser expulsadas de su territorio en Intag por el proyecto Llurimagua; mujeres que nos enfrentamos a la violencia de la militarización tanto sobre nuestros territorios como sobre nuestro hijos, primos hermanos, padres; mujeres que somos criminalizadas por resistir a la minería en Quimsacocha, porque defendemos el agua y la vida; mujeres amazónicas que caminaron desde la selva a la capital ecuatoriana para demandar al gobierno la no explotación petrolera en los territorios Shiwiar, Kichwa, Sápara y por la No explotación del Yasuní; nos juntamos hoy mujeres de pueblos que dan la cara ante la evidente vulneración de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, campesinos y de la Pachamama.

POR ESO LAS MUJERES REUNIDAS EN QUITO EN EL ENCUENTRO DE MUJERES Y EXTRACTIVISMO DEMANDAMOS VERDADERAS SOLUCIONES:

No queremos alternativas de desarrollo que han significado extinción de las culturas y los pueblos; este es un desarrollo de muerte, de destrucción, centrado en la explotación, principalmente de petróleo y minerales. Este desarrollo no tiene futuro, lo sabemos porque ya lo hemos vivido desde hace más de 500 años. Nosotras tenemos la alternativa al desarrollo.

Por eso PLANTEAMOS:

  • recuperar la soberanía alimentaria
  • recuperar a soberanía hídrírca
  • recuperar la soberanía energética , es decir
  • recuperar a la madre tierra como nutriente de nuestros cuerpos, de nuestra gente
  • producir para generar alimentos sanos para el Buen Vivir

Por eso estamos luchando para que los minerales se queden en el subsuelo, y que el petróleo de la amazonía se quede si explotar. Estas son las verdaderas soluciones al cambio climático y una forma de conservar nuestra biodiversidad que es nuestra verdadera riqueza.

Así también demandamos la reciprocidad de los pueblos urbanos, de los que tradicionalmente hemos recibido racismo, negación hacia nuestros derechos, nuestras culturas; ahora planteamos reconocernos mutuamente para generar mayores lazos de trabajo conjunto, un mirada común de los distintos territorios incluido el urbano.

NOSOTRAS TENEMOS LAS VERDADERAS SOLUCIONES AL CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO

NOSOTRAS NO QUEREMOS DESARROLLO, YA TENEMOS NUESTRA RIQUEZA Y FORMAS DE VIDA QUE SON RESPETUOSAS DE LA VIDA Y LA NATURALEZA

Testimonios recogidos en “La vida en el centro y el crudo bajo tierra: El Yasuní en clave feminista” del Colectivo Miradas Críticas del Territorio desde el Feminismo. 2014.