Saturday, May 1, 2010

The World People's Conference

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

As you know, in December 2009 the World Conference of States on climate took place in Copenhagen. It did not reach any consensus because it was dominated by the logic of capital and not by the logic of ecology. This means that the delegates and heads of state present attended more to their economic interests than to the real or global interests of their people. The question for them was: how much I stop earning by accepting ecological precepts that seek to purify the planet, thus ensuring the conditions for the continuity of life. One could not see the whole, life and earth, but the particular interests of each country.

Ecological logic perceives the collective interest, since it seeks a balance between man and nature, between production, consumption and the ability to replenish the resources and services of Earth. When one breaks this equation, which the capitalist mode of production has been doing for centuries, unwanted effects occur, called "externalities": the devastation of nature, grave social injustice, disregard for the needs of future generations and the irreversible effects of global warming that, in the end, may ruin everything.

In Cochabamba (Bolivia) exactly the opposite was seen: the triumph of the logic of ecology and life. Between April 19 and 23 the Peoples' World Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth was held. There were 35,500 representatives of the peoples of the Earth, coming from 142 countries. The center was occupied by the Earth, thought of as Pachamama, the great Mother, her dignity and rights, life in all its immense diversity (overcoming any anthropocentrism), our common responsibility to ensure the ecological, social and spiritual conditions that allow us to live, without threats, on this planet.

The 17 workshops, unlike Copenhagen, reached an extraordinary consensus, since all had in mind and heart the love of life and Mama Pacha "with whom we all have an indivisible, interdependent and complementary and spiritual relationship" as the final document says.

Instead of competitive capitalism, progress and unlimited growth, hostile to the balance with nature, we put the 'good life', a main category of Andean cosmology, as a real alternative for humanity, which is living in harmony with oneself, with others, with the Pachamama, the energies of nature, air, soil, water, mountains, animals and plants and in harmony with the spirits and with the Divine, supported by an economy that is decent and sufficient for everyone, including other beings.

They drafted a Declaration of the Rights of the Mother Earth that provides among other things: the right to life and existence; the right to be respected; the right to continue her life cycles and processes free of human disturbance; the right to maintain her identity and integrity with her distinct and interrelated beings, the right to water as a source of life, the right to clean air, the right to wholistic health, the right to be free from contamination and pollution, toxic and radioactive waste, the right to full and immediate restoration for the violations inflicted by human activities.

It also foresaw the creation of an International Court of Climate and Environmental Justice, with the legal and binding capacity to warn, prosecute and punish states, companies and individuals for acts or omissions that pollute and cause climate change, and who commit serious assaults on the ecosystems that ensure the "good life."

It was resolved to bring the results of this Summit of Peoples to the UN so that their contents are reflected upon at the next World Conference which will take place in November/December of this year in Cancun (Mexico).

The deeper significance of this summit is the growing conviction among the people that we can not trust the destiny of life on Earth to the heads of state, who are hostages of their capitalist dogmas. Unfortunately, Brazil did not send any representatives, since for the present government the "acceleration of growth" seems more important than ensuring the future of life. The People's Summit rightly pointed out the direction for a bio-civilization in equilibrium of all with everyone and everything.

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