World Social Forum: `We won't pay for the crisis. The rich must pay!' & Belem Climate Assembly declaration

World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil, 2009. Photo by Marc Becker.

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements at the World Social Forum, January 27-February 1, 2009, Belem, Brazil.

February 1, 2009 -- We the social movements from all over the world came together on the occasion of the 8th World Social Forum in Belem, Amazonia, where the peoples have been resisting attempts to usurp nature, their lands and their cultures. We are here in Latin America, where over the last decade the social movements and the indigenous movements have joined forces and radically question the capitalist system from their cosmovision. Over the last few years, in Latin America highly radical social struggles have resulted in the overthrow of neoliberal governments and the empowerment of governments that have carried out many positive reforms such as the nationalisation of core sectors of the economy and democratic constitutional reforms.

In this context the social movements in Latin America have responded appropriately, deciding to support the positive measures adopted by these governments while keeping a critical distance. These experiences will be of help in order to strengthen the peoples' staunch resistance against the policies of governments, corporations and banks who shift the burden of the crisis onto the oppressed. We, the social movements of the globe, are currently facing a historic challenge. The international capitalist crisis manifests itself as detrimental to humankind in various ways: it affects food, finance, the economy, climate, energy, population migration and civilisation itself, as there is also a crisis in international order and political structures.

We are facing a global crisis which is a direct consequence of the capitalist system and therefore cannot find a solution within the system. All the measures that have been taken so far to overcome the crisis merely aim at socialising losses so as to ensure the survival of a system based on privatising strategic economic sectors, public services, natural and energy resources and on the commodification of life and the exploitation of labour and of nature as well as on the transfer of resources from the periphery to the centre and from workers to the capitalist class.

The present system is based on exploitation, competition, promotion of individual private interests to the detriment of the collective interest, and the frenzied accumulation of wealth by a handful of rich people. It results in bloody wars, fuels xenophobia, racism and religious fundamentalisms; it intensifies the exploitation of women and the criminalisation of social movements. In the context of the present crisis the rights of peoples are systematically denied. The Israeli government's savage aggression against the Palestinian people is a violation of international law and amounts to a war crime, a crime against humanity and a symbol of the denial of a people's rights that can be observed in other parts of the world. The shameful impunity must be stopped. The social movements reassert their active support of the struggle of the Palestinian people as well as of all actions against oppression by peoples worldwide.

In order to overcome the crisis we have to grapple with the root of the problem and progress as fast as possible towards the construction of a radical alternative that would do away with the capitalist system and patriarchal domination. We must work towards a society that meets social needs and respects nature's rights as well as supporting democratic participation in a context of full political freedom. We must see to it that all international treaties on our indivisible civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights, both individual and collective, are implemented.

In this perspective we must contribute to the largest possible popular mobilisation to enforce a number of urgent measures such as:

  • Nationalising the banking sector without compensation and with full social monitoring
  • Reducing working time without any wage cut
  • Taking measures to ensure food and energy sovereignty
  • Stop wars, withdraw occupation troops and dismantle military foreign bases
  • Acknowledging the peoples' sovereignty and autonomy ensuring their right to self-determination
  • Guaranteeing rights to land, territory, work, education and health for all
  • Democratise access to means of communication and knowledge.

The social emancipation process carried by the feminist, environmentalist and socialist movements in the 21st century aims at liberating society from capitalist domination of the means of production, communication and services, achieved by supporting forms of ownership that favour the social interest: small family freehold, public, cooperative, communal and collective property.

Such an alternative will necessarily be feminist since it is impossible to build a society based on social justice and equality of rights when half of humankind is oppressed and exploited.

Lastly, we commit ourselves to enriching the construction of a society based on a life lived in harmony with oneself, others and the world around (el buen vivir) by acknowledging the active participation and contribution of the native peoples.

We, the social movements, are faced with a historic opportunity to develop emancipatory initiatives on a global scale. Only through the social struggle of the masses can populations overcome the crisis. In order to promote this struggle, it is essential to work on consciousness-raising and mobilisation from the grassroots. The challenge for the social movements is to achieve a convergence of global mobilisation. It is also to strengthen our ability to act by supporting the convergence of all movements striving to withstand oppression and exploitation.

We thus commit ourselves to:

  • Launch a global week of action against capitalism and war from March 28 to April 4, 2009, with: an anti-G20 mobilisation on March 28, a mobilisation against war and crisis on March 30, a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people to promote boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel on March 30, a mobilisation for the 60th anniversary of NATO on April 4, etc.
  • Increase occasions for mobilisation through the year: March 8, International Women Day; April 17, International Day for Food Sovereignty; May 1, international workers' day; October 12, global mobilisation of struggle for Mother Earth, against colonisation and commodification of life.
  • Schedule an agenda of acts of resistance against the G8 summit in Sardinia, the climate summit in Copenhagen, the summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, etc.

Through such demands and initiatives we thus respond to the crisis with radical and emancipatory solutions.

Climate Justice Assembly Declaration

Bélém, Brazil, February 1, 2009

CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW! Declaración en español debajo

No to neoliberal illusions, yes to people's solutions!

For centuries, productivism and industrial capitalism have been destroying our cultures, exploiting our labour and poisoning our environment.

Now, with the climate crisis, the Earth is saying "enough", "ya basta"!

Once again, the people who created the problem are telling us that they also have the solutions: carbon trading, so-called "clean coal", more nuclear power, agrofuels, even a "green new deal". But these are not real solutions, they are neoliberal illusions. It is time to move beyond these illusions.

Real solutions to the climate crisis are being built by those who have always protected the Earth and by those who fight every day to defend their environment and living conditions. We need to globalise these solutions.

For us, the struggles for climate justice and social justice are one and the same. It is the struggle for territories, land, forests and water, for agrarian and urban reform, food and energy sovereignty, for women's and worker's rights. It is the fight for equality and justice for indigenous peoples, for peoples of the global South, for the redistribution of wealth and for the recognition of the historical ecological debt owed by the North.

Against the disembodied, market-driven interests of the global elite and the dominant development model based on never-ending growth and consumption, the climate justice movement will reclaim the commons, and put social and economic realities at the heart of our struggle against climate change.

We call on everyone – workers, farmers, fisherfolk, students, youth, women, indigenous peoples, and all concerned humans from the South and the North – to join in this common struggle to build the real solutions to the climate crisis for the future of our planet, our societies, and our cultures. All together, we are building a movement for climate justice.

We support the mobilisations against the G20 summit and on the global crisis from March 28 to April 4, and the April 17, 2009, mobilisation of La Via Campesina.

We support the call for an International Day of Action in Defence of Mother Earth and Indigenous Rights on October 12, 2009.

We call for mobilisations and diverse forms of actions everywhere, in the lead up to, during and beyond the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, especially on the Global Day of Action on December 12, 2009.

In all of our work, we will expose the false solutions, raise the voices of the South, defend human rights, and strengthen our solidarity in the fight for climate justice. If we make the right choices, we can build a better world for everyone.

Declaración de la Asamblea por la Justicia Climática

Bélém, Brasil, 1 de febrero de 2009

JUSTICIA CLIMATICA AHORA! No a las ilusiones neoliberales, si a las soluciones de los pueblos!

Por siglos, el productivismo y el capitalismo industrial han destruido nuestras culturas, explotado nuestra mano de obra y envenenado a nuestro medio ambiente.

Ahora, con la crisis climática, la Tierra esta diciendo "ya basta"!

Una vez más, las personas que han creado el problema nos dicen que también tienen las soluciones: el comercio de emisiones de CO2, el llamado "carbón limpio", más energía nuclear, agro-combustibles, incluso un "nuevo pacto verde". Pero éstas no son soluciones reales, sino ilusiones neoliberales. Es hora de ir más allá de estas ilusiones.

Las y los que luchan día a día para defender su medio ambiente y sus condiciones de vida ya están construyendo soluciones reales al cambio climático. Tenemos que globalizar estas soluciones.

Para nosotras y nosotros, las luchas por la justicia climática y la justicia social son una sola. Son las luchas por los territorios, las tierras, los bosques, el agua, por la reforma agraria y urbana, la soberanía alimentaria y energética así como por los derechos de las mujeres y de las y los trabajadores. Las luchas por la igualdad y la justicia para los pueblos indígenas, para los pueblos del Sur global, las luchas por la redistribucion de la riqueza y por el reconocimiento de la deuda ecologica e histórica de los países del Norte.

Frente a los intereses deshumanizados e impulsados por el mercado de la elite global y el modelo dominante de desarrollo basado en un crecimiento y consumo interminables, el movimiento por la justicia climatica reclamará los bienes comunes, y pondrá las realidades sociales y económicas en el corazón de nuestra lucha contra el cambio climatico.

Llamamos a todas y todos – trabajadores, campesinos, pescadores, estudiantes, jóvenes, mujeres, pueblos indígenas así como a todos los seres humanos concientizados del sur y del norte – a unirse a esta lucha común para construir soluciones reales a la crisis climática, por el futuro de nuestro planeta, nuestras sociedades y nuestras culturas. Todos juntos estamos construyendo un movimiento por la justicia climática.

Apoyamos las movilizaciones contra la cumbre del G20 y sobre la crisis global del 28 de marzo al 4 de abril, y la movilización de la Via Campesina el 17 de abril.

Apoyamos el llamado para un Día de Acción Internacional en Defensa de la Madre Tierra y los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas el 12 de octubre.

Llamamos a movilizarse y organizar acciones diversas en todas partes, en los preparativos hacia, durante, y después, de la Conferencia sobre Cambio Climatico de la ONU en Copenhagen, especialmente durante el Día de Accion Global el 12 de diciembre de 2009.

En toda nuestra labor, desenmascararemos las falsas soluciones, alzaremos las voces del sur, defenderemos los Derechos Humanos, y fortaleceremos nuestra solidaridad en la lucha por la justicia climática. Si tomamos las decisiones acertadas, podremos construir un mundo mejor para todas y todos.

Congratulations on this magnificent document. The Assembly has created a frankly anti-capitalist manifesto which is also an inclusive charter for uniting 21st century social movements, capable of embracing workers, farmers, indiginous peoples, women in every land. This is an historic occasion: the global justice movement now has a planetary program on which to unite against globalized capitalism. In this unity lies our enormous power. The first successful planetary strike/boycott against a multinational will mark the end of capital's unilateral domination of the planet and the beginning of a new global society based on solidarity. For me this is literally a dream come true (since I imagined it an a political Sci-Fi fantasyI wrote back in 1997 and have been an internationalist and revolutionary since the '50s). Count on me for all mobilizations -- as long as I can still walk.