A NEARLY CARBON-NEUTRAL CONFERENCE | #EHIClimateCOVID
ABSTRACTS AND BIOS – STREAM 1: EMERGENT POLITICS OF THE COVID PANDEMIC
Marlene Hale, Tasnim Rekik, Kristen Perry, Jennifer Gobby
The climate crisis demand radical transformation of economic, political, and social systems. Crises can disrupt the status quo in ways that open up opportunities for this kind of change. Indeed, actors across the political spectrum have been seizing the global Covid-19 pandemic to push systems in the directions they seek. We would like to share the findings from a research project which has been actively supporting community groups and projects across Montreal that are responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that seek to transform Montreal’s social, political, and economic systems towards justice, equity and sustainability. Through a series of interviews and group discussions we are gathering and documenting what is being learned during this time, about how crises open up opportunities for transformative change, how communities can most effectively leverage such opportunities, and how municipal decision makers and policy makers can support, rather than hinder, the work going on in communities to forge much more just and sustainable systems. We’d like to share the findings from the project through a panel discussion involving our lead researcher, and 2 or 3 community organizers and climate activists who we’ve been working with.
Dr. Jen Gobby is an activist-scholar based in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal). She is founder of the MudGirls Natural Building Collective, organizes with Climate Justice Montreal, completed her Ph.D at McGill, and is now post doctorate fellow at Concordia University. She is the author of the book More Powerful Together: conversations with climate activists and Indigenous Land Defenders (https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/more-powerful-together).
Corrie Grosse, Brigid Mark, Sam Grant, and Theo LeQuesne
The climate justice movement, a movement of movements, is not static but is constantly shaping and being shaped by the contexts in which it exists. Creating effective movement strategies requires a sensitivity to context, a linking of time and place to framing, tactics, and goals. This panel explores how colonialism, racism, and COVID-19 – all intimately connected to climate crisis – are shaping climate justice movement strategies. First, activist-scholars Corrie Grosse and Brigid Mark relay findings from participant observation and in-depth interviews at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP25) in 2019. COP and climate organizing at COP perpetuates colonial power and structures, marginalizing Indigenous peoples and others fighting for justice. They argue that the youth climate justice movement strategy must attend to Indigenous priorities, helping it transform, rather than reinforce, the systems at the root of climate crisis. Mark will then discuss how COVID-19 is affecting climate organizing, changing the priorities, messaging, and logistics of work. She offers best practices for moving forward as a climate organization during health and other crises as they become increasingly frequent and severe. Sam Grant, the executive director of climate justice organization Minnesota 350, will speak on movement strategy from an activist perspective. Working in the very city in which George Floyd was murdered, Grant will describe firsthand experience of directing climate organizing strategy amidst uprisings for racial justice. Finally, exploring the relationship between organizing and mobilizing strategies, Theo LeQuesne will discuss his experiences with California’s youth climate activists as they have continued building power against Big Oil during the pandemic. All panelists articulate how the climate justice movement can develop strategies to best fit changing contexts and reflect its goals for justice, ultimately strengthening the movement.
Corrie Grosse, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University, “A Colonized COP: Indigenous Exclusion and Youth Climate Justice Activism at the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations”.
Brigid Mark, PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, “A Colonized COP: Indigenous Exclusion and Youth Climate Justice Activism at the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations”; “A Crisis Within a Crisis: Climate Organizing During the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
Sam Grant, Executive Director of MN350, “Transformative Organizing as Planetary Critical Care: If we do not organize in this moment to co-create a future with Breathing Room in a Stable Climate System we will have allowed Genocide with our Failure. It is time to lead climate justice work with a strong evolutionary tradition of racial, gender and cultural justice transformative organizing.”
Theo LeQuesne, PhD, Climate Campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, “Organizing with California Youth Versus Big Oil: Covid and climate justice in California’s youth climate movement.”
Ashish Kothari, Srishtee Bajpai, Giorgos Kallis, and Alfredo Saad-Filo
This session consists of two conversations among five scholar-activists deeply engaged in the co-creation of systemic alternatives to the climate crisis and other crises of our times, now exacerbated greatly by the Corona crisis.
In each conversation, a pair of the group – first Shrishtee Bajpai and Giorgos Kallis, and then Ashish Kothari and Alfredo Saad-Filho – responds to three questions posed by facilitator John Foran: 1) to briefly introduce themselves and their work and to comment on their experiences during the pandemic, 2) to offer analyses of the nature of the crises humanity faces today, and 3) most importantly, to discuss the best ways and examples they know of how to confront these crises with imagination, radical activism, and alternative worlds.
Ashish Kothari is a founder-member of Kalpavriksh (https://kalpavriksh.org), a 40-year civil society organization in India focusing on environment and development issues. He has taught at Indian Institute of Public Administration, is Professor of Practice at National Law School and University (Bengaluru), and guest faculty in several other universities in India and abroad. He has coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan, been on government committees to formulate the National Biodiversity Act and the National Wildlife Action Plan, and served on boards or steering committess of two IUCN commissions, Greenpeace International & India, and the ICCA Consortium. He helps coordinate Vikalp Sangam, Global Tapestry of Alternatives, & Radical Ecological Democracy processes. He is co-author/co-editor of several books, including Churning the Earth (2012), Alternative Futures (2017), and Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary (2019).
Shrishtee Bajpai is a young activist- researcher from India and a member of Kalpavriksh, a 40 year old environment action group. Shrishtee’s research is focused on documenting, researching, and networking on radical alternatives to dominant systems of statism, capitalism, patriarchy and other forms of concentration of power. Her specific focus is on exploring indigenous, traditional, and customary ways of living, decision-making and their underlying worldviews. She helps in coordinating the process of alternatives confluence in India called-Vikalp Sangam that aims to weave together grassroots processes on alternatives. She also helps in coordinating a global process aimed at creating exchanges, cross-learnings, and collaborations amongst the various radical alternative and social/ecological justice movements around the world called the Global Tapestry of Alternatives. She has been researching and networking on Rights of Nature in South Asia with particular focus on rivers. She helped in organising the dialogue on Rights of Rivers in South Asia and has been facilitating the team to take forward the movement.
Alfredo Saad-Filho is Professor of Political Economy and International Development at King’s College London. Previously, he was Professor of Political Economy at SOAS University of London, and Senior Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Alfredo was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Medal of the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil (2013), and the SOAS Director’s Teaching Prize (2016). He has taught in universities and research institutions in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mozambique, Switzerland and the UK. His publications include 9 books, 70 journal articles, 50 book chapters, and 30 reports for UN and other international agencies. His research work has been published in two dozen countries and in 15 languages, and presented over 200 academic events in 30 countries.
Giorgos Kallis is an ecological economist, political ecologist, and Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Barcelona. He is the author of ‘Limits’ (Stanford University Press) and ‘The case for Degrowth’ (Polity Press, 2020). His research is motivated by a quest to cross conceptual divides between the social and the natural domains, with particular focus on the political-economic roots of environmental degradation and its uneven distribution along lines of power, income, and class. His current work explores the hypothesis of sustainable degrowth as a solution to the dual economic and ecological crisis. He was previously a Marie Curie Fellow at the Energy and Resources group at UC Berkeley, and he holds a PhD in Environmental Policy from the University of the Aegean, an MSc in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and an MSc in Environmental Engineering and a Bachelors in Chemistry from Imperial College, London.
Oswando Nenquimo, Alianza Ceibo, Alianza Minga, Mi Kyung Creative, and Sylvia Cifuentes
Welcome to the panel about Indigenous Resistance and Responses to COVID-19 in the Amazon Basin! This panel brings together videos created by, or in collaboration with, Indigenous leaders and organizations in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Its purpose is therefore to bring to the fore the perspective of Indigenous peoples who have been confronting the double threats of extractivism and COVID-19 firsthand. The pandemic has hit the Amazon very hard, with particularly challenging conditions due to weak health care systems and the long distances that communities need to travel to reach emergency services. This only adds up to the continuous (and even enhanced) exploitation of Indigenous territories. But these presentations also show us the different responses that are emerging across the Amazon basin. These are not only connected to Indigenous autonomy and self-determination, but also epitomize the continuation and strengthening of Indigenous cultures.
Below you will find a short description of each presentation/video, and some links to learn more about these initiatives. You can also leave us a comment in the Q&A if you would like to carry on with the conversation!
Presenter: Oswando Nenquimo, Alianza Ceibo
In this presentation, Oswando Nenquimo, a Waorani leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon, tells us about the importance of the Amazon Rainforest and the role of Indigenous organizations that he is part of: Alianza Ceibo and CONCONAWEP. He emphasizes on the challenges that oil extraction has posed for Indigenous peoples in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon and their resistance towards it. Finally, he tells us about the impacts of COVID-19 and how the Waorani nation has coordinated actions and revived Indigenous knowledges to respond to the pandemic.
Click here to learn more about: Alianza Ceibo
Presenter: Alianza Minga, Video by: Mi Kyung Creative
The Shiwiar nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon have protected their territory from deforestation and exploitation of petroleum. Although they proudly keep their primary jungle preserved, their isolation has been both a blessing and a challenge as they navigate difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of NASHIE (Shiwiar nation of Ecuador) Edison Gualinga and Francisco Timias (Director of Territory of NASHIE), explain their long-term plan of resilience to keep their territory thriving with the spirit of Napurak.
With the spirit of Napurak, ancestral agriculture, farming techniques from permaculture, and a revival of ancestral gastonomy with an innovative twist, the Shiwiar face head-on their challenges with strength and ancestral knowledge.
If you would like to support this initiative, you can donate here.
Click here to learn more about: Alianza Napurak
“‘What’s good for the forests keeps us strong’: Traditional Medicine & Resisting COVID-19 in NE India”
Jane E. Warjri, ann-elise lewallen, Erika Akemi Goto, and Anagha Uppal
Welcome to the panel about Indigenous Resistance and Responses to COVID-19 in the Amazon Basin and India! This panel brings together videos created by, or in collaboration with, Indigenous leaders and organizations in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Indigenous scholars in Northeast India. Its purpose is therefore to bring to the fore the perspective of Indigenous peoples who have been confronting the double threats of toxic development like extractivism and COVID-19 firsthand. COVID-19 represents a serious threat in both regions. The pandemic has hit the Amazon very hard, with particularly challenging conditions due to weak health care systems and the long distances that communities need to travel to reach emergency services. This only adds up to the continuous (and even enhanced) exploitation of Indigenous territories. Meanwhile, in India’s Meghalaya, many Indigenous Khasi communities are already confronting weakened public health due to the impacts of toxic development projects that have polluted drinking water and land, and left them without adequate health infrastructure. Yet, these presentations also show us the different responses that are emerging among Indigenous communities. Drawing lessons from the 1918 Global Flu Pandemic, in India, Khasi communities have been employing traditional medicines to boost their immune systems and prevent COVID-19 from spreading rapidly. In both regions, these practices emphasize not only Indigenous autonomy and self-determination, but also epitomize the continuation and strengthening of Indigenous cultures.
Dr. Jane E. Warjri is an Indigenous Khasi scholar who received her PhD in Geomorphology from North Eastern Hills University in Meghalaya, India. She is currently engaged in research work on Indigenous Resilience to COVID-19 and traditional medicine in the Global South.
Dr. ann-elise lewallen is an Associate Professor in East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is coordinating a trans-national research project, “Understanding Indigenous-centered Resilience during a Global Pandemic,” blending geospatial analysis and remote research to understand Indigenous resilience and vulnerability to COVID-19.
Erica Akemi Goto is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at UC-Santa Barbara. Her research applies a mixed-methods approach to assess risk, vulnerability, and resilience in both Global South and Global North countries. Goto is also a member of the Covid-19 Indigenous Resilience research team.
Anagha Uppal is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at UC-Santa Barbara. Her research relates to spatial agent-based modeling, geospatial analyses of social phenomena, and she is a member of the Covid-19 Indigenous Resilience research team.
First chapter of the docuseries: “breath of life in times of pandemic: Contagions and spread”
“This is a collective research endeavor aimed at sustaining a dialogue amongst diverse women during the pandemic. This project brings together women from a variety of backgrounds: indigenous women from the Ecuadorian Amazon and mestizo women from Quito, Chile, and Loja. We show how life, medicine and health are managed during times of emergency, along with the deepening of extractivism and violence in our territories.”
Collective research and production: Lisset Coba Mejía, Ivette Vallejo Real, Marisol Rodríguez Pérez, Natalia Valdivieso Kastner, Celeste Torres Soya, Nathaly Saritama Fernández, Luz Elena Pinzón Sanabria and Renata Mantilla Vásconez.
Women Defenders of the Jungle
Association of Ecuadorian Anthropologists
Sponsor: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
This panel was organized by Sylvia Cifuentes, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her recent work has explored the connections between Indigenous Politics and COVID-19 in the Amazon Basin.
“Is the UK’s 2020 New Deal a Green New Deal?”
In the UK, like elsewhere across the globe the COVID-19 crisis began with focus on human health, but it wasn’t long before the economic impacts of the imposed lockdowns entered minds. The lockdown measures limited the production of goods, their transportation across the world and consumers demand for these goods. This was seen across the UK, just like elsewhere across the globe. As UK government announcements began focusing on steadily falling COVID related death rates and lockdown measures began easing, attention turned to the economy. The UK government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced plans to ‘take back control’ of the economy. As part of this the Prime Minister announced an approach to ‘rebuild Britain’ by powering economic recovery. The headline was very definitely directed on ‘build, build, build’ with substantial infrastructure work being the focus. However, the UK’s 2020 New Deal has also been promoted as ‘a clean, green recovery’, but is there evidence for this claim? Boris Johnson’s approach will be compared to the 1930s New Deal in the United States. Where the government-led programme, based on the Keynesian policy of stimulating economic growth through increased public expenditure, was used. Using Keynesian economic theory, over and above the environmental and social opportunities, raises questions as to just how ‘green’ any infrastructure based New Deal can be if economic stimulation is at the core. Consideration will be given to how ‘green’ any approach centring on the economy could be, without social, health and environment being present as well.
Dr. Vicky Johnson is a Lecturer and Geography Staff Tutor at the Open University in the UK. Previously Vicky has worked at Newcastle University, and for a range of UK QANGO and governmental organisations (including Government Office, Countryside Commission, Natural England, New Deal for Communities) in relation to the environment. A research background in environmental economics, including research for the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission, as well as working in both policy development and implementation means Vicky’s teaching focuses on supporting students to understand these connections and structures in an interdisciplinary approach.
“Confronted by crisis: The limits of climate adaptation in the context of COVID”
Danielle Falzon and Laura Bahlman
Climate adaptation aims to make vulnerable communities more resilient in the face of global crisis. As one of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, and with a history of international NGOs leading national development, Bangladesh has experienced a trend of adaptation projects that promote alternative livelihoods as sustainable development. The new livelihoods are “alternative” because they replace and supplement livelihoods that are at risk due to climate change. For example, in the coastal region, rice farmers are encouraged to raise crab, which can grow in the saline water that has intruded and depleted their rice paddies. Women are also trained to sew, a skill that opens them up to work in garment factories. Both initiatives connect villagers to international supply chains, aligning them with ideals of modernized labor and neoliberal notions of markets as normative goods. However, international supply chains were interrupted with the onset of the COVID pandemic, buyers stopped purchasing crab and cancelled garment orders, and villagers were left without income. Climate migrant workers, including women in garment factories, are returning to their home villages by the thousands each week, where there are scarce opportunities for them to find work. As climate change will produce more global crises, this begs the questions, are these livelihoods truly adaptive, why are they introduced as such in vulnerable communities, and who bears the risk? We argue that connecting communities with global markets makes them more vulnerable to crisis, and ultimately serves the interests of global capitalism rather than ensuring people’s resilience.
Danielle Falzon is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Brown University in the US. Laura Bahlman is a Master’s student in International Development as Massey University in New Zealand.
Ana Salgado, Mónica Montalvo, Ximena Torres, Jéssica Coyotecatl (discussant)
“Yet Another Crisis: A community radio work during COVID-19”
Ana Laura Salgado Lázaro holds a BA in intercultural management by UNAM in Mexico. She was born in Mexico City, with roots in Huahuaxtla, Xochitlan del Valle de Vicente Suárez, in Puebla state. She is manager of the Kixmatikan Huahuaxtla youth collective; and she is works as manager, producer, and editor for Radio Tsinaka. These two collectives are located in the Northeast Highlands in Puebla (Sierra Nororiental de Puebla). Her work and training revolve around cultural rights, gender perspective, community communication, and multimedia production. Radio Tsinaka is a community radio station formed by peasant and indigenous youth collective in northern Puebla. The radio station was formed in 2012 and they work with a strong sense of community and mutual work.
“Overview of the challenges for community-based media before and during COVID-19”
Mónica Montalvo is a doctoral student in Rural Development at UAM-X Mexico, with a background in anthropology. Her academic work revolves around territory defense and communication; this is a passion she also pursues through independent media and alongside social movements since 2007. Mónica’s focus has been in the struggles against dams. In La Sandía Digital, she works as a researcher and trainer. La Sandía Digital (Digital Watermelon) is a feminist organization for multimedia production, through collaboration, training and communication. La Sandía partners with grassroots, community, and civil society organizations towards socio-environmental and gender justice. Their goal is to transform public narratives and strengthen social movements in their advocacy work.
“Communication and land struggles during COVID-19, perspective from a feminist journalist”
Itzel Ximena Torres is a journalist student, photographer, and feminist reporter based in Guadalajara, Jalisco in Western Mexico. Her work revolves around justice for women, health, mobility and intercultural relationships. For the excellence of her work, she was awarded the Jalisco Journalism Award in 2019. ZonaDocs is a reporting media newspaper, centered in investigative and news journalism located in Guadalajara. Their work has a frame of human rights and is part of the journalist network “Red de Periodistas de a Pie” with digital and independent media from different sites in Mexico. They have received two awards in 2019 by the journalism cluster in Jalisco, in the ‘chronicle’ and ‘student’ categories.
Jéssica Coyotecatl is a graduate student in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Her research focuses on infrastructural projects as territorial and social transformations in Mexico and in the United States.
MG offers recordings of our 4-part webinar series on 1) How did we get here: The ecological context for pandemics; 2) Translocal Strategies for a Just Recovery: A Black-Led Session on Restoring Land, Labor, and Capital to Self-Determined Communities; 3) From Global Domination to Bioregional Governance; and 4) Decolonize the Future. www.movementgeneration.org/
Session #1: Gopal Dayaneni (ETC Group, Movement Generation) and Deseree Fontenot (Movement Generation. Session #2: Melissa Crosby, Abbas Khalid, (Movement Generation) and Taj James (Full Spectrum Labs). Session #3: Angela Aguilar, Carla Perez, and Mateo Nube (Movement Generation) and Corrina Gould (Sogorea Te Land Trust). Session #4: adrienne maree brown (emergent strategy facilitator); Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan (Movement Generation); Patty Berne (Sins Invalid), Akua Deirdre Smith (BlackOUT Collective / Black Land Liberation Initiative), Jade Begay (NDN Collective / Filmmaker / VR Creator), Sammie Ablaza Wills (APIENC), and Tré Vasquez (MG). Emcee’d by MG’s Ellen Choy.