As carbon sinks of the world, forests are the lungs of this planet and the waterways its veins. Monica Camacho, from the Rainforest Foundation Norway, provides the perfect slogan “One of the objectives of the new agreement is to reduce CO2 and the best way to do that is by conserving natural forests and natural ecosystems.” Indigenous people from around the world are trying to have their voice represented although they do not receive much representation in COP21.
I have been up early to catch up on the press briefings for the day. At 6.30AM, I’m in the library with my fellow colleagues facing a different crisis. I usually need a dose of coffee to invigorate all the five senses, today but Kelly Stone had me at ‘food insecurity’. As a background, I come from the state of Maharashtra in India which has faced massive droughts in the agricultural lands of the Vidarbha. According to the Hindu my state has sees about 10 farmer suicides every day due to climate change and water and energy intensive GM (genetically modified) cotton. I consider farmers as Indigenous people especially after the rise of Big Agriculture.
Ms. Stone went on further to say that land mitigation techniques for biomass and biofuels as alternative energy sources could lead to family farmers being kicked off their lands. She also spoke on behalf of a young farmer by the name of Odunke from Nigeria who came to Paris to represent his farming community but could not address the press because he didn’t have a blue pass. Odunke’s community has been continuously impacted by floods and droughts and there have been years that he could only describe as “hell”. I sat in class thinking about <em>shetkaris</em> (Marathi for farmers), reminiscing back to the days when I would drive out to the countryside, just to have a fresh jowarichi <em>bhakri</em>(a type of Indian bread made of white millet) picked off the field. Shawn, presenting on the Wildlife Conservation Society, broke my nostalgia short and I realized that I’ve seen this happen before when he showed us the image below!
Farmers and Indigenous people are the new entries in the may face extinction due to climate change category. The #paddletoparis campaign says “We are all in this boat”, except this boat is the titanic and the icebergs are melting while you are on the other side, simply surviving.
Climate equity should not be a distant ideal but the fundamental basis to these negotiations. If you are reading this right now, I urge you to support the #paddletoparis movement and lend your voice to those that have none at COP21.
Conference mentioned: Moral Compass of the Paris Accord at Stake: Inter-constituency voices by Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO)