Finding real solutions to cooling the planet at the World Social Forum

In
August 18, 2016
by 
Kelly Di Domenico, Communications Officer

On the last day of workshops at the World Social Forum, Development and Peace co-organized two central workshops that looked at real ways to cool down the planet and halt climate change:

  1. Agroecology for a Healthy Planet
  2. Climate Justice not Carbon Colonialism

The first workshop looked at how agroecology is becoming an increasingly popular form of agriculture that is not only respectful of the planet but can contribute significantly to achieving targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the impacts of climate change. The panel included François Delvaux, Policy and Advocacy Officer at CIDSE, Thibault Mony, a young Quebec farmer with the Centre paysan, Déogratias Niyonkuro, Agronomist and Secretary General of ADISCO in Burundi, Hélène Boyko-Tremblay, Canadian organic farmer and Development and Peace member, Marvin Gomez, Agronomist and Latin America Regional Facilitator at USC Canada, Linda Gagnon, Program Manager, Agri-Environmental Approach at SUCO and Marielle de Roos, a goat breeder in Norway and a member of Via Campesina.

Each spoke of the support farmers need at all levels to either continue to farming in this way in the Global South, or to transition towards agroecological practices in the North. As Déogratias of our partner ADISCO related, in Africa agroecology is the traditional way of farming, but farmers are faced with pressures, particularly from multilateral organizations, to move towards monocultures. He mentioned that this a dangerous trend as it increases profit in the short-term but ruins the soil and impoverishes people in the long-term.

For Hélène Boyko-Tremblay, a member of Development and Peace and an organic farmer in Saskatchewan, presented on how she discovered agroecology through her involvement in Development and Peace’s campaign Sow Much Love. She spoke of how agroecology is still a little known practice in Canada, and explained that in Canada, there needs to be a huge shift in mindset in how we farm: 

“Herein lies, I believe, hope for the future. Moving away from monoculture and farming for export to increased diversity of plants and animals grown and raised for local markets. These systems can maximize our carbon sequestration, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and protect our waters. The task ahead is not an easy one. Shifting government policy toward support for a new paradigm in farming will mean raising our voices above the clamour of agri-business. Moving consumers toward valuing ecologically grown food and the preservation of wetlands, soils and forests will require that we become more visible in the maelstrom of advertising.”

She mentioned that agroecology is more popular among young farmers, but all the panelists mentioned their concern over the loss of interest of youth in farming. “How do we encourage youth and give them hope to become farmers.” It is a question that is not only critical for farmers but for all of humanity!

 

The myth of carbon trading

The second panel, which featured Isaac 'Asume' Osuoka, Director of Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in Nigeria, Devlin Kuyeck, Senior Researcher at GRAIN international, John Dillon, Ecological Economy Program Coordinator at KAIROS Canada and Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) in North America and member of the Global Alliance Against REDD, exposed the truth behind carbon trading as a proposed way to reach the targets negotiated under the Paris Agreement.

The panelists all agreed that carbon trading, by allowing corporations to purchase carbon credits from countries in the Global South, does not actually stop carbon emissions at the source, which is what is actually needed if we are to stop the warming of the planet.

It was explained that schemes under the REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) mechanism, which is promoted in the Paris Agreement, prevent local communities from accessing their traditional lands to hunt and farm as a way to preserve forests, These communities are given incentives to take up modern farming techniques, but these do not cool the planet and only give more power to corporations. It was well stated that, “The biggest polluters are taking land from the people so they can keep polluting.”

Audience members were surprised to learn of the impacts of carbon trading on those who have contributed the least to climate change, and that it is promoted as a solution for cooling the planet in the Paris Agreement.

Tom Goldtooth underlined how we are commodifying and privatizing Mother Earth. He asked how we can rely on a market system to solve the climate crisis when this crisis was created by the very system.

In the end, the conversation steered back to what the agroecology workshop revealed as the real solution: small family farmers. As remarked John Dillon of Kairos: “We need a resurgence of small family farming but they are being held back from loss of land. We will never address climate change if we are taking land out of the hands of traditional farmers.”