The first workshop organized by Development and Peace at the WSF, Our Rivers and Mountains are Not for Sale, was a great success! Bringing together close to one hundred participants from diverse backgrounds, the workshop gave space for panelists present from Brazil, Honduras, Nigeria, the Philippines and Toronto, to discuss the very meaning of ecological justice, its challenges, all while concretely presenting the struggles faced by communities around the world to have their rights and dignity respected and to preserve their environment.
The first panelist to speak was Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, director of the organization Social Action in Nigeria, which is a Development and Peace partner. He gave a poignant explanation of how the violence that is taking place in northern Nigeria is directly linked to the crisis around natural resources. “The kidnapping of 276 girls in Chibok (in the province of Borno in northern Nigeria) that launched the popular movement Bring Back our Girls, was reported by the media, as first and foremost due to religious extremism. The truth is that these groups were able to form because of the impacts of climate change and the pressure that it places on natural resources in a region whose population is mostly small family farmers and livestock breeders.
To the question asked by Marjolaine, a member of Development and Peace, on how to initiate change here in Canada without scaring away our fellow citizens, the panelists responded that in addition to an urgent global systemic change, transformation must come from a personal awakening. Lidy Nacpil, Co-ordinator of Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD), Co-coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice (DCJ), and member of the global Coordinating Committee of the Global Alliance on Tax Justice (GATJ), summarized well by saying, “A simpler life is a more peaceful life.”
The morning ended with a presentation of the book Karuara, People of the River, which was co-financed by Development and Peace and that speaks of ecological justice in Peru, of a short excerpt of the documentary of the same name, which is being produced by filmmaker and activist Stephanie Boyd. Here is an excerpt of the film: