honduras: pre-conference on the impacts of mining and climate change
Its aims were to share experiences about the impacts of climate change (commemorating the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch ten years ago), and to strengthen resistance to the expansion of mining in communities’ territories. 700 community delegates from across Central America participated.
Participants listened to the often heart-wrenching stories told by women leaders, who reflected on their experiences of the devastation Hurricane Mitch brought to their communities, and described their efforts to regain sustainable livelihoods and restore access to their local resources. Other community organizers from Central America also shared their stories about the impacts of climate change, and the repression of local communities struggling to maintain rights to their lands. FoEI climate justice campaigners shared their experiences of participating in global climate change negotiations, and outlined FoEI’s approach to climate justice.
Together, local leaders, Central American activists and FoEI campaigners discussed strategic approaches to improving communities’ access to resources and sustainable livelihoods in Honduras. They considered ways of supporting local communities’ struggles, and how to represent their case and demands at the international level.
Proposals included organizing community assemblies, promoting popular mobilization and consultation, publishing participatory research and case studies, hosting educational workshops, participating in international campaign activities, building South-South and North-South solidarity, and recovering people’s territories. FoEI agreed to continue our active support for building peoples’ food sovereignty, and strengthening our work around energy sovereignty.
Both the preparation for the conference, and the conference itself, were educational experiences. In order to prepare for the meeting, FoE Honduras met with key movements including Via Campesina and organizations participating in the regional coalition on Food Sovereignty and Agrarian Reform (the coalition on Soberanía Alimentaria y Reforma Agraria, or SARA).
Leading up to the meeting, FoE Honduras also published popular education materials and organized workshops for community leaders, women and young people actively engaged in community work. They also reached out to the press in order to inform the broader public.
Food was prepared by a local women’s co-operative: a team of ten women was in charge of feeding 700 people three meals a day, for two days. The local teachers’ union provided the meeting space, and people from the community organized the logistics and managed the process of the conference. FoEI participants were very impressed by the way in which the local organizers managed complex logistical and political processes with hardly any resources.
Throughout the meeting, all participants shared their knowledge and learned from others’ wisdom, experiences and specific expertise. FoEI member groups were able to work together with the grassroots and affected peoples to build a common political platform to guide FoEI’s programs and campaigning.
Community people learned about national and international activism, and learned ways of framing their demands in terms of the broader climate change debate. They also learned about similar struggles being experienced by communities all over the world.
FoEI activists found out more about the real impacts of climate change and the abuse of corporate power at the local level, and about local organizing. They were then able to integrate this knowledge into FoEI’s global campaign strategies. This method of shared learning, amongst people who all have something equally important to contribute, was and will continue to be a key learning strategy for FoEI.
The pre-conference inspired participants to reach out together to build a better world. It set and upbeat and positive tone for the BGM debates around working with the grassroots, strengthening our strategic alliances, and developing a transformation agenda.
with thanks to our funders: the sigrid rausing trust, oxfam novib and the swedish society for nature conservation