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The people need soil not oil!

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 05, 2009 05:55 PM

Ahead of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the alternative G8 summit is taking place in Sardinia. Nnimmo Bassey Chair of Friends of the Earth International is there.

Today the debate is on the Crisis of Civilization and Research for new Paradigms. The day began with a presentation by Roberto Espinoza of the Coordination of Native Andean Organisations. He spoke about the recent resistance in Peru and noted that some of the underlying factors were the privatization of land for agrofuels production as well as moves in the destructive mining sector. The people resisted because their livelihood was being made impossible by the pollution of their waters, land and air. 6000 communities were affected and half of these have their coastline impacted by mining. He mentioned also that oil corporations have appropriated up to 15 million hectares of forest area for their activities.

Roberto stressed that the struggle of the people is not for a mere of government but for a fundamental constitutional review to defend the collective rights of the peoples’.

Speaking further on the subject of today’s debate, he said that the multiple crises the world is faced with today go beyond being a crisis of neo-liberalism. According to him, this is a crisis of civilization with soft words such as climate change being used to describe its manifestations. Man has gradually been separated from nature and consumerism is driving humanity towards destruction. He noted that oil and mining remove the soil on which the peoples depend and that the people need soil not oil!

Human wellbeing cannot be constructed on increased consumption and competition but on solidarity. Everything cannot be a commodity. Commodification leads to expropriation and control. We must defend our diversity in every sphere.

A commentator from Italy noted that what the nation (Italy) was facing is a challenge of democracy and that this is the case with other European nations. He agreed with Roberto that cultural, social and other crises all affect the peoples’ way of life and builds uncertainties and uneasiness. This uneasiness creates fears and tensions and does not create a path for the future. What is needed is a joint project that would pool resources together to effect a radical change in the way we do things. This new path must lead away from free trade, which dissipates nature. This new path must help the people recover their sovereignty from market forces.

He called for cultural change and a new discussion of the very concept of modernity. This must include the recovery of the imagination in a lifestyle that recognises human interdependency with nature.

Another high point of today’s debate was the contribution of the mayor of Iglesias. He captured the multiple crises as one of identity. He rooted his contribution to the historical realities of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Sardinia within the Italian context.

According to the mayor, the local people had over the years got to depend on what they are told was right for them rather than discovering their own realities for themselves. He regretted that today, our world views are framed by what we see on television and unfortunately the medium is largely controlled by those whose desire is to keep us under their control!

The major talked about how an agriculturally prosperous region had their livelihoods disrupted by promises of a better life through mining. While they moved to the mines all they got in return was polluted environments, health problems and a rapacious appropriation of their resources. Even coastlines that served as touristic magnets became damaged by a culture that sees concreting as a measure of development and progress.

An activist or community person from any nation in the global South could have made the mayor’s presentation as they mirrored the exact situation of things today in those climes. We saw in this presentation the clear fact that struggles of the peoples of this world can find common grounds if we are true to our sense of perception and the realities we face.

For those who do not know, Iglesias is a town in Sardinia, an island province in the south west of Italy.

I will pause here.

We are working on the outcome document or declaration for the debates on the post carbon economy. That document will be my final post on the Gsott8.

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Phil Lee

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
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I am the website coordinator for the Friends of the Earth International secretariat.