Lima Declaration – People’s Climate Summit

Lima, 11 December 2014

The Summit of peoples climate change, held in Lima from 8 to 11 December 2014, is expression of the processes of mobilization and resistance undertaken by a variety of organizations, movements, platforms, networks and collective social, labor, women, indigenous, peasant, youth, environmental, religious, artistic and cultural Peruvian and international. We met to continue discussing and sharing the multiple forms of struggle and resistance, the construction of social justice, against the capitalist system, patriarchal, racist and homophobic, for the respect of the various forms of life, without exploitation and plundering of the resources of nature, by the ability of peoples to decide on their energy sources community, by the reduction of social inequalities, as well as promote good living as a model of life in harmony with nature and mother earth.

Capital seeks to deal with their systemic crisis by imposing the capture water, the sacking of the territories and the natural heritage, predation, fossil fuel production, the increased exploitation of workers, the repression of the social movements and the physical and psychological violence, increasing multiple forms of criminalization of struggles of peoples militarization and territorial control. This is encouraged by media corporations. In addition, this reality you must add capture States and their bureaucracies by economic power, the payment of debts, unjust and corrupt, and a variety of events that benefit exclusively to the true powers after Governments, docile to the mandate of national enterprises and large transnational corporations and their political operatives.

At this juncture the people’s Summit represents the voice of the areas exploited and oppressed of the world, of the marginalized by economic and cultural system that subordinates them to racist, fundamentalist, sexist and employers who benefit from the capitalist model. At this crucial moment facing humanity, in which very serious climate change we are currently experiencing requires urgent part of global society actions, demand to Governments and the United Nations system met the COP 20 agreements that respect and value the life of urban, rural and native peoples, and to promote the preservation of global biodiversity. We reject any market mechanism arising as a solution to climate and environmental problems.

Who we met at this Summit, we collect and make part of processes of earlier struggles that have woven in our villages, and reach this point with that force and collective construction. From this we express and we demand:

The Governments of the world who respect our territories, rights and lifestyles, our cultures, customs and world views on life and the world we inhabit. We denounce the exploitation of our natural resources and territories by extractive industries, affecting our ways of living, our source of identity and the harmonious relationship of our communities with mother earth. We demand the recognition of land ownership of the communities that have traditionally lived on their land. We do not accept external control of the territories, nor the processes of negotiation and implementation of the false solutions to the climate. Governments should have as the central axis of our ancestral ways of life respect and recognition to our self-determination as Nations and peoples.

We demand the States open a debate with civil society on the concept of net emissions avoided, allowing a climate deal 2015 to compensate non-industrialized countries for not exploiting fossil energy sources and so they can finance their energy matrix transformation. We urge adoption of a global tax on international financial transactions, which provide sufficient funds to ensure a just transition towards an inclusive model of social justice.

We also clarified that the set of initiatives to reverse the destructive climatic trend toward which our planet, has been conducted should be considered the historical responsibilities of developed countries and the recognition and repair of historical and ecological debt they have with the global South. In particular, transnational corporations from developed countries private capital must be held responsible for their actions and practices globally. We demand full justice in cases of pollution by Newmont, Doeran in Peru, and Chevron-Texaco, among others, which during his tenure in the Amazon left as a legacy one of the biggest ecocides in the history of the planet.

Governments and companies we demand they accept and respect our human right to decent work, with full exercise of individual and collective rights, and to ensure a transition process fair in a world that will allow us to improve the quality of life. Guarantees universal access to protection and social security systems, we demand respect for our freedom of Association and to a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth produced with our work and expertise.

We believe that no action to tackle climate change will be viable or efficient if not is promoted with effective public policies in favour of small peasant and family agriculture, agrarian reform, sovereignty and food security of our peoples, the auto production sustainable, based agro-ecological, native and free of GMO and pesticides, oriented to human consumption and the preservation of biodiversity. We believe that to move towards a just world and a local economy, solidarity-based, cooperative, feminist and community, it is essential to recognize the human right to food, as well as the great contribution of peasant family farming, which contributes more than 70% of the power in the world. We demand to stop the production and expansion of agrofuels, that promote deforestation, erosion of the land, the source of water and air pollution, and mean a form of territorial recolonization.

As an expression of this strategy of capital, the processes of privatization, marketization and financialization of nature, expressed in the principles of the green economy, which presents us with the false solutions to the climate crisis have intensified in recent years. Some of them are: mechanisms of clean development (CDM), projects for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests (REDD), transgenic, agrofuels, geoengineering, nuclear plants, hydroelectric megaprojects, split hydraulics (“fracking”), climate-smart agriculture.

The strategy of capital also goes through what we call architecture of the impunity of transnational corporations and Governments, through the Treaty of free trade and protection of investments, among others, seeking to privatize essential services such as water, education, health and housing, and threaten the human rights of workers and peoples. The people’s Summit rejects all of these strategies of capital.

As we expressed before, denounce the capitalista-patriarcal system that maintains the oppression and control over the body, work and life of women, promotes sexual violence and trafficking, it marginalizes them from various fields of social and public life. It is necessary to move to another social division of labour, that eliminates the subordination of women’s work, that does not invisibilice the work of care that enables social reproduction or subordinated it to the mandates of the market. We demand a radical change that recognizes the reproductive work as the basis of human sustainability and the relationship between individuals and communities. All alternatives should incorporate a feminist perspective and promote a fairer relationship between men and women.

We advocate the promotion of a consumption responsible and not alienated, based on the adoption of habits and consumption patterns, and according to the need for human, not subject to the ambition of the capital. A consumer who does not contribute to environmental pollution or climate change. We encourage the responsible use of vital resources, recycling and sustainable management of solid waste. We are committed to promoting awareness citizen with respect to the actions that we can take forward individually and collectively to advance towards a world more just.

States should take decisions and measures of protection, conservation and restoration of watersheds, ecosystems, high mountains, wetlands, wetlands, moors, steppes, forests, aquifers, lakes, rivers, springs, coastal marine zones, which feed on mother earth. These ecosystems and water sources are affected by the activities of the extractive industries, such as mining, oil, coal and gas, the felling of trees and the bravery of waste, among other causes. It must guarantee the human right to water and sanitation, in equal conditions, access and health. This only they can guarantee with companies public in hands public.

The Summit of peoples questions the inconsistency of the Peruvian Government in its capacity as President of the COP 20. By environmental, labor and tax policies recently adopted in favour of private investment by lowering standards and regulations that affect groups, environmental and cultural rights. We denounce the repression suffered by indigenous representatives, trade union leaders and peasants, environmental activists, as well as the harassment to delegations that arrived at the Summit of peoples from different regions of the country and abroad.

The Summit of peoples questions the corporate capture of the framework Convention of the United Nations on climate change. Large transnational corporations “to companan” to Governments in the global negotiations to agree on measures that have the sole purpose cleaning responsibilities to industrialized countries by their gas emissions of greenhouse effect gases and for being the main cause of climate change. We demand that payments for services of external and internal debt – which choke the people and limit the ability of States to meet basic needs of the populations, intended to deal with the environmental and climate crisis because it depends on the survival of humanity and all living species on the planet.

The people’s Summit salutes the committed and enthusiastic mobilization of tens of thousands of citizens from around the world who participated in the great Global March in defense of mother earth (10/Dec) in Lima and other cities of the planet. This large concentration of organizations, movements, and delegations of the Peru and numerous countries is the clearest expression of the position of the people in favour of a just and democratic world that ensures harmony between human existence and the rights of nature and mother earth.

We will continue to strengthen the articulation of our struggles, active and permanently in multiple demonstrations of 2015, with a special moment of activism in Paris, France, where the COP 21 will take place. Now the social movements of the world prepare to give continuity to the struggles from our territories in defense of life, until our demands are met. We will continue in the struggle to change the system… Not the climate.

Summit of the peoples
Lima December 10, 2014

Brazilian Indigenous Leader: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” a False Solution to Climate Change

From Democracy Now

The controversial carbon trading scheme known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, has set off protests not only in Africa, but also in South America, especially in the Amazon region. We speak to Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, president of the Federation of the Huni Kui, an indigenous group in Brazil. He has traveled to the U.N. climate summit in Lima to voice his opposition to REDD.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn right now to the controversial carbon trading that [Nnimmo Bassey] was talking about, known as REDD—again, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, R-E-D-D, which has set off protests not only in Africa, but also in South America, especially in the Amazon. Earlier this week, I interviewed Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, president of the Federation of the Huni Kui, an indigenous group in Brazil. He traveled to Lima to voice his opposition to REDD.

2012-06-21-114858_490x525_scrot-135x135    NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] My name is Ninawa, and I am the president of the Federation of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil, in the Brazilian Amazon.

AMY GOODMAN: And how many people do you represent?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] I represent 10,400 people in 90 villages in two indigenous territories in five provinces of the state of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about why you’ve come to Lima for the U.N. climate summit? What is your message?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] I came to Lima with the hope of telling the world that the historic discussions here at COP 20, amongst the 195 countries and indigenous people of the world and civil society of the world, on climate change are historic. Of course, the peoples of the world include indigenous peoples of the world, and we are here to denounce the problems that the governments are causing in our territories.

My message is from my people and the children and elders of my community. And we are saying that the climate change proposals that the government is tabling here at the United Nations are false solutions to climate change. Specifically, we are here to denounce REDD—R-E-D-D, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

AMY GOODMAN: How does REDD affect your community?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] So, the first impact is that the state of Acre is one of the first states in the world that is promoting REDD, and it is the first state of the Brazilian Amazon that is doing REDD. And it has already violated Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, which guarantees indigenous people’s right to free, prior, informed consent and the right to say no to projects that affect us. So, Brazil is violating Convention 169, because indigenous peoples have not been consulted about REDD and it is moving forward.

So, the second impact of REDD is that it has divided indigenous leaders, who before were united to defend the territories and Mother Earth. A third impact of REDD is that it has resulted in the co-optation of some leaders who have accepted money and bought cars with that money, and they don’t even know where that money is from and what it means.

Another impact is that the government of Brazil, because it is opening its doors to this carbon-offset mechanism, is that it’s gutting the laws and the legal framework on indigenous people’s rights and the guarantees that have been enshrined to protect our rights to our territories.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the effect on the ground of REDD? What happens in your community when it’s enforced?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] The impacts are the following: The community is no longer to fish in their own land, to cultivate food, to practice agriculture. All of these activities are banned and have been declared illegal, and people are jailed if they participate in agriculture or go fishing.

So, another impact that is a very cruel impact of REDD pilot projects is that leaders are being criminalized for opposing the project, and communities are told that the services provided for education or transportation or healthcare will be suspended if they oppose the project.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the communities expected to do? Are they given the money to move?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] The truth of what is happening in Acre is that there’s now a program that pays the community. The program is called Bolsa Floresta. And a family gets 300 reais for three months, which isn’t enough to live on, and then they’re banned and prohibited from going into the forest, so that the government can sell carbon credits to multinational corporations in other parts of the world to offset their pollution.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you been offered money?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] Yes, the government of Acre offered two million reais to my community. They said it was to motivate strengthening our culture, but we understood it as a precursor to winning the acceptance of signing a REDD contract.

AMY GOODMAN: And who are the corporations and the government entities, states in the United States, that are doing this in Brazil?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] There are many actors that are promoting REDD in Acre and that have given money to the state of Acre to do REDD. One of them is the state of California in the United States. But there are also multinational corporations that are offering money to the Acre government to do REDD. And in August of 2014, Germany gave the government of Acre $280 million reais to do REDD.

AMY GOODMAN: Ninawa, you talked about the criminalization of leaders who oppose REDD. You’re a leader who opposes REDD. Have you been threatened?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] Yes, I have received threats, but I’m not the only one who has received threats. Leaders of the Mundurukú indigenous people have also received threats for resisting REDD. And other peoples and leaders are persecuted and criminalized, and our right and freedom of expression and of association and our freedom to struggle and to resist this and to oppose it is being violated. I, myself, have denounced REDD and have also received death threats.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Ninawa, what do you say to those that say this is an environmental solution, that if corporations or states or countries are going to pollute, then they want to invest in places that remain pristine, that are not polluted?

NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] So, I respond to those that say that it’s a solution, that REDD is not a solution to climate change. It is a false solution to climate change. And furthermore, indigenous peoples are not the ones that are causing climate change. In Brazil, in Mato Grosso, the biggest soy baron is receiving funding and subsidies from the Brazilian government to cut down forests. This is not a solution to climate change. And furthermore, REDD is criminalizing us. And really, if they care about real solutions, they’ve got to talk to the logging companies, the soy barons, the corporations that are polluting and destroying nature. Indigenous peoples protect Mother Earth. We defend our mother, because she is our mother, because she gives us food. She gives us the air that we breathe. She gives us the Amazon. And the Amazon is important not just for indigenous peoples; it’s important for the whole world.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Ninawa Huni Kui, president of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil, as he sings us through our break.

REDD on trial

“As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature”

International Rights of Nature TribunalThe International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature took place on 5 and 6 December 2014 in Lima. On trial were corporations, the United Nations, and government. Cases included mining in Peru and Ecuador, oil extraction in Ecuador, the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, fracking in Bolivia and the USA, BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, damage to the Australian Barrier Reef. And REDD.

The judges referred to the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010.

The president of the tribunal was Alberto Acosta, former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador. Acosta said,

“As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature.”

The case against REDD at the Tribunal is explained here:

REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in native forests and tree plantations, soils and agriculture, including plankton and algae in the oceans. This involves the opening of the carbon cycling capacity of the Earth to economic valuation and trading in financial market systems. Indigenous peoples, forest dwellers, small farmers and peasants view REDD as a false solution for mitigating climate change that have resulted in land grabs, evictions and human rights abuses. REDD is inherently about commodifying and privatizing air, trees and land by selling nature and air to generate permits to pollute. These permits to pollute also known as carbon or emission credits are used by polluters to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source. This Tribunal on REDD and forests will listen to testimonies on the concern of REDD and other carbon and emissions trading and offset regimes violating the rights established in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Mary Lou Malig of the Global Forest Coalition spoke against carbon markets:

“[They’re] basically a mechanism to cheat. It’s about enabling you to pollute. Instead of cutting your emissions, you increase them and pretend to reduce by offsetting.”

Ninawa Kaxinawá, president of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil spoke out against REDD. “Nature has no price. It’s our forest, it’s our food, it’s our spirit.”

In an interview with Democracy Now, Ninawa explains that REDD prevents communities from fishing on their own land and from practising agriculture. He says that, “leaders are being criminalized for opposing the project, and communities are told that the services provided for education or transportation or healthcare will be suspended if they oppose the project.” Ninawa has received death threats for opposing REDD.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now asked Ninawa how REDD affects his community. Here’s his reply:

The first impact is that the state of Acre is one of the first states in the world that is promoting REDD, and it is the first state of the Brazilian Amazon that is doing REDD. And it has already violated Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, which guarantees indigenous people’s right to free, prior, informed consent and the right to say no to projects that affect us. So, Brazil is violating Convention 169, because indigenous peoples have not been consulted about REDD and it is moving forward.

The second impact of REDD is that it has divided indigenous leaders, who before were united to defend the territories and Mother Earth.

A third impact of REDD is that it has resulted in the co-optation of some leaders who have accepted money and bought cars with that money, and they don’t even know where that money is from and what it means.

Another impact is that the government of Brazil, because it is opening its doors to this carbon-offset mechanism, is that it’s gutting the laws and the legal framework on indigenous people’s rights and the guarantees that have been enshrined to protect our rights to our territories.

You can watch the full interview here:

Cassandra Smithie, a translator and interpreter, and Ivonne Yanez of Oilwatch presented evidence against REDD. Here’s how the Guardian reported Smithie’s contribution:

Casandra Smithie went even further, citing a whole series of peoples who have struggled against, or have been threatened by, Redd and calling it a “crime against Mother Earth, Father Sky, and humanity.” The key perpetrators, she noted, such as the UN, the World Bank, extractive industries, multilateral banks, chemical companies, governments and stock exchanges, all have their headquarters in the industrialised northern countries.

“[Redd gives] permits to pollute,” Smithie told the Tribunal. “[It means] forests of the world acting as a sponge for northern industrial countries’ pollution. They can pollute if they grab forests in the global south.”

From South America to Africa, “Capitalist” Solutions to Climate Change Seen as Path to Catastrophe

From Democracy Now

We are broadcasting from the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, where high-level talks have just gotten under way. On Tuesday, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on delegates to include the wisdom of indigenous people in the global agreement to address climate change and criticized the summit for failing to address capitalism as the root of the crisis. We discuss the state of the climate talks with Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian environmental activist, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, and author of “To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa.” Bassey says the carbon trading included in the draft agreement could increase deforestation, displace farmers and contribute to the food crisis in Africa.
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Peruvian musicians who performed yesterday at the opening ceremony of the U.N. climate summit. They were just practicing in the walkways here in Pentagonito. That is the site, the very well-fortified site, where this U.N. climate summit is happening, so many of the citizen actions happening miles away from here. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Yes, we are broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit, where high-level talks got underway Tuesday. During the opening ceremony, that included performances by Peruvian dancers and musicians, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on the delegates to include the wisdom of indigenous people in the global agreement to address climate change. During a later news conference, Morales criticized the U.N. summit for failing to address the root of the crisis.

PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Sometimes in this type of event, official event, where governments are represented, the deep causes of global warming are not dealt with. We only remain at the effects of global warming. And we are convinced, as the plurinational state of Bolivia that represents the different social movements of Bolivia, that the origin of global warming lies in capitalism. If we could end capitalism—and this is something we should do at global level—we would have a solution. This is why it’s so important to integrate our peoples.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, also addressed the U.N. climate conference on Tuesday. He took questions from the press after his speech.

MIKE BURKE: Mike Burke from Democracy Now! in New York. Over the past year, many churches, investment funds and schools have joined a movement to divest from fossil fuel companies. And I’m wondering if you support this movement?

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON: It’s encouraging these days that there is a greater awareness and willingness that they are now investing their resources into more sustainable energy. Of course, practically speaking, in our real world, this fossil fuel may have to continue to be used as our energy sources.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the state of the climate talks, we’re joined right now here in Lima, Peru, by Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian environmental activist, director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation. He’s the author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa.

How is this climate summit going? It is the 20th climate summit; it’s called COP 20. Next year, the binding summit. Do you hold out any hope, Nnimmo?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Unfortunately, I would like to be hopeful—I’m an incurable optimist—but with regard to the Conference of Parties on climate change, I believe that there was a big derailment right from Copenhagen at COP 15. So, there is no real reason to think there’s going to be something that we can say, yes, finally, the world is on track to tackle global warming. We’re still seeing situations where nations are haggling and debating over figures, nothing to show that there is an understanding that climate change is something that has been scientifically investigated and that there must be a way to evaluate aggregate actions by different countries that would add up to a result that will tackle the problem.

Right from the arrival of the Copenhagen Accord, everything is moving in terms of the direction of voluntary commitments to reduce emissions. As President Evo Morales said, there’s really no indication that the world—the leading nations, the rich nations of this world, are ready to tackle global warming at its source. What is causing global warming? One of the major causes is the dependence on fossil fuels. And all the conservative organizations, like the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, have all indicated that unless up two 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves are left under the ground, we are on track for catastrophic temperature increase. There’s no talk about leaving fossil fuels. Everything is about how to offset the pollution, so every mechanism is being developed that would help polluting industry and rich countries to continue with business as usual.

AMY GOODMAN: Nnimmmo, can you talk about the effects of climate change on Africa, and particularly Nigeria?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Well, the effect of climate change is real, already being experienced. It’s not something for the future. And Africa is so central in the whole of this because Africa experiences 50 percent more in terms of temperature rise than the global average. So if the global average temperature goes up by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in Africa the experience will be three degrees Celsius. If it goes to six degrees, that will be nine degrees. Africa is set to be roasted. We’re going to a scenario where we may have Africa without Africans. It’s really horrible.

The floods are getting more, the droughts, the desertification. Africa may well be the only continent where the desert is still spreading. And then, with the assault on land grabs and everything, we are really being squeezed. In 2012, we had floods across the continent. In my country, Nigeria, six million people were displaced by flooding in one year. Over 300 lost their lives. We had similar flooding replicated across the continent. We’re having also the challenge of sea level rise. Where I come from, the Niger Delta, the land is naturally subsiding. So when you have a combination of sea level rise and land subsidence, you’re having a heightened impact.

We are seeing a situation also, from research, that if the situation continues the way it’s going, by 2050 we may well have more than 50 percent increase in conflicts on the continent. I mean, this is something I don’t even want to think about, considering the level of resource conflict, political conflicts and other manifestation of violence on the continent.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what REDD is, what it stands for, and what it means for the African continent?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Well, REDD is the mechanism that has been introduced in the—

AMY GOODMAN: R-E-D-D.

NNIMMO BASSEY: OK, REDD is Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation. That’s what it’s meant to mean. That’s what it—I mean, it’s a concept that nobody will really oppose, but when you look at the practice on the ground, it’s just a carbon market mechanism, where polluting industries and rich nations, instead of stopping pollution at its source, will secure and buy up forests in Africa, in Latin America, somewhere else, and even some forests in the Global North, so as to permit them to pollute. REDD is a mechanism that permits the polluter to continue polluting.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, explain how it works. For example, the state of California can invest in an area in Brazil, which we’re going to talk about in a minute, in Acre, and what happens to that area? So then California can pollute further. But what are they doing in Brazil?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Well, what they would do in Brazil is that the forests would be—the forest-dependent communities would now be more or less displaced from having access to the forest, forest resources and also their territories. If I take this back to Africa, right as we speak, the displacement of communities in the Sengwer—of the Sengwer people in Kenya, who have been displaced from their forests because the REDD project is about to set in there. We’ve had displacement of thousands in Uganda already. In Nigeria, my own country, the Cross River forests, part of it is being secured for REDD projects.

AMY GOODMAN: So people are forced out of their communities?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Essentially, this is happening. People are being forced out with military power, military might, so as to secure carbon. Forest trees are being seen as carbon stocks, not as trees anymore. And the fearful thing is that with the discussions in REDD, this may move on to issues of not just carbon in trees, but carbon in agriculture. So farmers will be farming carbon rather than growing food for people to eat. And unfortunately also for the United Nations, a forest is—a plantation is accepted as a forest. So, REDD is set to kind of accelerate plantations across the tropical world. This would mean more displacement of communities, more displacement of farmers from farming land. And, of course, it’s going to compound the food crisis in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Nnimmo Bassey, I want to thank you for being with us. Nnimmo Bassey is a Nigerian environmental activist and the director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation. We’ll be speaking to him more later in the week. He’s the author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa. As we turn now to the late Nigerian environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in 1995. Before we go, the significance, nine—what, 19 years later, of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who fought for the Ogoni people in Nigeria?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Yes. First of all, let me preface by saying that Ken Saro-Wiwa actually inspired me to become committed to environmental justice activism. So, 20 years down the—almost 20 years down the line since the execution, I’m glad to say that the Ogoni people and the peoples of the Niger Delta, where all this oil degradation has gone on for over 50 years, the people are more resolute than ever, and they’re demanding that their lands be cleaned up.

Now, for the Ogoni people, three years ago, the United Nations Environment Program issued an assessment of the Ogoni environment and validated everything Ken Saro-Wiwa stood for and fought for, kind of indicating that what we have in Ogoniland is nothing short of ecocide, destruction of Mother Earth, a kind of destruction that’s almost irreversible. Now, UNEP found pollution is on places—many places in Ogoniland that has gone as deep as five meters into the ground, hydrocarbon pollution. The water is found to have benzene, which causes cancer, up to 900 times above World Health Organization standards. But three years after this report, there’s been very little movement, unfortunately, by the Nigerian government and by Shell, who has been the major polluter in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: Nnimmo Bassey, thanks so much.