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Indigenous in Rio: ‘NO!’ to False Green Economy and Carbon Cowboys

Indigenous march on Wednesday to deliver Kari-Oca declaration to world leaders in Rio

By Brenda Norrell ~ Photos by Ben Powless, Mohawk, IEN, Rio

Indigenous Peoples are gathered at the Kari-Oca II Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, as the governments and corporate profiteers attempt to place a price on nature as a commodity at the United Nations Conference on Sustainability Rio+20.

The declaration of Kari-Oca II, signed by 500 Indigenous, will be delivered to world leaders during a march from Kari-Oca encampment to Rio+20, on Wednesday, July 20, 2012.

“We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the ‘Green Economy,’ and its premise that the world can only ‘save’ nature by commodifying its life-giving and life-sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years,” the declaration states.

“Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories continue to suffer repression, militarization, including assassination, imprisonment, harassment and vilification as ‘terrorists.’ The violation of our collective rights faces the same impunity. Forced relocation or assimilation assault our future generations, cultures, languages, spiritual ways and relationship to the earth, economically and politically,” the declaration states.

Calling it a new wave of colonialism, Indigenous Peoples from around the world are fighting to protect their rivers and forests, their air and land from green scams and false climate solutions. They are also remembering the Indigenous environmental activists from around the world who have been murdered protecting their homelands from mining and drilling.

Indigenous Peoples from the United States and Canada are focused on halting the environmental nightmare of Alberta’s dirty tarsands, which has already destroyed Cree homelands in Canada, and the Keystone pipelines, which could pollute even more waterways and lands in the US.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is battling “carbon cowboys,” and exposing the false climate solutions and scam carbon credits of the carbon market, which allows the world’s worst polluters to continue polluting.

Photo IEN’s Tom Goldtooth, and Clayton Thomas Muller, at Kari-Oca II in Rio. Photo Ben Powless, Mohawk.

Dirty coal more desperate on Navajo Nation

The worst polluters in the United States include the coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation, the latest target in a public relations scheme using the carbon credit scam, with so-called green credits, as part of the coal industry’s desperate scheme to keep the Navajo Generating Station operating and polluting near the Grand Canyon.

Operated by the Salt River Project in Arizona, the Navajo Generating Station is one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the United States, and one of three coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is also targeted by water rights theft schemes of Arizona senators and polluted by widespread oil and gas drilling and radioactive tailings from Cold War uranium mines. The Navajo Nation in New Mexico, and Lakota homelands in Nebraska and South Dakota, are both now targeted with new uranium mining that could further contaminate aquifers.

Rights of Nature

At the gatherings underway in Rio, Indigenous Peoples who gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010, are carrying forward the Rights of Nature, mandated by the World’s Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Declaration of the Rights of Nature states: “The so-called ‘developed; countries must reduce their levels of over-consumption and overexploitation of resources of the world in order to reestablish harmony among human beings and with nature, allowing for the sustainable development of all developing countries.” It also demands a world climate court, redistribution of wealth, and the halt to carbon credits and false climate solutions.

Carbon cowbows, the REDD hoax

Meanwhile, at the Kari-Oca II in Rio, Indigenous demand a halt to the corporate destruction of their forests and rivers, land and air.

Indigenous Peoples denounced the Green Economy and REDD privatization of nature, which is aimed at selling the air and destroying the future.

Indigenous Peoples warn of the REDD scam, which constitutes a worldwide land grab and gigantesque carbon offset scam.

REDD+ is an UN-promoted false solution to climate change and the pillar of the Green Economy. Officially, REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

Tom Goldtooth, Exec. Director of Indigenous Environmental Network, said that “REDD+ really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity.”

Just as Chief Seattle over a hundred years ago asked, “How can you sell the air?,” Marlon Santi of the Ecuadorian Amazon, condemns carbon trading and REDD+ and asks, “How can you sell Mother Earth and Father Sky?”

But apparently someone is trying, as the recently inaugurated Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), a Brazilian stockmarket for forest carbon credits, shows.

Berenice Sanchez of the Nahua People of Mexico said, “Not only does REDD+ corrupt the Sacred and fuel financial speculation, it also serves as greenwash for extractive industries like Shell and Rio Tinto.”

Indigenous Peoples said that REDD+ is a “new wave of colonialism.”

From Peru to Papua New Guinea, carbon cowboys are running amok trying to rip off native communities and grab the forests of the world, 80 percent of which are found in Indigenous Peoples´ lands and territories.

Marife Macalanda of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network said, “The environmental crisis is getting worse because of capitalists´ false solutions such as REDD+. The real solution to the climate crisis affecting the people of the world, especially Indigenous Peoples, is to protect Mother Earth, uphold social justice and respect the Indigenous Peoples’ decisions and right to say no.”

The first Kari-Oca summit in Rio was held in 1992, before the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. More than 700 Indigenous leaders signed the Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter.

Petition to US Hillary Clinton

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance said, “The global 1% is converging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this June at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to unveil their “Green Economy” strategy—but we know that just calling something ‘green’ doesn’t mean it’s good for people or for the planet. The Rio+20 Conference is a key moment when world government have an opportunity to either act to protect our future, or continue on the same failed strategies that are threatening our future.”

Photo: Clayton Thomas Muller, Cree, signs Declaration at Kari-Oca II. Photo Ben Powless.

“The 99% are also mobilizing to Brazil this June. Grassroots Global Justice and other grassroots groups in the Climate Justice Alignment will join thousands of people from social movements around the world converging in Rio to demand an end to profit-driven dirty energy industries like oil drilling and pipelines, market-based strategies like carbon-trading and forest exploitation, and extreme energy like fossil fuels and incinerators.”

The alliance is gathering signatures to be sent to US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator John Matuszak, and to the US State Department’s Office of Correspondence and Records who tracks and documents comments for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

To US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator John Matuszak,

At the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, I urge you to reject the false solutions of the “Green Economy” and instead invest in solutions to the root causes of the ecological and economic crises that put our communities to work, cool the planet, and transition environmental control back to local economies.

In particular, I urge you to: Stop destructive climate projects and unsustainable energy developments including the Canadian Tar Sands, the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, and proposed oil drilling in the off-shore Outer Continental Shelf areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska.

Reject REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and other carbon offset models as the pillar of the Green Economy that furthers the privatization of Nature and displaces indigenous communities.

End the Era of Extreme Energy: Create just transition pathways out of resource and carbon-intensive industries such as fossil fuels, waste incineration, biomass energy, nuclear power, and industrial agriculture.

Commit to reducing emissions by 90% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Commit to full-scale investment in inclusive Zero Waste systems, with a transition goal for 2040.

–Sign the Petition at Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Phone contacts at Kari-Oca II in Rio:

Tom Goldtooth, (English/Portuguese)
+1 (218) 760 – 0442 (USA)

Berenice Sánchez, (Spanish) +52 044 55 23 39 39 28

Mother Earth Should Not Be “Owned, Privatized and Exploited”

Aline Jenckel interviews, TOM B.K. GOLDTOOTH, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network – IPS News.Net

Tom Goldtooth, an activist for social change in Native American communities and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network.

UNITED NATIONS, May 9, 2012 (IPS) – For centuries, indigenous peoples and their rights, resources and lands have been exploited. Yet long overdue acknowledgment of past exploitation and dedicated efforts by indigenous peoples have done little to end or prevent violations of the present, stated indigenous leaders in the Manaus Declaration of 2011.

The declaration, part of preparations for the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, frequently referred to as Rio+20, in June, recounted the “active participation” of indigenous groups in the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and similar efforts in 2002 that led to the adoption of the term “indigenous peoples” for the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Despite this work, “the continuing gross violations of our rights…by governments and corporations” remain major obstacles to sustainable development, the declaration continued. “Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories still continue to be harassed, tortured, vilified as ‘terrorists’ and assassinated by powerful vested interests.”

As Rio+20 approaches, IPS interviewed Tom B.K. Goldtooth, who has been an activist for social change in Native American communities for more than three decades and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), an alliance of indigenous peoples that combats the exploitation and contamination of the earth and will participate in the Rio+20 conference.

Goldtooth called for a “new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world”.

The activist explained that the most effective measures for reducing deforestation, protecting the environment from unsustainable mineral extraction and preserving a better world for future generations are to strengthen international, national and sub-national frameworks for collectively demarcating and titling indigenous peoples’ territories.

U.N. Correspondent Aline Jenckel spoke with Tom Goldtooth about the main threats faced by indigenous peoples and how the Rio+ 20 conference could be a success.

Q: At the Rio+20 conference in June, you will speak on behalf of indigenous peoples and their human rights, in terms of protecting their natural environment and creating sustainable development. What is the key message you hope to convey?

A: The thematic discussion of green economy and sustainability creates differences in views between the money-centred Western views and our indigenous life-centred worldview of our relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth.

Many of our indigenous peoples globally are deeply concerned with the current economic globalisation model that looks at Mother Earth and nature as a resource to be owned, privatised and exploited for maximised financial return through the marketplace.

With this development model, indigenous peoples continue to be displaced from their lands, cultures and spiritual relationship to Mother Earth, and destruction to the life-sustaining capacity of nature and the ecosystem that sustains us and all life continues as well.

For the sake of humanity and the world as we know her, to survive, there must be a new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world.

This includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturally- sensitive and knowledge-based approaches. The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings.

We can only achieve balance with nature if there is equity among human beings.

At Rio+20, global governments must look cautiously at any green economy agenda that supports the commodification and financialisation of nature and take concerted action to initiate the development of a new framework that begins with a recognition that nature is sacred and not for sale and that the ecosystems of our Mother Earth have jurisprudence for conservation and protection.

Full recognition of land tenure of our place-based indigenous communities are the most effective measures for protecting the rich biological and cultural diversity of the world.

Q: What are the biggest threats to Indigenous people’s livelihoods today, and how can they be addressed?

A: Indigenous peoples from every region of the world continue to inhabit and maintain the last remaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Destructive mineral extractive industries continue to encroach on indigenous peoples’ traditional territories. Unconventional oil and extreme energy development, with the real-life effects of climate chaos, are directly affecting the wellbeing of indigenous peoples from the North to the Global South.

Indigenous peoples can contribute substantially to sustainable development, but they believe that a holistic framework for sustainable development should be promoted.

With the knowledge that development that violates human rights is by definition unsustainable, Rio+20 must affirm a human rights-based approach to sustainable development.

Particularly, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must serve as a key framework which underpins all international, national and sub-national policies and programs on sustainable development with regard to indigenous peoples.

Q: Recently, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expressed deep concern about the reversals on agreements made by governments in 1992 and say there’s no country taking leadership of or acting as a visionary role in the conference. Do you believe there is still hope for new, binding commitments?

A: Because of the climate chaos, financial instabilities and ecological devastation, the world doesn’t have an option to reverse the agreements made in 1992.

World leaders must remember the active participation of indigenous peoples in the Rio Earth Summit (UNCED 1992) and the parallel processes indigenous peoples organised, which resulted into the Kari- oca Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration.

Agenda 21 embraced the language of Kari-Oca that recognised the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified Indigenous Peoples as a Major Group. Rio+20 must reaffirm the commitments made by UNCED to indigenous peoples in 1992.