In what is becoming the hippest environment meeting of the year,
presidents, politicians, intellectuals, scientists and Hollywood stars
will join more than 15,000 indigenous people and thousands of grass
roots groups from more than 100 countries to debate climate change in one of the world's poorest nations.
The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
which opens next week in the small Bolivian town of Cochabamba, will
have no direct bearing on the UN climate talks being conducted by 192
governments. But Bolivian President Evo Morales says it will give a
voice to the poorest people of the world and encourage governments to
be far more ambitious following the failure of the Copenhagen summit.
will use the meeting to announce the world's largest referendum, with
up to 2 billion people being asked to vote on ways out of the climate
crisis. Bolivia also wants to create a UN charter of rights and to draft an action plan to set up an international climate justice tribunal.
only way to get climate negotiations back on track not just for Bolivia
or other countries, but for all of life, biodiversity, our Mother Earth
is to put civil society back into the process. The only thing that can
save mankind from a [climate] tragedy is the exercise of global
democracy," said Bolivia's United Nations Ambassador Pablo Solon in
Bonn, at the end of the latest UN talks.
will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. The debate and the
proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate
change and by organisations and individuals from civil society
dedicated to tackling the climate crisis," he said.
More than 90
governments are sending delegations to Cochabamba, Bolivia's third
largest city. Also expected to attend are scientists such as James
Hansen, James Cameron, the director of Avatar,
the linguist Noam Chomsky, author Naomi Klein of Canada,
anti-globalisation activist José Bové of France, and actors Danny
Glover, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon are expected.
The meeting will coincide with celebrations of the Cochabamba "water war"
of 2000 when a revolt against the privatisation of water in the city
acted as an inspiration for social movements across Latin America and
indirectly to the election of Morales as Bolivia's president.
hope that this unique format will help shift power back to the people,
which is where it needs to be on this critical issue for all humanity.
We don't expect agreement on everything, but at least we can start to
discuss openly and sincerely in a way that didn't happen in
Copenhagen," said Solón.