The People’s Climate Summit Inside the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia, where activists and indigenous people made their voices heard

From April 20-22, 2010, upwards of 30,000 people gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Bolivian President Evo Morales determined that the Copenhagen summit (COP15) had failed in advancing real strategies to curb the climate crisis. The Cochabamba gathering acted as an alternative. It brought together social movements, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations from around the world.

The objectives of the gathering included analyzing the causes of climate change, drafting a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, proposing new commitments to the Kyoto Protocol (which first set, but did not enforce, global greenhouse gas emissions targets) and advancing the establishment of a Climate Justice Tribunal.

President Morales opened the conference by declaring that capitalism was to blame for global warming. “The capitalist system looks to obtain the maximum possible gain, promoting unlimited growth on a finite planet,” Morales said.

Those gathered in Cochabamba condemned the Copenhagen Accord, a three-page document drafted largely by the U.S. that has no binding targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said, “Committing to the Copenhagen Accord is like building a dam where everyone contributes as many bricks as they want regardless of whether it stops the river.”

Seventeen working groups developed a counter proposal; the event was historic in that it was the first time that such a document—which will be brought to the U.N. climate negotiations by the government of Bolivia and its allied governments later this year—had been drafted and agreed upon not by high-level officials, but by indigenous leaders, peoples’ movements, labor groups and others at the proverbial bottom of the global pyramid.

CONTACT: World People’s Conference on Climate Change.