Declaration of the South Asian Climate Caravan

Declaration of the South Asian Caravan 2011
on Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty

We men and women, small farmers, adivasis, workers, fishworkers, landless people, youth organized a caravan across Bangladesh to bring people together for climate justice and peoples solutions to the climate crisis. Our South Asian Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty Caravan, was organised by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation; Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, and La Via Campesina which are peoples movements struggling for dignity and the rights of rural peoples.

We visited 18 villages in 12 districts of Bangladesh, covering both the north and south of the country. We were joined by many in the same struggle from our sister peasant organisations of India, Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Nepal, and the Philippines; as well as friends of our struggles from the U.K.; Germany, and Australia.

In many villages we held meetings, workshops and seminars on the key issues facing our communities. Through this caravan it became clear to us that our problems are shared by our brother and sister farmers in South Asia and across the world. Our very existence is becoming precarious through landlessness; land grabbing by elites; local government corruption; and the imposition of industrial market-based agricultural methods (including the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers) which have increased our production costs, and debts. While the prices that we receive for our produce is so low that many farmers end up in a cycle of indebtedness and poverty.

Climate change is aggravating such problems and also making farming difficult due to flooding; salt water inundation; cyclone damage; desertification and drought; and unseasonal and unpredictable weather. Our sister peasant women face a double burden by working to make ends meet as well as taking care of our families and children at home.

Given these crisis faced by us we totally reject the market-based interventions into Bangladeshi agriculture that aim to further worsen our conditions. The false solutions’ to the climate crisis that world leaders are pushing at the ineffective UNFCCC process are an attempt by multinational corporations that have caused climate change in the first place to further take over what is left of our lands and livelihoods.

In farming they are pushing through false solutions like climate ready GMOs and petrol based polluting fertilizers; biochar; agrofuels at the cost of food; increasing monocultures; and programmes such as the framework of Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM). The polluters think that by throwing money at poor countries through loans tied to promoting these false solutions, they can continue to emit carbon and at the same time take over our agriculture.
In Bangladesh peasants have rightfully responded by occupying khas land, water bodies, and unused railway land to grow food, earn a livelihood and lead lives of dignity. We demand that such efforts of the people be supported to enable real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis.

WE DEMAND
(i) comprehensive land reform including land and land titles for the landless; all land grabbing by elite interests and multi national corporations needs to be stopped.
(ii) government support for small farmers that feed the world and cool the planet – small farmers need fair prices for their produce, interest free credit, subsidies, guaranteed markets, insurance against disasters, self reliant ecological agricultural methods such as traditional farming methods which need state sponsored research. Small farmer agriculture needs support for food sovereignty of our nations. We oppose dependence on food produced by polluting industrial agriculture and imports.
(iii) constitutional recognition and rights for adivasi peoples and support to indigenous farming.
(iv) reparation rather than loans paid to the governments of Bangladesh and the rest of the Global South as part of the climate debt owed by industrialised countries of the Global North.
(v) all adaptation measures to climate change to include full participation and consultation with local communities.
(vi) a legally binding agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by all governments responsible for those emissions.
(vii) a full and just transition to renewable energy.

Our demands form part of the wider movement for climate justice emerging across the world enshrined in the 2010 Cochabamba Declaration. We call for a further intensification of international solidarity between farmers’ movements and networks (such as La Via Campesina; Asian Peasant Coalition; People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty,) climate justice networks such as Climate Justice Now! and Climate Justice Action; trade unions; and indigenous peoples movements.

We demand system change not climate change.

The South Asian Caravan 2011: Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty
December, 2nd, 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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