If there is one thing that the other possible world we are appealing for must contain, it is biological diversity. Life shouts this out at us at each step we take. The message is there for all to see. The greater the diversity of an ecosystem, the greater its wealth, the greater its beauty. The precious tropical forests, deep receptacles of innumerable animal and plant species, of colours, shades and sounds, the cradle of springs and streams, the matrix of human populations. They are valuable to human beings, both aesthetically and functionally, supplying food, shelter, building materials, ornaments, tools. The idea is not that they must not be used, but that they must be used prudently, supportively and respectfully, “sustainably” to say it in a modern way.
Bulletin Issue 91 - February 2005
World Social Forum
THE FOCUS OF THIS ISSUE: THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUMSome 155,000 participants from 135 countries gathered in the World Social Forum (WSF) on January 26-31 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Under a burning sun, thousands of people moved in and out of hundreds of diverse tents spread along a lengthy coast belt by the Guaiba River. As diverse as the tents were the topics covered in the WSF. Within that context, the World Rainforest Movement, working in collaboration with other social movements and organizations, organized a number of events -and participated in other relevant activities that took place in Porto Alegre. Some of those events and activities are reflected in this bulletin, which is divided into two main sections. The first section is focused on activities carried out for moving towards a new world in relation to WRM’s main areas of concern: forests, forest peoples, plantations and climate. The second section is centred on monoculture tree plantations and large-scale pulp mills as symbols of a world which is no longer possible.
SYMBOLS OF A WORLD WHICH IS NO LONGER POSSIBLE
22 February 2005In 1972 the Norwegian group Borregaard set up a pulp mill in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, a few kilometres away from the City of Porto Alegre, (municipality of Guaiba), on the banks of the river Guaiba. This mill was to close down in 1975 as a result of public pressure against the contamination it was causing. That same year it was purchased by the Klabin Company, and reopened under the name of Riocell. The mill used elemental chlorine to bleach the pulp, generating considerable contamination of the Guaiba River that supplied drinking water to the city of Porto Alegre. However, the State was obliged to carry out works to decontaminate the river basin with public funds obtained through an IDB loan of 170 million dollars.
22 February 2005Consumerism and poverty are the two extremes of the current world paper market. Manipulation of markets, cartel agreements, establishment of prices and other similar practices give a group of companies the necessary power to control it. In between are pollution of air, water and soil, land accumulation and appropriation by foreign companies, scale increases and strengthening of a form of production requiring fewer and fewer workers. A chain of unsustainable actions in this line --a replication of others-- that sets aside any sensitivity and prudence towards nature and the present and coming generations. Social equity is not in the sights of these enterprises.
BUILDING ANOTHER POSSIBLE WORLD
22 February 2005A number of participants at the World Social Forum 2004 met in Mumbai and believing that forest issues are in essence social and political and that forest communities are increasingly affected by globalization --and new forms of trade and economic liberalization that comes in its way-- agreed on the need to create a global movement to ensure forest conservation and peoples' rights over forests. The principles on which the movement would be based were agreed upon and circulated by the groups as the Mumbai Forest Initiative - Statement of Principles.
22 February 2005In an increasingly fragmented and specialized world, very often social and resistance responses are inevitably fragmented and specialized. Many social organizations are devoted to an issue, very often removing themselves from the whole. In this whole, like converging circles, the various issues have coinciding zones that are translated into issues on social movement agendas. In its defence of forests the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) has, for instance, incorporated into its action strategy the gender issue and is endeavouring that women’s organizations incorporate the subject of forests and plantations in those aspects related with their area of work.
22 February 2005The Durban Group is a coalition of NGOs, social and environment activists, communities, academics, scientists and economists from around the world concerned about climate change, who call for a global grassroots movement against climate change. The group denounces the current flawed approach of international negotiations and claims that it must be met by the active participation of a global movement of Northern and Southern peoples to take the climate back into their hands.
22 February 2005Forestry science first appeared in Germany towards the end of the eighteenth century and provides the clearest example of the way forests were removed from local rural economies and redesigned to serve the needs of an industrialising state economy. European woodlands formed a part of agriculture, providing not only another area for pasture but also fertilizers, foliage as fodder and to thatch roofs, food for domestic animals and people, bark and roots for medicine and tanning, sap for resins, and wood for fuel and building, among others. Formerly communal property, between the tenth and sixteenth centuries, feudal lords gradually restricted peasants’ access to forests, charging dues and tithes for forest pasture, fuel wood collection, and hunting of forest animals.
22 February 2005The Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (Red Latinoamericana contra los Monocultivos de Árboles - RECOMA) is a decentralized network of organizations from all the countries in the region, and its basic objective is to coordinate activities to resist the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree plantations in the region, either for the production of timber and pulp, for the production of palm oil or to act as “carbon sinks.” At the Fifth World Social Forum, various members of RECOMA who were in Porto Alegre were able to meet and to up-date themselves on the situation in each country while drawing up future strategies and planning their activities for the year.
22 February 2005The World Social Forum is not a space for dreaming, but a place for sharing ideas on how to make a common aspiration come true. The message is clear: another world IS possible. What world? A world where social justice prevails, where peace is a reality, where nature is respected, where people interact as equals. How do we get there? That’s another question, whose answer we -all of us together- are trying to find. However, there are already a number of concrete ideas in specific areas, at least regarding the direction in which we should be moving forward. All those ideas have something in common: they depend on people becoming aware about the problems, agreeing on the solutions, and organizing themselves to push for change.