From Tony Gonzales
Having been to the mother of all conferences in Copenhagen for the COP-15 Climate Change during December 7-18, it soon became clear to me the tremendous task at hand. The very topic is infused with all matters of concern to humankind including economic, social and political dimensions. As the only AIM Liaison there I introduced myself to Indigenous delegates and allies, attended to meetings, text teams, speaking engagements, workshops, receptions, demos and rallies, dinners, interviews, all the time broadening our contacts and base of support. I took advantage of networking and alliance building, an awesome undertaking; and not a dull moment. I also want to qualify my comments before hand to friends and allies with over thirty years experience in international work related activities with liberation movements, human rights, economic and social development, environmental, and within the United Nations apparatus.
I went to Copenhagen optimistic, and to somehow make sure that wording into the final text’s specify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as a stop gap or tourniquet toward development, at all three major conferences occurring at the same time! There was also so much spiritual sentiments expressed at these conferences in Copenhagen as a necessary element to incorporate with the paradigm shift for another way or standard of living that needed to be factored in as well. Yet, with all due respect to the players and presenters, and under incredible odds, it seemed that COP-15 was a done deal! Granted, governments and organizations planned for this conference months and years ahead buried into their issues. Each came with their strategy for climate change, armed with a substantial and informed delegation, and new recruits and interns.
From an empirical observation it was a world conference I attended with the least amount of Indigenous peoples/NGOs in attendance, less than 100 if that many at all. Needless to say there should have been more Indigenous peoples to contribute toward these serious discussions, or at least for more people to engage and know whose traditional and sustainable lives are being threatened by governments and corporations. Only at the annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in NYC are you able to find over 2,000 Indigenous representatives congregating in an international forum; if only we had a third there in Copenhagen we might have had an impact to impress our concerns in the final outcome! Obviously there were more non-Indigenous peoples participating and funded by Foundations, critically speaking. Perhaps their favorites were among the popular environmental movements than consideration given for Indigenous community representatives themselves who have the historical and moral authority to being present representing the natural world, and who are trying to live in a sustainable way! Our stories and issues needed to be heard more frequently so others can begin to make the connections.
It is difficult for me to not to sound cynical or like a wet blanket, and I hope I don’t turn you off with this brief report. But it was also definitely an opportunity for learning, inspiration, and organizing, and of how best translate this and make relevant to Indigenous communities; AIM for strategies for survival, and living in the present. I do not want to sound like a defeatist or the victim while there but rather aware, and being into our element. Although I went to Copenhagen alone I felt a united position; prepared also with three or four Indigenous declarations in hand with text written in prior conferences in different regions of the world.
The first couple of days there was excitement then it got gradually worse, then restricted to less NGOs, then periods of impasse, and finally heavy handed politics toward the end by those in power. I realize I am painting with broad strokes but people were sadly disappointed and discouraged, scandals and disruptions occurred, walkouts and divisions ensued, climate-gate and leaked documents, show-boating and US arrogance; civil society was totally abandoned, adrift, aimless! Some governments called for socialism to replace capitalism, the enemy of mother earth. The NGO community was/is left to fend for itself in a world slowly and literally cooking up in their self-interest.
I took the opportunity to invite the global community to San Francisco to strategize together before COP-16 now scheduled in Mexico City during November 30-December 10, 2010. As you may recall AIM co-founder Clyde Bellecourt last month at the AIM-WEST 3rd annual conference called for an International AIM Conference in SF during November 22-26, 2010 to be hosted by AIM-WEST. Copenhagen was the perfect conference (storm!) to initiate and formally announce such a conference for strategic purposes, in this protracted dome and gloom scenario to save our coming generations.
You can be assured AIM and AIM-WEST, together will schedule meetings at different levels while preparing for the 4th Annual AIM-WEST conference scheduled November 22-26, to include a Climate Change agenda, and a green economy to incorporate into our program. Please mark your calendars now and make plans to be here. I will help coordinate with the international community toward these efforts by gathering together a list of NGO contacts, announcing logistics, lodging and activities, seek funding for a successful conference, and making San Francisco a destination and stop off place before heading on to Mexico City for COP-16. I will also contact the NGOs in Mexico City to help coordinate activities on the ground with local and national activists and Indigenous peoples. If you are interested in helping or volunteer time please contact me.
Stay posted to AIM-WEST website for activities now and in the future. A more comprehensive report will be provided at a later date. AIM-WEST is a non-profit organization in the process of incorporation as an institution. It will also seek consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council, and continue to be involved as the international and political arm of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Your donations and contributions are appreciated. Thank you very much for your attention, cooperation and solidarity with Indigenous peoples. For all our relations.