Systems Change, not Climate Change! We Demand Development Justice!
The 2nd annual People’s General Assembly (PGA) was held in New York on 24 September 2014, 3 days after the historic People’s Climate March, which saw 400,000 people on the streets demanding for climate justice, accountability from states and corporations and for APWLD and allies, a call for Development Justice.
The PGA, organised by APWLD, Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development and IBON International, was an alternative space to the UN General Assembly, where the audience didn’t hear from nation states, but from the people who bore the brunt of income inequality and climate change. The PGA invited 9 grassroots speakers to paint the accurate picture of development and how climate change is affecting them. The leaders hailed from Nepal, the Philippines, Manipur, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Guatemala and Mexico. Almost 120 students, journalists, UN delegates, allies, church people and indigenous people attended.
They spoke about a range of issues: climate disasters where indigenous women who produce the world’s least carbon emissions, yet are the ones mostly affected; to climate injustice further impacting the marginalized due to weak infrastructures and national governments; to the rise of agro and oil corporations that buy out governments forcing mass poverty and destruction to local livelihoods; to the rise of migration, mainly poor women and children, due to the lack of social protections and neoliberal policies. The problem facing all is the current model of market-driven development.
We demand for Development Justice that factors in environmental justice, gender and social justice, redistributive justice, economic justice and accountability to peoples!
For the closing vigil, while allies gave solidarity statements, people lit up hundreds of tea candles. In the city’s night backdrop they spelled out in lights the people’s hope and aspiration: Development Justice. Participants channeled in energy and the people’s collective power to imagine a different world, where development is based on people and justice. The vigil then lead to a collective dance led by Cordillera indigenous gong players to symbolize our unity and resilience in continuing to call for equality between men and women, between the rich and the poor and between wealthy countries.