The Council of Canadians is now on its way to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Our Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo arrived early for the tenth anniversary events marking the uprising against water privatization in Cochabamba, chairperson Maude Barlow is on her way after speaking at a Clinton Foundation event in Miami, and energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue and I are on an airplane at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC about to depart for Buenos Aires and then on to Cochabamba.

It is our hope that this conference will be a pivotal moment in the struggle for climate justice and that it will strengthen our intervention at the next major climate summit, COP 16 in Mexico, which will take place November 29 to December 10.

Vanessa Baird writes in the New Internationalist that, “World leaders have proven themselves incapable of taking the action needed on climate change. It now rests with the world’s people and their civil society organizations to seize the reins.”

More than 15,000 people from 126 countries are expected to be at this conference, including prominent figures (such as former United Nations president Miguel d’Escoto, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, and Indian activist Vandana Shiva), and representatives of non-governmental organizations and unions (us,, Common Frontiers, PSAC, CUPW, and many others).

Also present will be government representatives from at least 70 countries (we are told this now includes a Canadian consulate representative), and international bodies (such as UNICEF, UNESCO and oddly the WTO).

Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, says, “Unlike Copenhagen, there will be no secret discussions behind closed doors.”

Initiatives to be discussed at this conference include: holding a People’s World Referendum on Climate Change, an international Climate Justice Tribunal (which has already had preliminary hearings in Bolivia), and a proposal for a Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights.

It is also expected that the conference will highlight the links between climate change and water scarcity.

The New Internationalist notes that Bolivia has experienced sharp increases in flooding and drought, and that severe glacial melt there is causing acute water shortages.

It should be noted as well that Bolivia has proposed at the United Nations declaring potable water a universal right,

Look for more blogs in the coming days.

Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians


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Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer. He has worked in solidarity with revolutionary Nicaragua, advocated for the rights of prisoners in jails and federal prisons, taken part in civil...