by People’s Coalition on Climate Change, India
December 23, 2009

Hyderabad, December 23 2009: The People’s Coalition on Climate Change led by the Deccan Development Society of Hyderabad today released a Community Charter on Climate Crisis a charter of “hope and assertion”. The Charter articulates the power of community knowledge against the adverse consequences of climate change. Titled We Have the Power to Heal the Planet, the charter has been crafted by communities of forest people, very small farmers, pastoralists and fishers. It charts out a series of solutions as community responses to the climate crisis, based on the community knowledge and their close relationship with their specific ecosystems.

The Charter was earlier released in Copenhagen at the COP 15 of the UN Climate Change Conference by a group of women and men representing the communities who created the charter. Three dryland women farmers from Medak District of Andhra Pradesh Ms Begari Sammamma, Ms Masanagari Narsamma and Ms Tammali Manjula, who participated in the Climate Change Conference as a part of this group presented the Charter to the media in Hyderabad today.

An outcome of a detailed six month long participatory exercise through the length and breadth of India the Charter covers 12 locations that include Nagaland, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Together the Charter represents six ecosystems.

Twenty communities living and working closely with nature have created this Charter mapping out the resources available with the communities and chalks out ways and means of using the resources effectively and sustainably. All these are based on the foundation of the wealth of community knowledge and expertise and detail the course of enhancing resources.

Ms Chinna Narsamma from Pastapur village in the dryland district of Medak in AP told the global community in Copenhagen: “We, the communities are not responsible for Climate Crisis, but have wealth of traditional knowledge and expertise to correct and heal nature, but require a free hand without any interference through unwanted policies to enable us to do so”. She further cautioned that, “Introducing new technologies to replace traditional knowledge and processes in the name of combating climate change will only further worsen the situation and not heal it”

On agricultural practices and climate resilient crops, Ms Sammamma from Bidakanne Village of Medak District in Andhra Pradesh demanded that the focus should be on promoting traditional seeds “which we have been planting for millennia since they demand very little water to grow and can withstand high heat”. She added “the quality of our seeds stands as the saviour of our communities in the years and decades of climate crisis. Therefore the governments of the world must evolve policies to recognize and award incentives to the farmers who preserve plants and promote the maximum number of local seed varieties”. Ms Sammama quoted extensively experiences from her region to support this argument.

“Our traditional water management keeps our springs clean and clear and our wise use of this resource does not put any pressure on ground water, which equips us to survive during drought and water scarcity”. She added that they ensure adequate water not just to human being but also to animals and birds during acute drought conditions”.

Artisan fishers from the Gulf of Munnar have this to say about their community’s link with oceans and nature, “We have traditionally safeguarded sand dunes, beaches, mangroves and coral reefs since generations. We know the importance of conserving these resources for not just co-existing, but in view of their long term prevention and protection from extreme weather events”. She added, “however in the name of development, these resources have been over-exploited, polluted and in some cases even destroyed. This has resulted in amplifying our vulnerability”.

The Charter lists out a set of demands that the communities have presented to both the Indian Government as well as to the international community at Copenhagen. It also drives home the point that the views of communities need to be taken into consideration in the framing of a global climate regime beyond 2012.

Articulating the five key demands listed in the charter, Santhals from Jharkhand said that the global discussions on affroresation and reforestation, should “focus on encouraging local plant species that best suit the local soils, local culture and ecosystems”. They further stressed that the international communities should recognise and factor in the rights of indigenous communities and groups and pastoral communities in forest conservation and management.

Pastoralists from Gujarat asked governments around the world to “Respect pastoralism and mobility as distinctive sources of cultural identity, integrity and rights and empower Pastoralists in the management of existing protected areas and recognise their customary territories as community conserved areas (CCAs) when so demanded by the Pastoral peoples. Recognise the crucial role of indigenous knowledge and the capacity of pastoralists and all other indigenous communities to conserve biodiversity in full compatibility with pastoral livelihoods”. This will play a major role in the global efforts to fight climate crisis, he added.

Mr P V Satheesh, Director, Deccan Development Society and the Convenor of the Peoples Coalition on Climate Change demanded that the “Governments world over should listen to the voices of the communities, recognise community sovereignty and their harmonious linkage with natural eco-system and in the interest of climate, not do anything to disturb them, as is happening with the current development paradigm”.

He deplored India’s opportunistic position at the Climate Conference and said that “India had lost its moral leadership among the comity of nations and is now seen by the G 77 as a tailpiece of US interests worldwide.” Internationally India has become a part of a small coterie of wannabe Developed Nations and therefore has downgraded itself from a moral leader of the world to a position where it has to hide its face from the countries of Global South. At home it has totally ignored its indigenous and farming communities and represents the interest of a tiny elite minority.. Both ways it has got into a lose-lose situation and has betrayed its moral bankruptcy. Instead of creating a climate hope and leadership, by its shortsighted economistic view of climate crisis, it has put the nation on the brink of a climate disaster, he added.

Communities involved in the Communities Charter are:

Baigas, Baigachak, Kavardha District,Chhattisgarh Bhils and Bhilalas, Nimar, Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh Chakhesang Nagas, Chizami, Phek District, Nagaland Dalit farmers, Shenbaganur, Dindigal District, Tamil Nadu Dalit farmers, Sivaksi, Virudhunagar District, Tamil Nadu Dongria Kondhis, Niyamgiri hills, District Rayagada, Orissa Jele, Chashi and Moule, Sundharban, N&S 24 Parganas District, West Bengal Kaunta, Khatia, Pandra, and Lolia, Lake Chilka, Puri District, Orissa Maldharis, Bhimora, Surendranagar District, Gujarat Parava, Muthurayar and Nadar, Gulf of Mannar, Ramnad District, Tamil Nadu Santhals, Devipur, Deoghar District, Jharkhand Women Dalit farmers, Zaheerabad, Medak District, Andhra Pradesh

For further information, please contact:

P V Satheesh, Deccan Development Society
Email: satheeshperiyapatna@gmail.com
Mobile: 92468 76377

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English - Telugu

DDS Community charter
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Pesticides do not decipher caste, gender or nationality. They will kill anybody irrespective of his or her origins.



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