Civil society thriving for a better future: Inspiring cases from Argentina and New York

By Andrea Vasquez

Organized grassroots organizations around the world are rising to face of public policies that are benefit big business development, but detrimental to the public and ecosystems that sustain us. One of this movements is the Argentinean Autonomous Workers’ Central Union that started operations in the mid 1990’s to construct a better social model and to address current neoliberal regime and policies in Latin America. In this COP21 they propose non-market solutions to address climate change, new models of development with a just transition, social justice, a dignifying work, just distribution of richness, and a participatory democracy.

Politicians don’t do policies [for the people] anymore, so we need an integrated approach to fight against the “you can’t do it.” Let’s change the system, not the climate — Joaquin Turco

How their work is articulated? This organization works in coalition with other social associations like original nations from Argentina and students associations. The movement it was formed an anti-fracking movement around three axes: (1) Defense of territorial rights, (2) Impacts of fracking in the environment and (3) Energy sovereignty. In order to achieve their objectives, the movement is based pacific and non-violent actions.

Through media companies’ pressure is very strong and it can confuse the citizens and generate an unfair battle — Joaquin Turco

Fossil fuels army has arrived and resistance is futile

Is the exploitation of fossil fuels inevitable? Sandra Steingraber (EcoWatch, Author of Living Downstream) after fighting cancer and succeeding, believes that it is possible. Combining public concern about negative impacts of extractive activities and strong science to back up the struggles is a good combo for a successful strategy.

An extractive company was decided to exploit the rich deposits of fossil fuels under New Yorker bedrock. They were not able to extract a drop! Told us Sandra pride of what her community was able to achieve. By bringing good science into the daily conversation and getting citizens familiarized with the meaning of technical processes and terms and to understand what does fracking really mean (beyond the multimillionaire marketing campaigns) made New Yorkers to become agents of change and gave them hope.

But, where to look for hope in apparently deemed, inevitable, and self-destructive future? Well, Sandra gave us some tips about how and where to get inspiration, motivation, and hope to act and perform our duty as world citizens/ human-beings: look into your own personal history, look for stories about people that stand up and fight, and look in the everyday life actions such a good run with a wonderful sunset.

From left to right: Joaquin Turco, Kassie Siegel (Moderator), Sandra Steingraber, Wenonah Hauter



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the International Forestry Students’ Association.



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