By Rajasvini Bhansali, Executive Director
Climate change is a tough subject. It is serious and it is scary. Dig deep – beyond the very real, devastating impacts on communities around the world – and what you find is the reality of global systems of inequality. Legacies of colonial extraction. Concentrations of corporate wealth and political control. Policies based on homogenization, racism, and xenophobia.
And yet, I am not downtrodden. I refuse hopelessness. Thousand Currents has learned some important lessons from over 30 years of solidarity with visionary grassroots leaders, groups, and social movements.
People most impacted by climate crises also have solutions to address these crises. Through Thousand Currents’ long-term partnerships, I know that grassroots climate solutions – that reflect real people’s social, cultural, geopolitical and economic realities simultaneously – are not only possible, they already exist. The very people whose daily lives are impacted most – Indigenous Peoples, small scale farmers, fisherfolks, pastoralists, land stewards to name a few – are taking on these social and environmental injustices and turning them into actions that inspire me, and can inspire you.
LESSON #1: Grassroots solutions demonstrate climate resiliency.
When climate-related disasters hit, grassroots groups like Nari Chetana Kendra, or the Women Awareness Center Nepal (WACN), have predicted the precise infrastructural collapses and are able to respond to the hardest-hit areas that are missed (or even created) by top-down development efforts.
In Guatemala City, for example, our partner Instituto para la Superación de la Miseria Urbana de Guatemala, or the Institute for Overcoming Urban Poverty in Guatemala (ISMUGUA), has built a network of 22 community organizations that have developed evacuation plans and family emergency plans for recurring climate disasters. Since communities are already living in highly vulnerable conditions, ISMU is also strengthening their efforts in regards to housing rights, education, and health to mitigate the longer-term effects of climate change. This led to a national housing law that addresses the right to dignified, healthy and adequate housing, as part of a long-term recovery strategy to disasters.
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