Last week, JA staff attended the Bi-Annual General Meeting (BGM) of Friends of the Earth International (FoE I), in El Salvador, hosted by Friends of the Earth El Salvador/ CESTA (Centro Salvadoreño de Tecnología Apropiada).
El Salvador is a small and beautiful country located in Central America. This region is culturally called Mesoamerica, an area that has borne witness to centuries of life and struggle of indigenous peoples in this area.
The BGM began with a pre-conference on “Climate Change, Social Movements and Territories”, held on the 5th and 6th November at the University of El Salvador. The pre-conference was organised by FoEI, CESTA and MOVIAC, which is the Movement of the Victims and People Affected by Climate Change. Mesoamerica is one of the few places in the world where people already affected by the changing climate are getting organised and empowered to understand how they are impacted by climate change and raising their voices for change.
The meeting started with fiery presentations from Ricardo Navarro of CESTA and Dr Juan Almendares of FoE Honduras, where they talked about the climate crisis and global problems, social movements, and the struggle for territories. It went on to include many wonderful presentations, especially by people of the affected communities. For example, Maritza Hernandez from Bajo Lempa talked about how the community located at the lower Lempa River kept getting affected by floods and droughts, and how they were forced to adopt adaptation strategies for their survival. See the attached photo from the powerful closing of the pre-conference. FoEI’s Climate Justice and Energy (CJE) program recorded testimonials of many MOVIAC persons, and a 10-min video is already available at:
At the end of the pre-conference, we all marched through the streets of San Salvador together, demanding climate justice and food justice for all. This was followed by a cultural program featuring local Salvadorian and other Mesoamerican musicians.
That night, we travelled in buses about 2 hours to the location where the BGM was to be hosted. CESTA created a beautiful ecological centre, called Ecocentro in a rural area outside San Salvador. It has been created by CESTA especially for research, investigation, and development of ecological living systems. It has been built in harmony with the environment. For example, all the toilets are composting pit toilets, which separate liquids and solids, and present a very ecological way of dealing with sewage. The housing structures are all built from local, sustainable materials. The farm at the Ecocentro produced all the lovely fruits and vegetables that almost 100 people ate for three meals every day for 5 days. See the photo of some of the fresh organic produce at the Ecocentro farm.
At the start of the BGM, FoEI Chair, Nnimmo Bassey of FoE Nigeria explained how it was so significant to hold our BGM at Ecocentro, because the place signified how we wanted to live ecologically in the world. Watch this video clip to know more about the Ecocentro:
Another significant piece of news from JA in El Salvador was that our Research and Programs Officer, Daniel, has been elected as one of the Africa representatives to the Executive Committee (ExCom) of Friends of the Earth International. He was elected unanimously with 56 out of 56 votes. See the photo of the new ExCom, including the new Chair, Jagoda Munic from Croatia.