India is an agro-based country, where currently 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood. It has been become a harsh profession due to climate change – Sangeeta Waldron says.
While there have been press launches and statements made by world leaders at COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, the UK; other significant announcements and events are happening and on 1 November ‘The Global Assembly’s declaration for action’ launched. The Global Assembly is supported by United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres and COP26 President Alok Sharma MP. The declaration states that Ecocide should be “firmly enforced alongside existing environmental protection laws.” The assembly defines Ecocide as, “Unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.”
The Global Assembly is a bottom-up initiative made up of more than 150 organisations from over 50 countries around the world, and has been co-designed with citizens, institutions, scientists and social movements. It has a mission is to give everyone on earth a seat at the global governance table. Richard Wilson, a director at OSCA, UK, a social impact organisation, is also part of the General Assembly delivery team and says, “I am very proud to be a part of the Global Assembly. The work that it is doing is powerful and empowering to us all. We are all working for the future of our planet and to save the future lives of our grandchildren.”
This is a new piece of framework has the potential to make some governments, corporations and individuals guilty of an international crime. Crucially, it will ensure that everyday people have a seat at the global governance table. The Global Assembly consists of a Core Assembly and Community Assemblies. Yet, what is revolutionary and pioneering about this initiative is that it uses technology, where the Core Assembly of 100 citizens, who are an accurate snapshot of the world’s population by gender, age, geography, education and attitude to climate change are selected by a global lottery based on Nasa population data.
This means that anyone on earth could be chosen, where anyone in the world, can participate through running or attending a Community Assembly. All participants are supported by world class experts to understand the climate and ecological crisis. There will also be $500 of grants for people to run community assemblies, and the Global Assembly will be sitting until 28 Feb 2022, to offer the grants.
18 Assembly Members from India
There are 18 Assembly Members from India and one of them is Mulki Devi, a farmer from Katihar, Bihar, who presented the Global Assembly at launch event on November 1. Mulki says, “I come from a very marginalized background, and I never got any exposure to education. I thank Global Assembly for creating a platform where people like me are given an opportunity to share my experiences.”
India is an agro-based country, where currently 70 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture as a primary source of livelihood, which has been become a very difficult and harsh profession due to climate change. Mulki goes on to eloquently describe what is it like and says, “As a farmer, I feel a lot has deteriorated in the past few decades. The environmental degradation leading to floods and droughts has significantly affected our cultivation. My family has been practicing paddy cultivation for the past 50 years. Previously the gap between the investment and return was way less than that of now. Now due to the increase in temperature and change in windfall pattern a huge proportion of crops gets wasted on the flood itself. All of this is affecting us greatly in terms of finance. This is why a lot of farmers are dying in our country every day.”
Mulki’s story reflects one of the five commitments of the General Assembly, which is to ensure that the voices of the most affected people and areas must be given more space in climate decision-making, including those of the least developed countries, disadvantaged social groups, indigenous peoples, women and children, and small-scale farmers. Mulki reinforces this when she adds, “I feel we, who suffer the most from climate change, should be given a place in climate decision making.”
The Five Key Commitments
The Global Assembly has five key commitments and are outlined below:
1. The Paris agreement, which aims to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees must be implemented and strictly enforced
2. Developed countries should provide financial and technological support to developing countries. National government should safeguard the livelihoods of all segments of society, particularly those of disadvantaged groups.
3. Powerful countries and large corporations have disproportionate influence over global climate decision-making. The voices of the most affected people and areas must be prioritised in climate decision-making.
4. All people have a right to a clean environment. This right should be included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and be strictly enforced at the international level.
5. Ecocide must be codified as a crime in the international and national laws, applicable to governments and corporations. It must be firmly enforced alongside existing environmental protection laws.
People’s Declaration for the Sustainable Future of Planet Earth States
We, the Global Assembly, are a living example that citizens from all around the world, representing all the diversity of humanity, can come together around an important issue such as climate change and make a meaningful contribution through our collective wisdom.
Citizen participation mechanisms such as Citizens’ Assemblies must be expanded and made an integral part of climate decision-making at the global level as well as the regional, national, and local levels.
Sangeeta Waldron is the global editor at India CSR. She is Founder of Serendipity PR & Media. Author of Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations, published by LID Business Media.