Movement of People Affected by Mining and Climate Change

Movement of People Affected by Mining and Climate Change

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The members of the women’s
organization COHAPAZ in
Honduras won the
Friends of the Earth International
community award for their work to
educate neighborhoods in and
around Tegucigalpa about
environmental and public health

I’ve been privileged to attend Friends of the Earth International’s Biannual General Meeting (BGM) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras — a weeklong meeting of Friends of the Earth groups from around the globe now in 77 countries.  The federation of groups works jointly to strategize on how to help transform our world into a genuinely just, ecologically and socially sustainable planet for both people and the environment.

The week began with the Conference on the Movement of People Affected by Mining and Climate Change, hosted by Movimiento Madre Tierra/Friends of the Earth Honduras.  It was an incredibly inspiring start to the week. Hundreds of grassroots activists from Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, and Honduras shared their stories of resistance to multinational mining projects, which have destroyed livelihoods, land, and indeed human life. The role of the U.S. in their struggles is substantial and our nation’s solidarity with these affected people is crucial to improving their lives.

Honduras is a country on the front line of climate change; its impacts have been felt intensely. Hurricanes have taken a severe toll. Indeed, this year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the country.  In fact, severe flooding actually altered the venue of the Biannual General Meeting itself. It had to be moved from the Garifuna communities on the Atlantic Caribbean coast to the capitol city due to consistent torrential rains. Many Hondurans have talked about the effects on public health — including on the health of their children — caused by these severe weather events.

I have met Friends of the Earth activists this week who have put their lives on the line and spent nights in jail defending against environmental injustice. In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing their courageous stories.