Imagine waking up on December 1, 1999, and learning about the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the first time by watching it fall apart. The catalyst? An internationalist “inside-outside” strategy that leveraged people power on the outside to provide political space inside for the Global South and civil society organizations. (A note on the WTO.)
The potential for such a political moment is once again upon us, exactly 10 years after the collapse of the WTO in Seattle, Wash. This time, it’s the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 7, 2009, for 12 days to forge a climate policy that will succeed the initial commitments set by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. The goal is to substantially reduce atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses while addressing the consequences of climate disruption already underway. Global warming has already disproportionately impacted the small island states, coastal peoples, indigenous peoples, and the poor throughout the world, particularly in Africa.
"The climate bill, unfortunately, has been co-opted by the oil and coal industry."
"My number one inspiration right now is not an organization or a person or an event, it’s the city of Detroit."
—Adrienne Maree Brown
"Climate change has provided the perfect “disaster capitalism” storm: an excuse for expanding corporate ownership and control over the commons."
— Rachel Smolker
David Harvey is a Marxist geographer and distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He’s the author of several books, including The Limits to Capital and A Brief History of Neo-liberalism.
Alternative models to corporate agribusiness
For thousands of years, small family farmers across the globe have grown food for their local communities, planting diverse crops in healthy soil, recycling organic matter, following nature’s rainfall patterns, and maintaining our rich biodiversity. Today, this agricultural system—which was built on knowledge accumulated and passed on from one farming generation to the next—faces both an environmental and moral crisis.
What’s called “modern industrial agriculture” is replacing family farms with corporate farms, and biodiversity with monocultures. This agricultural model is trading local food security for global commerce.
A tool for prioritizing women in trade deals
The alliances and alternatives that aim to defeat corporate-driven trade
In September 2003, the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in CancÃºn, Mexico came to a screeching halt after a large bloc of the world’s developing countries refused to expand the WTO unless the wealthier nations made existing trade rules fairer. The “Group of 21” developing nations emerged as a powerful South-South alliance. Led by India, South Africa and Brazil, the Group includes 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The impact of U.S. food policy on Mexican farmers
Mexico City, 2003
Víctor Suí¡rez, executive director of the National Association of Rural Producers’ Enterprises (ANEC)
Global trade policy weakens protections for health, the environment
The WTO’s expansive agenda and impact