|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by President of Bolivia
During a press conference at United Nations Headquarters this morning, Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma declared that “capitalist lifestyles” were at the root of climate change problems, as he discussed key proposals to protect the environment and bring to justice those who contributed to pollution.
In New York to take part in the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Summit ahead of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Morales focused exclusively on environmental responsibility, arguing that “Mother Earth” was sacred and should not be turned into private enterprise by the “capitalist system”.
“We must change the capitalist lifestyle,” he said, since the capitalist system favored obtaining the maximum profit possible, without taking into due consideration the lives of others or the environment.
It was necessary to stop living for the purpose of pillaging or looting the Earth, as today, improving living standards was seen first and foremost as an accumulation of capital. Rather, we must consider in detail the “well-being” of human individuals while also guaranteeing the well-being of Mother Nature, he said, adding: “Mother Earth can exist without human life, but not the other way around.”
Noting the “deep divergence” of views between the West and other nations on protecting the rights of Mother Nature, Mr. Morales said he nevertheless planned to use the opportunity provided by the Climate Summit to submit three proposals, on: the responsibility of industrialized countries and transnational companies to acknowledge and pay their “climate debt”; the establishment of a climate change tribunal; and a declaration on “protecting the rights of Mother Earth”.
With respect to his proposal for a climate change tribunal, he said such a body would deal with those who failed to recognize the error of their ways. He went on to say it would be “very interesting” to discuss such issues in Copenhagen. As there was no permanent investigative body that could “bring to justice” Governments or companies that had harmed the environment, an authority must be established to protect the planet, and indeed “save humankind”. He added that, thus far, Northern countries had not extended their full cooperation to address climate debt.
Mr. Morales also said a declaration protecting the rights of Mother Earth must be developed within the United Nations. In Bolivia, every day there was a loss of biodiversity and a decline in the snow-capped peaks, and research into protecting these areas must be conducted.
While the twentieth century had seen the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, recently, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the new struggle must be to protect and uphold the rights of Mother Earth. He said that in order to have a clean existence, we must keep the planet clean and protect the right to harmony between all forms of life, as well as establish a community based socialism “in all countries of the world”.
When asked why indigenous peoples had more of a “moral stand on the planet”, Mr. Morales said that such groups lived in harmony with Mother Earth, and that theirs was a lifestyle which should be emulated. He said that in some places, water had been privatized, as transnational companies had taken possession of waterfalls to sell water to the people.
“Water cannot be planted, cannot be produced”, he said. “In our communities, we can live without candles but not without water.” That was why indigenous peoples find Mother Earth so essential. Development models which privatized and eliminated natural resources were thus a form of plunder, he added.
Regarding a question about the position of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on the shared environmental burden of developing and industrialized countries, Mr. Morales said there was not yet a coordinated position on the issue.
Asked how he planned to present his proposal that capitalist systems should recognize and pay for their climate debt, Mr. Morales said the idea “is like a warm up” leading to Copenhagen, where a thorough analysis into which countries were hurting the environment could be made. Focus should be on those nations which bore the major responsibility, and who “hurt the environment in the name of industrial development”.
Responding to a question about the proposed tribunal to judge contaminating countries, Mr. Morales said there should not only be a court to defend the environment, but a team to investigate and study violations on a scientific basis.
* *** *