“There is a Chinese saying that the secret about walking on water is knowing where the rocks are. We live in this world with so much information, so we need to understand what the main information is and what is secondary.” — Raul Amorim, Landless Workers Movement (Brazil)
For January 2022, Grassroots is looking at the year ahead, the social conditions impacting our and our partners’ work, and the stories of resistance and solution-building we’ll be sharing with our supporters.
As a movement-centered organization, Grassroots International embraces analytical tools and practices from our partners. One of them is contextual analysis. Contextual (or conjunctural) analysis is a crucial tool to understand our reality and figure out how to act within that reality. We must engage in a dialogue with each other in order to build a shared analysis among us.
The analysis we offer here is not final, but a starting point for the year ahead.
The Impact of the Global Pandemic on Organizing
The COVID pandemic forced many social movements to direct their energies towards the health of communities, families, and members. The common position among our allies was to stop certain activities and adjust their organizing to a new reality.
The dismantling of public health care and many governments’ denial or disorganized scrambling in the face of COVID contributed to the rapid spread of the disease. Many families lost their income and saw their food reserves dwindle. Globally, hunger and food insecurity among working families deepened.
As social movements followed the few channels possible to organize, even the most resourced organizations experienced considerable challenges in continuing to organize while working remotely. By the middle of 2021, a growing number of social movements decided to take a different approach from « precaution » to « act with caution. »
After two years, without a precise end date and unequal access to vaccines, global social movements have been forced to confront the dire situation on multiple fronts. As many of our partners have expressed, they must step out and protest because the status quo is horrible — COVID or not.
In the past few months, more localized activities have rapidly grown into nationwide initiatives. Indigenous communities in Brazil mobilized in record numbers. Climate movements descended on Glasgow, Scotland in the thousands to protest the COP26 summit. Likewise, in 2022 we expect the further growth of national and international organizing.
The « Great Reset »
Movements’ demobilization early in the pandemic offered an opportunity for corporations to put a hold on the climate negotiations and set the stage for a « Great Reset, » the ultimate override of multilateral processes. Presented in the last World Economic Forum at the end of 2019, the « Great Reset » was fully embraced by a weakened U.N. leadership shortly thereafter, while the globe turned upside down with the pandemic. Advocates of this process defend the idea that U.N. spaces are inefficient to address global problems in a timely fashion.
Led by mega-donors under the ironic banner of “a People’s Summit,” they organized the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). The UNFSS was intended as a formal process to « reset » the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS), which had made significant gains over the past decade following a reform that opened participation to social movements. So far, the initiative has not achieved its goals. The UNFSS was a failed experiment (with a price tag of $24 million) but it did derail the CFS’ internal processes. We expect that the push for a « Great Reset » will continue in 2022.
But just as movements confronted and exposed the UNFSS for what it truly was, we expect continued resistance against this “Great Reset.”
Solidarity Remains Our Way Forward
For over 38 years, Grassroots International has contributed to the strengthening of social movements, moving funds to frontline communities, and engaging social action from the United States. In 2021, we were able to move $5,891,181 dollars to 120 organizations in 20 countries. Those funds helped communities of farmers, Indigenous peoples, fisherpeople and others to overcome the challenges imposed by the global pandemic.
Rural families organized in national and global social movements are building solutions. They fight to reclaim their ancestral territories, so they can fulfill their rights to food, housing, and education. This ongoing battle for survival and dignified life in communities worldwide is what informs another source of people’s power: international solidarity.
Telling Stories of Resistance and Connection
That solidarity includes helping to break through media blackouts and issue siloing. In 2021, Grassroots experimented with focusing on a particular theme each month to show how the struggles of our partners stitch together a tapestry of global resistance. This year, we will again be weaving together resistance stories around special themes as a form of political education for our supporters.
From COVID relief to food sovereignty to defending Mother Earth, movements will continue organizing people power and building alternatives on multiple fronts. And Grassroots International will continue to lift up this work.
International solidarity is not an end, but a practice. It is the practice that inspires and gives the energy to overcome our challenges at the local level. Without international solidarity, there is no sustaining change in our communities, because the root causes of our problems are global. As we look to rapid shifts in 2022, solidarity and partnership between people — well beyond borders — remains our way forward.