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Stepping Up Support for Climate Justice

April 2017

Thanks to the commitment of our generous supporters and the courage of our global partners, Grassroots International is stepping up for climate change solutions. Through the Climate Justice Initiative campaign (CJI), Grassroots International is raising money to invest in community-led programs that boost climate resilience and provide critical support to movements that are leading the charge for climate justice.

The ultimate goal of this critical work is to improve the lives of people who are bearing the brunt of climate change damage. The CJI implements tangible steps that can make a difference right now, and into the future — and those are coming from communities on the front lines of climate impacts, including Indigenous Peoples, women, small farmers and those in the Global South (where effects of climate change are felt most severely). These are the communities, movements and people that Grassroots International has partnered with for decades.

Here are a few of those people:

Carlos Henríquez (Mexico) — When members of UNOSJO (the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca) first reached out to Carlos, he believed the agrotoxins he was using on his farm in Santa Gertrudis were safe and more productive than natural fertilizers. After careful experimentation with natural fertilizers and organic pesticide sprays made with chile and garlic, Carlos saw amazing results including increased yields, and his neighbors imitated his success.

“I learned experimenting and now I have confidence in the effectiveness of organic fertilizers,” Carlos said. “That’s how I started to abandon the chemicals. [Now] I see the results in my harvest.”

And reducing his village’s reliance on agrichemicals helps reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, the climate-cooling practices Carlos learned from UNOSJO actually puts carbon back into the soil.

Rubem and Maria dos Santos (Brazil) — Rubem dos Santos worked long, dangerous hours cutting sugar cane for a large agribusiness in the arid Northeast of Brazil. The pay was barely enough to keep his family fed, and the chemicals applied to the fields made him sick. But Rubem and his wife, Maria, got a fresh start thanks to the Landless Workers Movement, a Grassroots International partner. They joined other families and occupied and won title to land. Rubem learned organic, sustainable farming techniques that conserve water and control soil erosion. Now they harvest a crop large enough to feed them and give them a future.

And Maria says, “Our farm produces food to feed local people instead of poisoning our community.”

For Carlos and Rubem and Maria, organizing for climate justice goes far beyond improving their own fields and forests. Like the movements they are a part of, they see that the causes of climate change are systematically related to the factors behind global poverty, hunger, and inequality. The same factors that are widening the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” are also driving climate change: The relentless abuse of land and water systems, the industrialization and commodification of food systems, and the wanton dismissal of basic human rights — particularly of Indigenous Peoples.

Any viable solutions to climate change, therefore, also address the systems behind it, including how land, water, food and resources are protected.

Through the CJI, we can, together — as donors, activists, and movement leaders in the US and around the world — challenge the fundamentally unjust systems that created climate change and build new alternatives that put people and the planet first.

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