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12 November 2012 | | | | | |

Towards a System Change

Jagoda Munic, new Friends of the Earth International’s Chair

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The member of Croatian organization Zelena Akcija, Jagoda Munic, was elected as FOEI’s Chair at the recent Biennial General Assembly (BGM) of the world’s largest environmental federation held in El Salvador.

The environmental activist talked to Real World Radio about the International Conference on Climate Change, Social Movements and Territories, organized by the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change (MOVIAC) and by the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA) - Friends of the Earth El Salvador.

In addition, she made reference to the main issues on the agenda of the federation’s BGM, such as the discussions around the definition of "system change" at structural level as part of its strategic platform.

Jagoda works against the privatization of natural resources in her organization based in Croatia.

On the importance of the Conference in terms of “movement-building”, Jagoda said that the Latin American and Caribbean region is very good mobilizing organized communities, and working with those communities.

“For those of us who come from other regions, we’ve always been inspired by the way they (ATALC) work with local communities, especially those affected by damaging projects, especially mining, big dams and so on”. In El Salvador “we had the opportunity to meet MOVIAC people from all countries from Central America and it’s really inspirational to hear about their struggles and we’ve learned how to engage more with local communities in other regions”.

She said this experience was good for the federation since it made it “easier to understand the context people live and work in”. Therefore, it was an important contribution to FoEI’s efforts in terms of “movement-building”. In this way and given the high level of criminalization of protests for life and territories, Jagoda said that we need to work in order to build a "safety net", for which we require the international support of the federation and its allied organizations.

The Biennial Assembly was a space of exchanges and debates among representatives of five continents in times when environmental issues are the main focus of the struggles and concerns by populations around the world.

Around “system change” and the role of FoEI in the current crisis of capitalism and its consequences, the new Chair said that for an organization present in 77 countries of the world focused on environmentalism, the diversity of voices, with a balance among "Northern" and “Southern” organizations, is an advantage that enriches collective analyses.

"In the next few years, because of this crisis we are facing, this multi-level crisis, because it is not just climate change, it’s climate change, it’s the degradation of natural resources, it’s the food –hunger- problem, and also the collapse of economies, which is more felt among working people, this means that as a federation, we should be more proactive, because there are a lot of changes in the world now and we should really be very clear of what our mission in that change is", she added.

Seeds of change

Finally, we asked Jagoda about the meaning of the discussion around “system change”, which despite it is not finished, the Assembly did reach some consensus.
“I’ve seen that the current capitalist economic system is actually failing on people and failing on nature. This system is not good for the people in the world and definitely not good for the planet”, she said.

About the alternatives to said system, Jagoda, who will represent the federation in the next two years, said that the massive communication media have imposed the notion that it was no longer possible to generate alternatives, especially after the experience of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. “Now, what I see in many parts of the world are seeds of change: there are some groups that are discussing alternatives”, what we should do in terms of our economic, financial, consumption and production systems, she said.

“We are not the only ones, but we are one of those leading these discussions”, concluded Jagoda.

The biased identification of capitalism with democracy has meant, in Eastern Europe countries a false illusion and today, the peoples are looking for their own alternatives throughout the planet.

Photo: Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International

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