6th International Ecosocialist Encounter shows how Global South is leading anti-capitalist struggle

May 16, 2024
VI Encuentro Ecosocialista
Participants in the 6th Ecosocialist Encounter in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 10-11. Photo: attac-argentina.com

The 6th International Ecosocialist Encounter (VI Encuentro Ecosocialista), drawing together representatives from more than 50 organisations in 15 countries, was held from May 10–11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference hosted panels with diverse discussions on topics such as ecofeminism, militarism, environmental racism, food sovereignty, extractivism and the energy transition.

The encounter — the first to be held in Latin America and the Caribbean — centred perspectives and struggles from the Global South, reinforcing the importance of internationalism in confronting global capitalism and the associated climate crisis.

Central to the ecosocialist discussion was how historical and ongoing colonialism puts people in the Global South at the frontiers of capitalist resource extraction, and how this environmental racism ensures they disproportionately bear the brunt of the ensuing dispossession and environmental degradation.

Panelists analysed the link between rising militarism and worsening climate change. Discussions highlighted that while global spending on social needs has declined for decades, spending on the military has ballooned — rising 26% from 2013–22. Rising militarisation detracts funds needed for the climate response, normalises military responses to climate disasters and worsens climate change through the significant emissions produced by the military industry. Panelists pointed to the climate disasters predominantly impacting people in the global South, like the devastating floods in Pakistan and more recently in Brazil’s south.

Attendees heard how rising militarisation has accompanied the criminalisation of land defenders, resulting in brutal responses against those opposing powerful capitalist interests. Activists representing social movements battling against extractivism in Argentina, Colombia and Brazil spoke about the militarisation of their territories as a deepening of the protection of — often foreign-owned — capitalist extractive interests.

Panelists shared their experiences from the frontline of struggles against transnational extractivism. One such example is the Fuera Mekorot (Get Out Mekorot) movement, a battle to stop Israeli water company Mekorot from colonising water resources in Argentina. The campaign is part of the global Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign opposing Israel's apartheid-style control of water in occupied Palestinian territories.

The analysis drawn out from examples of frontline resistance highlighted the need to unite existing territorial ecosocialist struggles into internationalist movements capable of confronting global capitalism.

Panelists warned of so-called climate "solutions" being proposed by a new brand of “green capitalism" seeking to greenwash its activities and profit from the climate crisis. Recent COP climate conferences were highlighted as helping reinforce a new form of green capitalism, where an illusion of change is projected, while the status quo of capitalist-fuelled climate catastrophe is maintained.

Discussion highlighted the hypocrisy of the Global North — most responsible for the climate crisis — for demanding that the Global South adopt often-technocratic solutions, without providing funding and while continuing to plunder territories in the name of the “renewables transition”.

The need for a radical anti-capitalist alternative, stemming from the concrete ecosocialist struggles in the Global South, was reinforced. Many highlighted how even well-intentioned solutions coming from the Global North — the centres of capitalism most responsible for creating the climate crisis — risk sidelining perspectives from the South and maintaining existing chains of oppression.

Militant agro-ecologists representing various movements in Latin America analysed how capitalist countries of the Global North look to secure their own food sovereignty through control of foreign territories, creating food dependency for countries of the periphery. Moreover, the destruction of food sovereignty is used as a tool of war and oppression, such as Israel’s burning of crops and intentional starvation regime in occupied Palestinian territories. Activists reinforced that recovering food sovereignty in exploited territories is key to advancing struggles for liberty, and put forward agroecology as a real alternative to the capitalist mode of food production.

The conference closed with a discussion on the next steps for building the international ecosocialist movement. It was emphasised that concrete struggles in the Global South must orient the global internationalist anti-capitalist struggle, and are often overlooked by some Eurocentric ecosocialist discussions.

Finally, solidarity was shown with the people of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil’s south, who are experiencing catastrophic climate-fuelled floods, and with Palestinians facing Israel’s genocidal attacks.

The conference organisers condensed three days of discussion into two days in solidarity with Argentina's general strike on May 9.

[Selected sessions from the conference are available in Spanish on Youtube.]

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