Walberto Gallegos from the Mangrove Association in El Salvador traveled to the SF Bay Area to attend the EDGE Funders Alliance conference with EcoViva. Walberto joined us to participate in a breakout workshop titled “Climate Justice and Community Rights: A Toolbox for Corporate and Government Accountability.” The workshop was facilitated by Executive Director, Yael Falicov, who collaborated with Tanya Dawkins (Global-Links Project) and Aviva Imhof (International Rivers) to organize the session.
Walberto, Tanya and Aviva discussed policy, legal and grassroots tools used in their work. The workshop participants then broke up into small groups addressing policy and finance, positive economic strategies, and limiting emissions through grassroots strategies, as related to climate justice.
At the workshop, Walberto spoke about how La Coordinadora and the Mangrove Association are addressing the challenges of climate change in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador. Walberto is convinced that the movement is successful because the communities understand the need to protect their natural surroundings. For example, they are working hard to protect and restore the mangrove forest because they understand that it provides rich natural resources, clean air and also protects against strong hurricanes from the Pacific Ocean, which are hitting the communities more frequently. Visit our website to learn more about the environmental protection work that we support.
At the next afternoon’s plenary discussion on Feeding and Cooling the Planet Earth, we heard from Pablo Solón (Focus on Gobal South) who challenged the crowd to think of how we can link issues of climate change to the daily lives of people. Pablo reminded us of how quickly we are exceeding our Co2 emission allotment, which is set to rise 50% by 2050. We also heard from Rita Zanotto (Via Campesina in Brazil) and Herschelle Milford (Surplus People Project in South Africa), who spoke about the intersection between climate justice and food sovereignty.
When the floor opened up to comments and questions during the plenary, Walberto took the microphone and addressed the crowd. He introduced himself and the grassroots effort that he was representing, citing the progress he has experienced when people organize around climate justice. Walberto took to the issue of sugar cane production in the Bajo Lempa. As sugar cane production rises in the area, kidney disease is also rising, and it’s affecting women and children at an alarming rate.
While at the conference, Walberto and the EcoViva team had a chance to meet with current funders and partners, not to mention loads of people doing fantastic work throughout the world. We were able to get thorough updates on the work on the ground from Walberto, which we will share in the coming weeks.
It was wonderful having Walberto in the SF Bay Area! During his visit, EcoViva hosted a dinner for Walberto, where he shared his wisdom with our Bay Area EcoViva team and local friends. Of course, we took Walberto to some local cultural sites in Berkeley and Oakland, including local cooperative businesses, which he really enjoyed visiting.