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In spite of the beautiful promises and great announcements made in order not to lose face, the political « leaders » who are supposed to represent the populations of their countries opt for ever more repressive policies, both socially, ecologically and democratically. Instead of hoping every year for a political jolt accompanied by radical measures to respond to global warming, support for local struggles against major productivist projects is crucial to best preserve the commons.

The last COP took place in November 2016 in Marrakech. At Attac CADTM Morocco, which shares the office of the international CADTM network (renamed in 2016 the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debts) with Belgium, ecological struggles are part of the core of the research and mobilization program, as are free trade agreements and illegitimate debt. Together, we therefore raised this first question: how can the representatives and their political hierarchies claim to respond in any way whatsoever to ecological needs, and, at the same time, establish austerity as the golden rule, under the pretext of excessive debts, very often illegitimate, while multiplying free trade agreements around the world? 

At Attac CADTM Morocco, we do not wait for the light to shine on the governments, so mobilizations are conducted outside the COPs and with grassroots movements. The meeting, an alternative to the COP22 of November 2016 was held in the ocean city of Safi, an area that has been sacrificed to impose an extractivist model of economic development. A phosphate plant, a cement factory, and a coal-fired power plant have been built on its coastline, in contradiction to the « ecological » rhetoric of the Makhzen.(1)

Just as at COP21 a year earlier, the 22nd International Climate Conference in Morocco will have been marked by the weight of multinationals and their « solutions. » Among the official partners was a Moroccan company specializing in phosphates, the Office chérifien des phosphates (OCP) and the royal family’s mining holding company Managem, as well as other structures recognized as being responsible for the destruction of the environment, health problems and the situation in which people are deprived of their vital resources. 

Far from the technocrats that we meet in official meetings, we found among the participants in the Safi meeting, called Change the system not the climate, people who fight for common goods and fundamental rights. As for North Africa, there were people fighting against the shale gas industry in Tunisia and Algeria and others against land grabbing in Morocco, with women from the village of Ouled Sbita coming to testify about the expulsion of families from their land for the construction of luxury residences and a golf course, a land grab that is the work of a real estate company close to the Moroccan political power Residents of the village of Imider, in southeastern Morocco, also came to talk about their struggle against a mining company that steals their water with impunity. Anxious to name their enemies, the organizers of the meeting clearly positioned themselves against capitalism but also against patriarchy. In this perspective, Ruth Nyambura, a Kenyan ecofeminist shared her thoughts on the links between the exploitation of women and the exploitation of nature. 

A member of GRAIN(2) from Ghana spoke about the critical role of industrial agriculture in global warming. This group of associations, of which Via campesina is a part, demonstrates, through its reports and other educational publications, two essential things: that the industrial food system is responsible for half of the total greenhouse gas emissions, but that farmers and small farmers hold the remedy to the climate crisis. N’Nimo Bassey, more accustomed to the large UN forums than the comrades of Imider, former director of the NGO Friends of the Earth International, testified to the struggles against oil exploitation in the Niger Delta, which is creating an ecological and social disaster. Oil spills have been almost permanent for the past 50 years, but they have made much less noise than the one caused by BP in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. UN estimates put the number of leaks at 6,800 between 1976 and 2001, spilling an estimated 3 million tons of crude oil, ruining the entire ecosystem and the 31 million inhabitants of the Niger Delta. Without necessarily using the term, N’Nimo denounced the urgency of stopping extractivism, whose invisible effects on one side of the globe are nevertheless very concrete on the side where the looting takes place. 

Attac CADTM Morocco has produced numerous analyses to denounce these extractivist projects and the famous « solutions », first and foremost the renewable energy sector in Morocco and its management totally contrary to the public interest. Beyond the conferences and exchanges of experiences, the fight against global warming and extractivism also involves concrete support for local struggles. 

This is why we organized a solidarity caravan with the camp that has been set up in the village of Imider for the past 6 years, as the inhabitants have been forced to occupy the land to prevent the nearby silver mine from continuing to take their water, thus polluting their environment and destroying their livelihoods. The repression suffered by the opponents from the police and the mining company is terrible, everything has been tried to discourage them: buying them through micro-projects « offered » to the village, repressing them through violence and numerous arrests with very dubious motives, offering them jobs in the mine… 

For several years, the local population has been responding peacefully to the repression and innovating in different forms of struggle. The role of women is preponderant in this mobilization. By numerous marches they demanded the release of their young sons detained, victims of fraudulent judicial files, and the lifting of the security approach to Imider(3), demonstrating, if it were necessary, their indispensable role in the struggle. 

Robin Delobel

Notes et références
  1. Terme faisant référence au roi et à l’élite dirigeante qui l’entoure.
  2. GRAIN est une petite organisation internationale qui soutient la lutte des paysans et des mouvements sociaux pour renforcer le contrôle des communautés sur des systèmes alimentaires fondés sur la biodiversité.
  3. Pour plus d’infos sur cette lutte, voir leur site :

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