The ecological crisis starts locally, so does the struggle…

Statement by the Climate Justice Coalition of Turkey

The only way to win the battle for the future..,

is to create a common narrative, a common history.

We are heading towards the local elections at a very important moment for the earth, at a crucial juncture where it becomes increasingly impossible for capitalism to persist. We see that if we do not take action, this impossibility will deepen further. Beyond that, we are experiencing it firsthand.

The multiple crisis affects all our living spaces and social life. Our living conditions are deteriorating rapidly. Capitalism has reached a threshold where workers are producing the conditions for their own destruction.

The state of existence or non-existence of the world created by the capitalist system has never been so clear. Climate change and ecological destruction, while devastating the entire nature and living conditions of all beings, indicate a situation that necessitates a fundamental change in economic and social systems, extending from individuals to entire societies. Either we change everything, or an relentless climate situation will change everything against us.

There are things we have to do now. There are steps that cannot be postponed.

We make sure that the struggle for democracy is inclusive and diverse.

We see the need to change our cities and living environments for the benefit of society and nature.

In this change, we find it valuable to meet all social dynamics, to change and to be changed.

From the perspective of ecology and climate justice, we have something to say, a struggle we want to unite.

We know the causes and those responsible for the ecological crisis

The commodification of nature as a way for capitalism to overcome the crisis of capital accumulation has left the whole world facing the severe consequences of the ecological crisis. Now we are facing disasters in our country, as well as in the whole world, which are the consequences of climate change caused by the unlimited exploitation of nature. Today, ecological destruction is a major threat to people, other living creatures and cities. The process of destroying agricultural land, dispossessing rural people and restructuring nature according to the needs of capital and the market is in full swing. Our living spaces, our cities, have become huge centres of consumption and waste production, where public services are marketed, where no one feels a sense of belonging and security, where ghettos are created instead of coexistence, where no one can receive equal services, where every day there is a new violation of urban rights and urban crime, and unplanned and uncontrolled settlements where earthquakes and other disasters have become destiny.

There is no other solution than struggle, organised struggle.

 The way to liberate nature and all living beings in it is to create an ecological, libertarian and egalitarian life. In the period we are living in, the ecological crisis is increasing day by day with the exploitation of nature and the commodification of the commons belonging to all living beings, especially natural resources.

 If the effects of the multiple crises of capitalism continue at this rate and we do not take measures against it, if we do not make living units self-sufficient, this process, which the ruling classes call “creative destruction”, will constantly open up space for capital and keep workers and the planet in the mechanisms of continuous exploitation. We need to reorganise all management mechanisms, from the smallest settlement to the largest, with ecological priorities. The development and construction of a new model of “horizontal social structuring” that will build and sustain a new way of life at peace with nature should be one of the primary goals.

One of the most fundamental tasks of local governments is to reorganise, on an ecological and libertarian basis, the cities that are organised as the hinterland of megacities, where the countryside is exploited to meet all the basic needs of these cities, such as water, energy, food and raw materials, and where it has become very difficult for workers to live, and where climate crimes are increasing.

We know what to do

An ecological local governance is possible through a principled approach centered around an ecological perspective, with units, commissions, and municipal councils taking on a fundamental protective role against ecological destruction and ecocide crimes, free from all urban crimes. This approach should be strengthened by grassroots, direct democracy, with equal participation from all sectors of society, through autonomous, effective, and institutionalized people’s assemblies on all issues. This situation should be communalized through the struggle for everything that constitutes urban and rural life and all living beings to become advocates for nature and life. Against the capital accumulation-focused urban paradigm of neoliberalism, urban organization should aim for a simple reproduction-based restructuring in all production and consumption relations.

Local governments that respect nature and all living beings can be realised with an understanding that does not destroy nature for the sake of populist approaches and protects trees, animals, water resources, air and soil.

There are four interrelated obstacles to building an ecological life:

  • The commodification of nature,
  • The exploitation of labour,
  • Increasing gender inequality,
  • The destruction of constitutional and democratic rights.

The exploitation of nature cannot be prevented without ending the exploitation of women and children, who are most affected by ecological destruction, and the exploitation of labour, and a healthy nature cannot be possible without a healthy society. The struggle must be waged to rebuild society’s relationship with nature, to reduce the processes of alienation from human labour and to put an end to ecological destruction, labour exploitation and gender inequality.

As we have emphasized, we know that all these problems require systemic change. But we also know that the key to system change, as we have been saying for years, is people, social movements and people’s organisations.

 We know that grassroots climate justice and ecological movements are and will be an important part of this struggle. We know that the struggle must be united in both directions, at the national and global level.

To stop climate chaos and ecological destruction we need a movement that is much bigger, much more powerful than the world has ever seen, far beyond what this fragile system has ever faced. We know that we need to build an active, effective and widespread movement for the future of humanity and our planet. And what that means for the whole of the social opposition.

We are sure that all components of the struggle want to and will be together with the protectors of nature, water, land, forests, animals, defenders of life and people. The way is open for us to unite these movements. Let us unite so that together we can challenge the death dealers of capitalism.

We must win so that our societies can live and survive together with all living beings!

Within this framework, egalitarian and libertarian local governments, centred on an ecological perspective and empowered by decentralised and direct democratic participation;

It should see cities and the countryside around them as a holistic ecosystem, including natural and cultural assets, and recognise nature as a subject,

It should aim to prevent the unlimited horizontal and vertical growth of cities and create small and slow cities,

Make cities and all living spaces resilient to disasters, establish disaster response units and prepare and activate gender- and ecosystem-sensitive disaster emergency action plans. Establish emergency assembly centres, response units, emergency response teams and accessible disaster equipment areas,

 They should accept that disaster resilient cities are built through resilient neighbourhoods, that the scale of disaster preparedness is neighbourhood and street level, and that local governments should act through neighbourhood assemblies to build neighbourhood capacity,

 As a means of combating climate change, it should prepare a gender-sensitive “Climate Emergency Action Plan” together with experts and ecological organisations, establish a “Climate Monitoring Unit” to monitor the implementation of the plan and all activities of the municipality, such as the preparation of zoning plans, infrastructure and transport services, in terms of climate change, and activate existing ones. Within the framework of adaptation to climate change, the municipality should rethink the sea and lake coasts and river beds, where the first effects of the climate crisis will be seen, against all kinds of risks,

 Given that urban peripheries, landscapes and wildlife are under pressure from mining, energy projects and construction, and that farmers are becoming labourers to make a living, it should carry out agro-ecological studies to support rural life, village life and traditional production to reverse this trend. It should set up production cooperatives to support the countryside and introduce and support methods of developing a non-profit subsistence economy,

Establish producer markets without middlemen, and support and pioneer the establishment of consumer cooperatives to give the city access to healthy and cheap organic food,

The parliament should operate environmental commissions and involve expert institutions and ecological organisations in the decision-making process,

Ensure the preparation of scientific “Environmental Impact Assessment Reports” for all projects carried out in the city and its periphery, in cooperation with ecological organisations and independent experts, covering environmental, social and health impacts,

It should ensure the participation of expert institutions, ecological organisations and the inhabitants of the region in the preparation of environmental layout and implementation zoning plans, and adopt a populist and ecologically sensitive approach rather than a rent-seeking one,

It must oppose the ongoing forced migration and destruction of living spaces in the Kurdish provinces due to decades of security policies and the appointment of trustees to presidential and local councils,

It must stand against the increasing dispossession and gentrification in the name of urban transformation, as all cities captured by capital are turned into financial and profit centres,

It should oppose the usurpation of all ecological and social assets and commons, the forced displacement, the cultural, sociological and demographic destruction that comes to the fore in times of disaster, and develop policies to prevent such destruction,

It must oppose greenwashing strategies with discourses such as ‘public interest, development’ and the usurpation of the commons and the assets of peasants and poor people in rural and urban areas,

Protect forests, wetlands, pastures, agricultural lands, oceans, coasts, green spaces, public and historic areas, which are the commons of all living beings, as well as our urban commons, and make effective efforts to restore lost and degraded areas,

It should strive to transform all local environmental policies into a regional and centralised policy, together with other local governments and the people,

It should, together with the people, form a point of resistance against the ecological destruction policies and practices of the central governments,

It should make an inventory of natural, historical and cultural assets, develop conservation policies and work to enrich and value life by building bridges between the past and the future,

It should close the torture centres opened under the name of animal shelters, protect the right of all animals to live freely in cities, and develop and implement egalitarian policies that meet their needs,

In order not to break the natural cycle, ecological measures should be taken instead of using chemicals, and rehabilitation policies for broken cycles should be implemented,

Cities should cease to be huge garbage and waste production centres and adopt a waste policy that prioritises decomposition and composting that does not destroy nature, with policies that reduce consumption and waste production,

It should abandon “concrete and asphalt municipalism”, implement ecological alternatives in cities and develop policies that promote ecological and sustainable building materials according to climate and region,

Protect urban forests, urban groves, urban green spaces and wetlands, increase green spaces and implement edible landscaping in parks and gardens, taking into account local species,

Give priority to public transport, encourage the use of bicycles, increase the number of pedestrian and bicycle paths, and increase the number of traffic-free areas and squares,

Ban the use of pesticides and support local agriculture using agro-ecological methods,

Develop and implement policies to ensure that energy is not produced for rent-seeking, but as needed, locally, together with the people, by energy cooperatives, using climate-friendly methods, and to ensure energy democracy,

Measures should be taken to prevent light and sound pollution, to protect wildlife in urban peripheries and to reduce urban fatigue,

Based on the fact that water is a fundamental right of all living beings, it must fight against the commercialisation of water and provide drinkable, clean and free urban water. It must protect water resources and prevent the allocation of drinking, service and irrigation water to energy companies, mining projects and organised industrial zones. Ensure the provision of clean and healthy water to the people and implement and support practices such as water conservation, rain harvesting, drip irrigation, drought resistant landscaping, etc. to combat drought in rural and urban areas.

Once again, we emphasize:

We must win for our societies to survive and coexist with all living beings!

This text was produced collectively by the Climate Justice Coalition of Turkey as a result of a series of meetings with different subjects and is always open to new contributions.

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