December 07, 2010

Day 3: Update from the COP-16 climate summit at cancun, Mexico

A) COP-16 / Cancun Update day 3 : Host Mexican Govt attempts to Pick-and-Choose Country-Heads Who Are Invited To The Cancun Climate Summit – Repeating “Copenhagen Accord” model.

The UN decision making processes are supposed to be participatory with all member nations being able to express their view-points and take part in the debates and decision making – whatever their positions and size of economies are. In the last climate summit held in Copenhagen, the host Danish government tried to violate this sacred principle of collectivity, and secretly invited and involved a few heads of states from rich & ‘emerging’ economies to form a smaller group, and tried to justify that in the name of “efficient decision making” ! These small-group decision(s) were then pushed down the throat of the other nations – mostly poorer LDCs, threatened Island nations etc, and became the ill-famous “Copenhagen Accord”. This so called ‘accord’ has no legal standing as yet, but under the pressure of ‘big brothers’ and the lure of selectively getting some money, over 100 nations have joined in, with pledges of voluntary emission cuts / emission intensity reductions – and no mention of the demand for historical climate debt of the rich societies to poorer countries and no legally binding emission cuts even for the richest and most polluting countries.

In a repeat of the evil-designs of the Danish Govt in Copenhagen, the Mexican govt has selectively invited a few “chosen” heads of state to Cancun – for the concluding days of the summit when major decisions – if any – are generally negotiated / taken. They have carefully avoided the country-heads who have consistently raised progressive voices and demands, like the Plurinational govt of Bolivia. This amounts to a clear violation of the UN collectivity principle, and points towards sinister designs on the part of the host and its ‘controlling’ govts, for everywhere in Mexico, the overwhelming influence of the USA is visible with crystal clear view.

Several progressive govt delegations have raised an objection to this ‘selective invitation’, while even those heads of state who are planning to come on their own – have been excluded. The scene will unfold in the coming week, and the even limited agenda of the ‘summit’ will be determined by how the pulls & pushes pan out in the next few days.

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A) In a welcome change, many country delegations are now talking about the necessity to continue the legally binding nature of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and the need for a second commitment period after 2012, without any break from the first commitment period.

Unlike what happened during the last few days of the Copenhagen climate summit (COP-15) last December, several small & big country representatives (‘parties’ in the COP or official negotiators) are seen talking – in their initial submissions – about the need to continue the Kyoto protocol (which has its mandate till 2012) with its commitments of binding emission cuts for the rich countries, with its acceptance of the principle of “historical emission debt”, and of the “common but differentiated responsibility” for different countries. Except Australia, Japan and few such big-rich-polluters – who were harping on bigger developing countries assuming proportional responsibilities, many negotiators stressed on the necessity of continuing KP without a break and of no diversion from its accepted principles. Though the KP has many limitations, having highly inadequate targets & relying on market mechanisms to address the mitigation targets being two of the major ones, this little positive change from the total regression of the ‘Copenhagen accord’ is a welcome positive change.

But these are early days of the climate summit. What happens in the second week when the negotiating process heats up, will determine the outcome of this highly (and deliberately) under-hyped climate summit, at a time when the worlds vulnerable populations are facing sharply increased risks from climate change induced hazards.

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November 16, 2010

Climate Victims shared their testimonies before Jury

Press release

Farmers, workers, migrants, fisher folk, and tribals seek compensation from the developed countries for climate crisis, ask COP to take note of their miseries

New Delhi, Nov 16. Narrating stories on how climate change has affected their lives, agriculture and food security, climate victims from all over the country participating in a National Peoples Tribunal on Climate Crisis held at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) demanded justice from the national government and from the developed countries for creating this crisis.

The Chief Guest, Shri Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh addressing the Tribunal said that developed countries are responsible for bringing about this crisis and, therefore, they must address the rights and claims of these people immediately. He also said the government should make all the efforts possible to redress these impacts. He emphasized that policy planning needs to factor in climate change because it is now an established fact.

Ms. Nisha Agrawal from Oxfam India said that the crisis is irreversible and needs global collaboration, the developed as well as developing countries need to think and act collectively in a rights based manner to address climate change. She added that world over people have started bringing claims and suits against climate culprits and also national governments and are looking at litigation as a means to enforce climate justice and ask for stronger legal framework for climate stabilization.

“The poor in India depend on agriculture and are particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change since they are largely dependent on rainfed agriculture and the vagaries of nature hit them the hardest. Give the urgency of this issue, Oxfam India is committed to working with all aspects of the state—the executive branch, members of the parliament, and today, the judiciary—to try and raise awareness about the need to act urgently on this issue. As a rights-based organization, we believe that the right to life and livelihood of poor people are getting adversely affected by climate change, and that we need to look for legal spaces and legal frameworks, nationally and internationally, where they can demand climate justice and adequate compensation for their losses,” she said.

Justice Pana Chand Jain (Retd.) the Convener of the Tribunal said that the Supreme Court of India has given such an expansive interpretation of the Art. 21 of the Constitution of India that protection of food security, livelihood and health of the people is the right of the citizens and can be enforced despite minimal legal framework on climate change. He also stated that there is an urgent need of the International Tribunal on Environment and Climate which can enforce the binding provisions in the Kyoto Protocol.

A number of victims from different states, occupations, agroclimatic zones gave evidence before the Jury consisting of Justice Panachand Jain, Justice V S Dave, Justice A K Srivastava, Dr. Syeda Hameed (Member Planning Commission), Prof. A R Nambi (MS Swaminathan Research Foundation), Prof. Jaya Mehta (Economist), Mr. Hari Jai Singh (former President Editors Guild of India) . Animesh Giri from south 24 pargana District, West Bengal said local ecology has been affected so much that indigenous fruits and products which were the main source of their food have completely vanished. Mrs. Kothabbai from Baran, Jaipur blamed climate change and developed countries for bringing the misfortune of losing their lands and becoming migrants.

Ms. Ajantha, representing fisherwomen from Negapattinam, Tamilnadu said that their lives have gone completely out of gear due to change in the weather cycle and frequent extreme climatic events. Mr. Nilo Malli from Koraput, Odisha deposed that marginal farmers who are already a victim of agrarian crisis have been further pauperized and turned into menial labour. Peasants have not only lost their food security and livelihood but their dignity also. Ms. Prabhati Deve described how climate change has severely affected lives of small farmers, and cattle breeders like her. She added that there is no fodder for the animal and no food for the people in home, and asked how she can take care of the family when her husband has migrated and she is the only one to take care of the children and aged and ailing parents.

The averments of the victims were corroborated by the specialists and experts before the Jury. Dr. Suman Sahai from Gene Campaign said that agriculture and food security is going to be hit hardest in the climate crisis and it is very unfortunate that production in the countries who have contributed to the crisis is likely to increase or remain unaffected while poor countries and communities who have hardly any contribution in bring the crisis will face the brunt. Mr. S Janakarajan from Madras Institute of Development studies said that increasing salinity of the soil and groundwater has severely affected the agricultural production and fisheries.

Dr. Alka Awasthi said that specially in the context of Rajasthan, the government needs to take multipronged strategy to revive agriculture and ensure food to people in the state. Mr. C P Sinha, from IWRS, Patna said that his research on rainfall and temperature variability in the last hundred years in the district of Darbhanga, Bihar has revealed an increasing trend in the temperature and decrease in precipitation. Mr. Anshuman from DCRC, West Bengal attested the fact of increasing climate variability and huge impacts on the life of small and marginal farmers.

After hearing the testimonies from the victims and the specialists, the Jury, in their verdict said that developed countries should own their responsibility in bringing about this crisis and must compensate affected countries and communities. Pointing out that there are different sets of obligations at different levels especially as a member of international community, as a nation and as an individual citizen, the jury said everyone has to take responsibility for solving the problem. The Jury acknowledged that the issues of causality and state responsibility are two big hindrances in development of jurisprudence on climate change, however, they added that global juridical opinion is moving towards accepting this fact that climate change is manifesting, it is irreversible and need to be addressed. Speaking on behalf of the Jury Justice V S Dave said that there is an urgent need for unambiguous legal framework to redress climate change impacts on the range of rights of people, many of which are already protected under the Constitution of India, International Covenant on Economic Social Cultural Rights and other important treaties on the rights of women, indigenous populations, environment, and bio-diversity. The Jury also pointed out that there was a need for a climate literacy movement.

The Tribunal ended with more than 300 participants from all over the country taking a pledge to protect the environment and mother earth. Ms. Moutushi Sengupta from Oxfam India said in the valedictory session that Oxfam will convey these sentiments and claims of people in the coming COP 16. Mr. Sharad Joshi from beyond Copenhagen who organized the Tribunal said that it is a pertinent time to intervene at the global and state level, and Beyond Copenhagen will definitely present these arguments and concerns before the official delegation of India, and the delegation of other South Asian Countries and the COP 16.

November 14, 2010

Invitation for National Peoples Tribunal





Dear Friends,
We Cordially request your support
and invite your participation at the
National Peoples Tribunal on Climate Crisis
to be held on
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
at
India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi












November 02, 2010

Objective of the National Peoples Tribunal on Climate Crisis

The National People’s Tribunal will be akin to a moot court and will hear and record evidences on impact of climate change in order to ascertain the state responsibility and responsibility of developed countries to redress climate change impacts in developing countries. Based on the evidences recorded and opinion of expert witnesses, the Tribunal will award its verdict which will emphasize how climate change has impacted food security and livelihood and resulted in increased migration. It will also assess what substantive rights of people/victims have been affected and instruct the state to address those violations in the light of legal framework (the Constitution of India, case laws on environment and climate change, the law of tort, and the commitment made by the government of India in various international covenants related to civil and political rights, rights of women and children, rights against discrimination, and other covenants. Besides, it will also instruct the state to improve social security mechanisms and improve its implementation so that the adaptive capacity of the population which is affected the most can be enhanced.

Objectives of the Tribunal

  • To record evidences on impact of climate change on food security, livelihood and migration in rain fed areas and flood plains.
  • To examine community based coping mechanisms and share best practices of adaptation and mitigation efforts in the area of agriculture and food security.
  • To generate accountability of the state and non-state actors to address rights violations and climate change and contribute to prove that sufficient provisions exist to make the state and non-state actors liable.
  • To increase pressure on key national/ state agencies to take serious actions to mitigate climate change and contribute towards adaptation needs of all especially the most vulnerable.
  • To assess the liability and responsibility of developed countries and multilateral Institutions in addressing severe impacts of climate crisis on food security, livelihood and displacement.
  • To increase pressure on global actors to lay more emphasis on agriculture and food security in climate negotiations and conclude a just and equitable deal as the earliest.
    The process and the verdict of the Tribunal will be also shared with the global audience through print and audio-visual medium and side events. Tribunal related Publications will be showcased and distributed at exhibit Booths of the organizers. Media attention will be ensured though formal and informal interaction with national and global media.

October 19, 2010

NATIONAL PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL ON CLIMATE CHANGE

November 16th, 2010
New Delhi, India

The National peoples Tribunal will develop Peoples jurisprudence on climate change. Despite the deficient legal framework on climate change laws, increasing number of action in courts in different countries prove that there are enough provisions in the Public and private international law and domestic legislations to attempt bring accountability on the national governments to protect people from the climate change impacts. The most popular case in point is Inuit’s case where indigenous people bordering USA and Canada brought an action in American Commission on Human Rights. The petition sought relief from violations of the human rights of Inuit resulting from global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the United States. Many similar actions on climate change might not succeed in the absence of proof of causation; however, they show a rising public and juridical opinion to seek legal redress to impacts of climate change. In the circumstances, it is only desirable that more such actions are brought to judicial, quasi judicial and peoples forum.

The National Peoples Tribunal will explore legal spaces available to generate state accountability to mitigate and protect people from climate change impacts. Besides, it would also send a strong message to the developed countries to conclude a fair and just climate deal.

To know more about the Tribunal please click on the links below :

October 18, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE - III

RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING  

Observed and projected climate change will affect the right to adequate housing in several ways. Sea level rise and storm surges will have a direct impact on many coastal settlements. Settlements in low-lying deltas are also particularly at risk, as evidenced by the millions of people and homes affected by flooding in recent years.

The erosion of livelihoods, partly caused by climate change, is a main “push” factor for increasing rural to urban migration. Many will move to urban slums and informal settlements where they are often forced to build shelters in hazardous areas. Already today, an estimated 1 billion people live in urban slums on fragile hillsides or flood-prone riverbanks and face acute vulnerability to extreme climate events.

Human rights guarantees in the context of climate change include: (a) adequate protection of housing from weather hazards (habitability of housing); (b) access to housing away from hazardous zones; (c) access to shelter and disaster preparedness in cases of displacement caused by extreme weather events; (d) protection of communities that are relocated away from hazardous zones, including protection against forced evictions without appropriate forms of legal or other protection, including adequate consultation with affected persons.

October 12, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE - II

RIGHT TO WATER

Loss of glaciers and reductions in snow cover are projected to increase and to negatively affect water availability for more than one-sixth of the world’s population supplied by meltwater from mountain ranges. Weather extremes, such as drought and flooding, will also impact on water supplies. Climate change will thus exacerbate existing stresses on water resources and compound the problem of access to safe drinking water, currently denied to an estimated 1.1 billion people globally and a major cause of morbidity and disease. In this regard, climate change interacts with a range of other causes of water stress, such as population growth, environmental degradation, poor water management, poverty and inequality.

RIGHT TO HEALTH

Climate change is projected to affect the health status of millions of people, including through increases in malnutrition, increased diseases and injury due to extreme weather events, and an increased burden of diarrhoeal, cardio-respiratory and infectious diseases. Global warming may also affect the spread of malaria and other vector borne diseases in some parts of the world. Overall, the negative health effects will disproportionately be felt in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Poor health and malnutrition increases vulnerability and reduces the capacity of individuals and groups to adapt to climate change.

Climate change constitutes a severe additional stress to health systems worldwide, prompting the Special Rapporteur on the right to health to warn that a failure of the international community to confront the health threats posed by global warming will endanger the lives of millions of people. Most at risk are those individuals and communities with a low adaptive capacity. Conversely, addressing poor health is one central aspect of reducing vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

Non-climate related factors, such as education, health care, public health initiatives, are critical in determining how global warming will affect the health of populations. Protecting the right to health in the face of climate change will require comprehensive measures, including mitigating the adverse impacts of global warming on underlying determinants of health and giving priority to protecting vulnerable individuals and communities.

October 09, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE-I

RIGHT TO LIFE  

A number of observed and projected effects of climate change will pose direct and indirect threats to human lives. IPCC AR4 projects with high confidence an increase in people suffering from death, disease and injury from heat-waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts. Equally, climate change will affect the right to life through an increase in hunger and malnutrition and related disorders impacting on child growth and development; cardio-respiratory morbidity and mortality related to ground-level ozone.

Climate change will exacerbate weather-related disasters which already have devastating effects on people and their enjoyment of the right to life, particularly in the developing world. For example, an estimated 262 million people were affected by climate disasters annually from 2000 to 2004, of whom over 98 per cent live in developing countries. Tropical cyclone hazards, affecting approximately 120 million people annually, killed an estimated 250,000 people from 1980 to 2000. Protection of the right to life, generally and in the context of climate change, is closely related to measures for the fulfilment of other rights, such as those related to food, water, health and housing.

RIGHT TO ADEQUATE FOOD 

As a consequence of climate change, the potential for food production is projected initially to increase at mid to high latitudes with an increase in global average temperature in the range of 1-3° C. However, at lower latitudes crop productivity is projected to decrease, increasing the risk of hunger and food insecurity in the poorer regions of the word. According to one estimate, an additional 600 million people will face malnutrition due to climate change, with a particularly negative effect on sub-Saharan Africa. Poor people living in developing countries are particularly vulnerable given their disproportionate dependency on climate-sensitive resources for their food and livelihoods. The realization of the right to adequate food requires that special attention be given to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including people living in disaster prone areas and indigenous peoples whose livelihood may be threatened.

(Based on the Report Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights A/HRC/10/6, 15 January 2009)

October 08, 2010

UNDERSTANDING CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS IMPACT

The detection of climate change is the process of demonstrating that an observed change is significantly different from what can be explained by natural variability. It does not necessarily imply that its causes are understood. The climate change can be attributed to anthropogenic causes and at the same time there are non-climate drivers such as land use, land degradation, urbanisation and pollution, affect systems directly and indirectly through their effects on climate.

The socio-economic processes that drive land-use change include population growth, economic development, trade and migration, which are proceeding at an unprecedented rate in India. Land-use changes hamper range-shift responses of species to climate change, leading to an extra loss of biodiversity. Additional land-use changes have been linked to changes in air quality and pollution taht affect the greenhouse process itself. It can also strongly magnify the effects of extreme climate events, e.g., heat mortality, injuries/fatalities from storms, and ecologically mediated infectious diseases.

There are also a large number of socio-economic factors that can influence, obscure or enhance the observed impacts of climate change and that must be taken into account when seeking a climate signal or explaining observations of impacts and even adaptations. For example, the noted effects of sea-level rise and extreme events are much greater when they occur in regions with large populations, inadequate infrastructure, or high property prices. The observed impacts of climate change on agriculture are largely determined by the ability of producers to access or afford irrigation, alternate crop varieties, markets, insurance, fertilisers and agricultural extension, or to abandon agriculture for alternate livelihoods. Demography (e.g., the elderly and the very young), poverty (e.g., malnutrition and poor living conditions), preventive technologies (e.g., pest control and immunisation), and healthcare institutions influence the impacts of climate change on humans.

October 04, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK AND CLIMATE CHANGE

(Based on the Report Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights A/HRC/10/6, 15 January 2009)

The physical impacts of global warming cannot easily be classified as human rights violations, not least because climate change-related harm often cannot clearly be attributed to acts or omissions of specific States.

Irrespective of whether or not climate change effects can be construed as human rights violations, human rights obligations provide imprtant protection to the individuals whose rights are affected by climate change or by measures taken to respond to climate change.

Under international human rights law, individuals rely first and foremost on their own States for the protection of their human rights. In the face of climate change, however, it is doubtful, for the reasons mentioned above, that an individual would be able to hold a particular State responsible for harm caused by climate change. Human rights law provides more effective protection with regard to measures taken by States to address climate change and their impact on human rights.

For example, if individuals have to move away from a high-risk zone, the State must ensure adequate safeguards and take measures to avoid forced evictions. Equally, several claims about environmental harm have been considered by national, regional and international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, including the Human Rights Committee, regarding the impact on human rights, such as the right to life, to heath, to privacy and family life and to information.

Similar cases in which an environmental harm is linked to climate change could also be considered by courts and quasi-judicial human rights treaty bodies. In such cases, it would appear that the matter of the case would rest on whether the State through its acts or omissions had failed to protect an individual against a harm affecting the enjoyment of human rights. In some cases, States may have an obligation to protect individuals against foreseeable threats to human rights related to climate change, such as an increased risk of flooding in certain areas.

While international human rights treaties recognize that some aspects of economic, social and cultural rights may only be realized progressively over time, they also impose obligations which require immediate implementation. First, States parties must take deliberate, concrete and targeted measures, making the most efficient use of available resources, to move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards the full realization of rights. Second, irrespective of resource limitations, States must guarantee non-discrimination in access to economic, social and cultural rights. Third, States have a core obligation to ensure, at the very least, minimum essential levels of each right enshrined in the Covenant.

In sum, irrespective of the additional strain climate change-related events may place on available resources, States remain under an obligation to ensure the widest possible enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights under any given circumstances. Importantly, States must, as a matter of priority, seek to satisfy core obligations and protect groups in society who are in a particularly vulnerable situation.

September 29, 2010

LEGAL DISCOURSE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

While the final outcome of the international negotiation on climate change is still being debated and anticipated, the impacts have started affecting millions of people in developing and least developed countries and extremely vulnerable countries. The government of Tuvalu is looking to settle its entire population to save them from submergence due to impacts of climate change. It is also contemplating legal action against Australia and other developed countries to claim compensation. Even in the developing countries, the change in precipitation patterns and increased frequency of extreme climatic events is severely affecting a range of rights of people including the right to life, for which there does seem to be absolutely no responsibility on the part of the state or the international community. The UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol which are the main architecture of climate change law, does not provide any binding commitments on part of developed countries or developing countries to protect their populations from impacts of climate change. There is absolute dearth of legal entitlements even in the national and domestic legal framework of countries. This forms the major handicap in taking up legal action against the state of developed countries making them own the impacts of climate change.

However, despite the minimal legal framework there is an increasing number of actions in the realm of climate change being brought in courts of different countries against the national governments or foreign governments and even against non state actors. These legal actions are aimed at compelling the national governments to reduce GHG emissions; they are also seeking to hold state, foreign country and non state actors liable for the impacts, nuisance and negligence and rights violations. While in one large case victims of hurricane Katrina have brought action against oil and coal companies and chemical manufacturers for exacerbating climate change impacts, in Mss. vs. EPA a US Court admitted an action against the EPA and ruled that “harms associated with climate change are well recognized” and “causal connection between manmade GHGs and global warming” (Massachusetts, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al). In Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada has launched a landmark lawsuit against the Government of Canada for abandoning its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Filed in Federal Court in Ottawa by Canada’s foremost environmental law organization, Sierra Legal, the lawsuit alleges that the federal government is violating Canadian law by failing to meet its binding international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In Argentina, after the 2003 Santa Fe floods in Argentina which killed many people and caused millions of dollars of damage, citizens have successfully used Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Clima te Change to reveal official failure to adapt to climate change. The legal action has so far revealed that infrastructure changes needed to protect people had been drawn up but not acted upon by the authorities (Stuart M. Feinblatt and Monique Cofer, New Jersey Law Journal, March 13, 2007). In Nigeria, Communities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria are suing the Nigerian Government and multinational oil companies (Shell, Exxon, Agip, Chevron and Total) over the continuous flaring of gas for over 40 years.

It is estimated that more than 250 cases related to climate change and global warming are lying in different courts in the US. While there are still obstacles of causation and attribution in bringing legal action against the state; the increasing number of legal actions show that there are a number of provisions which can be invoked against the state to bring an end to its inaction on climate change, identify climate cange as a policy imperative and take initiatives to address violations of rights due to climate change impacts.

September 28, 2010

PEOPLE’S JURISPRUDENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The National People’s Tribunal will develop Peoples jurisprudence on climate change. Despite the deficient legal framework on climate change laws, increasing number of action in courts in different countries prove that there are enough provisions in the Public and private international law and domestic legislations to attempt bring accountability on the national governments to protect people from the climate change impacts. The most popular case in point is Inuit’s case where indigenous people bordering USA and Canada brought an action in American Commission on Human Rights (Petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights seeking relief from violations resulting from global warming caused by acts and omissions of the United States, ICC Petition, 7 December 2005). The petition sought relief from violations of the human rights of Inuit resulting from global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the United States. Many similar actions on climate change might not succeed in the absence of proof of causation; however, they show a rising public and juridical opinion to seek legal redress to impacts of climate change. In the circumstances, it is only desirable that more such actions are brought to judicial, quasi judicial and peoples forum.

In this regard a National Peoples' Tribunal is being organized collectively by a number of organizations under the coordination of Pairvi, CECOEDECON, Oxfam India, SADED and Beyond Copenhagen. The National Peoples' Tribunal will develop peoples' jurisprudence on climate change by exploring legal spaces available to generate state accountability to mitigate and protect people from climate change impacts. Besides, it would also send a strong message to the developed countries to conclude a fair and just climate deal. While the Tribunal will assert the rights of developing countries to seek assistance from developed countries on account of their historical role in bringing about climate crisis, it will also look into the possibility of invoking existing legal provisions and statute for restitution of critical rights of people in the national framework and advocate for an improved legal and regulatory mechanism on climate change.

June 09, 2010

Delegation of Bolivia: Climate Negotiations – Agriculture

On the issues that need to be resolved for COP 16, it is essential that the policy framework for agriculture be appropiate for the purpose of addressing the climate crisis and to meet the interests of local communities, indigenous people and protect the environment.
This would require a change in provisions of trade agreements, loan and aid conditionality's.
As well as stopping the unlawful practice of illegal subsidies and dumping, which distorts food prices affecting the food sovereignty and increasing the vulnerability of developing countries to climate change.
A work programme on agriculture must be founded on the recognition and promotion of food sovereignty as a vital part for agricultural transformation required to address the climate crisis. The concept of food soveriegnty is to be understood as the right of people to control their own seeds, land, water and food production.
Finance on agriculture should not be directed to promote forms of agriculture that are harmful to nature or that only are linked with mitigation actions in certain type of regions in the world.
Technology: G77 and China
Technology Transfer is part of the climate debt of developed countries.
Technology transfer from developed to developing countries should be free from conditions or impositions. Instead, there must be a free exchange of information, knowledge and technologies, under the principles of solidarity, reciprocity, transparency and equity permitting an inter-scientific dialogue of knowledge and skills.
Developed countries should commit to share the complete technological cycle, namely enhancement, development, demonstration, deployment, diffusion and transfer of new and existing innovative technologies in favour of developing country Parties capacities in particular those listed in Art. 4.8 of the Convention.
The Technology Executive Committee should be the main entity under the COP for Transfer of Technology. One of its functions should be the development of a Technology Action Plan to support concrete programs and actions with short, medium and long terms actions and programs that covers all sectors.
A Multilateral Climate Technology window in the Finance fund that is going to be created should be established to meet the full and the full incremental costs of technology transfer in accordance with Article 4.3.
A compliance mechanism for measuring and verifying commitments of developed country Parties for technology transfer should be established.
Indigenous and traditional knowledge and technologies should be recognized as a form that contributes to address climate change issues.
Steps shall be taken to expand technologies in the public domain. Technologies and innovations that come from public financing should be located in public domain and not under a private patent regime, in such a way that they are of free access for developing countries.
Nothing in international intellectual property agreements shall be interpreted or implemented in a manner that limits or prevents developing countries from taking measures to address climate change issues.
Developing countries have the right to make use of the full flexibilities contained int the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, including compulsory licensing.
Patents on climate-related technologies should be excluded in favour of developing countries.
At last, Bolivia rejects the practices and technologies harmful to humankind and the environment, including agrochemicals, corporate-controlled seeds and intensive water use, genetic engineering, particularly genetic use restriction technology, biofuels, nanotechnology, and gio-engineering.
Courtesy: pwccc.wordpress.com

April 24, 2010

Is Bolivia taking the right steps?

By Soumya Dutta, Cochabamba, 22 April 2010
On this Earth Day at the historic People's Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth, standing at the Estadio Felix Capriles de Cochabamba (Felix Capriles Stadium of Cochabamba) full of enthusiastic crowd of climate justice activists, peasants movements, anti-mining groups, and all sorts of left-leaning social formations - numbering about 25,000 ad full of vibrant energy, it would probably not be right to have any negative thoughts about anything that is happening here in Bolivia. The spirit is all pervading - yes, we can reclaim the world from an exploitative system and get it back to the hands of its caring citizens.
Yet, the last five days at Cochabamba and Bolivia at large, gives rise to some questions, if not discomfort. The President of the self declared "Plurinational state" of Bolivia - Evo Morales Ayema has declared that people of this world will henceforth, determine the agenda of climate change discourse, and this unique World People's Conference is a bold step in that direction. But is Bolivia taking the right steps, turing in to the right path?
The city of Cochabamba has less than one million residents, and yet the number of cars - big and huge cars - on its roads is astounding. You can find single occupants in every third big car, and these are far in excess than the proportions seen even in the richest Indian city - and Bolivia is not a rich country - even by Latin American standards!!! Most cars run on gas - no doubt the cleanest of all the fossil carbon fuels, but the gas is very cheap - leading to large consumption, big driving around - even by the middle class. This also helps keep the taxi fares cheap, but just money was never the concern in the crisis of climate change. The sheer number of trips just the 9,00,000 odd Cochabambans do every year would be putting in a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - and so unnecessarily. Most of the buses are old and ramshackle, and there are share taxis in fixed routes, which people prefer again, a policy which cannot claim to be climate friendly.
The so-typical glass-concrete-aluminium buildings seen in any other capitalist metropolis is seen here in abundance also. The spread of glittering shopping malls is still not visible in a scale being seen in big Indian metros, but innumerable shops selling imported and unnecessary consumer goods in a great variety - again an American consumerist trait - is an eyesore. Evo is an icon in the struggle against the capitalist system but Coca Cola does unhindered business, even copied by local bottlers with "Coca Cola" selling from hand carts all around the market places.
Whild the many market places, including the mind-bogglingly large "La Cancha" near the centre of Cochabamba are full of small shops run by small shop-keepers, the rule of dollars is seen everywhere. The goods bear an uncanny resemblance to things American - whether original or copies and the people feel so comfortable in "dealing in dollars".
The food consumption is glaringly dominated by very large amounts of meat that too mostly beef (and pork). Both are known to be the worst food items in terms of their climate change impacts - whether for energy consumption for producing the meat, for destruction of rich forest lands for industrial scale cattle farming, and for the huge water consumption and pollution from the cattle farming. Yet, there was no sign that these are even on the radar of the Bolivian climate movement leaders.
Being a favourite tourist destination of Europeans and Amricans, who come attracted by the Andean mountains, the unique Altiplano and the rich indigenous cultures, Bolivia has adopted all the evils of the consumerist, wasteful global north. Bottled water is staple drink - along with bottled fruit juices. Even the poor seem to follow this strange economic logic, though the juice presses are still seen in some numbers in peripheral areas. The markets are flooded with American-company names, whether these came from those US companies or are local copies is the less important question - the cultural preferences is very clear.
There are other questions about the mining policy, about the old tin mining that damaged the lake-planes, and the newly targeted Lithium mines. There are doubts about the Bolivian stand about market mechanisms as part of climate solutions - and one sincerely hopes that these doubts prove unfounded.
A beginning on a concept level has been made by the visionary leadership of Evo. But a nation runs on its peoples cultural lives, and unless the new revolution being visualised comes down to the people on the ground in letter and spirit, it is hard to see any real breakthrough. Great visions are those that transcend the rhetorical and can inspire spontaneous actions. That is yet to be seen in the fertile Bolivian grounds - which inspiringly, were the last battle ground of Che.
Let's hope that the dream and the vision quickly overcome the harsh realities, and this test will prove Evo to be history maker - or another one to try and wither away.

April 23, 2010

City of eternal spring carries the expectation of the world

by Ajay K Jha, PAIRVI.

The city of epic struggle against water privatization, Cochabamba carries the expectation of the world for a just and equitable climate deal. Besides the warmth of the people from Cochabamba, one can definitely feel and poise and expectation in the air. More than 7 million people stranded at airports of northern Europe, many thousands among them definitely destined to the small tropical town and third largest city of Bolivia, has failed to dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of Bolivia to play a crucial leadership role in arriving at a just deal. A visit to the accreditation counter at Tiqipayya, a small village on the suburbs of Cochabamba, and Univalle (where the side events and plenaries take place when the Conference on the climate change and rights of the mother earth begin on Monday 19th April) are swarmed by local people, students and people from neighboring Latin American countries gives enough hint to the aspiration of people, many of them have also children accompanying them. Though language remains a major handicap in conversation, the communication is clear-we must take a resolute step to ensure the rights of the mother earth and more than 4.5 million people living in the developing countries. The developed countries must understand that this is not a struggle between the rich and the poor neither between extreme deprivation and lavish consumptive lifestyle, it s a call of the mother earth. Its not only 15000 people from all over the world and 70 governments who are taking that call, but there are overwhelming sentiments for the rights of the mother earth world over. This includes millions of people on whom climate and economic injustice has been perpetrated historically and who cannot afford to come down the city of happening, but are very hooked on to happenings in the Bolivian city and expect all the fortunate ones who are here to send a strong, irrepressible and undeniable verdict against the impunity of the developed countries to have polluted and to continue to pollute the air, water, and the mother earth.

The peoples climate change conference has the huge task of bringing the ethics, justice, and equity in the climate change negotiations. Though seemingly unsurmountable, however, Copenhagen has already showed us how David can tame the Goliath. The Conference has the support of countries in Africa, Asia, AOSIS, Latin America, however, that needs to be expressed in unequivocal support and solidarity. The official website www.cmpcc.org, states that more than 70 governments have confirmed participation, it actually remains a question of fact how many of them really turn up to lend their support. Solidarity of latin American countries esp. Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela will be crucial for success of the conference. The participation of big developing countries like India, SA, S Korea, China, could have lend enormous strength but that seems highly unlikely. It is unfortunate that these countries have not responded to the peoples congress very enthusiastically. The clear signal emerging from their non participation is that these governments does not believe much in peoples, tribal and indigenous communities, civil societies capacity to participate in international negotiations. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests, was quite blunt in his remarks at Copenhagen, when responding to a delegation requests to keep certain facts in consideration in putting forward India’s stand in negotiations, when he said that negotiation was task of the government and civil society organizations should limit them to working on education and adaptation aspects at home. Disregard for civil societies capacity to understand esoteric aspects of international negotiations is too obvious in China. As for the response in other parts of the world especially North America the climate congress is being dubbed as “Clown’s Congress.” It is important for people in developed countries to understand that 20, 0000 people coming to participate in far off parts of the world are not fools. It is a more a matter of looking at people who might be individually poor but collectively hold most of resources, which the developed countries have appropriated in huge disregard to rule of nature, justice and equity.



In 2009 more than 1 billion people fell below the hunger line, and 600 million more are expected to join them in the losing battle against hunger by the end of the century. its not a question only of availability and access of food, it raises larger questions of ethics of development, where some have obviously more food, water, energy, and resources than they can consume, and majority does not have even a fraction of what is their right. In the circumstances, the centrality of agriculture especially small holders agriculture in providing answer to both the issues of providing food to growing population as well as preserving the planet. President Evo Morales has the huge responsibility of responding strongly to the false solutions provided at the Copenhagen in this context. Much more than that, he has the huge responsibility of reinstating the power of people and civil society from not so well off parts of the world in global politics on climate change, and sustaining the enthusiasm of poor people in all parts of the world. UN backed the proposal of Evo Morales to observe 22nd April as International day for the Rights of Mother Earth. On this day we must commit that all of us belong to her.

April 22, 2010

Voice of Civil Society Loud and Clear in Cochabamba

by Daniela Estrada - Tierramerica

The success of the climate change conference taking place in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba will depend on how unified civil society ultimately is in its efforts to influence the United Nations Climate summit in Mexico, say Latin American Activists.
The bulk of the debate in People's Conference will be led by civil society, which tends to oppose the market-based mechanisms proposed by most of the governments to fight climate change, and this is fuelling doubts about just how much impact the Bolivian forum will have on the official climate talks taking place within the United Nations.
Itelvina Massioli, of the Brazilian Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST-Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) and Via Compesina International, said in an interview with Tierramerica that the conference will not be a "trade fail" but rather "an important space for information, reflection, dialogue and coordination among peoples."
Mexico, which will host the COP 16 in December - an effort to reverse the failure of the Copenhagen meet, is represented in Cochabamba by delegates from at least seven environmental groups.
"Our general proposal is to say 'no' to the false solutions aganist climate change offered by nearly all governments, such as market mechanisms that do not have mitigating effects, "Miguel Valencia, an organiser of Klimaforum 2009, told Tierramerica.
"Cochabamba can be a democratic space for developing organisational capacity to build accord within civil society, " said Claudia Gomez, of the non-governmental Mexican Centre for Environmental Law.
Courtesy: pwccc.wordpress.com

Conflicts within Bolivia - even with the government of Evo Morales

The "Plurinational State" of Bolivia has convened the World People's Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth in the city of Cochabamba. The policies of this government are quite progressive in many terms, particularly when compared to many of the developing countries in our part of the world. The HISTORIC PEOPLES REBELLION AGAINST WATER PRIVATISATION, the toal and forceful rejection of the crooked Copenhagen accord, the recognition that the earth herself has rights and that has to get primacy - many such visionary advances in the state policy are coming out from this government lead by an indigenous (tribal) president who is a beacon of light to the dispossessed fighting against capitalist industrial system.
But even here in Bolivia, there are large scale conflicts continuing where the government is not always with the people most affected. One clear example is the mining industry, which gives good revenue to the state. Bolivia has large Lithium deposits, and Lithium is sometimes termed the green energy mineral of the future as it is used in making Lithium-ion batteries, which are in great demand in modern generation of electrically operated gadgets and in very large scale soon - for longer range electric vehicles that the western societies are proposing as a "solution" to the climate crisis, inspite of the fact that battery operated vehicles do not really cut down the emissions of GHGs, in fact they increase this - unless almost the entire electricity for charging those batteries come from zero-GHG sources, including the embedded energies involved.
But none of those serious questions have been given any negative voting power by the worlds profit crazy industries, nor by the revenue hungry governments. Though one would expect the present Bolivian government of Evo Morales Ayma to be an exception, that do not seem the clear case.
Large scale mining operations around Lago Poopo (Lake Popoo) and Lago Oruro have brought devastations to local communities. The government is helping the people by instructing the companies to follow all environmental regulations, but the primary questions of the development pathway or paradigm is not addressed. Neither is the question of whether a state can at will mine or extract or give encouragement for that for whatever it feels can give it revenue?
Whether that violates mother earths rights to what is hers - is also a big question for a "Plurinational State" and its president. In years to come, Bolivia and Evo Morales Ayma have to answer these questions.
Tin is another mineral that Bolivia has historically depended on for generation of foreign exchange through exports. But in the high altitude planes full of lakes, where the tin is also found in large amounts, its mining is causing enormous environmental damage as well as large health impacts on the people. The communities leaders voices do not always match the ordinary people at the ground. Many are affected very badly, like os the case back in India, but the "leaders" of these movements are not always demanding halts to these destructive projects. How these seeming disparities are to be handled - whether a government can overcome the trappings of state power and state control - are questions looming large in the horizon.
But for present, Evo Morales Ayma, the inspiring presiden of the poor Latin American State of Bolivia - have shown a way to the people of the world, who are struggling to break the shackles of the globalised industrial capitalist exploitation net, and facing the crises created by its dumped rubbish - including the greatest threat of them all, the climate crisis.

By Soumya Dutta (SADED), a delegate of Beyond Copenhagen Collective

Evo Morales’ message to grassroots climate talks – planet or death


Bolivia's President opened the inaugural international 'People's Conference' at Cochabamba, with delegates from 125 nations.


"Planet or Death!" chanted Bolivia's leftwing president, Evo Morales, to a crowd of 20,000 people. "We will be victorious!" the crowds answered back, waving rainbow-coloured, chequered Andean indigenous flags.
Morales was officially inaugurating the first international "people's conference" on climate change - the grassrotts alternative to last year's failed United Nations talks in Copenhagen.
The meeting in the city of Cochabamba has attracted people from more than 125 countries, although many delegated from Africa, Europe and India were unable to come because of the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano. The meeting has no direct bearing on the UN climate talks, which continue this year, but is billed as a venue for the grassroots movements to put pressure on governments to act on climate change.
"The positive thing here is that people have a space. Until now, the voice, the lead, was always given to governments. And now it is the turn of the people because the governments, particularly some governments from developed countries, did not understand that we are in the verge of a catastrophe and they are not assuming responsibility," said Juan Pablo Ramos, Bolivia's deputy environment minister.
His president will have raised some eyebrows though with bizarre comments in his opening address that baldness is the consequence of genetically modified chickens and potatoes and that Coca-Cola is "poison and sewage water". Bolivia's first indigenous president, a former Ilama herder and coca grower, added: "Either capitalism dies, or it will be Mother Earth."
Later this week, Morales and other Latin American leaders are expected to call for the establishment an international climate court, demanding compensation from rich countries to assist poor nations, and urging countries to open their borders to future waves of climate refugees.
"We are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution, we the indigenous peoples, the peasant communities, so let us offer you the solution because we are the ones suffering, "said Justo Cruz, an Aymara indigenous leader. "Ordinary people are never allowed to talk, [yet] we are the ones paying the price for what the rich are doing to our planet, to our Mother Earth."
The UN, which organised the Copenhagen talks is not popular here. The UN representative in Bolivia struggles to make her voice heard over a chorus of booing and during a presentation, the former president of the general assembly, Nicaraguan Catholic priest Miguel D'Escoto, declared that the "fraud, lie and dictatorship" that is the UN should be "re-invented".
"It is not that it wasn't important what governments were discussing in Copenhagen but the problem is that it was discussed from a corporate perspective and here we are dicussing it from an indigenous perspective we have a great deal of respoect for Mother Earth, we have a direct accountbility to her, something that developed nations seem not to have", says Vanessa Inarunekia, a Taino indigenous woman from Puerto Rico. "Human beings cannot survive without Mother Earth; Mother Earth can survive without us," she said.
Domingo Lechon, climate justice co-ordinator from Friends of the Earth Mexico, said: "Cochabamba represents a unique opportunity for popular demands to be adopted by governments. We will use this new people's agenda as a rallying call to mobilise movements of affected peoples, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, trade unions and women to dismantle corporate power and force our governments into action."
Courtesy: Guardian News and Media Limited 2010 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)

April 21, 2010

Inauguration of the Cochabamba Conference

by Soumya Dutta, SADED, a Delegate of Beyond Copenhagen Collective

Today on the 20th here in Cochabamba, Bolivia standing under the mighty Andes mountains, the conference was inaugurated by the Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, which was preceeded by presentations by people´s representatives from different continents.

Over 14-15 thousand people from all across the globe came in their colourful atires, with the lively & colourful Latin American people in large majority. The traditional Andean mountain community welcome was performed with a ring of fire and water, representing mother earth. The spirit here is high, sky-high, though not many governments of the world have responded with high enough priority, people were in no mood to regret that. calls for a new dawn, of a change in human values & culture reverberated throughout the Tiquipaya municipal stadium which was spilling over with people .





About the Cochabamba Climate Conference

by Soumya Dutta, SADED, a delegate of Beyond Copenhagen Collective

People from around the world are attending the Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia this week as a follow up to the failed UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen, Denmark last December.

Social movements have converged in Cochabamba to rally opposition to the push by the world's leading carbon emitters to promote unjust and false solutions to climate change such as carbon offsets, and to make a collective push for stricter binding carbon reductions, reparations for industrial-driven environmental destruction, and a human rights approach to climate policies.

Working Group 17: Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

Courtesy: http://pwccc.wordpress.com

a. We declare and denounce that agribusiness and the inherent logic of production of foods oriented towards the market and not for the right to food, is one of the main causes of climate change through changes in the use of land (deforestation and the expansion of the agricultural frontier), monocrops, the excessive use of products derived from the petrochemical industry, food processing, and all the logistic involved in the transportation of food towards the consumer and also through the model of society, economy and culture of production and consumption.

b. Denounce that climate change, through the migration generated in rural areas, represents a threat to indigenous, peasant and farmer peoples around the world who are the most affected when their livelihoods and ancestral agricultural practices are destroyed, and, in this sense, their identity.

c. To question all practices and logic of production of foods in conventional agropecuaria that generates climate change making Mother Earth loose capacity of productivity against erosion, salinization, acidification, soil compactation and the destruction of natural and biological diversity.

d. Prohibit the technologies that provoke and accelerate climate change as are: agrofuels, Genetically Modified Organisms, nanotechnology and all those that under the supposition of helping climate change, in fact undermine food sovereignty.

e. Promote state policies that control agricultural production to avoid harming Mother Earth.

f. We demand that governments commit themselves to uphold the model of agriculture of peasant farmers and indigenous/originary practices, and other ecological models and practices that contribute to solving the problem of climate change and ensure food sovereignty, understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water and the production of food, ensuring, through agro-ecological, local, and culturally appropriate production, the peoples access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods complementary to the Mother Earth emphasizing autonomous (participative, communitarian and shared) production of all nations and people.

g. That intensive conventional agriculture progressively implement agro-ecological production, bearing in mind the production of food for all, considering local knowledge and the innovation of technology complementary to Mother Earth.

h. Agriculture must focus on improving their productive practices in complementation with indigenous communities and peasant farming.

i. States and peoples shall control, regulate and plan the efficient and rational use of water in food production systems in terms of mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

j. Emphasize that Food Sovereignty is a way towards climate change adaptation and mitigation, while generating resilience in communities.

k. We must recognize that part of the solution to climate change lies not only in changing the logic of production oriented to satisfy the market and profit, but also changing the philosophical view that assumes that land is a resource or right only for the satisfaction of humanity.

l. We must censor any political-military strategy that undermines food sovereignty of peoples, making humanity as a whole vulnerable to climate change.

m. Condemn any commercial strategy or mechanism (FTAs, partnerships) that threatens food sovereignty and encourages climate change.

n. To call upon industrialized countries to stop the unlawful practice of illegal subsidies to their agricultural sectors and dumping which distorts food prices affecting the food sovereignty and making undeveloped countries vulnerable to climate change.

o. We must implement social safety nets based on food sovereignty with financial resources from those who produce climate change.

p. We declare that the impacts of climate change on food sovereignty should be inserted within the framework of negotiations on climate change.

For Media Persons

Historic First World People’s Summit on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, called by President Evo Morales after the failure of UN Climate talks in Copenhagen, has attracted more than 130 countries and more than 12,000 delegates. It is likely that the North American mainstream media will ignore it. However, the Summit can be followed live on internet TV, on alternative media rabble.ca and Democracy Now and in European media Guardian UK.

Bolivia pushes for climate crimes tribunal

Courtesy: JEFF MCMAHON

Diplomats from the 17 largest economies are meeting behind closed doors for a second day today in Washington D.C. to work out their differences on climate change. As the name suggests–the Major Economies Forum–all the major players are there: the U.S., the European Union, Japan, China, India, Brazil, South Africa…

But 4,000 miles to the south, as many as 15,000 people are expected to gather at the municipal coliseum in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, to open the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Many who have been excluded from the major forums will be there–not just less influential nations, but also indigenous peoples, activist groups, non-governmental organizations.

“Everybody is invited: individuals, scientific, civil society, NGOs, 192 countries. Everybody. Everybody can come to Bolivia, give their view, debate,” said Bolivian Ambassador Angelica Navarro. ”We think democracy is key. The wisdom is in the people, the wisdom is in those that are suffering or that are willing to help.

“We hope that together, those of us that were excluded can have a stronger say in the formal setting and come back and say (to governments), this is what civil society is asking. Can you deliver or not?”

April 19, 2010

Bringing Agriculture to the centre of Climate Change Negotiations

by Soumya Dutta. SADED, a Delegate of Beyond Copenhagen collective.

The Climate Change talks in COP 15 conference at Copenhagen could not reach much of the desired goals, but no doubt it had paved the way for more and more Climate talks. Now the time has come to look beyond Copenhagen conference. After making its presence felt in the COP 15, PAIRVI, CECOEDECON and SADAD (Representative of Beyond Copenhagen Coalition) once again has joined hands to promote and to highlight the adverse affect of climate change on agriculture, in the World People's Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia as agriculture is the least debated issue and it is important to focus on agriculture in the Climate Change Negotiation.

The 'Beyond Copenhagen' coalition is organizing a side event in Cochabamba on
Bringing Agriculture to the centre of Climate Change Negotiations
on 19th April 2010 from 18:30 to 20:30 at
Sala Informatica, Sala Idiomas, Univalle, Cochabamba.