Rafael Quispe is gearing up for his trip. He packs a small leather bag, puts on his black poncho, an alpaca scarf sporting the rainbow-coloured, chequered Andean indigenous flag and his black hat. “This will be an important gathering, a very important gathering. It is about saving our Mother Earth, about saving nature,” he says.
Quispe, an Aymara indigenous leader, is heading for Bolivia’s central city of Cochabamba for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, the grassroots alternative to last year’s ill-fated UN talks in Copenhagen.
At least 15,000 people from worldwide indigenous movements and civil-society groups, as well as presidents, scientists, activists and observers from 90 governments, are expected to attend what is being called the “Woodstock” of climate change summits.
“According to some analyses, about 80% of the world’s pollution comes from developed nations and harms, mostly, developing nations. So we feel we have to do something, we must be heard, we must be compensated,” says Quispe, who last December lobbied the case of his community at Copenhagen.
“The COP15 was a total failure, so brother President Evo Morales has decided to call for this climate change conference to do something about it. We the people are the ones that should take the lead on how to tackle the climate crisis,” says Quispe.