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European Meeting Of The Movements For The Defense Of Territories, Environmental Justice And Democracy

We are here Venice, together with the author Amitav Ghosh quoted here, endorses this call by the Comitato No Grandi Navi – Laguna Bene Comune, for the meeting of 23rd September at the Magazzini del Sale, Venice:

Here in Venice, being actively against the large cruise liners means doing much more than fighting an environmental battle. In this city, where street are waterways, fighting to protect the lagoon ecosystem means actively reclaiming our right to the city, defending public spaces and avoiding the destruction of a unique lifestyle, precious heritage for all. Standing Rock protectors stated “We are water”. This resonates throughout Venice.

Despite representing a cosmogonical vision which differs from that of native Americans, we know and understand this, because we too feel we are water, we are stone and we are bodies.

When one of these elements is under threat, it endangers the whole city. Protecting these elements is not possible without facing the great issue of democracy. Right now our Mayor, Port Authority, the Government and of course the cruise liner companies are all against us. The play deaf to the voices of the city and of the tens of thousands of angry people around the world.

We are facing the growth of neo-liberalism, where a parasitic capitalism, populate the city by swapping local residents with tourists.

We are doing the opposite of continuing along what historically is a fair and balanced Venetian awareness of human intervention on the environment. The big ships pass in front of St Mark’s Square and pollute the air we breathe. Some people would go as far as to dig and create new canals, devastating for the lagoon equilibrium.

The huge MOSE project, forced upon us by those who claimed it would provide a safe barrier against the high tides, was nothing but an irresistible opportunity for corruption and enrichment of businessmen and politicians; activists stated this 15 years ago, inquiries results prove it today.

The Indian writer Amitav Ghosh reminds us that within Anthropocene (the state in which humans became eco-agents, who could modify the most basic natural processes), we must radically change the way we look at the world, if we want to be up to this challenge.

Historians, scientists, politicians and artists all must do this. But it is all too often said that they fall prey of a great blindness, an inability to exploit the right consequences of such an important promise. We, Europe’s activists, heed the call to transform the paradigms of knowledge of the world we cherish the most, those we were raised in.

We do not seek to create yet another network, but rather to install a new a new dialogue, a new idea, a public space which can withstand the modern age challenges we face. And despite still being casual employees, students, factory workers, migrants, women, queers, we all must face our no longer neglectable role of environmental agents.

This assembly which will unite groups and activists from the entire region, Italy and many other European countries is therefore a precious chance to focus on these issues together, an opportunity to apply them to our daily struggles; because these days, in the era of climate change, the fight for the environment is one which blends together layers which appear separate; development models, employment, immigration, right to the city, democracy, lifestyle, collective struggles, repression, culture.

There is great work to be done, but the wealth of committees, movements and activists who are at the front line of environmental justice and of territory defense is an important reality and we are absolutely certain it is what can change Europe’s destiny.


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