A Cry for Change!
After weeks of eager anticipation, yesterday’s unveiling of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change has finally arrived: in newspapers, social media, television and radio, the world is abuzz with his message: it is time that the conversation about economic inequality and the devastation of our planet be treated as one struggle. The roots of these injustices are the same and the way out of the crisis is the same: a sustainable economy that places people and the planet before greed and the reckless pursuit of profit.
It is not just the environmentalists for whom Pope Francis’ message comes like water following a drought. For all of us working toward a more just economy (food system, trade system, etc.) the Pope’s Encyclical strongly resonates and underscores our own values, the work we are doing, and our vision of the world in which we want to live. We applaud the sense of urgency and moral imperative in which he delivers his message that nothing short of radical transformation will get us out of the mess we’ve created.
At Equal Exchange, we have long seen the almost Sisyphean struggles that our farmer coop partners go through on a daily basis to survive, earn dignified livelihoods, strengthen their businesses, cooperatives, and hopefully, for some of them, to one day thrive. How ironic, sad, and powerful that those who are most marginalized by government disinvestment, international trade policies, neoliberalism, colonialism and racism (the list goes on) and suffer the most from devastating climactic changes – droughts, extended rainy season, hurricanes, rising tides, etc., are the very same hardworking small-scale farmers whose organic and sustainable farming practices are both sequestering carbon, protecting watersheds, conserving forests and providing us with our high quality, healthy, food.
Yesterday Naomi Klein was interviewed on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now,” providing her analysis on the Pope’s Encyclical. Like Pope Francis’ message to us, Klein’s recent book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” also makes a powerful argument that we must take action now to reverse climate change. She also urges us not to see our struggles for economic, political, and social justice as separate from those fighting for climate justice, but to take a more holistic view and unite our struggles to fight for one common goal.
The link to the interview is here. It begins at 36:48
Here at Equal Exchange, and our sister alternative trade organizations, Oke USA, Equal Exchange UK, and La Siembra, (Ottawa Canada), we will continue to do our part to promote our alternative model of trade, which places relationships at the forefront of all we do. We will continue to support our farmer partners, to bring high quality, healthy products to market, and to build relationships between those in the Global North and the Global South. We will also continue to strengthen our own worker coop, the democratic small farmer coops with whom we work, and to support and strengthen the coop model and cooperative movements where we can.
We are so grateful for the courage that Pope Francis has shown in delivering this message.