Brazilian Black Movement travels to COP26 and defends the titling of quilombola lands as a strategy for zero deforestation

Institutions understand that climate agreements will only be effective when they include racism as a central element in the debate

From 1 November, governments and civil society will meet in Glasgow, United Kingdom, for the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26). The main objective of the debate is the decarbonization of the planet through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Brazilian Black Movement travels to the conference represented by several organizations and also by institutions that are part of the Black Coalition for Rights, an articulation that brings together more than 250 organizations, grassroots social movements and black researchers in Brazil.

On 5 November, from 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm (local time), the movement will hold the event “Land, territories and the fight against racism in the race against the climate crisis: the Brazilian Black Movement at COP26”. It will be a space for debate about the role of the Brazilian Black Movement in the climate debate and the importance of the quilombola territories, the countryside and the city for a path to a better future.

The visit to Glasgow will also include participation in protests, such as the “Global Day of Action”, on 6 November, as well as articulations with black movements from other countries, mainly Africans, which have a fundamental role in the approval of climate signatories, since they are numerous and have their specific characteristics and demands in relation to the climate.

A delegation of quilombolas, activists and researchers will act against environmental racism,  for the reduction of global warming, zero deforestation of forests in the Amazon, Cerrado, Atlantic Forest and Caatinga and in defense of the titling of quilombola lands and territories. The mission is also to carry the message of 56% of the Brazilian population that suffers from the effects of the climate emergency in their daily lives, but is still not represented in public policies on the subject and in the decision-making process.

It is an opportunity to demand solutions to the climate emergency that center the fight against environmental racism, racial, gender and social inequalities, with the urgency that the planet needs, because the global race for zero carbon, the approval of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and the investment of US$ 100 billion a year in developing countries have an ethical and humanitarian duty to produce climate justice and racial justice.

Among the leaders of the black movement, Douglas Belchior, historian, co-founder of Uneafro Brasil and Black Coalition for Rights, highlights that the Covid-19 pandemic and racism have shown how the black population is affected in a different way, more seriously, by the several crises experienced in the world.

“Developing and poor countries cannot go back to being colonies and again be impacted by the new “zero carbon” industrialization. It’s time to stop worrying about the loss of profits of transnational corporations. Lives cannot be measured by the economic growth of the same economies that failed to act in a humanitarian way to save the more than 4 million lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Most deaths would be preventable in the Global North and South if these people were not in conditions of extreme social and environmental vulnerability,” he criticized.

Quilombola territories as a solution to deforestation

Brazil currently has more than 3,000 quilombola communities and just over 10% of this has already been regularized. Between 1995 and 2021, only 137 quilombola territories were fully titled by INCRA and state land agencies. Added to the 52 partially titled quilombola territories, there are 189 territories with land title regularization, representing 13% of all titling processes open in the country. By 2030, Brazil needs to complete 1,486 quilombola land titling processes in the North, Northeast, Southeast and Central-West regions, opened at the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), for land regularization by the Federal and/or State Government.

“We assert that effective solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions lie in the demarcation of indigenous and quilombola lands; and in the defense of collective lands and territorial rights. Black, poor, quilombola or indigenous populations are not responsible for the worsening of the climate crisis. These are the main populations made vulnerable by the irresponsibility of other social and economic groups,” highlights Kátia Penha, national coordinator of the National Coordination for the Articulation of Quilombos (CONAQ), who will also be at COP26.

In addition to Kátia, other representatives of quilombos from different regions of Brazil will also be at the event: Sandra Braga, farmer and travel agent; Cleiton da Purificação, student of Agronomic Engineering; and Hilton Durão, agronomist, masters student in Family Farming and Sustainable Development.

All these points reinforce how environmental racism is important to the climate debate, since in addition to being more exposed to several risks, the black population does not participate in the decision-making process. Therefore, representatives of the black movement will also be at the COP26: Diosmar Filho, geographer and researcher at Iyaleta – Research, Science and Humanity; Amanda Costa, climate activist, founder of Perifa Sustentável and UN Youth Ambassador; Hannah Balieiro, president of the Mapinguari Institute; Raull Santiago and Jefferson Barbosa, from PerifaConnection.

“The pandemic and racism establish that the racial and gender inequalities produced in the world must be fought. We need to establish a care for the planet, care from the point of view of humanity. And our humanity involves fighting racism in its environmental dimension to guarantee the black and indigenous population the rights of humanity. With this, we are going to naturalize the human being,” says Diosmar Filho.