Nnimmo Bassey: Elevate Civil Society

Nnimmo Bassey

Elevate civil society!



To everyone gathered in the belly of Schlossberg, the beautiful mountain in Graz, I salute you! I salute you!


I salute the musicians, the singers, the dancers and the poets. I salute all of you. I would have loved to be with you physically, but although I am far away in Penang Malaysia, I feel every bit a part of the momentous event happening at this year’s Elevate Festival. I am here in Malaysia along with the Friends of the Earth activists as well as community peoples from all over the world. We have had time to listen to challenges faced by forest communities whose forests are increasingly being seen as carbon stocks by carbon cowboys and speculators. Our member group in Austria is equally represented here in Malaysia and so I am connected to you in more ways than one!


I urge you tonight and throughout the period of this festival and beyond to let every dance step be a protest. Let every shout be a protest and every time you lift up your fist let it be an unmistakeable mark of protest. Let our gathering be a call to organise.


The forces confronting the world today are not thrown at us randomly. They are well orchestrated. The economic crisis, the climate crisis, the food crisis and the political crises in the world today are all orchestrated and fuelled by organised forces that seek to perpetuate neoliberal policies that enthrone the power of capital and reduce our humanity.


Human misery has become a hot opportunity for profit making.


Increasingly, disasters and pains have become vehicles for opportunities killing the wounded…


It is time for right to overcome might. It is time to recover our sovereignty as peoples across the world. It is time to rise and say no more!


It is time to roundly demand system change. It is time to expose the systemic rot and the systemic plots to deprive the majority of peoples of their humanity.


This gathering is a time for the birthing of dreams. When you have had a dream, it is no more time to sleep. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. It is time to turn the tables against the forces that is plunging the earth into deeper and deeper crises.


I send you energy tonight as you gather in the belly of the beautiful mountain in Graz.


Let us send a signal to the world that the era of competition and the reign of wars and destruction must come to an end. It is time for civil society activists and indeed all peoples to link arms, build a movement and chart a new path to secure human well being.


Humanity must stop the aggression against Mother Earth. As was agreed at the peoples conference on climate change and the rights of Mother Earth, it is time to fight for the creation of an international climate tribunal to try climate criminals.


Environmental polluters and carbon criminals must be brought to book. Polluters must not only pay to clean up their mess, they must pay for the injuries they have inflicted on Mother Earth and her children, the peoples of the world. Our earth is one; our environments are all interconnected.


A crime committed anywhere against Mother Earth must be punished anywhere on earth. There must be no hiding place for those who steal our right to life. Polluters must be brought to book: from the oil companies that destroy the Niger Delta environment to the warmongers who terrorise innocent citizens in the name of fighting terror.


False solutions to climate change and all the insults and oxymorons must be roundly rejected. Governments must listen to peoples across the world when we say that we are tired of hearing worn-out falsehood used as basis for public policy. The truth must be told that CDM is not clean; GDM is not green and clean coal is not clean.


We must demand that our food cannot be taken from our plates and fed to machines. It is time to move to renewable energy sources in a determined way. Agrofuels are not clean, neither are they renewable.


We must denounce in strong terms the land grabs in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the cultivation of agrofuels crops and for any other purpose. All forms of neo-colonial material appropriations and primitive accumulations must be denounced and halted.


As we celebrate in this year’s event. We must Elevate solidarity, respect and dignity of all humanity. Lets celebrate our diversity; let’s defend our biodiversity, and our cultural diversity.


Sisters, brothers! We can say all we like to say, if we do not organise, if we do not act, it will amount to nothing but talk. This is no time for lone rangers. It is time to link arms across nations, across continents, across sectors and walks of life.


Environmentalists, labour unionists, farmers, women and youths…indeed, all groups must come together. It is movement-building time. We cannot afford to go it alone if we hope to bring about change. We must build strong linkages right from the grassroots, from the smallest community levels to erect global movements to challenge the evils of our time if we hope to secure a tomorrow for upcoming generations. The crises may be deep and powerful, but no power can overcome the power of a people that is organised and focussed on a common target to over turn business as usual.


Once again, I salute you all as you celebrate! Elevate is a crucial opportunity for the formulation of a holistic path with inspiring transformation agendas. As we say in Friends of the Earth, we mobilize…we resist…and we work to transform!


Again, I send you energy as the guitars wail and you stomp the earth in determined but joyful dance steps. Let this be a great opportunity to dream of a saner world. After the dream, let us move on to the streets. It is no more time to sleep.


Thank you!


Nnimmo Bassey



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