Remember when people from all over the world started to write to George Clooney asking him to do something about the unfair working conditions to produce his Nespresso coffee? A lot of people were touched by the sarcastic short movie produced by Solidar Suisse. Now, German newspaper TAZ reported that George Clooney has been listening. The pressure has been big enough and he has decided “to renew his soon expiring contract for Nespresso only if Nestlé can assure him and Solidar Suisse that the workers on the coffee plantations will be payed following the criteria of Fairtrade and that no children under the age of 18 will be employed.” Solidar – in the meantime – keeps fighting for fair coffee. Their new campaign urges companies, universities and schools to convert to spaces of Fairtrade coffee drinkers. The converted will then appear on a map so that you can find the next fair coffee in your area.
Another success story for civil society recently happened in Bolivia. Evo Morales decided to stop the controversial street project which would have cut right across the Amazon Rainforest. For many indegenous people living in the area – often refered to as TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure) – the project would mean losing their livelihood. Besides, the street would mean yet another thread to the fragile ecosytem of the Amazon forest. Starting in September “about 1,000 protesters were staging a 500km march on the main city La Paz”, BBC News writes. The protesters were repeatedly kept from voicing their concern by violent police attacks. Finally, president Morales decided to stop the project. “There needs to be a national debate so the two provinces [Cochabamba and Beni] involved in this can decide… In the meantime the project is suspended,”, said Mr Morales according to BBC News. Some things are worth fighting for.
Social movements are having a lot of impact all over the world. In Senegal, Ella Scheepers from Pambazuka writes we can see “the rise of new entities within civil society – alliances that cut across class, identity and interest lines – where political opposition meets civil society, and cultural/religious leaders.” All together it creates a civil society movement like we can see all over the world right now – most prominent in the Occupy Wall Street Movement which has gone global – all of which are asking for a new democracy. One which really represents the needs of people; of all the people.
There are many more success stories where the global public sphere was able to push decision makers to turn around. Check out the Avaaz – Highlights to learn more.
Picture by Szymon Kochanski, thanks!