The Department of Conflict and Development Studies supports the students' call for a Global Climate Strike on the 15th of March

(07-03-2019)

The Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University supports the Global Climate Strike For Future campaign and accepts the call of students, students, employees and other concerned citizens to strike on 15 March. 

The actions of high-school students and university students have put the urgency of man-made climate change on the political agenda. Also from (climate) scientists and civil society organizations we hear clear signals that urgent far-reaching structural measures are needed to prevent further global warming. 

In its own research and teaching activities, the Department of Conflict and Development Studies also comes into contact, on a daily basis, with the consequences of global warming, pollution and the question of limited natural resources. These consequences are most felt in the Global South, where structurally underdeveloped countries are most exposed to increasing food and water shortages, extreme weather conditions, health risks and ecological migration due to their geographical location, their weaker geopolitical and economic position and the lack of collective safety nets and infrastructure. 

The structural underdevelopment of these countries is rooted not only in a history of colonialism, racism and imperialism, but also in contemporary global production chains and economic power relations. The 'service economy' and the capital-intensive high technology economy that boost economic growth in the Global North are intrinsically linked to 'old-fashioned' polluting mining industries and other 'traditional' industries based on low wages, long working days and poor working conditions in the Global South. 

Solutions to the climate issue are therefore not formulated in a political vacuum, but in a context of global power relations and production processes. That is why we, as a department, are convinced that the climate issue can not only be tackled by changing individual consumer behavior or by carrying out more technological research into alternative energy sources. The student movement has also emphasized this several times. 

The climate issue is in essence a question of ownership, power and redistribution: who controls the production process and who ultimately pays the cost of pollution and emissions? The 'social' and the 'political' are not external to the environmental movement, but is an integral part of it. Departing from our solidarity with the Global South, we argue that the strongest economic shoulders have to bear the heaviest ecological burden and that the planetary climate problem can only be solved through global solidarity. 

In the increasingly urgent debate on the environment, global warming and the ways in which an economy based on endless economic growth and profit maximization impact upon human-nature relationships, we call to listen to everyone who takes the lead in the struggle and strives for a better future for our current and future generations. We urge everyone to listen to the important message of our own students, but also to the many social movements, indigenous peoples and (landless) peasant movements in the Global South who have been engaged for years in a struggle for a better future for everyone. They are all at the forefront of the social and environmental justice movement.