Final declaration of Rojava Ecology Conference published

This report was published by ANF English on 6 June, 2024

Last April, a conference called “Ecology in Democratic Modernity – From Resistance to Construction: Perspectives, Possibilities & Challenges” was organized in Qamishlo.

The conference “Ecology in Democratic Modernity – From Resistance to Construction: Perspectives, Possibilities & Challenges” was organized on 26-27 April in Qamishlo/Rojava.

The organizers published a final declaration which is divided into two chapters; the principles and the policies.  

The first part of the declaration lists the principles as follows:

  1. Our Conference condemns Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s imprisonment for more than 25 years and his ongoing solitary confinement. It affirms Leader Öcalan’s physical liberation as the basis of all its work and calls for greater international solidarity. Ecological and democratic social construction is the foundation of the moral and anti-colonial struggle against the isolation of Öcalan.
  2. The capitalist and statist system of our time has brought earth to the brink of destruction. Colonial and capitalist logics threaten nature and societies with systematic ecocide and genocide. The climate crisis, energy wars, imperial interventions in the Global South, the global scale of poverty and hunger, large-scale migration and increasing right-wing totalitarian regimes attest to the severity of this extinction. Our conference is premised on the construction of a democratic and ecological society, and calls for international anti-colonial and anti-capitalist struggle.
  3. The Conference embraces the religious, philosophical and intellectual heritage of the peoples of Mesopotamia and Kurdistan and their belief systems, which originate from the natural society where nature is sacred and the relationship with it are sustainable and respectful. It harnesses these ecological values in the contemporary freedom struggle and opens the space for their reinvigoration as the core nodes of democratic modernity. Within this context, the Conference rejects colonial, Eurocentric and statist epistemologies and scientism, instead emphasises the importance of bringing together all actors in struggle and sharing of the rich knowledge and experience of humanity and nature. Contemporary science and technology should be re-synthesized with this rich experience. Policies on water and land management and use, agriculture, animal husbandry and seeds should be based on such an understanding.
  4. The Conference advocates self-governing, sustainable eco-cities with decentralized and autonomous governments against the cancerous metropolises of capitalist modernity. and production and life in the countryside should be strengthened.
  5. All wars of the ruling classes and all forms of colonialism are rejected on the basis of the ecological paradigm. Turkey’s occupation of and war in Rojava, Basur and Bakure Kurdistan is leading to a permanent and multi-layered destruction of society and nature. Attacks of the Syrian and Iranian regimes to destabilize the NES continue unabated.
  6. The systematic displacement of population and ethnic cleansing in Afrin, the systematic destruction olive trees, land expropriations, de-Kurdification of the region and the destruction of its historical and cultural fabric exemplify how ecocide and genocide are intertwined in Kurdistan as fundamental policies of the region’s colonial states. We condemn genocide and ecocide against the people and nature of Palestine. We call on all peoples and communities to stand in solidarity against the genocide and ecocide in Kurdistan and Palestine, and to raise the struggle against these massacres and destruction.
  7. The domination of nature is rooted in the domination and exploitation of human beings by human beings; the defense of nature therefore requires the construction of a democratic and ecological society. To this end, the Conference aims to deconstruct structures of exploitation based on gender, class, ethnic and religious grounds. It aims for access to land, water and energy resources by all. It is based on a communitarian eco-economy and the democratic self-governance of social wealth by communes and assemblies.
  8. The Conference recognizes the imperative to legally and politically guarantee the right to exist and self-sustain of mountains, forests and rivers and all living beings in ecosystems that depend on them.
  9. Ecology rejects colonial, racist, nationalist, religious, statist, progressist/industrialist, sexist ideologies as the fundamental criterion for a moral and political society. It rejects monist and engineering designs on society and nature. It affirms and supports social differences and biodiversity. It is grounded on the construction of the Democratic, Ecological and Women’s Liberationist Paradigm formulated by Abdullah Öcalan. Accordingly, the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria/Rojava bases all its societal construction activities, institutions and organizations on an ecological perspective and carries out their duties according to these principles.
  10. Based on the democratic nation and ecological society, the Conference approaches the defense of Kurdish people and other ethnic and religious minorities as the anti-colonial based on the anti-capitalist international struggle against capitalist and statist attacks on nature, and aims to organize solidarity and collective resistance.
  11. The systematic ecocide in Kurdistan, regulations and practices on land, water and forests are political and they are an instrument of eliminating the Kurds. In this sense, ecocide in Kurdistan does not only demonstrate typical nation-state developmentalism or exploitation by capitalist corporations, but is also enacted as a technique of elimination/cultural genocide (systematic and widespread dispossession, displacement, de-development/destruction of socio-economic structure, assimilation etc.).
  12. Instead of cancerous metropolises, the balance between urban and rural areas must be restored. The natural economies of the countryside based on ecological agriculture should be developed. Agriculture is the main socio-economic element of the Kurds, especially in Rojava. Therefore, policies on land and water are strategic elements of the decolonization and/or liberation process.

The second part of the declaration summarizes the policies as follows:

  1. In order to combat ecocidal policies and climate crisis-induced drought, an effective institutionalization and organization should be established, and a “Kurdistan Ecology Platform and International Solidarity Network” should be formed. For this purpose, our Conference proposes that coordinating body is established, led by the Rojava Ecology Council and the Ecology Committee in Europe. Such an institutionalization should include ecological and environmental movements, associations, activists and researchers from the four parts of Kurdistan and the Kurdish diaspora in the most comprehensive manner, and should aim to forge a collective struggle and organic networks of solidarity and exchange with anti-systemic movements around the world, including movements and peoples in the global South who share a similar fate.
  2. The Conference instigates measures against energy monopolies and extractivism that disrupt the social and economic fabric. It rejects industrial exploitation based on profit and competition. It develops eco-technology for meeting social needs. It rejects any form of production not based on ecological balance. There is no refinery system in North and East Syria (NES)/Rojava because of the colonial center-periphery structure of the Syrian regime in Rojava. The existing primitive methods of oil processing for domestic needs and consumption therefore leads to soil and water pollution and poses a serious threat to public health. The ecology council and authorities in Rojava have made is necessary for a secure transition.
  3. Recognizing that the most important task of construction is that of mentality, developing the ecological consciousness in all spheres from academies to formal education, and preparing all educational curricula in this direction is an indispensable responsibility.
  4. Turkey is weaponizing water against NES/Rojava and systematically instigates water cuts. Access to drinking water and agricultural use is one of the biggest humanitarian and ecological crisis in the NES. International campaigns against this practice should be heightened and expanded. Planting drought-tolerant crops, reforestation, water harvesting methods, and environmentally friendly irrigation system have been adopted. Further extension of these policies and practices is an ethical principle of our entire institutional and organizational structure.
  5. We act with the awareness that dams and hydroelectric power plants are in principle a false solution to the problems of agriculture, food and energy. Dams and Hydroelectric Power Plants (HPP) destroy the lives of communities living along the rivers, and the culture and nature that have evolved over millennia.
  6. As important as reforestation in settlements is the restoration (development) of forests and wetlands outside urban centers and ensuring their interconnection. A certain increase in precipitation rates, which has been decreasing due to the climate crisis, can be achieved this way. Agroforestry continues to be expanded and the selection of endemic species and drought-tolerant plants is in line with our eco-economy perspective.
  7. Feasibility studies should be carried out for the development of ecological and natural agriculture in the face of immigration/displacement and economic destruction in rural areas.
  8. Local/natural plant and animal species that are resistant to environmental change should be preferred. Biodiversity conservation and local seed centres should be established in all localities and be organized as an area of strategic importance.
  9. Small-scale agricultural and livestock production models that do not subjugate nature are protected and supported, cooperatives are particularly supported and taken as a building block of the process within communes.