The Ubumbano Solidarity Hub is a space within which participants are invited to share their struggles and experience, to learn from others and to seek and find solidarity. Informed by the experience of participants, the Hub is a space in which alternatives to the mainstream are explored. The Hub responds to an increasingly hostile social, political and economic environment by providing a critical reflection space centred around the principles of human dignity. Within the space is a recognition that activists and organisations need to transform practice in order to achieve social justice.
Within this framing, the May 2019 Solidary Hub will bring together a range of activists and organisations from formal and informal civil society to engage each other on the question of environmental justice and the implications this has for how we pursue a broader agenda of justice and human dignity.

The question of the environment brings the tension between development (as it is currently framed) and sustainability into stark focus. An environmental justice approach asks us to consider this tension critically – to critique not only the way the world is, but also our individual and collective role in creating the conditions that erode human dignity. An environmental justice approach asks us to see ourselves as part of a system in which our individual and collective choices and actions have an impact on the whole.

Much of the thinking that informs development is based on the idea that in order to create a better world, we simply need to improve the living conditions of poor people. What this translates to is that we must give people more – more technology, more money, more goods and services. This approach does not necessarily recognise that we live in a world of finite resources that we may deplete if we continue along the current trajectory.

The Hub will therefore focus on how we work with this tension – between the increasing demands for jobs, connectivity, mobility and economic development, and the need to sustain communities and the ecology that supports life on the planet.

Over the course of the process we will focus on the following broad questions:

  1. What are the specific tensions/demands that are particular to our work with women, small scale farmers, mining affected communities and young people?
  2. What underpins the demands that people are able to articulate – how does the system in which they live shape their expectations?
  3. Do these demands bring them into conflict with an agenda focused on sustainability and human dignity?
  4. What about our practice needs to shift/change in response?

ACT Ubumbano uses the See-Judge-Act method of social analysis and enquiry.

  • The SEE phase is about exploring the lived experience of those who struggle for their humanity. It concerns how current social, economic and political structures continue to deprive people of their humanity and dignity,
  • The JUDGE phase is focused on critical reflection and analysis. Participants locate their own struggles within the context of global structures of injustice, and collectively analyse and critique those structures. It explores theoretical approaches that explain the persistence of global inequality and challenge econometric definitions of human progress.
  • The ACT phase allows participants to translate their reflections on the world, and their practice within it, into actions that are transformative.