Africa: Activists Call for Unity Ahead of Green Economy Talks

More than 300 African civil society organizations on Sunday called on delegates who are due to attend the 12th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) in Nairobi this week to unite towards a climate justice agenda and green economy.

In a joint statement issued in Nairobi, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, a continental coalition of 300 non-governmental organizations, foundations, trusts, community-based organizations, faith-based networks, national and regional networks from 45 countries in Africa said environmental crisis can only be tackled through unity.

“This bi-partisan partnership event that brings together the government and the civil society is laudable as we all realize that the environmental challenges facing the world, particularly Africa can only be tackled when we all join forces to work for better regimes favorable to all,” the alliance coordinator Mithika Mwenda said.

Climate change, which has emerged over time as the biggest threat to the survival of humanity and health of the planet, has gained significant space in international diplomatic and political interactions.

The Governing Council, which starts on Monday, brings together representatives from over 100 countries, including Heads of State, environment ministers, renowned scientists, business leaders and civil society groups will meet in Nairobi from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22.

The Nairobi meeting comes amid a divided opinion about the achievements of the 17th edition of the UNFCCC in Durban, with industrialized country governments celebrating it as a milestone where their developing counterparts backed by civil society argue it was a missed opportunity yet again to agree on the comprehensive deal to contain rising accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

A few industrialized countries mainly from European Union agreed to the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol, the key demand of developing countries.

According to Mithika, the partnership is key to effectively strategize on means of engaging each other on a common platform to discuss issues such as the climate change and seek mutual understanding on the green economy so that the world may meet the expectations of sustainable development.

Coming two months after the COP 17 held in Durban, South Africa which was held from the November 28 to December 9, 2011, Mithika said it is important that delegates to the Nairobi meeting acknowledge that the Durban meeting did not offer concrete pathways to solve the climate change crisis. He said it is also a fact that Rio+20 will not fix the global financial and climate change crisis.

The two facts, he said, should motivate global leaders into thinking and the Nairobi meeting provides yet another opportunity to engage each other.

Experts say the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, the main outcome of COP17, will certainly delay comprehensive action on climate change as it means extended global interactions, consensus- building and compromises in shaping the future climate change agreement.

The Nairobi event will be the last global meeting of environment ministers before the landmark United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Durban meeting ended with all acknowledging that the agreements reached in Durban remain volatile, and many questions remain unanswered.

The African climate justice advocates said they left Durban with a view that the package resulting from the COP 17 discussions fell short of what science and climate justice need. This they said, was mainly the mid-term mitigation pledges on the table are the same as at Copenhagen (13%-17%) and according to science will heat the planet to between 4-5 degree Celsius (Africa 7-8 degree warming).

They also viewed that the second commitment period on the Kyoto Protocol which was merely “noted,” left Africans negotiators in dilemma.

Thus, said Mithika, the Nairobi gathering provides yet another avenue when global leaders, civil society and development partners will need to find distinct roles for each in the countdown to Rio + 20 to discuss issues of sustainable development and COP 18 later in the year.

He however said African-based climate change advocates are encouraged by work such as being done by some governments in taking the lead in working towards a just environment.




Posted by on Mar 22 2012. Filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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