Other Blog Posts

Weight on young shoulders. Introducing Amit, our Leadership Development Fellow in the Pacific

Climate change is a problem deeply affecting the Pacific Island countries. As young professionals we have weighty expectations on our shoulders. We are expected, with the support of our elders, to find ways to make our communities more resilient and enable those younger than us to be free of an unsafe and insecure environment created by climate change. Being a victim of climate change during my own childhood, I am inspired to seek opportunities to enhance my leadership capabilities and competencies in the climate and sustainable development sphere, to create a better living environment for the next generation. 

In order to become a leader I’ve undertaken two opportunities. The first, my masters degree in Australia, has allowed me to understand the decision making process on climate and policy development. This is knowledge that I can share with others. But to compliment my studies, I have also become the CAN Leadership Development Fellow in the Pacific. It has been a fantastic experience so far working with CAN International and PICAN. This programme has enabled me to build my own capacity and build relationships with others in the network. Young people are tagged as agents of change and are required to demonstrate themselves as drivers and thought leaders of the future. However, there are few opportunities in the Pacific for young professionals to enhance their leadership capabilities so this programme offers something new. 

With more new challenges facing the Pacific, I hoping to gain competencies on policy issues and decision making process, develop my skills in building coalitions and networks, most importantly improve my communication skills to transfer my knowledge and lesson learnt from this programme to other young people in the Pacific.

In the time machine - a short history of CAN South East Asia

Whilst working on CANSEA’s new website, Leadership Development Fellow Adrian Yeo got the chance to dig through the archives and realised how CANSEA has had to ‘adapt’ over the years…  

CANSEA was established in 1992 with CAN members from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The first Steering Committee meeting was held the following year. Thailand members joined CANSEA on later years. It was felt that this form of partnership was needed to address the socio-political issues associated with the climate change debate and to exchange information, strengthen communication and coordinate activities at the regional level.

South East Asia is also diverse in history, culture and religions.The diversity in these 4 countries are much celebrated, but that diversity comes with a challenge as they share no common language, making documentation and conversation difficult. Combine this with other challenges, phone calls and air tickets were expensive, skype call was not yet created.  It was amazing to learn that the founding members of CANSEA has the foresight to come together despite such adversity.

My climate change activism started with my involvement in YOUNGO back in 2009. We mobilised over 2,000 youths from around the world towards COP15. English language is widely used, we connected via the internet, information was shared endlessly on emails and google wiki sites. Being in the youth constituency, we worked naively towards a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement. But how did CANSEA did it back in 1992?

When I attended one of CANSEA meeting recently, it felt more like a close friends gathering rather than a work meeting. The trust that built working over the years was evidently shown in the maturity during negotiation and conflict resolution. Such trust is lacking in today’s UNFCCC processes, from my humble opinion.

When going through the archives, I realised founding documents were produced by a typewriter on the old type of paper. I couldn’t believe that if such documentation were needed during one of the COPs then, it would take a whole truckload of paper instead of our thumb drive or storage in the cloud now. My short involvement with CAN and CANSEA allows me to experience and document the evolution throughout the years. One thing for sure, like climate change, we have to adapt to these changes.

It made me think of the future of CANSEA. My 90’s generation grew up with the popular cartoon “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”, and inspired a whole new generation of environmentalists. Much have changed since.

I wonder what is the green-themed cartoon children watches today, and what that will mean for CANSEA tomorrow?

The ad-hoc what? Reflecting on the Geneva 2015 ADP session

Neoka Naidoo, Leadership Development Fellow from South Africa reflects on her experience of the February 2015 ADP session in Geneva.

Firstly, getting our terms out the way. ADP stands for The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), - what a mouthful! 

On behalf of Project 90 and as a representative of South Africa CAN, I went to Geneva for this bizarrely named session last month. This was my first time being in this space, but I found it interesting and enlightening. There were so many differences to what I experienced in Lima - for example, I noticed there were smaller party delegations with a greater sense of openness to engage with civil society. The conference was held in the old League of Nations building, which is steeped in a history of world changing decisions. I am not sure if it was the environment or the setting itself which was conducive to consensus as opposed to the high-pressure situation in Lima.

The ADP session finished on time with agreement of a 86 page text that included all options. This was somewhat of a disadvantage as the semantics take away from the strength of the elements. I wonder if every option is negotiable and the options are on a varying scale of ambition, will an agreement at COP 21 in Paris just unravel?

The Intended National Determined Contributions were hot on the off record agenda as there were murmurs through the halls of the release dates. In my opinion it is definitely necessary that a full assessment is completed on the all UNFCCC measures that address average global temperature increase and the measures to adapt to a world we are already ‘cooked’ into.


Same-same but different? South East Asia's INDCs

Leadership Development Fellow Adrian Yeo, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gives us his take on how civil society is influencing the region's climate commitments. 

The UNFCCC has decided that each country must produce an ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC), which will form the foundation for climate action post-2020. They should include specific measures or projects countries will expect to do in order to keep average global temperature rise below 2˚C – the internationally-agreed limit aimed at preventing irreversible climate change.

South East Asia, the region I live in, has been making headway on this process.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to help organise and attend “A-FAB/CAN Workshop for Fair and Ambitious INDCs in Southeast Asia” in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was a collaboration between A-FAB (ASEAN  for a Fair, Ambitious & Binding Global Climate Deal) a regional policy lobby group network and CAN. The workshop aimed to identify each ASEAN country’s position on their INDC and strategise on how to make them more ambitious.

The workshop was always going to be challenging - are the participants ready to strategise just after Lima? Are the technical aspects of the INDC formalised? Do we have the right experts on the subject to lead the discussion?

However the conference opened promisingly. We watched various speakers share their country’s position on climate change and their current thinking on their INDC. It was interesting to hear about the different approaches from a developing country viewpoint and also recognise the risks.

The following day, we delved deeper into strategising strong INDCs in ASEAN’s context. The workshop invited Mr Apichai Sunchindah, former ASEAN Secretariat and Mr Jerald Joseph from ASEAN People Forum (APF) to share great insights on how ASEAN works and our advantages in lobbying INDC in this regional block.

A statement put out by ASEAN last November however does provide us with some hope. This statement contains strong commitments and should be used to remind ASEAN policy makers that it stands as a basis for future INDC’s commitments.

On the final day, I moderated a sharing session, where I tried to supply participants with  practical tools and action items from the previous days of discussion so the ideas could be implemented in their home country. There was also a press briefing conducted for the media on the INDCs and their importance in the run up to Paris COP21. 

The experience of working with regional networks and fellow colleagues enriched my understanding of Southeast Asia. It is a small region which shares many similarities but also has very diverse climate and environmental issues. Like the local Malaysian saying “same-same but different”.

From Rustlers Retreat to Lima - Neoka's first blog

Neoka Naidoo, Leadership Development Fellow from Project 90 by 2030 in South Africa blogs about her experience in the run up to and at COP20. 

In October I attended the South African National Climate Change Response Dialogue (NCCRD), hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs, just weeks before COP20. The NCCRD aimed to inform the participants on the current state of affairs on climate change. This entailed a report back of their initiatives in place to takcle climate change. I think one of the most powerful outcomes during this time was that civil society organisations agreed on an opening statement. This was a key moment as more collaboration is needed within the broader civil society movement in South Africa. 

The following week I attended the Rustlers Valley Youth retreat, held in partnership with Civicus and the Rustlers Valley Trust. It was an inspiring space where youth members involved in social, economic and environmental justice could converse but also share ideas and collaborate with each other on similar projects. I had the privilege of meeting legends in the South African struggle, George Bizos and Dikgang Moseneke. These stalwarts not only shared their story but their passion. 

These two events allowed me to approach COP 20 with an altered mind-set.

This was my first Conference of the Parties as an observer participant on the inside. It was an interesting affair to say the least. During the opening speeches you could feel the excitement and the ambition from both the COP president Peruvian Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and the executive secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres. They spoke about the importance of the Lima COP in terms of viable outcomes. They specifically spoke about including adaptation in the agreement and efficiency in their work. Various elements were covered during the jammed part two period.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was also high on the agenda, the chairs noting that countries like Peru are developing nations vulnerable to climate change. They impressed the importance that developed nations give financial aid for the great push to alleviate the effects of climate change. However it is important to acknowledge the lack of substantive elements in the text at the end of COP20. The lack of ambition and the stalling tactics are unnecessary and quite astonishing.

We are in this world together and that should not be blurred by political borders and agendas.

South African civil society calls on government to boost national climate action

South African civil society organisations have released a statement to their government calling for less talk and more national action to tackle climate change and boost the clean energy transition. These organisations collectively emphasise that human rights, like access to sufficient food and water, are directly threatened by climate change. They urge the South African government to protect these human rights by taking concerted action to shift away from dirty, resource intensive fossil fuels and harness instead the massive potential of clean, renewable energy. They also provide the South African government with a number of improvements that can be made at the national and sub-national levels to enhance the effectiveness of climate change dialogue and policy-making. You can read the full statement below

Statement from concerned civil society organisations regarding the lack of ambition for the National Climate Change Dialogue

Climate change is the greatest challenge faced by human kind.  Without determined political will and practical action by Government, business and society to tackle both the emissions that cause climate change and the adaptation needed to survive its impacts, we risk derailing development and putting the wellbeing and prosperity of the people of South Africa at risk.  What is more, human activities that drive climate change are destroying biodiversity and ecosystems that are vital to our survival and that of future generations.

The time for words is over, we need action from the South African Government now. Many civil society organisations are therefore coming together to raise our collective voices at this critical point ahead of the next round of climate talks at COP20 in Lima this December. 

South Africa faces a desperate fight for climate justice: many of our poorest communities are already living with the impacts of climate change. Global green house gas emissions continue to rise driving increases in extreme weather events such as drought, flooding and rising temperatures which are leaving people struggling with more water shortages and ever-rising food prices. These impacts fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities but they affect us all.

The South African constitution protects basic human rights including access for all to sufficient water and food and an environment that is not harmful to our health or wellbeing. All of these rights are threatened by climate change. 

The President acknowledges that we are a water scarce country and that climate change will make the situation worse. So why is the Government looking at future coal power stations and increasing mining activity, when taking coal out of the ground then preparing and burning it uses huge amounts of water?

We seek a just transition for South Africa and its people away from the current and planned future dependency on coal, oil, gas and nuclear power toward a socially inclusive development path, built on renewable energy including solar and wind. The South African government must hold to its most ambitious emissions targets if we are to make our vital contribution to global emissions cuts and together hold average global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

As such we call on Government to reaffirm its commitment to pursuing not a ‘lower carbon economy’ but a truly inclusive low carbon economy by stopping investments and subsidies into the fossil fuel industry and choosing a pathway that increases investment in renewable energy to unlock greater access to electricity and that focuses on skills development and job creation in the renewable energy sector. 

We are calling on the South African government to show much greater ambition and match words with actions, to stick to and enforce its most ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  South Africa must also stand alongside its fellow developing countries, calling on the developed countries that have caused climate change, to do much more to cut their emissions and deliver on the finance and technology transfer needed to support adaptation in developing countries.

To do this effectively, it is time for Government to walk the talk and deliver on its promises. Government has set emissions and policy targets that it is already missing. Fine policies are not enough, we must see real political will to drive the climate change agenda in a coherent way across government, so that development planning takes account of the inter-relations between energy, water, agriculture and food sovereignty.

The ongoing Integrated Energy Planning (IEP) process, which is expected to deliver a final report with a national energy ‘Road Map’ for Cabinet approval this financial year, is the most fundamental indication of government’s commitment to effective climate change response and inclusive development. 

All national and provincial departments – not just the Department of Environmental Affairs – must accelerate putting in place co-ordinated plans to both mitigate for and adapt to climate change, and then get on with delivering interventions that will protect and enhance the lives of all South Africans.

It is the South African people who will bear the full force of climate change so it is the wellbeing and livelihoods of people that should be paramount in efforts to address the issue rather than the interests of those businesses which contribute the most to emissions. 

It is disappointing that the National Climate Change Dialogue favours big business and the current economic paradigm while excluding many of the communities already fighting against increased hunger, water shortages, falling crop yields and lack of access to electricity.

Our organisations re-commit to ensuring that engagement takes place around national development policy, including over the next year as the UNFCCC negotiations move toward COP21 in Paris. Now Government must commit to and guarantee that it will enable regular, meaningful participation of civil society and communities affected by climate change in policy development and implementation.

We call for transparency and high ambition in the process of setting emission reduction targets per economic sector (the Desired Emission Reduction Outcomes). Undertakings by businesses to meet ‘carbon budgets’ should be made public. The work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change needs to be accounted for. All affected parties must be kept appraised of the nature and content of these processes.

Climate change is happening now. It is affecting the lives of all South Africans. It is time for the South African Government to act, not talk, if we are to avoid worsening hunger, water scarcity and poverty.

The organisations here listed endorse this statement:

Project 90 by 2030

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

Earthlife Africa

Greenpeace Africa

Oxfam in SA

World Wildlife Fund

350.org Africa & Arab world Region

Fossil Free South Africa


Bangladeshis protest against coal expansion in the Sundarbans

Bangladeshis will take to the streets of the capital, Dhaka, this weekend in a colourful, and popular protest against plans for a dirty coal plant that will demolish and degrade huge parts of the Sundarbans - the world’s most pristine mangrove forest, an important tiger reserve, and a UNESCO world heritage site.

People will be taking part in a rally that will showcase local artists, singers and other cultural icons - all of whom are calling on the Bangladeshi government to ditch proposed plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Rampal, a site right on the edge of the precious Sundarbans. This is not their first rally, more than 20,000 joined last year, and they will not stop until the dirty power plant plans are overturned.

The people of Dhaka join a fast-growing group of brave communities taking to the streets and even the seas to prevent dirty energy expansion plans which threaten the world’s most pristine and iconic habitats. A group of Pacific Warriors blockaded an Australian coal port last week, in a spectacular effort to protect their homes and the Great Barrier Reef from dirty energy expansion.

Also last week, the people of the Philippines held a national day of action against coal. More Filipinos are joining every day with the group of dedicated walkers on their 1000km climate change awareness march from Manila to Tacloban - ground zero for typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that devastated the Philippines in 2014.

The people of Bangladesh are one of many brave communities taking a stand against coal power. The huge coal-plant proposed for Rampal would threaten the world’s most ancient mangrove forest with destruction, dredging, and pollution from boiling, toxic effluent. The effects of the planned coal-plant construction would not only exacerbate climate change, but directly exacerbate climate impacts.

In the recent past the Sundarbans have protected local communities from dangerous cyclones Aila and Sidr. The mangroves provide vital protection from storm surges exacerbated by sea level rise that are a direct result of increased coal use. On top of this the rich Sundarban ecosystems support millions of people with food, water and artisanal industry.

UNESCO have raised serious concerns with both Bangladeshi and Indian governments over the proposed coal plant in the Sundarbans. The questions raised by UNESCO have still not been answered and now the voice of the people of Bangladesh is rising to join the challenge - will the regional governments take heed?

40-Day Climate Walk to Tacloban kicks of in the Philippines

Climate change advocates from various sectors urged world governments to “walk their climate talk” as they launched the Climate Walk, dubbed as “A People’s Walk for Climate Justice.”

From the starting point at “Kilometer Zero” in Rizal Park, Manila, the groups will walk 1,000 kilometers in 40 days to arrive in Tacloban, ground zero of Yolanda (Haiyan), on November 8, exactly a year since the super typhoon first made landfall.

The festive send-off program for the Climate Walk included Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, National Youth Commissioner Jose Sixto 'Dingdong' Dantes III, Climate Change Commissioners Heherson Alvarez and Yeb Saño, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, representatives of a broad group of civil society organizations [1], and the Catholic Church [2

“The Climate Walk is dedicated to all people in the Philippines and around the world who confront the reality of climate change. It aims to empower communities and help them become resilient to the impacts of disasters and climate change,” Saño said before they departed from Luneta.

The advocates called on governments to do their fair share in keeping global warming below the tipping point to save the Filipino people, and all others who are most vulnerable to climate change.

The Walk was launched a week after two landmark events in New York: The People’s Climate March, in which 400,000 people marched to call for urgent climate action, followed by the United Nations Climate Summit, wherein over 160 world leaders announced their commitments to solve the climate crisis.

"This walk is about fighting back! We need to unite as a people and demand a climate treaty that will give justice and compensation to countless families, communities and municipalities that are already being severely affected and devastated by climate change impacts. We must reclaim our people's rights to a safe, secure and sustainable future." Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia stated.

You can find out more about the walkers taking part and you can keep up to date with their progress by visiting the Climate Walk website or facebook page.


Fasting leaders urge Heads of State to show courage on climate

During the last week prominent fasters representing secular and religious communities all over the world have come together to write letters to Heads of States. They are challenging these Heads of State to demonstrate leadership to tackle climate change at the upcoming UN Climate Summit on 23 September 2014. 
The letters have been published in various news outlets and on social media. You can download copies of the letters below, please feel free to share with your various networks. For any questions on the letter, please contact ehickson@climatenetwork.org 

New economics report urges leaders to phase out fossil fuels

major new report launched today by economic experts in New York City shows how a swift transition to a low-carbon society will unlock a raft of benefits for communities, businesses and governments while reducing the risks of dangerous climate change. The report from the New Climate Economy is called “Better Growth, Better Climate”, it comprehensively dispels the myth that climate action comes at the cost of people’s living standards and calls on government and business leaders to urgently phase-out fossil fuels.

The message ringing out from every page of this report is that there are no strong arguments left to justify sticking with outdated fossil-fuels. As such, the authors call for all countries to aim for a global phase-out of unabated fossil fuel power generation by 2050. These economic experts call for high-income countries to commit now to end the building of new unabated coal-fired power generation and asks middle-income countries to limit new coal plant construction now and halt new builds by 2025.

The report is based on a year-long study conducted by research institutes the world over, from China, India, the US, Brazil, Korea, Europe and Africa. The findings are being spearheaded by leading names in finance, business and politics who argue they provide compelling evidence that world leaders should urgently ramp up the low-carbon transition to unlock a cleaner, healthier society run on renewable energy which can also limit the impacts of climate change.

The report findings substantiate this argument by showing that as well as reducing climate risk, phasing out fossil fuels and cutting carbon will mean new and better jobs, cleaner air, improved health, lower poverty and more energy security. The economic minds behind the study use the building of climate smart cities as an example. They argue that cities that are better connected and more compact with good public transport links will save the world more than US $3 trillion over the next 15 years and significantly improve quality of life.

New Climate Economy emphasise that the low carbon transition is already well underway. A growing number of successful businesses, cities and countries are actively lowering climate risk, while creating jobs and healthier, happier communities. Thanks to rapid technological innovations and fresh investment in infrastructure unlocking the benefits of climate action is more affordable and feasible than ever, according to the authors.

The report urges government and business leaders to seize the day. Between now and 2030 US$90 trillion will be invested in cities, land use and energy infrastructure around the world and the investment choices made now will shape the future - will locking us into either a low- or a high-carbon society. The authors dismantle the argument that a clean energy future costs more to achieve and they even lay out a neat policy prescription to help leaders along the low-carbon pathway.

These include:

  • integrating climate change into core economic decisions and accelerating the low-carbon transition;

  • a strong, lasting and fair international climate agreement;

  • phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives for urban sprawl;

  • introducing strong, predictable carbon prices;

  • substantially reducing the costs of low-carbon infrastructure investments;

  • scaling up innovation in key low-carbon and climate resilient technologies;

  • making connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development;

  • stopping deforestation of natural forests by 2030;

  • restoring at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands by 2030;

  • accelerating the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation.

This report, dubbed “Stern 2.0”, comes just days before hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets at more than 2,000 events in 150 countries around the world to show their support for a low-carbon transition. This comes also as more than 120 heads of state gather in New York for the UNSG Climate Summit.

The summit is a chance for world leaders to re-engage with climate change at the highest level and pledge the commitments that will speed up the transition away from fossil fuels that is already underway, driven by communities, businesses and investors who see the benefits of a clean energy future. It is a chance for government leaders to begin realising the vision outlined in this report.