Tag: North Africa

Civil Society in the MENA region calls for renewable energy and climate protection

Civil society organizations dealing with the environment and renewable energy in the MENA region: We want to cooperate on the protection of the climate and get engaged in the political decision- 
making processes on low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in our region 

On October 29th, just one day before the opening of the 4th Dii Desert Energy Conference in Rabat, key representatives from civil society organizations in the MENA region discussed the role civil society should play to contribute to the protection of the climate, to low carbon development strategies and the promotion of renewable energy in the MENA region. All participants agreed that transforming our fossil fuelled energy system into a sustainable one can only be accomplished through cooperation and dialogue among all relevant stakeholders. 

During the meeting it was reaffirmed that in order to achieve the required social acceptance for the energy transition in MENA countries it would be mandatory to develop it along the needs and interest of the civil society stakeholders who have, so far, only gained little traction in the debate. 

According to Fadoua Brour from the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement “The engagement of civil society becomes a prerequisite for the sustainable and successful implementation of renewable energies and measures of energy efficiency”.

With regard to the political changes in many MENA countries as a result of the Arab Spring Patricia Sfeir, Director of the Lebanese NGO IndyAct underlined that “People are demanding their right to participate in the energy transition in their countries and do not want to be seen as just passive recipients of foreign technologies. They are claiming a transparent and equitable distribution of socio-economic opportunities for the best of society”. 

At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed that the establishment of a consolidated and interconnected civil society framework would allow for more structured and effective engagement with the public and private actors in seeking a direct and equitable cooperation on climate protection, low carbon development and the promotion of renewable energies in the MENA region. 

“The discussions during this meeting have clearly showed that there is an urgent need to support the networking among MENA NGOs to collaborate on environmental and energy related issues, build capacities to enable civil society engagement in the context of developing and implementing national energy plans and increase awareness on the needed shift towards a sustainable energy future” noted Wael Hmaidan, Director of the Climate Action Network (CAN), while stressing the very positive spirit of collaboration in the meeting. 
 
For further information, please contact Ms. Patricia Sfeir, Director of the NGO IndyAct (psfeir@indyact.org) or Maria de Lope, WWF Morocco representative (mjdelope@wwf.panda.org). 

Doha: Week 2

 

Baimey Ange David Emmanuel
ONG JVE Cote d'Ivoire

For me, the second week at Doha was filled with side events and policy meetings.

To begin, Monday, December 3, the Climate & Development Network (RC & D) coordinates and I had a meeting with the French delegation and the French ambassador for climate change, Serge Lepeltier in the hall of the Delegation European French Pavilion. Present were 12 members of the RC & D from Côte d'Ivoire, DRC, France, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad and Togo. On the French side, we noted the presence of seven French delegation representatives.

The discussions focused on key issues in negotiations, including financing issues, the Kyoto Protocol, the NAMAs and development.Exchanges revolved around NAMAs were threefold: ambition is not enough to stay below 2 °C, the funding concerning the Fast start is currently expired and the importance remains of hot air Poland.

The Climate and Development Network then held side events to reflect on who will replace ODD MDGs. Four panelists includingbfrom Togo, Mali and France presented their work on agriculture, energy and the mobilization of civil society. The goal of this side event was for many French to express their views and ideas on the evolution of the UNFCCC process.

I had several working sessions with members of civil society to discuss the French disaster risk management, REDD and the issue of innovative financing.We continue to work on the involvement of NGOs and taking into account aspects of development in the resolution of climate change.

Globally, I think that it is important to keep with multilateralism processes concerning climate change (even if it is dangerous for those most vulnerable because the developing countries will impose their point of views.)

As I said in the JVE International press release, "While Doha was able to streamline the process and policies for international negotiations on climate change, through the adoption of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, ending the various discussion groups set up in Bali in 2007 and paving the way for discussions on the work plan for the post-2020 could lead to an international climate agreement involving all countries history. But the reality is that the UN still cannot intend to include toxic countries. Doha is a victory for Canada, Russia, Japan, Poland and the USA.

 

Doha has proven to be a doom for the poor

 

Sixbert Simon Mwanga
Climate Action Network-Tanzania

The 18th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),Conference of Parties (COP) and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) has concluded in Doha, Qatar on the 9th of December, 2012.

Civil Society Organizations and delegates from developing countries have clearly shown their concern with the outcomes of the negotiations. The critical areas of  concern include low ambitions to cut hot air, the length of the second commitment to Kyoto Protocol with so many loopholes and difficult to implement and a lack of commitment to provide  climate finance to operationalize the green climate fund. The conference also failed to deliver on technology issues which developing countries and African countries need to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.                                                             

These decisions and commitments have many negative implications to the developing countries:  migration (especially for climate change refugees), increasing poverty, frustrations, dejections, and deaths, all of which spell an infringement of the right to live. Being my first COP, I saw how respected leaders from developed countries failed to show leadership and political will in addressing the structural issues that have caused climate change.

We praise the African and developing countries delegates for standing firm and in union on damage and loss issues. For the first time, loss and damage have been accepted and international mechanisms have been set to address them. If there is one thing that we have achieved, it is work on loss and damage.

Some issues have been postponed, as usual.  By postponing important issues like technology transfer and finance to the next COP, it has proven COP18 to be the doom for the poor.  During this postponement and the slow creation of work programmes, we should know that communities are suffering from climate change. Therefore, it is unacceptable to procrastinate in making these important climate decisions.

For us who are already affected by climate change, an hour-long delay to take action feels like ten years. We find no reason for world leaders to attend the COPs while their aims are to delay actions on the negative impacts they have caused while struggling to develop their regions.

We see this as dividing the world on the efforts to fight our “common” enemy: climate change and its impacts. Scientists with their reports are disregarded; affected people in developing countries are seen as nothing while developed countries are not committed to pursuing sustainable development. They continue to invest in development pathways that are negative to the environment. We call upon leaders from developed countries to remember the role they played in emitting billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases and the necessary political will and leadership needed to emission cut targets. This is required by science to save our one and only home called the Earth.  

 

Topics: 

Will Doha be an oasis of hope or doom for the poor?

This generation has witnessed unforgettable catastrophes of climate change. The most affected are the rural and poorer people of developing countries, Africa in particular. The African continent has contributed the least to the problem and is the one least able to cope with the impacts, because we depend heavily on climate sensitive activities for our survival. Most of the NAPAs from Africa prioritized agriculture, water, health, energy, forestry and wetlands, wildlife and tourism as the most vulnerable sectors.

The whistle for negotiations in Doha has been blown and negotiators are running from one room to another to ensure as much ground is covered as possible within one week. However, most of the outcomes of these discussions are not in favour of the interests of the developing countries, including Africa, leaving most of the negotiators dejected and frustrated.

However, there is still hope to be salvaged  Doha-Qatar negotiations and asking negotiators from Annex 1 countries must be friends in need so that we become friends indeed by focusing on the scientific imperative. They must reflect on the dangers that climate change already felt by vulnerable regions of Africa and other developing countries. This will be easily seen by finalizing and adopting a meaningful and effective second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, addressing the outstanding issues under the convention track in accordance with the 2007 Bali mandate and setting the negotiations under the Durban Platform for enhanced action on firm footing to adopting a legally binding agreement by 2015.

Africa is looking for an agreement that will assure to undertake mitigation and adaptation through effective finance mechanism and technology transfer.

G77 earn Fossil of the Day as they oppose language to foster civil society participation

Today's first place fossil goes to Algeria!

Algeria on behalf of the group of G77 was awarded the third ever Rio Fossil of the Day today. Moves to oppose language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation in implementing sustainable development have earned them the top spot.        

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of youth networks and hundreds of global NGOs organized in the Climate Action Network CAN.                          

The Fossil presentation text reads as follows:

“Algeria is receiving the fossil on behalf on G77 for opposing language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation to implement sustainable development. 20 years ago, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration recognised that the best environmental decisions are made  with the involvement of the public. That includes civil society groupings such as NGOs, women, trade unions, youth and others. We agree that referring to stakeholders in the outcome document should be avoided as some private interest groups, such as big corporations, do more harm than good.

However, in many ways civil society groups are the best allies parties have at the international level, especially developing country parties, whom we often support by providing increased capacity and advocacy efforts. We have a huge range of expertise and experience that adds real value when we are able to participate in decision-making at the local, national and international levels. Our ability to participate also ensures the legitimacy of decision making and helps translates decisions into real world outcomes. This is the only way to genuinely achieve sustainable development. We know that only a very small number of G77 members are resisting language that would help us play our role more effectively. The rest of the G77 should not allow this minority rule."

The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy. Fossil of the Day ceremonies take place every day at 18:15, in the corridor leading from the negotiating rooms in Pavillion 3 into the main  crossroads towards the courtyard in the center of RioCentro.

Region: 

G77 earn Fossil of the Day as they oppose language to foster civil society participation

Today's first place fossil goes to Algeria!

Algeria on behalf of the group of G77 was awarded the third ever Rio Fossil of the Day today. Moves to oppose language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation in implementing sustainable development have earned them the top spot.        

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of youth networks and hundreds of global NGOs organized in the Climate Action Network CAN.                          

The Fossil presentation text reads as follows:

“Algeria is receiving the fossil on behalf on G77 for opposing language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation to implement sustainable development. 20 years ago, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration recognised that the best environmental decisions are made  with the involvement of the public. That includes civil society groupings such as NGOs, women, trade unions, youth and others. We agree that referring to stakeholders in the outcome document should be avoided as some private interest groups, such as big corporations, do more harm than good.

However, in many ways civil society groups are the best allies parties have at the international level, especially developing country parties, whom we often support by providing increased capacity and advocacy efforts. We have a huge range of expertise and experience that adds real value when we are able to participate in decision-making at the local, national and international levels. Our ability to participate also ensures the legitimacy of decision making and helps translates decisions into real world outcomes. This is the only way to genuinely achieve sustainable development. We know that only a very small number of G77 members are resisting language that would help us play our role more effectively. The rest of the G77 should not allow this minority rule."

The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy. Fossil of the Day ceremonies take place every day at 18:15, in the corridor leading from the negotiating rooms in Pavillion 3 into the main  crossroads towards the courtyard in the center of RioCentro.

 

 

Region: 

Big Talk for Smallholders

Despite the Convention objective in Article 2 to stabilize emissions before food production is threatened, impacts of climate change on food production are already being felt around the world. Floods have decimated wheat fields in Pakistan and rice fields in Thailand. Heat waves have seriously reduced yields of Russian wheat and US maize. Drought cost Texas agriculture US$8 billion last year and tens of thousands of lives in the Horn of Africa.

Local and mostly small-scale food producers feed the vast majority of the global population. They are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This in turn threatens food security across the world. As temperatures rise and the weather becomes more unpredictable, large areas of land will become unsuitable for smallholders’ current agricultural practices. Enabling smallholders to adapt, protect their livelihoods and contribute to food security become crucial objectives.

Adaptation is the most urgent and compelling need for smallholders, particularly in developing countries, who have the least resilience and means to cope. This is why SBSTA must consider the impacts of climate change across all scales of food production and find approaches to ensuring food security for all.

The CGIAR has already published many sobering reports on the impacts on food production. Ghana will lose cocoa production on huge portions of its territory. Tea production in the highlands of East Africa will migrate up slopes and significantly contract in area. Developing country economies are often quite dependent on valuable export crops whose production will significantly diminish. Climate change and agriculture conversations will bleed over into the negotiations on loss and damage.

In order for small-scale farmers to be able to adapt and to build their adaptive capacity, they must be enabled to practice farming systems that are resilient to long-term climate change, including indigenous practices that strengthen the ecosystems which they are a part of. This form of agro-ecological smallholder farming and other forms of sustainable and climate-resilient food production should be promoted.

So, whilst the UNFCCC considers agriculture  in  SBSTA,  ECO  asks  Parties to provide scientific  and  technical  advice regarding biodiverse, resilient agriculture based on agro-ecological principles, and explore appropriate technology development and  transfer.

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CAN-International Director says goodbye

Dear friends,
As you may recall, today marks my last day as Director of the CAN-International Secretariat.

I said a lot in my announcement to CAN members at the end of last year about how much I've learned and grown in this position. If I could somehow express those sentiments even more strongly now I would, having continued to learn so much from so many of you in the last few months of my post here. I'll be carrying with me wonderful memories from Durban, of touching moments reminiscing with friends, of whispering in our outdoor meeting so a certain bug-eyed climate denier couldn't hear us, of dancing on the beach, hugs and handshakes, smiles and frustrations.

There are, as could be expected, things I will not miss from the past few years -- those 6am conference calls, the countless hours spent in airplane lounges or trying to find that one elusive comfortable posture on cramped airplanes. I won't necessarily miss arguing with the UNFCCC for more intervention slots or negotiating where a comma should go to avoid a dreaded "byline" on CAN positions. But, by a large margin, there are many more memories, lessons, and experiences that this position has afforded me that I will cherish.

When I'm asked what I've enjoyed about my job I almost universally tell the same story -- how it all boils down to the people I've been privileged to get to know, to work with, and to call my friends. We at the Secretariat often say CAN is only as strong as its members. If that hypothesis holds, I can safely say -- having gotten to know so many of you so well -- that CAN is an incredibly strong coalition. It's a crazy moment to be sitting in the back of a plenary of a UN negotiation at 4am in a foreign country and look around the room and feel like you are surrounded by family. It's those moments walking down the halls of the Maritim where you feel like you will never make it to your destination because you feel compelled to stop every four feet to talk to someone you bump into. The idea that I literally can go to any continent on the globe and find someone that is part of this family is something that I don't think I'll ever wrap my head around. It's something I'll always hold dear, perhaps even more so than our successes along the way.

And for these experiences, the friendships, and all the lessons I have taken from so many of you, all I can say is thank you.

One of the things I've been struck by is how personally invested CAN members are in this work. This isn't a job to many of us; it's not a 9 to 5 thing that we can set aside from our "normal" lives. For better or worse, it's our life's work and it's something we are all truly passionate about.

With that in mind, it becomes clear that our enemies are not eachother (despite the fact that sometimes it might feel that way), or the more radical or conservative colleagues we find in the network. Our enemies are out there. They are the fossil fuel interests who are making more money than ever known to man, and spending equal amounts on making sure they can continue to make that money. They are the conservative politicians who have either been bought off by those corporations or somehow otherwise genuinely fear government policies and regulations, when we know that for a truly global problem, a comprehensive government approach is needed. There are those who choose to turn the other way -- perhaps aware that the problem exists, but not willing to admit it because doing so would make their lives inconvenient.

Our enemies are not eachother and they never will be...and that's what makes CAN so important. We need our fellow CAN members not just for support, but because it's only together that we can win. This is why I'm so happy to know that I am leaving CAN in as strong a position as I could ever have hoped to leave it. We have an amazing Secretariat that works tirelessly with the full understanding that their efforts will often be left out of the limelight, but knowing how important they are all the same. We have more members from more countries and constituencies than could have been dreamed of 20 years ago, and our positions, analyses, and strategies reflect this in the most positive of ways. We have the respect and attention of governments all around the world, even if sometimes it feels as though they choose to ignore us.

A friend of mine in the movement once wrote that she knows we're going to win because we're cooler than they are. And I couldn't put it better myself. Putting aside the fact that we're have the truth on our side...we're more fun, more dynamic, more challenging, more passionate, more inspiring, more critical, more friendly, more caring, more creative than THEY are. And sometimes we throw some wicked parties too.

I know you all aren't going anywhere from my life and my heart--and this cause--and you can rest assured I'm not going far. This is a fight we're in together, no matter what roles we play. And I know, like you, I plan on seeing it to the end.

As I leave this role, I'm so tempted to use that clichéd phrase, "it's not goodbye, it's see you later." But I won't...instead, I'll just say:

Onwards, friends.

 

-David Turnbull

CAN-International Director, October 2008 - February 2012

Report on CAN Pre-COP Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - 19 to 21 October, 2011  

This report explains who participated in the CAN Pre-COP workshop in Ethiopia in October 2011. The discussions that took place are highlighted and regional follow-up work to these discussions is currently underway.

African COP, African Perspectives

To commemorate the opening of the High Level Segment of the “African COP” in Durban, ECO invited African NGOs to submit thematic articles on the often
urgent challenges of climate change and the compelling opportunities for
response.  Like the continent itself, the essays here are diverse, but unite on
common ground: the readiness, given necessary and required support, to devise African solutions on the ground to the climate challenge.

Overview

Apart from ensuring plenty of air-time for adaptation and vulnerability in Africa, what can South Africa and the COP Presidency do to honor the expectations attached to being host for the ‘African COP? Could the outcome end up so poor, so far from the principles and objectives of the Convention, that South Africa would prefer to denounce rather than
defend the process?

Token reference to a 1.5° C stabilisation level is meaningless to Africa as long as we remain so far from targets that are consistent with having half a chance of remaining below 2°. At this point deciding a time-bound process for robust review of ambition and action would be more useful.

Developed countries that are historically responsible for the climate crisis must step up and pay their dues. An appropriate Shared
Vision will be a mirage if not accompanied by the means to ensure that global emissions will peak about mid-decade.

Operationalising Cancun won’t be sufficient to mobilise finance for adaptation, beyond the trickle seeping into the Adaptation Fund. With the focus now on a new fund – design, governance etc., there is too little happening to actually raise the finance.

A straightforward matter such as requesting the IMO to proceed to design a levy, to put a price on carbon consistent with its own principles and that of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ with a rebate system has, we hear, been made unmanageable by constraints behind a discussion of a broader framework.

Mobilising public finance is a clear imperative. There is no rationale or need to impede development of a finance-raising levy on bunker fuels by restricting discussions to sectoral approaches to mitigation. Financial transactions taxes are in the wings if not yet on stage, and Africa has a right to a portion of such resources and a myriad of opportunities to use it for green growth.

This is not, as some North Americans like to suggest, an issue of ‘guilt money’, it is an opportunity for sustainable development to the benefit of all humanity, and it is in our collective interest to enable ‘leap-frogging’ – an efficient transition to best available technology globally. Responsibility is not guilt. The Green Climate Fund is global because the benefits will be global, particularly if developing countries are allowed to access and use the funds in alignment with pressing development imperatives – should sufficient funds be forthcoming.

The right to sustainable development is not asserted to shame or assign guilt to those in economies that have grown rapidly through use of fossil fuels – it simply seeks to restore some balance, and efficient direction of resources to put all of humanity on a sustainable footing. The powerful should not be so fearful of yielding leverage over others that the entire system is so profoundly compromised that it cannot support the majority of people alive. 

And by the way: How old will you be in 2050? It seems that very few negotiators have contemplated the world even one generation from now. Do NGOs really need to repeat that about the opportunities to put in place what is required.  And is there any point when some of the needed text has already been written, but subsequently removed?

Much of the discussion in the first week has been about what we might hope to see in place at some time in the future, perhaps post-2020. After this, defending a deadline for an agreement in four years time is held out as a positive outcome!

Will there ever be a ‘make-or-break’ moment for the UNFCCC, or the processes for implementing it? Certainly it doesn’t look very good for  Qatar serving as a big step up if Durban does not produce what we need.

So here’s an idea. What if scenarios of potential COP 17 outcomes were named for trees? Perhaps a positive outcome would be a Baobab; certainly an Acacia would have to feature as nationally appropriate and offering welcome shade and resilience. What would a poor outcome be? A Welwichia – native to Namibia, far from decorative, but still providing a habitat? The vision of a long-dead and weathered log is on the horizon, but what would the alien invasive tree look like?

In South Africa, the Working for Water Programme roots out alien invasive trees.  But there isn’t a ready process for a COP Presidency to disown or defeat an unacceptable outcome, though there is precedent.

African NGOs hope to hear and see a lot more this week about what will be happening before 2015, including from the beginning of 2012. If the initial high-level sessions in Durban do not offer decisions for this timeframe, giving clear direction not just on additional institutions, but on moving money and continuing the Kyoto Protocol, African Parties should consider putting their host on notice that the outcome may face rejection.

 

North Africa

In the aftermath of the ‘Arab spring’ across the region, North Africa is spiraling upward with change in the follow-on to Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya’s revolutions. Civil society is finally rising up and vocalizing a myriad of concerns they have over issues ranging from democratization, human rights, labor and the environment. With the empowerment of the people, North African governments are cautiously listening to their demands. Yet with the rising impacts of climate change on this hot arid region, concerns will only escalate.

According to a recent World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report, there will be a 20% decrease in water flow in the Nile River to Egypt. This is occurring in a country that is already severely affected by water scarcity and is currently below the water poverty line. The report also projects that these impacts will hit countries at a much faster rate than originally predicted, with sea levels rising almost 1 m instead of 0.5 m by 2050.  This means the delta in Egypt – the food basket of Egypt’s agricultural lands – will be inundated by up to 75%. These impacts will devastate the region and magnify the food and water security crisis for millions.

Earlier this year, the people of North Africa took to the streets to protest against increasing food prices, lack of jobs and insufficient resources.  Those challenges are already being increased by climate change. The governments of North Africa have a golden opportunity to act domestically with the creation of green jobs that will meet the needs of their people, economy, and the climate. Governments also have an important role in the global climate negotiations to push developed countries to increase their ambition targets as well as their financing capacity and deliver to address urgent concerns of the looming impacts of climate change on their people. 

 

East Africa

For poor farmers and pastoralists in East Africa, the climate has already changed and the impacts are severe, having claimed lives and livelihoods of people who contributed little to the situation. It is also certain that it will cost far more if concerted action is not taken soon.

In East Africa, climate change has amplified a chain of disasters: floods, extreme droughts, seasonal shifts and crop failure, animal diseases, water and fodder shortage, and social collapse. The current drought – the worst in decades, following the failure of both the main and short rain seasons – has reportedly affected 12 million and the real number may be far more. It has brought to famine in Somalia, claiming lives primarily of women and children, and rendering others refugees in Ethiopia. The survival of pastoralists is threatened by the death of thousands of livestock on which they are heavily dependent.

Droughts and famine in East Africa have been increasingly frequent over the last three decades. The region is and has been the leading humanitarian aid recipient. Changing this situation requires meaningful actions that will bend the global emissions curve into decline.

Over the years foreign aid has helped those who are affected by drought conditions, but such support has not extended to delivering the change desired by the people. The only thing that keeps changing is the climate and the degree of its impacts, making millions of farmers and pastoralists in the region suffer absolute poverty. Here is an appeal to the developed world which has been providing humanitarian support: real help requires implementing climate change response actions immediately. Help the people to adapt and take actions that will stabilize the climate, and the people of East Africa will find their own way out of poverty.

 

West Africa

For most African countries, increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is a present danger, particularly for the rural poor, the great majority of whom are farmers. With increasing land degradation, desertification and soil erosion hitting hard at the local level and poor women and men totally reliant on natural resources for their survival, the need for adaptation support could not be more urgent.

The results of multilateral climate negotiations therefore have a huge impact on African lives. Smallholder, predominantly family-operated farms produce about 80 % of most African economies’ total agricultural output.

In Ghana for example, half of the labour force, or 4.2 million people, are directly engaged in agriculture, which is heavily dependent on rainfall. Food production fluctuates from year to year with variations in rains during and between growing seasons. In Ghana, the total area under formal irrigation is around 11,000 hectares whereas the potential area – including inland valleys – that could be developed for irrigation is estimated at 500,000 hectares.

The urgent need for a comprehensive adaptation framework, supported by adequate and predictable finance, cannot be overstated. Progress in this area has remained elusive for successive COPs. Instead, their mandate is applied in pursuit of narrow near-term interests of parties caught up in a web of diplomacy.

In Nagbere, a community in the Upper East region of Ghana, vegetable production – the only source of livelihoods for over 600 inhabitants – has collapsed due to long periods of drought. “We are not able to use very well the few heavy rains we get at certain periods during the year”, reported a local farmer in the community.

Creating resilient and sustainable societies requires substantial intervention to develop adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and to maintain a healthy agriculture for improved food security. Timely provision of adaptation funds is critical to eradicating poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Timely adaptation measures will enable communities to take charge of their future and increase resilience. Unfortunately, in Durban we see appalling obstinacy by some of the major polluters rather than progressing the ultimate objective of the Convention.

African women, led by the late Wangari Maathai, took the simple first step step of digging a hole and placing in it a seedling. By so doing, they demonstrated commitment to adapting to their changing climate. If they could do that, why then the delay in releasing the green funds for climate change adaptation?

 

South Africa

The agreement of a further two-year phase of the Nairobi Work Programme, including specific focus areas on ecosystem-based approaches and on water, is a welcome development. This highlights the need for full consideration of the tensions between water and energy security, within the context of water scarcity in southern Africa and a heavy dependence on coal through South Africa’s dominance in the subregion and position as anchor of the Southern African Power Pool.

The Olifant’s River in SA’s Mpumalanga Province provides a classic example of the lack of ecosystem-based integrated planning.  The water of the Olifants is too polluted – almost entirely by coal mining to be used for cooling downstream coal-fired power plants. Water catchment management, with an ecosystem-wide approach, is not only a national but a regional imperative, yet the Southern African Development Community (SADC) lacks capacity to involve stakeholders in such regional planning.

Recent promotion of desalination raises additional concerns regarding overall resource efficiency and the potential for diminishing returns on investment, given the energy inputs required to ensure water supply, with current energy supply being from thirsty fossil-based processes. The concept of Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI), which is diminishing for fossil resources, but improving for renewable energy technologies, will also need to be applied to water supply. Adapting to
increasing water scarcity requires that supply should also be subject to resource efficiency standards, to optimise value derived from ecosystem services.

In this specific example we see how one output of the climate negotiations, the Nairobi Work Programme, is providing the context for making a positive contribution to sustainable natural resource management down on the ground.

 

Africa for Integrity

At this African COP, it is gratifying to see the Africa Group tabling a number of constructive proposals aiming to bring environmental integrity back to the Kyoto
Protocol.

On the issue of hot air, the Africa Group is proposing that the carry-over of surplus AAUs from the first to the second commitment period be limited to 1% of each party’s assigned amount for the first commitment period, and that parties be allowed to sell the carried-over amount, with 50% of the revenue to be transferred to the Adaptation Fund.

In the LULUCF negotiations, the group has put forward a proposal that would act to lower the free credits countries get from managing their forests. While it doesn’t fully solve the issue of unaccounted emissions in LULUCF, this compromise proposal is a step in the right direction.

These proposals may not be perfect, but they put forward compromises that take us towards environmental integrity needed at the core of global climate efforts.

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