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By Jacob Munoru

Every few years, the issue of deforestation and illegal logging comes up in the news, and then dies a natural death, buried under other more ‘important’ issues until it comes back up sooner or later.

I was alerted to the resurgence of this issue after I came across an online petition by conservationists seeking to stop the legal felling of trees in the Mt Kenya forest.

The conservationists, who have so far garnered 3,398 signatures according to a brief on the Daily Nation (Thursday, January 18), want the Kenya Forest Service to stop the logging and conserve the forest.

At the same time, the Sengwer community that lives in Embobut Forest is facing eviction from their homes in the name of forest conservation, with the ongoing conflict between the Kenya Forest Service officers and the community members allegedly resulting in the death of a herder on Wednesday.

The question therefore begs, is there a way to conserve forests while still benefiting from the resource and securing the homes of forest-dwelling communities?

Many of the world’s forests and woodlots mainly in the tropics and subtropics (read Africa or East Africa to be precise) are not managed sustainably. Most countries in the region lack appropriate forest policies, legislation, institutional framework and incentives to promote sustainable forest management.

Where forest management plans exist, they are limited to ensuring the sustainable production of wood, without paying attention to the many other products and services that forests offer. Alternative land uses like Agriculture and Real estate developments seems to be financially more attractive in the short run than forest management, motivating deforestation and land use changes. The World Food and Agriculture organization (FAO), helps to identify, test and promote innovative, multipurpose forest management approaches and techniques that respond to mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.

Sustainable forest management means environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations. Sustainable forest management addresses forest degradation and deforestation while increasing direct benefits to people and environment. At the social level, sustainable forest management contributes to livelihoods, income generation, and employment. At the environmental level, it contributes to important services such as carbon sequestration (carbon sinks) and water, soil and biodiversity conservation. Managing forests sustainably means increasing their benefits, including timber, food and medicine to meet society needs in a way that conserves maintaining the forest ecosystem as well as climate change mainstreaming for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Good forest conservation management promotes climate change mainstreaming. Forests play a crucial role in the Hydrological cycle, influencing the availability of water, regulating surface and groundwater flows and maintaining high water quality. Forest and trees, in general, reduce water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization.

Our country’s tree cover is below 10 per cent, hence the many adverse effects of climate change like floods, droughts, repetitive crop failures for many years, unreliable rainfall patterns and amounts, ice caps disappearing from our high mountains and frequent outbreaks of both human and livestock diseases- but- our government has set a good target of increasing the forest cover to reach 10 per cent within the soonest time possible. To the general public and all stakeholders ( CSOs, Bilateral and Multilateral partners ) concerted efforts should be in place to help in attaining the 10 per cent forest cover to arrest the negative effects of climate change via the practice of sustainable forest management.

Sustainable forest management and climate change mainstreaming are evolving processes and the parameters defining them change over time based on latest scientific knowledge and societies understanding of the concepts. Forest ecosystems are complex and influenced by numerous external factors; also different regions of the world require different sustainable strategies; therefore the criteria for sustainable forest management must constantly adapt to new circumstances, as well as social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual dimensions. Climate change mainstreaming is essential to address the serious effects of climate change which affect Man and the environments in the world mainly due to anthropogenic reasons.

Our hope of securing the environment while still benefiting from our forest resources therefore lies in formulating policies and strategies that are appropriate for our region and country and are socially acceptable so that communities are not disenfrinchised and our environment is not completely destroyed.

About the Author: Jacob Munoru is a Forest Management Expert working with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility project at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance

This article was first published on the Daily Nation

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is today holding a meeting on climate change resilience and adaptation in Embu County. 

The meeting that is being organized under the Trocaire-funded Community Resilience And Climate Change Adaptation project is geared at engaging stakeholders including policymakers to develop climate change policies that take Natural Resource Management into consideration.

The meetings come just a day after similar meetings were held in Kitui and Tharaka Nithi counties with a view of building community resilience to climate change.

PACJA, being the most knowledgeable African civil society coalition in the context of climate policy influence, is working with key stakeholders in Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kitui Counties to establish County “best fit’’ Climate Change policies in each the three Counties.

In implementing the project, PACJA’s role is to support community members and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups to participate in and have influence over decision-making processes on NRM, agricultural development and climate change adaptation at community and County levels, in particular policy-making, planning and budget allocation as well as support partners to influence County and national government departments to develop climate-sensitive policies, laws, plans and budgets that support community resilience and adaptive capacity.

PACJA further strives to provide technical support to government officials at the County level to develop policies, legislation, plans and budgets that support climate change adaptation, climate-sensitive resilience building and natural resource management.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is today (Monday) holding a workshop on climate change mainstreaming at Ngong Hills Hotel in Nairobi.

The meeting brings together key stakeholders – government representatives, civil society, academia and members of the private sector - to interrogate the state of affairs of climate change mainstreaming processes.

The workshop will look deeply into Kenya’s implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions and the efforts counties are making in the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient green development. 

This workshop is expected to facilitate relationships between the Civil Society Organisations and the new county governments in working towards Climate Change Governance at the county level.

The networks and recommendations developed will add to PACJA’s work of enhancing Climate Change Governance in Kenya.

The meeting has been convened under the project on Improving Civil Society Engagements in Mainstreaming Climate Change at National and county level sectorial policies and programmes that are currently being implemented by PACJA with funding support from Act Change Transform (ACT!). 

Through this project, being implemented both at the national level and in two counties, Baringo and Turkana, PACJA is working in collaboration with relevant government ministries including the Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources, Ministry of Water, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Energy, the Private sector, Academia and other civil society organisations from the national and county level.

Climate change mainstreaming is a process facilitated by institutions such as sectorial agencies, county/national governments and non-state actors.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is today (Friday) convening the Africa Regional Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Consultative Workshop on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

The workshop, which will be held at Sunland Hotel in the city, is aimed at facilitating the sharing of experiences and lessons learned from civil society organisations across Africa in the REDD+ Readiness processes.

The workshop was organised under an FCPF-funded project aimed at building the capacity of African Civil Society and Local Communities on REDD+ that is currently being implemented by PACJA.

The beneficiaries of the project are Southern CSO networks and organisations from the 18 FCPF eligible countries in Africa. PACJA, the CSOs Intermediary and implementing agency, is focusing national level activities on five countries namely: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Togo and Mozambique and Madagascar.

This unique convergence with policymakers among other stakeholders during the AU Summit will accord an opportunity to an array of actors drawn from diverse backgrounds – women, youth, indigenous peoples, and smallholder farmers – to interrogate the extent to which the Paris Agreement is capable of delivering a stabilized climate system in such a time frame as to avoid irreversible global warming and the implications of the Paris Agreement for Africa.

Debates on such mechanisms like REDD+ have not yet found adequate space in high-level policy processes in African countries, and this is one of the rare opportunities to create awareness to the policymakers and other stakeholders from across Africa.

The FCPF regional meeting will, therefore, in addition to knowledge exchange, be a platform to expand conversations and broaden partnerships around REDD+ readiness processes while at the same time contributing towards the Africa Union Summit agenda. 

You can download the meeting's concept note here.

Citizens of Africa have been urged to take advantage of investment opportunities that accompany climate action to earn some money and lift their people from poverty.
 
Secretary-General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda, has noted that the renewable energy revolution currently being witnessed in the world provides affordable access to energy to people who would otherwise not have access.
 
He noted that renewable energy has also aided in the reduction of emissions, thus contributing to the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ambitions of countries. 
 
“We are witnessing renewable energy revolution and in Africa and the rest of the world, this is an explosive sector,” observed Mithika. “We need to take advantage of the investment opportunities coming with climate action; there are a lot of resources in this to help address poverty”. 
 
At the COP21 climate talks which produced the Paris Agreement, the G7 committed to allocate US$10 billion into the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
 
Though there are concerns with delivering the promise, the Initiative, in its current design, will help cure chronic energy poverty by supporting decentralized, modern, off-grid and people-owned energy systems not only for lighting, but also cooking, driving smallholder agribusiness and charging mobile phones. 
 
Mithika added that green energy has helped save lives by reducing indoor pollution.
 
Fossil fuel vs. renewable energy economies
 
Mithika Mwenda was addressing an event on low-carbon and climate-resilient development, held on the sidelines of the 2018 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 
 
Most African countries do not contribute any significant amount of greenhouse gases but there are commitments in their NDCs to ensure that their development pathways are carbon neutral.
 
In a climate-constrained world, investment in fossil fuel-based energy sources no longer makes sense. 
 
But Africa faces the dilemma of whether to rapidly revert to renewable energy, have a mix of both fossil fuels and renewables, or ignore the global call and continue in the unsustainable model of development pursued by industrialized countries which brought the climate crisis.
 
What is evident, though, is the fact that the global community has shifted. 
 
This shift should make African countries re-think their priority energy sources and investment in oil and in some instances coal, as it may not make economic sense in the long-run. 
 
The Addis Ababa side-event, attended by climate actors from across the continent, is organized strategically to get African leaders to focus attention on climate change issues.
 
As the first Pan African convention after the COP23, the event offered an opportunity to exchange ideas and reflect on Africa’s victories during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, with a view of charting a collective path towards subsequent Global Dialogue processes on the subject.
 
“This gives us the platform to develop common African narratives that will have impact on the global stage,” said James Murombedzi, Officer-in-Charge of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
 
Moving along the development pathway
 
Climate change is no longer discussed as a limited environmental or scientific matter but as a development issue.
 
African civil society therefore looks forward to leaders moving from the rhetoric to taking real action on the ground.
 
“The momentum for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the NDCs is picking up, but the question is: are we moving with that pace in Africa?” queried Mithika.
 
Some countries on the continent have developed very effective policy and legal frameworks to facilitate the implementation in the areas of transparency, adaptation, loss and damage, among others.
 
But there are others stuck on bureaucracies to push the climate agenda forward.
 
“We need to think broader about what is the impact of climate change on development. What does it mean for agriculture? What does it mean for energy, for infrastructure? So we are really talking about development,” said Mithika.
 
He believes that the ClimDev-Africa programme can rally the African continent around in mobilizing action and “we need to ensure that critical centres that support the livelihoods of the African people and which are weather sensitive like agriculture are created”.
 
The Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) Programme is an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), established to create a solid foundation for Africa’s response to climate change.

Then Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has elected a new Continental Executive Board as the implementing organ of decisions and policies for the organization.

The elections were conducted during the Second Extra-Ordinary General Assembly meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 23, 2018.


Newly elected Chairperson of the Board, John Bonds Bideri, says building capacities of local CSOs remains crucial to PACJA to support grassroots initiatives to deal with climate vagaries.

“The most important thing is that the vulnerable people should have that protection at the global, continental and community levels in terms of responding to issues or challenges that affect them,” he stated.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has for almost a decade served as the largest advocacy platform for CSOs in Africa.

The activities of the Alliance resonates with the global call for action against climate change proclaimed by the United Nations, with a singular clarion call that no single individual, institution, country or region can single-handedly defeat the threats posed by the changing climate and the quest for achieving a sustainable development while leaving no one behind.

Secretary-General of the Organization, Mithika Mwenda, however, says the major concern is how to make the Paris Climate Agreement relevant to the vulnerable farmer who needs to irrigate his farm all year round to produce food and the community that gets displaced by flood anytime it rains.

“Having the Agreement is one thing and getting it implemented is another thing,” he said. “One of the things we’ve been trying to do is to push the governments to focus more on implementation because now we have a framework which is supposed to go on the ground”.

It is a shared opinion that Africa is not deficit in policy formulation. But getting the thoughts off paper to achieve set goals on the ground becomes problematic. Lack of finance for implementation is often cited as hindrance.

PACJA has been pushing the international community to provide sufficient funds for the implementation of provisions in the Paris Agreement, which includes each country’s NDCs, to ensure integration of climate change into the new paradigms of low-carbon development and climate resilience pathways.

“We are very optimistic, though it is not an easy thing to do. Africans and the global community have no choice; we have to act on climate change. We have frameworks in countries that if we build on, we can have very transformative economies,” said Mithika.



Building a stronger CSO Alliance

The adoption of the Paris Agreement left many stakeholders and countries unable to shift from the negotiation mode to implementation, including many civil society groups.

PACJA envisions a global environment free from the threat of climate change with sustainable development, equity and justice for all.

The Alliance acknowledges there is still more ground to cover around low-carbon, climate-resilient, green economy discourses.

African civil society organizations on climate change have been at the forefront in building momentum for vulnerable people on the continent and other developing economies to access climate justice.

 

The voices were high and loud going into the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) on Climate Change which produced the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015.

But these voices have gone down low after the talks.

Two years after Paris, most countries on the continent have slowed in climate action.

Sudanese scientist and climate activist, Dr. Shaddad Mauwa, has sat in meetings, shouted and held placards in demonstrations at the local, continental and global stages to clamour for climate justice.

He acknowledged that though African climate change actors – governments, parliamentarians, negotiators, civil society – are doing better than before, there seems to be a wall that has become difficult to break.

“There are many issues still not going in the line of what Africa will like to see,” he said.

For him, these issues include the commitment of developed economies to heed to the Paris Agreement in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lack of access to climate funds by developing countries and poor implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to be climate-resilient.

 

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance in conjunction with Oxfam will tomorrow (Wednesday) hold a side event on low-carbon climate-resilient development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, just five days before the 2018 African Union Summit is held in the same city.

The meeting that will bring together experts and members of civil societies from Africa will be policy dialogue forum with various sectoral or thematic segments that will broadly reflect on the COP23 outcomes and particularly interrogate whether the decisions of the African Union-Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) were captured in the final outcomes of the Bonn Conference.

The meeting will be organised into segments during which participants will discuss actions that could take the continent forward in matters climate justice and the upcoming COP in Poland in December this year.

The participants will further propose issues that could be discussed during subsequent consultations across the continent.

This policy dialogue will help set the agenda for future energy-driven discussions, particularly the upcoming global review of SDG7 to be held in February 2018 in Bangkok, as well as setting priorities for engagement with the 2018 AfDB annual meeting to be held in Busan, South Korea among other climate change processes.

In addition to the above, the meeting will discuss the Climate Change for Development Africa Conference (CCDA-VII) that is set to be held this year.

CCDA-VII brings together various stakeholders – governments, civil society, businesses and development partners to discuss issues to do with climate change and development of the continent.

Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Secretary General Mithika Mwenda has been elected vice chairman of the Institutional Collaboration Platform (ICP) of the Climate Research for Development (CR4D) in Africa.

The CR4D in Africa Platform is an Africa-led initiative that was launched to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs in support development planning in Africa.

It was the outcome of the African Climate Conference 2013 that was held in Arusha, Tanzania, which brought together more than 300 participants drawn from top African climate scientists, policymakers, climate service providers, and practitioners to discuss the state of African Climate science and existing gaps in climate knowledge.

Participants at the ACC-2013 recommended the establishment of an African Climate Research Agenda for Climate Services and Development in order to advance new frontiers of African climate research, focusing on four priority areas of Creation of co-designed multi-disciplinary research to improve forecast skills and reliability, Filling gaps in multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary data sets for sector-specific vulnerability and impacts assessments, Enhancing Africa’s scientific and institutional capacities and networks to undertake cutting edge user-drive climate research and Fostering effective collaboration and interactions among climate science, services, policy, and practice communities in order to improve mainstreaming of climate services in decision-making. 

The initiative is supported by partnership between African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), with the ACPC providing Secretariat services. 

 

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