Founded in 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has emerged as the most vibrant and largest Civil Society platform in climate change and sustainable development, with a membership of over 1,000 organizations and networks.
The journey started when a group of CSOs came together at a workshop and were concerned by the complete absence of the African civil society voice in the international climate change dialogue processes. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and Oxfam International organized the workshop to facilitate dialogue among African Civil Society Organizations to explore ways of working together to create an impact on the post-2012 discussions on Climate change. This journey towards a unified African civil society, was the subsequent birth of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.
At the sidelines of the 12th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Johannesburg, an opportunity emerged for the African Civil Society to engage with key policy makers in their governments. After the workshop, participants joined delegates at the AMCEN conference with a unified agenda and recognition of the need to proactively engage key policy makers on climate change.
PACJA spearheaded the African Civil Society meetings at the sidelines of subsequent AMCEN consultations, thus making it a regular component of every process guided by these important environmental stakeholder in Africa.
At the first substantive and properly constituted meeting for climate change in Africa, with representatives from all sub-regions and sectors, a proposal by a section of participants to name the network was deferred through consensus to allow Civil Society Organizations present to consult, bond together and engage more actors in the process. Participants felt that an effective civil society network could only be possible through a genuinely consultative and all-inclusive process, which cultivates the ownership of communities.
On August 19-20, 2008, another meeting for the African CSOs working on climate change and sustainable development was facilitated by a coalition of international Non-governmental Organizations, genuinely concerned about the low level of African CSOs participation in the UNFCCC process.
The coalition – an association of 17 Development and Humanitarian Aid Organizations in Europe related to the World Council of Churches known as APRODEV, brought together Christian Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, Diakonia and Finn Church Aid among others, worked with the small team elected in Johannesburg to broaden the participation and ensure that elements lacking in the previous consultation meeting were included.
The African Civil Society Climate Justice Strategy Meeting – organized on the sidelines of the Accra UNFCCC Climate change talks, not only endorsed the South African initiative, but also moved further to finish part of the unaccomplished business initiated in Johannesburg by unanimously declaring the name of the network as the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). Cognizant of the task ahead and the flight of time on the countdown to Copenhagen, the participants agreed on a plan of action that would eventually ensure that African civil society was effectively facilitated to actively participate in the Bali Roadmap. The five-member Steering Committee established in Johannesburg was expanded to address the gaping gender and regional inequality and accorded the mandate to implement the Post Accra Climate Action Plan for the Bali Roadmap.
PACJA brings together Faith-based Organizations, Community-based organizations, Non-Governmental organizations, Trusts, Foundations, Farmers and Pastoralist Groups into the alliance.