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Items filtered by date: March 2020

Dear Applicants, Colleagues and Friends,

Pleasant regards from Nairobi!

As you may be aware, the partner organisations, just like other citizens of the world, are severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most disproportionately affected however, are the people living in poverty and deprivation, not to mention that these groups are also the most vulnerable to the global climate crisis.

As this global public health emergency continues to evolve, the Global Committee of the Nairobi Summer School on Climate Justice held a meeting on 17 March 2020, and deeply reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation remains dire and unpredictable, the Committee is keen on safeguarding the health and safety of participants and facilitators.

Committee appreciates the interest that this Initiative has generated across the stakeholder groups. However, in the face of COVID-19, the Committee has resolved to postpone the Summer School to June/July 2021. We profoundly apologize for the inconveniences that this postponement may cause and we request for understanding from our applicants and partners.

On the other hand, however, all preparatory processes, including fundraising, outreach and communication among sub-committees, will continue. In addition, consultations among partners and the Committee are ongoing on how to organise countdown activities, including pre-workshops and forums. The Committee will continue to conduct periodic online conversations (teleconferences, webinars, etc) and we encourage our participants and partners to actively engage in these processes as we advance the notion of climate justice towards COP26 and the Summer School. We will convey to our stakeholders the outline of activities that will be conducted in due course.

This is a new phenomenon for all of us. It thus requires us to embrace creative and innovative approaches to our work, patience, solidarity, understanding and a higher degree of self-organisation. To this end, we encourage our valued stakeholders to limit in-person interactions and consider new communication models including virtual meetings to exchange views, while hoping for the best as we collectively confront the COVID-19 crisis.

Most importantly, all of us should safeguard our health and safety, and that of fellow citizens. Let us follow the instructions of our governments, health officials and other agencies as they race against time to contain the virus, just as we are doing with the climate crisis.

On behalf of the Global Committee
Mithika J. Mwenda

By Eugene Nforngwa
“Earth closed for repairs”.  Few jokes capture the existential crisis facing the planet right now, as the world shuts down city by city. Since it was first reported in China last December, Covid-19 has spread untamed and has quickly morphed into a global pandemic. This week, the number of infected people in all corners of the world was set to surpass half a million.  At least 21,000 have already died.

The numbers have been less dramatic but rising in Africa. Infection cases are around 600, with dozens of deaths. African governments expect the statistics to change rapidly, doubling and even tripling in a few weeks or days. And, they omit potentially thousands of infected people who have mingled in the public undetected. Past a certain threshold, public health experts expect the outbreak to spiral out of control and wreck an already perilous public health system.  “Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response,” the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti has cautioned.

In many ways, Covid-19 is one of the darkest moments in global public health. The outbreak is the forewarnings of a new world order; and a test for the collective grit of mankind to deal with an emergency of global scale.  For those of us in the climate justice community, it is a premonition of what a climate meltdown might look like. For decades, scientists and advocates have warned that climate change was fomenting an existential crisis likely to disrupt global politics and economies in unrecognisable ways. That future appears more imminent today than at any other time. Last year, the UN Environment warned that “we are on the brink of missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.” Unless the world changes course, a climate meltdown is inevitable, and Africa will suffer the hardest blow. Pathogens and diseases have been projected to emerge as the globe warms.

Covid-19 is making that more likely. The outbreak is serving as a climate change threat multiplier, exacerbating the drivers of vulnerability on the continent, particularly persistent poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, poor resource management, conflicts, and weak infrastructure to deep mistrust between states and citizens. The outbreak will wipe out at least 30 million jobs on the continent and push down growth in many countries by an average of 2-3%, as estimated by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which has also indicated that US$29 Billion has been wiped off Africa’s GDP for the past three weeks. On 23 March 2020, African ministers of finance warned that Covid-19 has placed additional strain on already underfunded efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the continent’s Agenda 2063 targets.

Africa is unprepared for the scale of investment that is needed to curb Covid-19 and cushion its consequences. Many governments around the continent are counting on trickling foreign aid. African finance ministers estimate that the continent needs a $100-billion economic stimulus to sustain its Covid-19 response, including the costs of lockdown measures. This is a far cry from the United States’ stimulus package of $2 trillion, an amount that has been described as the “largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history.” Michele Barry, the Director of the Centre for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, refers to Africa’s case as a ‘time bomb’.

The continent is in bad shape for many reasons. Globally, priorities have shifted, resources have been diverted and climate action has come to a standstill. When it is all over, Africa will be left far more incapable of recovering than the rest of the world, and even less capable than it currently is, to cope with the impacts of climate change or contribute its bit to mitigate global warming.

Decades of bad governance, marked by deep-seated corruption in many countries, capital flight and illegal resource-extraction, have also left the continent ad-libbed for the twin crises of Covid-19 and climate change. In 2019, the African Forum for Combating Corruption established that the African continent loses up to $50 billion “through corruption and illegal financial flows” every year. This is money that could have served in addressing the multiple drivers of vulnerability in Africa. African citizens have also showed extra-ordinary levels of recklessness.

Clearly Africa lacks the capacity to tackle a crisis of a Covid-19 magnitude because of its level of poverty, poor infrastructure, and inadequate social infrastructure like health facilities should the numbers rise beyond control of any country. Governments can attempt mitigating the situation by guaranteeing loans or asking lenders to loosen restrictions for borrowers as they absorb the Covid-19 shock. Tax reliefs would be another way to add money to citizens’ pockets while other taxes could be waived temporarily for investors. But the continent will need help, a lot of help, to do so.

Diana Warira

PACJA has convened a consultative forum from 5-6 March in Kampala, Uganda, with stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, to assess progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, the stakeholders are deliberating progress on SDGs 5, 8, 10, 13 and 17, that is: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; reduce inequality within and among countries; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development respectively.

The stakeholders, who include officials from government ministries involved in the implementation of the SDGs at national level, are taking stock of how they have created partnerships and worked with government policymakers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups to strengthen implementation of the SDGs. Engagements with communities have been geared towards creating awareness among citizens to enable them keep governments accountable.   

The Current Gap
These three East African countries have experienced relatively slow progress in the implementation of the SDGs in focus since countries adopted them in 2015, and this is attributed to: citizens’ poor understanding of the SDGs and therefore unable to hold their leaders to account; civil society groups being often excluded from the monitoring processes, such as the Voluntary National Review (VNR), especially in Tanzania and Uganda; and government line ministries and departments often working in silos, therefore resulting in a lot of uncoordinated efforts.

Expected Gains
Besides deliberating on the milestones, stakeholders will also share each country’s experiences in implementation of the SDGs; identify areas of synergy in order to move the SDGs implementation processes forward at country, regional and global level; and facilitate the evaluation of the project’s milestones so far, in order to allow planning for the next phase. This initiative is supported by GIZ.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has been recognised for its consistent fight for climate justice and ensuring sustainable environmental management.
The award presented by the African Union and the Sierra Leone government was received on behalf of the organisation by PACJA’s Tracy Sonny (PACJA Botswana) during the Women and Environment Forum and Launching of the African Women Innovators for Sustainable Environment in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 3, 2020.
The Launch of the Women Innovators for Sustainable Environment came at the end of a three-day event that also marked the official commemoration of the Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day on March 3.

The event was done in partnership with IOM, UNEP, WWF, AU, PACJA and the Sierra Leonese government.

The Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day event brought together several climate stakeholders. The launch of the African Women Innovators for Sustainable Environment network comes at a time women have seen the power of coordinated planning and working together for the common goal of ensuring sufficient protection of natural resources. The network is expected to offer women an opportunity to systematically and scientifically participate in the attainment of the sustainable development goals and their targets, as they relate to women and the environment.

The events that have seen us get to this point can be traced back to 2002, when the Africa Environment Day was designated by the then Organisation of the African Unity Council of Ministers in their meeting in Durban, South Africa.

This was based on the recognition of the numerous environmental challenges confronting the African continent, which over the years have been further aggravated by loss of biological diversity, climate change, desertification and increased pollution and inappropriate disposal of waste chemicals.
In January 2012, the African Union adopted a decision calling for the joint celebrations of the African Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day. The celebrations of the Wangari Maathai Day is in recognition of the work and life of the late Prof Wangari Maathai, a Kenyam environmentalist who dedicated her life to promoting environmental conservation and sustainable development in Africa. The day is celebrated in the form of speeches, symposia, drama, songs, tree planting and other environmental sensitisation activities, field visits and school competitions.

This year in Freetown, the Africa Environment and Wangari Mathaai Day was marked with the theme: Our Resources; Our Future.
The theme underlines the central role of natural resources as foundation for sustainable development in Africa. Statements were delivered by the African Union Commission and Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The main highlight of the day was a national symposium on the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, which drew speakers from various government agencies and partners. The symposium was meant to build and consolidate the momentum for increased political attention and determination for sustainable utilisation of the country’s natural resources for an inclusive socio-economic development.
The main target includes policy makers, general public, school children, women and youth group and media. Other highlights of the celebrations for 2020 will included a two-day women and Environment Forum and a Ministerial Forum on environment.

The Women and Environment Forum held from March 1 to March 2, 2020, was to raise awareness on sustainable environmental management among all stakeholders at national, regional and continental levels. It also aims to highlight the plights certain vulnerable groups, including women and minority groups with regards to access to and ownership over natural resources in order to promote sustainable management of the resources. To promote the nexus between gender and sustainable environmental management, a new dimension has been added to the celebrations.

For the past three years, the commemoration of the Africa Environment and Wangari Mathaai Day have been preceded by a two-day Women and Environment Forum. The objective of this forum was to raise awareness on strengthening women’s access to land and other natural resources to enhance their empowerment, increase agricultural productivity and sustainable management of natural resources. Women leaders in various fields were invited to make presentations on critical issues affecting women.
PACJA continues to capture every opportunity to improve environmental sustainability and prevent the masses in Africa from the ravages of the effects of the climate crisis.

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