The curtain comes down on COP 17, we bow out!

The curtain comes down on COP 17, we bow out!

Date: March 3, 2013
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As the curtain comes down on COP 17 today, 9 December 2011, the various players who came to deliberate on how best to assist in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts will be heading back home to the four corners of the world. Faith based organisations, mineworkers, rural women, economic justice activists, scientists, journalists, economists, researchers, and youth, among other players, attended the conference. It’s now time to bow out!

It’s been 14 days of mixed actions, feelings and speculations for me. Truthfully, I came to COP 17 with minimal information about climate change and the extent of the problem. Being at COP 17 has been a great experience; now armed with facts and figures, and a better understanding of the human impact, I feel confident to speak about the subject.

I am inspired by the many environmental activists from across the globe who are working hard to remind everybody that they have a role to play in safeguarding a future for the next generation. The discussions have had a profound impact on me as a person. I have learnt how I contribute to climate change, and I now understand the part that I, like everyone else on the planet, has to play.

On 3 December, I participated in the biggest march I have ever seen in my whole life. And as a gender activist, I have seen plenty! I joined the many people who are demanding that corporations, industries and mines take responsibility for prioritising economic interests over human life. As a woman, I marched to remind world leaders and other stakeholders that there cannot be climate justice without gender justice. Women are already paying the price for climate change and thus all policies, strategies and other interventions should acknowledge and address this problem.

However, after everything has been said and done, what do I expect at the end of the conference today?
There definitely has to be a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, legally binding for global greenhouse emitters. It is imperative to drastically reduce carbon emissions and there must be agreement on the much talked about green climate fund (GCF). The fund is a financial mechanism aimed at supporting projects, programmes, and policies related to mitigation, adaptation and technology development and transfer. There is a simple equation for why this fund should take off – promises plus money equals action; no money no action!

Durban should reach this decision of how much the developed countries are pledging towards the US100 dollars needed for it to take off. The women and men of Africa need this fund for mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) has put out a call for a Durban agreed outcome that considers gender. Regarding the green climate fund, WEDO recommends for COP 17 negotiating documents “promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender sensitive approach.” In addition, there should be gender balance in the selection of Board member and the Secretariat.

The future of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international environmental treaty signed in 1992, needs mapping out. When it was originally agreed, the objective of the treaty was to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. However, more needs to be done in this regard if the treaty should remain useful and applicable to the problems the world is facing now. In fact, there is need to ensure that there are increased commitments on carbon emissions which are also time bound with targets.

As we all bow out from the world stage, all participants, as well as those who were following the proceedings of COP 17 at home, should make a commitment to fight climate change. They also have a role to play in imparting information on how to care for the environment to the grassroots. There should be a shared understanding that we all have to work together and that the creator wants us to protect the world that he crafted for human kind.

The decision by Heads of States on what we all want out of Durban is something that we are all looking forward to. Should all parties agree, it would be fitting to end the conference by singing Michael Jackson’s “Heal the world”. We have damaged the earth and it is time to heal it. If Durban does not yield the expected result, our leaders will have failed the many women and men who are out there and do not understand why there are consecutive droughts in the Horn of Africa and the youth who do not want to inherit a depleted world.

Wanjira Mathai, the daughter of Wangari Maathai shared with us at Wangari Maathai’s memorial that her mother loved the song “This little light of mine.” All of us need to let that little light shine in our little spaces. These little efforts will connect one day and whoa, we will all have secured a better future for the next generation. The time is now!

Saeanna Chingamuka is the Gender and Media Diversity Centre Manager at Gender Links and has been leading a team of journalists to cover COP 17 in Durban. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service and African Woman and Child Feature Service special series for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence and COP 17 Conference.


0 thoughts on “The curtain comes down on COP 17, we bow out!”

kgala says:

I also believe that should the Heads of state not agree on issue, this will spell serious repercussionss for future generations.

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