Lilongwe, Malawi, 27 April 2022: Africa has faced irreversible losses and damages associated with global climate change in areas including health, food and water security.
Discussions around this challenge is a pertinent feature of global talks leading to the eventual inclusion of Article 8 of the Paris Agreement in 2015 which deals with loss and damage associated with climate change. However, a lack of clarity regarding how this provision can translate to interventions at the national level is problematic.
According civil society participants at a conference on loss and damage holding in Lilongwe, Malawi, evidence, right policies and heightened war against corrupt practices are what Africa need if their clamour for compensation for loss and damage due to climate crisis is to bear fruit.
The climate justice conversations must now crystalize the climate debt agenda into tangible source of climate funds that can provide much needed resources for funding loss and damage component of climate response. Of course this does not negate the call for developed countries to cut on their level of emissions and grant to developing countries their fair share of the atmospheric space and rights.
Africa demands political commitment and action from the developed countries and through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for loss and damage to become a reality. However, participants noted that goodwill is lacking at the moment as loss and damage is not a priority for the UNFCCC.
“Developed economies have the capacity and the resources to help the world mitigate and adapt to climate change. But they are simply not doing enough,” said Dr Gordon Ojo, from Civil Society for Development Network, a PACJA platform in Nigeria.
Dr Thuita Thenya, University of Nairobi’s Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies said there is need to involve university data because they have different stories to tell.
This collaboration, he noted will not only empower academics appreciate the struggle the CSOs face while advocating at the global level, but will also generate needed evidence easily from the vast reservoir of knowledge held by these universities.
Climate change activists must seek for ways to ensure that all universities in Africa have a curricular on the subject as most sectors of the Africa’s economies are affected.
This will go a long way in helping the academies frame climate change issues appropriately within their respective disciplines to generate needed evidence but also eventually be helpful for the African people,” he said.
The diverse ecosystem of evidence that can be usefully explored and evidence from these sources collaborated to provide basis for loss and damage work and drawing from the academia, media, civil society, meteorological bodies and relevant government agencies was too noted. In this regard the role of state agencies in leading necessary evidence generation came into sharp focus.
Of course, for this to happen alongside other transformative actions governments in Africa must develop policies that favour their own citizens.
“As things stand, these policies are geared to please the private sector and this does not help in framing loss and damage,” noted Thomas Opande of WWF.
He encouraged that persons holding governments’ finance be part of the negotiation process to better frame how best loss and damage could be compensated.
Robert Muthami, a climate policy specialist from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, noted that, the reality on loss and damage in Africa and especially the pact on vulnerable communities can no longer wait for the prolonged negotiations on loss and damage. “The reality versus the slow pace of negotiations and a lack of commitment continues to exacerbate the crisis,” he said.
African stories around loss and damage are emotive, yet there is no progress on the negotiations. “The UNFCCC has for years been seen as the place for solutions on global climate policy for Africa but there is continued inertia from that end,” said Muthami.
The day closed on a high note with broad attempt to frame loss and damage agenda and provide a broad consensus on what African core demands on Loss and damage in UNFCCC process. The framing and core demands anchor climate justice consideration and the clammer for redeeming/ paying the historical climate debt. Equally, the team projected a work plan that will enhance effectiveness of communities and African CSOs engagement in COP27 process and anchored in national level actions.