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Put Human Rights Agenda at Centre of COP 26, Civil Societies Urge African Nations

Credit: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

Representatives of Africa-based civil society groups have called on governments and climate negotiators who have planned to attend the upcoming 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) to make human rights the centre of their deliberations.    

Officials of the over 20 organizations call on African governments to collaborate and unite as they negotiate on behalf of the people of God on the continent in the October 31 to November 12 Climate discussions in Glasgow, Scotland.  

“Put human rights at the centre of the climate agenda. The climate crisis will not be addressed without addressing human rights violations,” say the heads of the organizations that include Caritas Zambia and St. Martin De Porres Catholic Parish of Kumasi Archdiocese in Ghana.

They note that COVID-19 pandemic "has raised the stakes, especially for poor and developing countries in Africa that are already suffering the brunt of climate change and food insecurity.”

Because of the increased risk for the vulnerable people on the continent, the civil society leaders say “there is need for a holistic approach that addresses the economic, social, cultural, and political dimensions of climate change.”

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“Addressing human rights will also empower the most affected groups, including the youth and women,” they say. 

In the petition, the civil society officials call on government representatives at COP26 to heed the call of the people and demand "real solutions to address the climate crisis." 

They add that government leaders on the continent need to unite and coordinate among themselves for an expedited response to their demands. 

“We ask that African governments unite in their negotiations in COP26 and other platforms to demand increased funding for adaptation actions within climate change funding streams. Under the Green Climate Fund (GCF), climate financing and other funding portfolios favor mitigation actions over adaptation. It is one reason why African countries’ NDCs focus more on mitigation and less on adaptation,” they say. 

They recommend that the leadership of the African Union (AU) leads the coordination process.

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African governments “should demand urgent action from historically high emitters through increased funding, higher emissions reduction targets, and shorter time frames,” they say, and add that nations in the global North need to “fulfil their commitments towards emission reduction and climate finance urgently.”

“Prioritize local actions to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHCs) in the atmosphere. There is an urgent need to put protection, expansion, and restoration of our biodiversity at the centre of mitigation and adaptation strategy,” the representatives of the civil society organizations in Africa add.

Prioritizing sustainable mitigation strategies such as agroecology, renewable clean energy, and a circular economy, they say, “will mitigate climate change and put us on a more sustainable development pathway, boosting food security, health, well-being, and economic opportunities.”

The representatives note that “Agroecology is the most sustainable solution to the climate crisis. Yet, more attention is often given to so-called market solutions, technology, such as Bioenergy and Bioenergy for Carbon Capture with Storage (BECCS), and Climate insurance.” 

“African governments must unite in investing in agroecological transition domestically and demanding increased recognition and support for agroecology within UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), CFS (Climate Forecast System), GAFSP (Global Agriculture & Food Security Program), and other international fora as the best solution for the climate and food system crises,” they say. 

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The civil society leaders say they are "watching our governments and industrialized countries as they head for the COP26 in Glasgow.”