The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) on Friday, November 4, 2022, in Sharma El-Sheikh, Egypt, handed over its three-month long Climate Justice Torch campaign messages to the Egyptian Presidency of the 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Handing over the torch to the COP27 presidency, Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of PACJA, said the torch has been moving from country to country since being launched in Libreville, Gabon in August.
“In every country the Climate Justice Torch campaign has moved to, it has carried the message of hope from various African communities and the messages collected will be presented at COP27,” he said while handing over the Torch to Mr. Amr Essam, the COP27 Presidency responsible for Youth and Civil Society.
Mwenda said they gathered for the demonstration together with the youth to signify efforts by the current and future generations in tackling climate change.
“We have no Planet B. This planet belongs to all of us whether you come from the north, or from the south, whether you are young or you are old, whether you come from Africa or elsewhere. This torch is just illuminating, and we hope it’s going to spotlight on key African issues,” said Mwenda and several youth leaders from around Africa.
Tumal Orto Galdibe is one of the marchers. He is a pastoralist coming from the Marsabit County, Northern Kenya.
According to Galdibe, pastoralists in Kenya and the horn of Africa face unprecedented effects of climate change. “Pastoralists are losing their livestock and, with that, their livelihoods. We are suffering loss and damages for the mistakes that we never caused,” he said.
Mrs. Florence Kasule from Uganda said many years ago in her country they never faced the effects of climate change including drought and flooding. She said that now lives are being lost due to climate change and hence at this COP27, this needs to be addressed.
“We came here to raise our voices as mothers and parents representing the children, women, marginalised groups and the youth from East Africa so that it can be taken to people who are polluting so that they address climate finance and loss and damage,” she stated.
Abu Stephen Monday, the programme Manager of the Nigeria-based Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), informed the COP27 Presidency representative that West Africa has been under serious effects of climate change.
“West Africa is bleeding from the adverse effects of climate change as some parts of West Africa are hit by drought. Animals are dying. There is a growing insecurity resulting from ever decreasing resources available leading to clashes between herders and farmers,” said Stephen.
Stephen added that, in the recent weeks, flooding has become another problem for Nigeria where 21 states out of 36 are affected by floods. He said that flooding destroyed resources and businesses.
“We are calling for COP27 to deliver for Africa and if it is to deliver for Africa, then loss and damage should be taken as a critical issue. The issue of climate finance for adaptation should be taken as critical issue,” he demanded.
Speaking to marchers of the civil society, Essam stressed that COP27 is an opportunity for Africans.
“Africa should not stay forever a victim of climate injustice. This needs to be rectified and this message needs to be amplified. No one is in better place to say it than the African civil society. The African youth, the African vulnerable communities, pastoralists, farmers, African scientists, women whose climate change impact is becoming a reality – and how they live the life and how they make their livelihoods.”
He stressed that “the story of Africa and climate change should not always be a story of risks, diverse impacts of climate risks, catastrophes, cyclones, and lives and livelihoods that are being lost. Rather a story that Africa is of power of solutions and added that all that Africa needs is capacity development.
It is expected that, during COP27, issues of loss and damage, and climate finance will dominate discussions.
The Climate Justice Torch, an initiative of PACJA, has been used as a mobilisation campaign tool to raise interest among the African public and raise African voices towards a common position as the continent prepares to host the global climate change summit.
The Climate Justice Torch campaign has crisscrossed African nations beginning from Gabon, Senegal, Morocco, and DR Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Chad, Namibia, and Nigeria, among others.