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School on Climate Justice launched to train, build Africa climate activism capacities

While Kenya is aware of its responsibility to her citizens and has decided to pursue industrialisation, the government is however aware of her responsibility to climate justice, Dr Pacifica Ogola, Director of Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment, said while opening the Nairobi Summer School on Climate Justice on Monday, August 30, 2021.

Nairobi Summer School on Climate Justice
Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director, PACJA, speaking at the opening of the Nairobi Summer School on Climate Justice

Dr Ogola said Kenya knows the benefits of industrialisation but also noted that a move towards a net zero carbon emission to lower greenhouse effects will be done without undermining the human rights on job provision and development.

“The government is fully involved in discussions around Just transition,” she said.

Indeed, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) appears to have stepped up its long-term ambition of changing the narrative around climate change impacts in Africa by launching the first ever School on Climate Justice. The Summer School on Climate Justice aims to build the capacities of a critical mass of actors from a variety of fields including grassroot voices.

Speaking on Summer School on Climate Justice, Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director, PACJA, said the Summer School is a platform to usher voices from the grassroot communities to the international arena where they have missed being heard.

“Climate justice is no longer an abstract concept: it is now a global public agenda. However, voices from the Global South and Africa in particular, where climate injustices prevail, remain inaudible in global discussions,” said Mwenda.

He added that, by initiating a School on Climate Justice, PACJA is trying to correct an existing anomaly.

“As it is now, academics and philanthropists from the Global North generally shape the narratives and debates on climate justice with limited presence and representation of Global South. Most importantly, the voices of frontline communities, who bear the devastating impacts of climate change, continue to miss out from climate justice debates. This is what we want changed,” said Mwenda.

Sylvia Wachira, Coordinator of the Summer School, noted that while there are many efforts by academics, advocacy groups and other non-state actors who advance research, scholarship and mobilisation on Environmental and Climate Justice, such interventions, however, are yet to take off in the Global South, particularly the continent of Africa, in a systematic and sustained way.

“There are also concerns that the content of programmes developed for university courses in the Global North does not adequately represent the contexts and challenges of frontline communities. These programmes do not successfully blend the contexts and concerns of indigenous communities, smallholder farmers, fisher folk, women and youth, among others, who constitute the majority of people affected by the collective failures to act decisively on climate change,” she added.

The Summer School will address this challenge by developing a curriculum suited to these contexts and for enhancing advocacy on climate justice by younger activists. Specifically, the summer school will develop a trans-disciplinary curriculum for climate justice in the Global South.

So far, more than 700 participants will take part in this pilot inaugural school, chosen from thousands of applicants from around the world who had expressed interest. The School will hold in a hybrid format, with a virtual attendance and physical attendance.

The School has attracted support from the Sweden, and Dutch Governments besides collaborations from a number of universities in Africa and the West.

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