VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe 30 October 2015 (ClimDev-Africa) – Some 400 delegates who have been meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for the 5th annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) since Tuesday all have their eyes and attention now turned towards the Paris Climate talks which open in the French capital at the end of next month.
Dr. Fatima Denton, Director of the Special Initiatives Division and Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) set the tone on Tuesday when she had warned right at the opening session that Africa would have to remember Paris and COP 21 with the recognition that it took its best tools to the negotiation table; “that our arguments on energy and food security are strong enough to trigger a new global compact; and that we have provided a new rationale for why our economies and investment flows must align with a decarbonizing pathway.”
The urgent question for Africa, she suggested, “is to figure out how fast can we run to repair, to replenish, to respond to the critical cascading challenges that we witness; ranging from an alarming rate of degradation of our water resources, soils, food systems, land, trees and forests and even the air we breathe and the rainfall and temperatures that we rely on to sustain our crops and to provide surpluses and to secure longevity and good health.”
Beyond Paris, the issues that should preoccupy Africa, she continued, have to deal with what it can do for itself and, with others to locate itself at the centre of a new world order where it is able to act as the main purveyor of climate resilient development services.”.
“How can Africa process the bounteous natural resources that it has long enjoyed and open a new window for a service industry that will add value to its primary products?
“How can it change the current cycle of an agricultural system that is struggling to feed its people to a climate smart system of agriculture that rhymes with tradeable goods and new markets? , she interrogated.
She added that the time is right for “ideas, strategies, plans and action that will enable Africa to sever ties with energy poverty and to concretise a plan of action that will enable its children to rediscover the full meaning of President Obama’s “Power Africa” and to light up their future falling back on the continent’s rich energy reserves in geothermal, wind and biomass and translating the anecdotal energy potential into energy action.”
“Today is about a confident Africa, an Africa capable of giving new meaning to its growth story; able to use the argument on historical emissions to say to the rest of the world – you no longer have the license to emit on our behalf and we are prepared to invest in smart development by using our current atmospheric space to green our economies and to build climate resilient infrastructure” she explained.
Arguing that the price of inaction is as grave as the recklessness of continuing to pollute the earth, Dr. Denton said that “today is symbolised by a confident youth that is demanding a new treaty, not merely one that regulates global emissions, but a social contract that will hold current generations responsible, not for what they did, but especially for what they are not doing.”
She called for urgent and practical action to win the ecological fight, especially “since we have not fully exploited our rich endowments in natural resources, and have not managed to turn these goods into prosperous markets; to arrest the deforestation tide, and in so doing, we continue to condemn our women and children to a lifelong exercise of searching for food, fuel and water.”
Issued by ClimDev-Africa News Service