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First International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa

PACJA joined other international climate champions to mark the first Agroecology Conference meant to transform agriculture and food systems in Africa.

There has been a growing interest in agro-ecology in recent years as an innovative and sustainable response to the challenges facing food and agriculture systems. Through a series of nine regional and international multi-stakeholder meetings, more than 2,100 participants from 170 countries came together in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to discuss the potential of agroecology to transform food and agriculture systems, as well as identify needs and priorities to scale up agroecology as a strategic approach to achieving Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There are less organic farmers than non-organic farmers, and it is more of a challenge to find reliable and steady suppliers of truly organic produce that can meet industry demands, the meeting agreed.

Agroecology isn’t just a single action, it’s a whole system, and has to be done as a system in order to reach a sustainable food production,” said Hans R Herren, a participant at the event.

Herren said climate and food security champions would be forced to appear as one voice if they want to achieve sustainable food production. He said Africa spends up to $32 million importing food while she has only 3 million farmers.

Malik Cane, a member from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said startups from developing countries were creating innovative solutions to improve ways of doing agriculture.

In her presentation at the event held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Sarah Olembo, a technical Expert on Sanitary and phytosanitary issues; food safety at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa mentioned that healthy soils, healthy water and healthy systems were the way to go. Sarah urged the participants to have pride in producing and supporting our own products.

Sarah saw it important to bring back the role of women in agriculture, saying women have to get down to work and learn new technology that can improve old-school agricultural practices.

Participants were encouraged to use social media as part of networking and sharing information on biodiversity.

Herren said humans had to be aware of the forces that try to stop the “journey of agro-ecology”.

It came as a shock to many once they heard that very soon famers might be charged to use rainwater on their farms.

In the country food safety and standards are regulated by a variety of laws, including the Public Health Act, Cap 242 and the Food Drug Chemical Substances Act, Cap 254.

As a way forward, it was noted that everyone needed to work towards demystifying the narrative that agroecology cannot serve the nation.

“We need to diversify opportunities in agro-ecology, and be the drivers of agro-ecology,” participants were told.

Experts and participants were urged to develop change that could be used to convince the rest of the world, especially Africa, to embrace agro-ecology.

Participants of the three-day event also agreed to be hosting a series of such conferences, but before that, people should spread the word on agroecology.

The experts said feedback from the ground would lay the agenda of the upcoming conferences.

 

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Chinese envoy denies his country’s involvement in controversial Lamu coal power project

The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya has sought to clear his country's name from the controversial coal-fuelled power plant in Lamu that has seen Civil Society groups and the coastal town’s residents protest in the streets.

Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng, while addressing representatives of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and some Kenyan Civil Society groups in the embassy in Nairobi today refuted claims that his country was involved in the construction of the plant in Lamu.

The meeting was a result of a petition delivered by PACJA at the embassy on a day they also held street protests in Nairobi, claiming that the coal project was not worth doing because it was going to leave Kenyans poorer and sicker due to the environmental and other degradations that were likely to come with such projects, including heightened green house gas emission.

A Supreme court National Environment Tribunal in Nairobi, cancelled the AMU Power license to construct the plant and asked the firm and the nation’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to do a new Environment Impact Assessment and engage the community more before a go-ahead fro the construction could be given. The Tribunal cited insufficient public participation.

AMU Power is one of the firms that were awarded a tender to construct the plant.

“Kenyan people have the final say on this project and the Chinese government respects that,” the Ambassador said.

He reiterated that his Government was not directly involved in the construction of the plant, as those contracted were businesses or companies from China looking for business opportunities.

“Chinese companies are here because Kenyan government invited them to invest here and do this project. We can only do what we are allowed to do, in consistence with the diplomatic principles at play,” said Wu.

A business director at Power China confirmed that despite having signed a contract more than three years ago, to construct the plant, work had not started on sight.

William Sharify, the businessman, said they would wait for a go-ahead from the Government.

Representing PACJA at the meeting were Charles Mwangi, Olivia Adhiambo and Khaduyu Michael, all who focus on clean energy at the CSO. “We must be cognisant of the fact that this project will come with negative effect on our land, the Lamu people’s economic mainstay, on the air and the ocean (Indian) and all the living things in it, as there will be massive pollution and of air and water, as well as the aquatic life,” said Ms Adhiambo, the Thematic Lead (Energy) at PACJA.

They called on the Government to invest more on clean and renewable energy as well as consider how the biodiversity would be affected if such a project as in the coastal Lamu County, which is a UNESCO-recognised historical area with more than 60 archipelagos and a lot of other resources that local residents have relied on.

The coal power project is expected to cost more than $1.9 billion.

The CSOs have urged the Government to cancel the project and save the country the debts that would also come with it, as well as strive to stick to the Paris Agreement that it is a signatory of.

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Yet another award for Kenyan Climate activist Mithika Mwenda

The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Executive Director Mithika Mwenda has been selected for the prestigious Sierra Club’s Earth Care Award 2019 for his unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation.

Sierra Club, an environmental organisation based in the United States, presents the Earth Care Award annually to honour individuals or organisations that make unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation.

Mr Mithika will be presented with the award for his climate justice activism through PACJA during a ceremony at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California on 14 September 2019.

“You were nominated for this award by the Sierra Club’s International Environmental Justice Team in recognition of your work with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA),” Ellen Davis, the Sierra Club Honors and Awards Committee chair, told Mithika in a congratulatory message.

Mithika told Journalists in Bonn, Germany, where he is attending a climate change conference that he was overjoyed by the nomination. “This is not a singular honour but the recognition of the work by thousands of PACJA members and partners in Africa and elsewhere who have sacrificed all what they have to ensure we reach this level,” he said, adding: “With profound humility, I accept this Award that will no doubt energise my resolve to continue fighting to accord voice to those at the frontline of climate crisis.”

 The prestigious award comes only months after Mithika was named one of the world’s top 100 most influential people on climate policy by Apolitical, a global network for government.

He beat professionals, world leaders, and other climate policy champions from recognised institutions to make it to the top 100 list.

Yesterday, several notable figures on matters climate and environment sent Mithika congratulatory messages.

Ambassador Seyni Nafo, the Spokesperson of the African Group of Negotiators to the UNFCCC, yesterday said: “This is so much well deserved and testimony for your commitment and sacrifice for the cause and for Africa.”

He added: “This does inspire all of us to increase our ambition and resolve for the cause as well as our people, so keep up the good work and flame and continue the fight very high as you have always done it!”

Augustine Njamnshi, the Coordinator of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) and who is also PACJA’s co-founder and Director of Political and Technical Affairs, was happy for Mithika. “This only confirms that others have been seeing what we have been doing as an organisation, especially what Mithika, as an individual, has been doing for the last couple of years since we created this organisation,” he said, adding: “But let’s say that as an organisation, and even at individual level, we don’t do this work to be recognised but for the sake of the people who are at the forefront of the climate crisis, so that they have space for participation in environmental issues on the continent.

James Murombedzi, Chief, UNECA Climate Change Unit and Coordinator of the Addis Ababa-based African Climate Policy Centre was equally happy for Mithika. He said: “Mr Mwenda has led PACJA into a movement that has become central to this interface between problem and solution, working at all levels from the community right up to the multilateral global levels to stimulate practical and policy innovations to address the myriad of environmental challenges that threaten the very existence of our planet in the way we know it. The Sierra award represents a very timely recognition of this effort”.

 

For Prof Seth Osafo, African Group of Negotiators Legal Advisor, it was a moment to reflect on a short past. “I have known Mithika for quite a few years now, and collaborating with him on climate change matters through PACJA, but also through meetings organized by the Economic Commission for Africa.

Tasneem Essop, the Interim Executive Director of the Climate Action Network International, said: “In the period that I have worked with Mithika and known him, he has been extremely dedicated, firstly by putting African voices into these international processes and also strengthening PACJA. So when anybody thinks about African civil society, you think about PACJA and you know Mithika has led… it is an award he deserves, and finally recognition given to the long, hard and dedicated work that Mithika and PACJA have put into ensuring that Africa’s voice is heard in these processes.”

About Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organisation in the United States, whose main aim is to amplify the power of its 3.5 million plus members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

 

Name: Mithika Mwenda

Organisation: Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)

Position: Executive Director

Award: Earth Care Award 2019

Awarded by: Sierra Club

To be received on: 14 September 2019

To be received at: Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California

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New Research exposes Systematic Fossil Fuel Industry Interference in Climate Change Negotiations

The Conflict of interest debate at the UN Climate talks has taken a new twist as new research from Climate Investigations Center (CIC) has exposed a long history of fossil fuel industry lobbyist interference in climate change negotiations.

The research, which is based on 25 years of meeting “Participants” documents published by the UNFCCC uncovers for the first time how many fossil fuel industry trade groups and industry lobbyists attended the climate talks going back to the first Conference of the Parties in 1995.

The research builds on CIC’s release of an archive of documents from the now-defunct Global Climate Coalition (GCC). The documents show new details on how the GCC targeted the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to undermine science and slow progress on climate policy.

The new research on meeting participants shows that once the GCC dissolved in 2001, the same corporations and sometimes the same people who were GCC members continued attending COP after COP until today.

“As the Global Climate Coalition documents show, corporate interference has not only been happening at the UNFCCC for decades, it has had a real impact on climate policy,” said SriramMadhusoodanan, Deputy Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability.

Madhusoodanan adds that the GCC used its access to derail policymaking and undermine climate science, and worked with Global North governments to advance its denier agenda. 

According to Madhusoodanan, many of the same individuals and corporations associated with the GCC are still active today, still freely able to stalk the halls and influence governments at the talks. 

“While their goal in 1995 was to derail the talks, now it’s to steer it toward false solutions that will allow their members—the fossil fuel industry—to continue business as usual,” alleges Madhusoodanan.

According to a tally of total number of delegates over the period 1995-2018, Trade Associations that count fossil fuel corporations as members have sent more than 6,400 delegates to the climate talks in the aforementioned period.

And Climate Investigations Centre Director, Kert Davies says the legacy of fossil fuel corporate impact on the UNFCCC process and the IPCC is both invisible and impossible to forget.

“Fossil fuel interests have tried from the very beginning to undermine and infiltrate this difficult global agreement to make sure that it failed or faltered at each step. As they win, the planet loses," says Davies.

And commenting on the findings, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Executive Director, MithikaMwenda said the fossil fuel industry’s thirst for profit threatens to ruin the opportunity for urgent, ambitious and just climate action.

“For decades, they are allowed to come to these talks and pretend to be on our side,” said Mwenda. “They use their money and influence to steer these talks in their favour, regardless of the impact it has on people…And while they lobby, global north countries and others to maintain the status quo, their thirst for profit threatens to ruin the opportunity we have for urgent, ambitious, just action and turn it in to yet another money-making scheme.”

Meanwhile, NdivileMokoenaof the Women for climate justice Southern Africa, lamented how the polluter influence is hurting small scale agriculture, which is predominantly done by women.

Mokoena said the big push for industrial and commercial agriculture was placing markets and profits over communities.

"Agricultural activities in Africa particularly in South Africa are threatened by climate impacts like floods, storms, droughts and heavy soils. Rural women play a major role in small-scale agricultural production and 70% of all food is produced by small scale farmers who use low input and low emission technologies. But, the industrial and commercial “Climate Smart Agriculture” places markets and profits over communities. This involvement of corporate actors with clearly conflicting commercial interests in these talks will fatally undermine the integrity, effectiveness and legitimacy of UNFCCC’s work in the field of agriculture and climate change," said Mokoena.

Others whospokeon the research findings include SouparnaLahiri on behalf of the Climate Justice Now constituency, Michael Charles, of the Navajo Nation and a member of the Indigenous Peoples' Organization, LorineAzoulai representing hundreds of thousands of youth at the UN and Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory.

 

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News)

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