Leading world agricultural experts, scientists, value chain actors, farmers and policymakers arrive in Nairobi next week to chart the way forward on how to substantially and sustainably reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in the African continent. The PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) is an interested party in anything biodiversity because of their interconnectedness with climate change and all the issues around it.
PACJA representatives therefore attended a meeting today in Nairobi, for the Press and partners’ briefing on the conference that will also discuss the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and define strategies for increasing the uptake of agroecological programmes and initiatives at the 1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa.
The event will be hosted by the World Food Preservation Centre (WFPC), IFOAM Organics International (IFOAM) and Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) and their local and international partners.
The partners aim to facilitate the establishment of truly sustainable food and agriculture systems in Africa. The three-day conference, will take place at the Safari Park Hotel from June 18th to 21st, 2019. The official opening ceremony will take place on June 18th, 2019 from 8.30am – 1pm.
The theme is: “Reducing Synthetic Fertilizers and Pesticides by Scaling up Agroecology and Promoting Ecological Organic Trade.”
The other purpose of the conference is to facilitate the establishment of truly sustainable food and agriculture systems in Africa and sharing of the FAO Scaling up Agroecology Initiative for introduction in Eastern Africa. The conference will also showcase opportunities to scale up Ecological Organic domestic and regional trade in East Africa.
The Conference will bring together over 500 participants and 30 exhibitors from various countries who have a strong interest in the growth and development of the agroecological sector. These include policy makers, representatives from various Ministries and counties, leaders of civil society organisations, practitioners, development partners and the academia. Key value chain actors including local producers & smallholder farmers have also confirmed participation. Further, the Conference has confirmed attendance of internationally renowned high-profile speakers including; Dr Josefa Sacko (AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture), Prof Gilles Eric Seralini from France, Prof. Hans Herren from USA, Prof. Tyrone Hayes from USA, Dr. Judith Carmen from Australia, Prof Ratemo Michieka from Kenya, Dr Million Belay from Ethiopia and Dr Darcy Ogada from Kenya.
“We are humbled and honoured to host this important event which is coming at a time when there is a growing interest in agroecological initiatives because they are increasingly seen as part of an innovative and sustainable response to the challenges facing our food and agriculture systems,” Dr David Amudavi, Executive Director, Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT), said at the event.
“IFOAM is delighted to be partner in this conference. As global change agent for true sustainability in agriculture we aim for a board adoption of agroecological practices in line with the principles of organic agriculture. This conference sets out the important landmarks for transformation of agriculture so that it serves people and planet, instead of the chemical input industry, said Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director, IFOAM Organics International.
From a Kenya country perspective, this conference will provide an opportunity for learning and sharing of experiences amongst various actors in the sector with a view to stimulating, promoting and advocating for increased systematic achievements of the Big Four Agenda, especially Agenda 4 on food security.
The overall aim of the event is to facilitate the establishment of truly sustainable food and agriculture systems in the continent.
The media and partners’ briefing meeting was held at a Nairobi hotel today.
The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) joined Kenyans from all walks of life to protest Government’s plan to build a coal powered energy plant in Lamu.
PACJA was part of the Civil Society Organisations that braved the chilly morning in Nairobi, waving placards and banners with messages such as “Say NO to Coal”. While giving his speech at the peaceful demonstrations, PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda asked the Government to rethink its stand on the Lamu project and save the biodiversity. He told Kenyans to refuse the construction of the plant and instead push for safer and renewable energy.
The Coal plant, according to a report released by an American firm, if completed, is set to cost Kenya more than $9 billion. This is nearly thrice the amount used to construct the SGR that cost the taxpayer $3.6 billion. Most countries have abandoned coal-powered energy and opted for those with minimal carbon emission.
Some of the harmful effects of coal, as put by the protestors are increased greenhouse gas emissions, production of harmful toxin during burning. Some of the gases have been known to cause ailments like cancer and asthma. Other disadvantages of having a coal plant are environmental degradation, risk of mines collapsing on miners, displacement of communities, pollution of water bodies and soil as rain water mixes with toxic substances and get absorbed.
Coal is combustible, and the threat of fire is never too far away. The fact that it cannot be renewed is discouraging, as it easily becomes a stranded asset.
In his speech, Mr Mwenda said: “Coal, as one of the fossil fuel-based energy source, is enemy number one of any signatory to the Paris Agreement.”
“It would be pretentious of Kenya to sign the international agreement with one hand, and erase it with the other,” he added.
Charles Mwangi, the PACJA Thematic Lead for Resilient People Society and Economies said: “We have geothermal energy and we have not even exploited 10 per cent of it”.
The march began at Freedom Corner to Nyayo House, in the city centre, where the media were briefed. The message was directed at Kenya’s Energy minister Charles Keter.
The march was to extend to the Chinese Embassy, but protesters’ procession was disrupted midway by police officers at the Harlingum round about.
The CSOs vowed to return and complete their mission.
The Coal plant case is set to be heard on Thursday June 20th June 2019.
Today I stand here to express my solidarity with the Lamu community, and to pour my heart on the visible yet ignored disaster Kenya, as a country, is about to plunge into.
It has all to do with the Lamu Coal Project, which, apparently, slowly but surely, is turning into another source of the current government’s controversial investment choices.
The ability to generate more energy from to supplement our main source, hydropower, would be a plus for Kenya. Having sufficient energy would definitely spur the country’s economy. And we all want an economically stable Kenya, with sustainable energy so that more industries can be started and our jobless youth get employed.
Yet, even as we focus on the economic gains of whatever source of energy, we must not forget the importance of a sound ecology, as well as sustainability and affordability.
The intention to have a coal power plant in Lamu is both economically and ecologically disastrous.
Kenya is one of the 196 signatories to the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that vowed in 2015 to mitigate greenhouse gas emission, and transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient, green economic development pathways. Coal, as one of the fossil fuel-based energy source, is enemy number of any signatory to the Paris Agreement.
It would be pretentious of Kenya to sign the international agreement with one hand, and erase it with the other, turn a blind eye to the mess the country is about to be exposed to both economically and otherwise, despite knowing very well that coal is one of the highest emitters of carbon gas to the atmosphere, locally, and worldwide. Even if we were to go clean on coal, as some climate-denier countries and corporations want to convince us, we would not dodge carbon emission.
But why would Kenya commit to an international agreement only to return home to do the opposite? The purpose of being part of the Treaty was to contribute to the overall reduction in poisonous emission for the benefit of those at the frontline of the cimate crisis, including smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, forest communities in Kenya and world over, whose livelihoods have been turned upside down due to the climate-inspired weather events caused by unsustainable development choices.
The idea of having a three-unit, 981-megawatt (MW) coal power plant in Lamu for purposes of injecting to the national grid must be supported with facts, and the realities surrounding it laid bare.
Kenyans must not let a few individuals kill both our economy and ecology as they strive to get rich quick.
Already a report released by the American Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) paints a grim picture of the Lamu Project that is yet to start, expressly calling for its disbandment.
According to the report, the deal signed between the Kenyan Government and several local and international firms to play different roles in the acquisition of coal powered energy, is bound to sink the country deeper into debts of at least Sh900 million ($9 billion).
And whether Kenya gets the required energy from the Sh200 billion ($2 billion) plant or not, the nature of the contract has it that the country would be locked in a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) in which it would be the loser.
Coal sourced energy should always be cheaper than all other energy sources, not a rip-off. Not when Kenya is grappling with debts, both domestic and foreign, running into trillions of shillings, and corruption scandals hitting our headlines everyday.
But why put the country through all that trouble when many other countries are opting for cleaner and more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar? Kenya has a huge Geothermal, solar and wind supply that focusing on the same would be more sustainable than knowingly contributing to global warming through coal mining.
We must tell the people that renewability is a forgotten issue when it comes to coal powered energy, coal will be a stranded asset very soon, and that is not what we promised in the UNFCCC Agreement.
Kenyans and the Government must know that continuing with the Lamu Project would not only expose populations to more debts for a non-renewable source of energy, but also adversely negatively affect the fragile ecosystem of Lamu, a UNESCO Heritage site of immense importance to our tourism and local culture.
Good health for the people living nearest to the coal plant, and the many workers that would be involved, is not guaranteed, with dust and smoke causing several respiratory and other ailments, including asthma and cancer. And where does one dispose of the coal ash from the mines?
The possibility of having acid rain following mixture of rain water with gas emitted from the mines will mess our rivers and eventually the Indian Ocean and the more than 60 archipelagos Lamu boasts of, which would be dangerous for aquatic creatures, plants, humans and our tourism sector.
How does an economy grow when you kill its pillars like the people and their mainstay, which is fishing and tourism?
We must not forget that coal mining will introduce mercury and other harmful metal into our systems.
Who will help the poor people of Lamu and the Kenyans and foreigners that will be affected by the project if we do not talk?
Who will pay the debts the country is exposing us to if we do not stop this now.
I call upon the Government of Kenya to give this Lamu Project another look and face the reality. According to the IEEFA report, even the gains expected from the Lamu Project have been overtaken by events, and there will be no value for money if the Government insists on going on with it.
Action must be taken. The Lamu project must be stopped. We thank the investors, and particularly the African Development Bank, who have turned down the request from the Kenyan Government to fund this poisonous Project. We warn others, especially the Chinese, to read the signs of time and give up.
We have no other lives. Let’s save and protect lives.
The Lamu Coal is rendering the communities around and the county at large inhabitable, or just fall into a death trap.
Just stop it. Coal mining is not cool.
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) was established in December 1985 following a conference of African ministers of environment held in Cairo, Egypt. Its mandate is to provide advocacy for environmental protection in Africa; to ensure that basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner and to ensure that social and economic development is realised at all levels.
Regular sessions of AMCEN have been convened every second year since its inception. In addition, several special sessions have been convened in between regular sessions to consider specific issues of concern.
The Seventeenth Regular Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) will take place from 19th to 23rd August, 2019, in South Africa. The Conference will be held under the theme "Taking action for Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa". The meeting of the Senior Officials/Experts will take place from 19th to 21st August, 2019 and the Ministerial Session from 22 to 23 August, 2019.
PACJA’s participation in AMCEN
PACJA recognises this regional meeting as an opportunity to shape discussions on environmental sustainability, as it links to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and towards ensuring that decisions taken reflect the need of the African people as represented by CSOs. To this effect, PACJA will be spearheading a number of events both pre- and during AMCEN to meet its objective. The following are the key meetings that PACJA will be leading:
The Regional Multi-stakeholder consultations will be held from 17th to 18th August. The consultations aim to engage civil society organisations and other stakeholders to contribute effectively in the AMCEN conference.
The engagement of multi-stakeholder organisations in the Conference is based on:
- The need to reinforce the visibility and impact of the UN Environment Assembly in the context of the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global and regional levels, including the high-level political forum and the Regional Forums on Sustainable Development convened by the UN Regional Commissions.
- The need to harmonise the regional environmental agenda through AMCEN, with the global agenda through UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).
- The need to include Major Groups and Stakeholders (MGS) and non-state actors in decision-making processes and the implementation of AMCEN and UNEA decisions.
FCPF Africa Regional Workshop: African civil society and IPs are key stakeholders in the RCM and it is crucial that they are involved in order to contribute to a common African agenda through sharing experiences and giving recommendations on how to advance the regional environmental agenda, especially through REDD+.
The FCPF REDD+ project will hold a meeting prior to the AMCEN meeting in order to exchange knowledge and create a platform to expand conversations and broaden partnerships around REDD+ readiness processes while at the same time contributing towards the AMCEN agenda.
Participants will engage in a one day workshop on 19th August and then participate in the main AMCEN conference from 20th to 22nd August, 2019.
Expression of interest to participate in AMCEN
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