Climate Justice for Africa A NEW AFRICA IS POSSIBLE

African Climate Justice Groups’ Statement on COVID-19 7 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the biggest global event in recent decades. The crisis is highlighting and exacerbating existing inequalities in the globalized neo-liberal and patriarchal socio-economic system. Already in many of our African countries the cascading impacts of isolation policies are developing into deep social and economic crises where the most vulnerable are and will again suffer the most. Our people are struggling with limited access to healthcare, loss of jobs and incomes, facing electricity and water cut-offs, difficulties in paying bills and even risk of eviction where rent can no longer be paid. Across Africa, a major food crisis may be looming as informal markets are shut down and livelihoods are being impacted.

In this moment of crisis, we, the undersigned African social movements, civil society organisations and allies, salute the workers of the world, nurses, doctors, and other health workers, in the markets and supermarkets, street cleaners, waste pickers and garbage collectors, domestic workers and care-takers, transporters, truck-drivers, food sector workers, peasants, food producers, those providing us energy and all those who have to work daily to feed their families, for the courageous work and the sacrifices they are making, to maintain all our lives as many of us remain at home, also doing our part to contain the virus.

Where the climate crisis meets the Covid-19 crisis – Africa and the world must forge a new trajectory

Unfortunately the climate crisis will not stop whilst the world focuses on dealing with the Covid-19 health crisis. Both are human-made crises rooted in the way our political and economic systems treat the Earth and her people, driven by the lust for profit. The climate crisis was already ravaging our continent and so many other parts of the world when the globe was plunged into the Covid-19 health pandemic. Southern Africa is still reeling from devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth of last year, facing debilitating climate impacts including droughts, floods, sea level rise, etc. The predicted rise in global temperatures for Africa is a foretelling of human, societal and ecological collapse.

Transnational corporations (TNCs) in collusion with African governments and other elites, operating with impunity and with disregard for people and planet, are among the main culprits in the current energy, climate, food, biodiversity and ecological crises. Their activities have impacted livelihoods of local communities by grabbing lands and capturing natural resources, including through carbon markets and other harmful false solutions, and have polluted our air, water, lands, bodies and communities. Most of the profits they generate is often illicitly transferred out of the region and makes it way into many tax havens around the world. However, as the price of crude oil dips below zero for the first time in history, we assert that the end of the age of extractivism, which harms people and the planet, is in sight. It is time to say goodbye to the dirty fossil fuel development and harmful industrial agriculture.

The current crisis has caused a temporary dip in carbon emissions and pollution due to stoppages or slow downs of some industries, but these are coming at the cost of jobs and livelihood strategies of Africans and others who have little or no safety nets. This is not a ‘just transition’ which we have been calling for, along with our friends in the trade union movement. We also see many governments removing or relaxing environmental regulations and procedures in order to desperately boost short-term investment, which will undoubtedly result in further environment degradation and biodiversity collapse, and deepening the cycle of crisis. However, the way that the air has cleaned up in some places in lockdown is a remarkable testament to just how unsustainable the ‘normal’ economy – and ‘normal’ development – is. The planet will thrive if we choose a different development pathway, young people will see a clear blue sky for the first time, millions of people with asthma will breathe easier as we are seeing now.

Structural adjustments, austerity measures, dismantling of the state and of public services, cuts to social services, privatization of essential services and indebtedness, have ensured that African states have the least amount of readiness to respond to such crises. This is rooted in the African colonial and post-colonial history and our relationship with neoliberal finance institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that have pushed large loans with high interest rates on the back of structural adjustment conditionalities. We must not allow these same practices to be our relationship with the New Development Bank or any institutions of the kind. All conditionalities on solidarity support and/or loans must be public as part of a new and open democracy.

No business as usual: What kind of Africa and world should emerge from this crisis?

The swift response of governments and other actors to the COVID-19 pandemic also lays bare the veritable global inaction in seriously addressing the climate crisis and other crises. The analysis is clear – dealing with the crisis is fundamentally about political will to unleash vast sums of resources and change to policies to address the crisis and to redirect all efforts to its containment and resolution.

We cannot go back to business as usual. We need to envision a different world, a different Africa, so that this moment can mark a turning point for our region and the world. The COVID 19 pandemic is showing that we need the solutions that we, as groups advancing climate justice across Africa, have urgently been pointing to. This is our hope. Going back to the current system of functioning cannot be an option. We need responses built on new forms of regionalism and solidarity for recovery and transition, and that are just and fair to all, especially the poor and most vulnerable. We commit ourselves and call on movements and civil society organisations across Africa and across the world to join us in the fight for a new world.

To endorse this statement, please sign on here

CALL FOR ACTION: Our demands for co-creating a new hope and just recovery for Africa and the world

Support essential services, food, water and healthcare system:

  • Provide protective equipment for all health workers and essential workers on the frontline, including waste pickers and garbage collectors, food workers, small-scale and subsistence food producers, etc.
  • Health systems across Africa need to be fully reviewed and overhauled, with free and accessible health services provided for all Africans as a human right. Africa must build up our own capacity to develop our own cures, produce medicines and equipment in our continent for our people, under public ownership, not private greed, with the principle of peoples sovereignty, so that we don’t need to import everything from outside.
  • Any vaccine that is being developed to combat COVID-19 must be free from patents and freely available to all people worldwide. Africans should not be used as guinea pigs to test any new proposed vaccines and tests should be transparently endorsed and conducted universally.
  • All African states should recognize peasant, small-scale and subsistence food producers as an essential sector in this crisis. All emergency measures implemented must be  guided by the United Nations Declaration on Peasant Rights (UNDROP).
  • African states should commit to prioritising the needs of water-stressed communities,  including rolling out water tankers, as access to water is essential to combat this virus.
  • Impose a moratorium on all evictions and on withholding of public services for the duration of the pandemic with priority given to the poor and most vulnerable families.
  • Low-carbon public transport must be developed locally and regionally across Africa, so that we are not reliant on expensive and polluting flights and private transport as we are currently.

Reorganise the economy, support and redistribute care work:

  • Recognise the injustice of the sexual division of labour and push for a redistribution and valuing of care work in sustaining life, which is currently largely done by women, in the home and also as the majority of healthcare workers.
  • Support local economies, especially local food systems for local food consumption.
  • Institute a universal and/or basic income grant to support livelihoods and families.

Stop all fossil fuel and extractive projects and preserve human rights:

  • All fossil fuel, extractive and industrial agriculture projects (especially genetic modification technologies) should be stopped during the Covid crisis and beyond, across all African countries no matter where the corporations are headquartered. Also public subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex should be stopped.
  • Democratically-led processes should review and provide resources to people and communities affected by such extractive projects, including workers in these sectors and companies should be made to rehabilitate damaged and polluted ecosystems.
  • Communities’ consent rights and their right to say no to harmful projects should be respected and given a democratic hearing. Governments should not flout laws and environmental regulations that ensure public participation, and other human rights.
  • Most importantly, African states must hold accountable those in power, especially the police and the military, and the rising cases of abuse and unjustifiable violence must stop immediately during this pandemic and afterwards. Independent bodies of inquiry and ombudspersons must be put in place to allow citizens to speak up freely and safely without human rights abuses. The violence must stop.

Stop austerity, Stop the debt crisis, Accept funding support as grants NOT loans, Recognition of climate debt

  • Funding to support the Covid response and recovery in African countries should be accepted as grants only, NOT loans, and should not have any structural adjustment type of conditionalities attached which would undoubtedly further weaken social services.
  • Austerity and structural adjustment measures should be halted and reversed, and there should be support for human rights, health, education and livelihoods for all Africans and all people.
  • All historical debt imposed by International Financial Institutions should be cancelled with immediate effect. These debts will only further cripple governments in responding to the Covid crisis.
  • Recognizing climate and ecological debt, owed by the Global North to Africa and the rest of the Global South, funding support to Africa should come under this banner that doesn’t worsen the debt crisis.
  • African states must take strong measures to remove corrupt officials and corruption networks that are politicizing support to vulnerable families during this pandemic, hindering responses and immorally using this crisis for increasing personal benefits.

Support a Just Recovery

  • Recovery packages must support the poorest and most vulnerable people first with absolutely no bailouts for large corporations. Bailouts should only go to workers affected by shutdowns.
  • Significant limits must be imposed on unchecked corporate power and accountability measures on them must be increased.
  • A holistic and just transition must be the recovery we should build. This includes analysis on the joint root causes of, and action on, the Covid-19 and climate crises, and how we respond to build resilience in society. Climate must be at the core of any rebuilding efforts.
  • We need political will to come out of this pandemic with an economy and society that supports and cares for people and the planet, we need a just transition and a just recovery.

As the climate crisis bears down on us, we are faced with a new health crisis, Covid-19, which brings with it its own as well as other multiplying threats to us all over the world, but especially in Africa. A few of us who identify as African social movements and allied civil society groups came together in the last few weeks to think through the impacts and implications of the crises upon us, and to build together our analysis and a call with an initial set of demands to our African governments and institutions.

We are now asking you to endorse this statement (download pdf) that was developed as a result of this convergence, which presents as an opportunity to unite our voices and strengthen the advocacy for climate justice during these difficult times.

To confirm your support please sign on to this statement using this link.

(no need to translate any organisational names) (this line should not appear in the Arabic)

The original link of the article

Initial Endorsers:

  1. Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES), Mauritius
  2. Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), Zimbabwe
  3. Friends of the Earth Africa
  4. GRAIN Africa
  5. groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)
  6. Health of Mother Earth Foundation
  7. Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique)
  8. Khelkom Fishers Association
  9. La Via Campesina Africa
  10. Lumiere Synergie pour le Developpement (LSD)
  11. Rural Women’s Assembly
  12. Save Lamu movement, Kenya
  13. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
  14. We Are The Solution movement
  15. WoMin African Alliance
  16. World March of Women

Updated List of Endorsers

African Organizational Endorsers

  2. Abibiman Foundation
  3. AbibiNsroma Foundation
  5. Actions en faveur de l’Homme et de la nature (AFHON) Côte d’Ivoire
  6. Advocates4Earth
  7. African Centre for Biodiversity
  8. African Climate Reality Project
  9. Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities
  10. Alternative Information and Development Centre
  11. Alternatives Durables pour le Développement (ADD)
  12. ANAD
  13. Association Nigérienne des Scouts de l’Environnement  (ANSEN)
  14. Association pour la défense des droits à l’eau et á l’assainissement
  15. Bongani ka Mthembu
  16. Botswana Climate Change Network
  17. NAPE Oil watch Uganda
  18. carrefour d’etudes et de recherches-action pour le d‚veloppement et la d‚mocratie
  19. Centre de Recherches et d’Appui pour les Alternatives de Développement – Océan Indien (CRAAD-OI)
  20. Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES), Mauritius
  21. Centre for Natural Resources Goveernance (CNRG), Zimbabwe
  22. Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento
  23. Chris Iorliam Gemanam
  24. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
  25. Coeur Vaillant – Mme Vaillante (CVAV)
  26. “Conf‚d‚ration paysanne du Congo, “”COPACO-PRP”” en sigle”
  27. “Conf‚d‚ration Paysanne du Congo-Principal Regroupement Paysan, COPACO-PRP”
  28. Development EDevelopment Education and Leadership Teams in Action
  29. Earthlife Africa Jhb
  30. Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
  31. Fassil Gebeyehu/African Biodiversity Network
  32. FENAB
  34. Fortress of Development for Africa – The Gambia
  35. Friends of the Earth Africa
  36. GRAIN Africa
  37. groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)
  38. Health of Mother Earth Foundation
  39. Institute for Economic Research on Innovation
  40. Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement C“te d’Ivoire
  41. Jeunes volontaires pour l’environnement en centrafrique
  42. Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique)
  43. Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre
  44. Khelkom Fishers Association
  45. La F‚d‚ration des AgroPasteurs de Diender (FAPD)
  46. La Via Campesina Africa
  47. Landless Peoples Movement
  48. Les Amis de la Terre-Togo
  49. Lumiere Synergie pour le Developpement (LSD)
  50. Réseau des Femmes pour les Deoits Environnementaux ( REFEDE MALI)”
  51. Maurice Ouma Odhiambo.          
  52. Jamaa Resource Initiatives
  53. Greenpeace Africa
  54. North African Food Sovereignty Network (NAFSN)
  55. ONG Opinion Claire
  56. Peoples Dialogue Southern Africa
  57. Plateforme de la Société Civile Nigérienne sur le Changement Climatique et le Développement Durable
  58. Pro-biodiversity Conservationists in Uganda (PROBICOU)
  59. Project 90 by 2030
  60. Réseau Déborah
  61. Reseau Musonet
  62. Rural Women Assembly
  63. SAFCEI Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute
  64. Save Lamu, Kenya
  65. South African Food Sovereignty Campaign
  66. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
  67. Southern Africa Movement of Mining Affected Communities
  68. Southern Africa Right To Say No Campaign
  69. Sustaining the Wild Coast SWC
  70. The Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre
  71. Train and travel Association
  72. Peace Point Development Foundation -PPDF
  73. We are the Solution movement
  74. Winpartners Gabon
  75. WoMin African Alliance
  76. World March of Women
  77. Worldview – The Gambia
  78. ZAAB

Organizational Endorsers outside Africa

  1. Centre for Environmental Justice
  2. Asia
  3. Japan
  4. ActionAid Australia
  5. Africa Climate Action Initiative
  6. Aitec
  7. “American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354”
  8. Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe -ATALC
  9. All India Union of Forest Working People AIUFWP”
  10. Asociación ambiental  Petón do Lobo
  11. Attac France
  12. Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association
  13. Both ENDS
  14. Bread for all
  15. CENSAT Amigos de la Tierra Colombia
  17. CESTA Amigos de la Tierra
  18. Climáximo
  19. COECOCEIBA-Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
  20. Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch
  21. Confédération paysanne
  22. Daraja Press
  23. Environics Trust
  24. ETC Group
  25. Family Farm Defenders
  26. FASE – Federation of Organs for Social and Educational Assistance
  28. Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Social – FMCJS
  29. Friends of the Earth International
  30. Friends of the Earth Malaysia
  31. Friends of the MST (US)
  32. Global Justice Now
  33. Grassroots International
  34. Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-FOE Philippines
  35. Mme Noura Fatchima Djibrilla
  36. Milieudefensie
  37. MiningWatch Canada
  38. Mouhamadou Farka Maiga
  39. Movimento do Centro contra a Exploração de Gás
  40. MultiWatch
  41. National Family Farm Coalition
  42. PAPDA
  43. Rainforest Action Group
  44. Rede de Mulheres Negras para Soberania e Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional
  45. REDES-Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay
  46. Retired Washington Biotechnology Action Council
  47. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) / Friends of the Earth Malaysia
  48. SOLdePaz.Pachakuti
  50. Third World Network
  51. Transnational Institute
  52. War on Want
  53. WhyHunger

Thank you to all those organizations and individuals who endorsed!

(This list is current as of Monday 18 May 2020, 10.30am CAT, but more sign ons are still being added!)