By Friday Phiri
VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe - (PAMACC News) “It is not ethical for one sixth of humanity to go to bed hungry every night, whilst the rest celebrate huge appetite for consumable goods”, says Fatima Denton, Director for Special Initiatives Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
According to Dr. Denton who is also Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) told delegates during the official opening of the fifth conference on climate change and Development in Africa (CCDA) in Victoria falls Wednesday that time had come for Africa to stand and take up its place on the new world order.
The 5th CCDA is being held in the context of Africa’s preparedness to play a key role in the upcoming 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations for a climate deal to be hosted by France later in December.
“It is a new order that suggests that one of our most sacred capitals; our natural capital cannot be subjected to further reckless exploitation without a renewal process”, said Denton.
She added: “In Paris we demand that the sacred principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ be given a central place at the Paris negotiations.
Under the theme: ‘Africa Climate Change and Sustainable Development: What is at stake at Paris and beyond’, this year’s CCDA is a preparatory platform for Africa to have a unified voice at the COP 21.
While Africa is considered to contribute the least to carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, scientists have established that the continent is the most vulnerable to climate change effects due to its limited coping capacity.
It is for this reason that the African group of negotiators is seeking a deal that would be favorable to the continent’s development cause especially in the face of visible negative effects of climate change in form of re-current droughts and sometimes floods, worsening existing vulnerabilities across the natural resource dependent continent.
“Africa is keen to be a strong participant and contributor to a successful outcome in Paris. It knows that what gets done, or not, in Paris, may well seal the fate for millions of vulnerable groups. But, most of all, the message for this conference is about what can we do today to ensure that no one is left behind”, emphasised Denton.
And amplifying the importance of a fair climate deal for Africa, Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his country, just like other African countries are already facing recurrent droughts due to climate change.
“For Africa, climate change has massive consequences; the continent contributes the least to greenhouse gases but tends to be the most vulnerable to its consequences. This climate change is a threat to human survival in Africa”, said the Zimbabwean Vice President pointing out that Africa was already grappling with recurring droughts due to climate change.
And in concluding her remarks to the delegates, Dr. Denton agreed with the Vice President saying:
“Indeed, today is symbolised by a confident youth that is demanding a new and fair 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. The price of inaction is as grave as the recklessness of continuing to pollute the earth as we continue to condemn our women and children to a lifelong exercise of searching for food, fuel and water.”
As said by Denton, Africa’s stake at the COP 21 are high because climate risks are real while the opportunities for change and for designing a new climate business model are immense.