Climate Change (118)

PROFILE

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Joseph Mithika Mwenda never expected to be named among the world's 100 most influential people in climate change policy this year.

Despite being the executive director of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a civil society organization that champions for a healthy earth, Mwenda never thought that he was on the same level with some of the prominent people in the world.

So when the announcement by Apolitical, a global network for governments came, last month, Mwenda’s name was among the 100nominated by hundreds of public servants from around the world, including experts at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Harvard University, Oxford University, Bloomberg Philanthropies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The list has people currently making the biggest impact on climate change policy including government ministers, academics, environmental activists and the church where Catholic’s Pope Francis is from.

The list recognizes include high-profile advocates whose work is indispensable to raising awareness and demanding change. Others are young rising stars who are making their mark in local communities and are a driving force behind governmental progress.

“I was in Ghana attending a climate change conference and when this announcement was done I didn’t have an iota of imagination that I could be in such a distinguished roll. I learnt of it in a peculiar way people were greeting me…congratulating me on the accomplishment. That’s when I learnt that I was in the same league with top celebrities, religious leaders and politicians in the world. It is still a humbling recognition,” Mwenda said.

Mwenda, who comes from Meru County said he has dedicated the last decade in building PACJA since a small group of people met at Johannesburg’s suburb of Sandton, South Africa in 2008 and expressed desire to have a unified platform on climate change and environment in Africa.

“It has been a fulfilling journey, a journey of ups and downs but we eventually arrived where we wanted. Am happy I have contributed, together with my colleagues and partners across the continent, the most formidable environmental movement in Africa. We most of more than 1000 organisations in 48 countries,” Mwenda said.

He said Kenya can be considered a first mover in matters climate change and a pacesetter in policies to address the scourge.

“It became the first country in Africa to enact the most comprehensive law on climate change, the Climate Change Act, 2016 which was signed by President Kenyatta in May 2016,” he said.  

Mwenda said the law puts in place a framework which defines actions to be undertaken by stakeholders to mainstream climate change in the entire political economy of the country.

“In addition, several Policies to mainstream the problem have been put in place, including the National Climate Change Action Plan 2018 – 2022. There is also the National Adaptation Plan, the National Green Economy Implementation Strategy, among others,” Mwenda said.

He revealed that he and PACJA have played a key role in helping the Kenya government draft climate change legislation.

“Together with some colleagues, we reached out to former Bureti MP Franklin Bett, in the 9th Parliament to come up with a Private member’s Bill on climate change, which evolved into the Climate Change Act, 2016. I can confidently say that this Law was mainly driven by civil society and MPs,” he said.

He observed that the Ministry of Environment which coordinates issues related to climate change was initially hesitant to participate in the discussions around the law, but could not resist the momentum built through the mobilization which followed.

“Though the ministry eventually took charge of the process, am happy that we catalyzed a process which gave Kenya accolades in international arena. I also acknowledge the effort by other former MPs such as Rachel Shebesh, Uasin Gishu Senator Prof Margret Kamar, former Emuhaya MP and Vihiga Governor Dr Wilbur Otichillo and North Horr Chachu Ganya for working with us to ensure the law received overwhelming support inParliament. It was not an easy journey, though. I remember many interests stood on the path against us, and that is why it took almost 10 years to achieve,” Mwenda said.  

But he acknowledged that it is one thing in signing and adopting international agreements like the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, and another thing altogether in implementing such Agreements.

“I want to be brutally honest: Kenya is very good in policies, including international ones, but very poor in implementation,” Mwenda said.

He observed that all countries have submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN body mandated to coordinate climate action, their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

“These are sets of actions all countries were required to undertake as their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The guidelines for the NDCs implementation were finally agreed during the annual conference of countries in Poland last year,” he said.

But the biggest challenge, he noted, for this ambitious effort is money required to undertake such actions.

“Kenya, for instance, has estimated that it will require around Sh40 trillion till 2030 to meet its obligations. Definitely it will require massive donor support, which may not be forthcoming. The World Leaders will be meeting on 23rd September this year in New York to discuss how to raise resources to support climate action in the world. The issue remains emotive, and it has divided the world on who should carry this burden,” Mwenda said.

He added that asany other African country, Kenya’s carbon footprint is very negligible compared to that of industrialized countries. As per the Paris Agreement, however, Kenya has committed to pursue a low-carbon, climate-resilient green economic development pathway. Through this, the government of Kenya will reduce its emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

“The challenge here is that massive resources which exceeds the ability of Kenya are required. I doubt whether the Donors will be able to provide all the trillions of money required to meet this ambition. That’s why creativity is required, including roping in the private sector as they are both culprits in pollution while at the same time they can provide solutions,” he said.

He called on African countries to strengthen their voice in international negotiations to ensure they get the best bargain for their people in decisions made at various levels, adding that they should resist fragmentation by interested parties who do not what to meet their obligations.

He also observed that during the “One Planet Summit” hosted by Presidents Uhuru Kenyattaand France’s Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the fourth Session of UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi last month, Uhuru committed himself to increase the forest cover to 10 per cent by 2022.

“A marshall plan is required to achieve this ambition, otherwise it will be another proclamation without action. Uhuru should go beyond the government to achieve his dream. The civil society, communities and private sector should be incentivized to become partners of this effort,” Mwenda said.

Acknowledging that communities are custodians of forests and their resources, any effort to preserve or protect forests which doesn’t involve communities will be a cropper.

“But this is the current scenario. In paper we have very interesting policies to manage our forests, but the reality on the ground paints a picture of periodic conflicts with communities as the Kenya Forest Service, which bothers more about trees than the people who live with these trees. We need people to have ownership and pride in their ecosystem,” he said.

He said the unpredictable weather patterns-long dry spells will remain with Kenyans for the foreseeable future, based on authoritative scientific evidence, particularly the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UPCC).

“Kenya should integrate climate change into all its development strategies, notably the Vision 2030, Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda, National Climate Change Action Plan 2018 – 2022. Counties are currently aligning their CIDPs with the National Policies. So much is going on, but much more need to be done,” Mwenda said.

Last year, Mwenda said, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) through the African Environmental Partnership Platform (AEPP) named PACJA as the top environmental policy organization in Africa.

“This was a personal achievement. In addition, I was elected to Chair the Institutional Collaboration Platform (ICP) of the Climate Research for Development in Africa (CR4D), spearheaded by African Union, World Meteorological Organisation, UN Economic Commission for Africa, among other Institutions. Such humbling call for duty is quite an achievement for me,” Mwenda said.

Mwenda is also the Southern Civil Society Observer to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank, and recently, joined a global committee for the “United for Climate Justice”, a mobilization initiative driven by both governments and CSOs to advance the narrative of climate justice during the UN Secretary General’s Summit in New York later in the year.

He was actively involved in pro-democracy and governance movement that was agitating for expanded democracy in his country, which engineered the promulgation of one of the most celebrated people-driven Constitutions in the world in 2010.

He studied in Moi University where he was a student leader, before joining Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for post-graduate studies in Public Policy Analysis. He is now pursuing his PhD with the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

In 2016, the influential Pan African Magazine, Le Afrique, named him among the top 50 African Intellectuals due to his contribution to climate policy discourses in the continent.
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Some of the powerful names on the list:
1.    Alexandria Ocasio - Cortez- Congresswoman, US Congress
2.    Pope Francis- Head, The Roman Catholic Church
3.    Saleemul Huq- Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development
4.    Xie Zhenhua- Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission, China
5.    Autumn Peltier- Clean Water Activist
6.    Jamie Margolin- Founder, Zero Hour
7.    Neeshad Shafi- Co- Founder, Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar
8.    Al Gore-Former Vice President, United States
9.    Bernie Sanders-Senator, US Congress
10.    Elizabeth May-Leader, Green Party of Canada
11.    Katharina Schulze- Politician, Alliance 90/The Greens party, Germany
12.    Mohammed Adjei Sowah- Mayor, City of Accra
13.    Sergio Bergman-Environment Minister, Argentina
14.    Gavin Schmidt-Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
15.    Gina McCarthy-Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
16.    James Hansen-Professor, Columbia University
17.    Johan Rockstrom- Professor, Stockholm University
18.    Naomi Oreskes- Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
19.    Michael Bloomberg-CEO, Bloomberg LP
20.    Patricia Espinosa- Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

 

OPINION

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) – As President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the 2019 Kenya’s State of the Nation Address, he failed to acknowledge a fact that some pastoralist communities were starving due to tough climatic conditions, and also he did not talk about any kind of future intervention to protect livestock in those counties.

Despite the little attention it gets, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) reports that the livestock sub-sector contributes over 30 percent of the farm-gate value of agricultural commodities, about 10 percent of the national GDP and at least 50 percent of the agricultural GDP, thereby employing about 50 percent of the total agricultural labour force.

Indeed, the Kenyan president has put food and nutrition security as part of the Big4 Agenda. However, this may not come to pass if nearly all the investment is to be directed to crop production without investing substantially in livestock, especially among pastoral communities who bear the brunt of climate change.

Livestock remains the main source of livelihoods for millions of residents in Arid and Semi Arid Land (Asal) communities. These communities feed the 6 million Nairobians with meat every day, whether at the household level or nyama choma in thousands of social joints sprawling across the city and its environs.

It therefore means that if the sub-sector was given just a little attention to make it climate smart, and to ensure proper control of emerging pests and diseases, then nobody will die of hunger within the pastoral communities, and the country will possibly earn billions every year from the export market.

There are a number of climate smart techniques, of which, if scaled up especially at the county level, then starvation in pastoral communities will become a thing of the past.

First, pastoralists need not to rare cattle, but instead, they should be producing cattle. However, this can only happen if county governments or private investors invested in feedlots or feed yard, which is a type of animal feeding operation that is used in intensive animal farming for finishing livestock, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter.

In feedlots, the animals are not given grass. They are fed on dry protein rich feeds often made of sunflower cakes, barley, soybeans, dried Lucerne grass among others, and water.

One acre feedlot for example, can accommodate up to 500 mature cattle, and all of them can be served by two or three people. With protein rich feeds, an animal that was received with say 200 Kilogrammes can easily double it to 400 or even 450 Kilogrammes in just 90 days, depending on its genetic make-up.

With this system, pastoralists can now concentrate on keeping animals that can produce calves to be sold to feedlots at an early stage for finishing instead of raring them, then losing them to drought thereafter. This will reduce the population of animals in the rangelands, thereby availing enough pastures for the remaining productive animals.

Botwana is one of the African countries that have tried this climate smart livestock keeping technique, and today, the country’s livestock production accounts for 80 percent of the agricultural sector’s output.

Kenya can do even better because we have 23 Asal counties, which constitute about 88 percent of the country’s land mass. These counties are predominantly pastoral with very limited or sometimes no crop farming.

Once such feedlot structures are in place, it will become easier for county governments to invest in improved genetics of fast maturing livestock for quick income generation.

Another way of doing it is by investment in conservational utilization of pastures, where rangelands and ranches are subdivided, to allow grazing in one area, while others regenerate.

As well, instead of waiting until it is too late, it is also possible to invest in commercial feeds to supplement pastures in the rangelands. Experts have always said that in case of droughts, intervention at the livestock level before they start dying is always cheaper than giving food aid to already malnourished population, whose animals are already dead.

So, when we talk of climate smart agriculture, we should also think of climate smart pastoralism.

 Isaiah Esipisu is the Continental Coordinator – PAMACC

ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Access to finance remains critical for vulnerable African countries to take climate action.

Ghana, for instance, requires $22.6billion in investments to implement climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

While countries are expected to commit national resources in undertaking climate mitigation and adaptation, overcoming the climate scourge will demand huge international support to efficiently implement the nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

The NDCs are efforts each country makes to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been established as a critical avenue to mobilize financial resources to address the challenge of climate change.

Activated in 2010, the GCF operates as the financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to support the efforts in developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change.

Support to developing countries is to facilitate limiting their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

So far, developed nations have pledged to provide a current target of $100billion by 2020.

The last UN Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, did not achieve new financial commitments but urged countries to deliver on their pledges.

According to Dr. Samson Samuel Ogallah, Solidaridad Network Senior Climate Specialist for Africa, until the pledges are converted to commitments and contributions, it cannot be said that resources have been attained for climate action.

“We’ve heard countries pledge big amounts but some of the pledges are never converted into contributions which become a challenge in the implementation of real action on the ground,” he observed.

The US, for instance, pledged $3billion but managed to convert $1.5billion during the Obama administration. The other part of the fund never materialized in the Trump administration.

Other contributed funds also go through bureaucracies and approval processes with a chunk of the Fund going into consultancy, and leaving a pittance for climate action on the grounds.

Concerned about the minimal civil society participation o in the design, implementation and evaluation of climate projects, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and Care International held a day’s workshop on the sidelines of the Africa Climate Week with a focus on sustainable financing for climate action.

Executive Director of PACJA, Mithika Mwenda, noted that “as representatives of the people and communities on the ground, civil society organizations are very important in any action on climate change, including finance. The Green Climate Fund must be people-driven, people-responsive fund which funds things that cannot be financed by the conventional banks like the World Bank”.

The Accra dialogue, involving 15 countries in Africa, acknowledged the proper and broader engagement of stakeholders in GCF processes can help most African countries develop fundable proposal which can enhance resilience of vulnerable communities and bring about paradigm shift in the entire process.

“The GCF is designed to address the needs of people at the local level, involving small holder farmers, pastoralist communities, labour movement, women and the youth,” Mithika noted.

He said PACJA is undertaking extensive training and outreach to demystify the Green Climate Fund as an instrument to support agriculture, transport and other economic activities.

But Funds available through the GCF and Global Environmental Facility (GEF), among other financial mechanisms, are currently inadequate to meet the global needs for climate solutions.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), African countries need $3trillion by 2030 to implement their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets.

Regional Principal Officer of AfDB, Dr. Olufunso Somorin, said 75percent of the amount will be leveraged from the private sector.

He therefore believes CSOs have a role in brokering increased engagement of the private sector in climate financing.

“The low resourcing of GCF is a concern,” he said. “Attracting private sector investment is a long-term solution”.

Long term engagement of CSO’s towards strengthening broader societal support for transformation and increase accountability of national authorities is critical to achieve GCF paradigms of low-emissions and climate-resilient economies and societies.



ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Civil society and indigenous forest communities have expressed concerns over the accelerating decline of forests in African countries, and called on drastic measures to reverse the trend.

Around 100 participants from 20 forest-dependent countries across Africa are meeting on the sidelines of the UN “African climate week” to share experiences and exchange ideas on various efforts spearheaded by governments to address deforestation and forest degradation, popularly known as REDD, in Africa.

Welcoming the participants to the meeting, the Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda decried the inertia in some governments, but appreciated innovative mechanisms that are being put in place to promote forest preservation.

He particularly pointed at the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a World Bank-funded mechanism to support forest programmes in support of the global call for action against climate change.

“It’s not enough to agree, sign and adopt the Paris Climate Agreement,” Mithika emphasised. “It is important to move beyond it and take action at local level, at communities we come from.”

“Climate Justice Movement is growing tremendously and we see how it is being energised by young people across the world,” he said, noting that this is the only way to bequeath a better planet to the next generation.

Mithika also expressed the desire of civil society to contribute at the Africa Climate Week and share perspectives on the climate solutions and how they impact on livelihoods and environment.

Joseph Ole Simel, the Executive Director of the indigenous organisation, Mainyoto Peoples Integrated Development organisation (MPIDO), which is co-hosting the meeting with PACJA, reiterated the strength in the collaboration among organisations and people sharing common heritage and challenges.

“The impact of climate change is affecting the vulnerable communities we represent here and thus we need to be very proactive as we cannot be spectators anymore,” he said, adding that indigenous people in Africa will continue with such collaborative efforts until their visibility and impact is assured.

“So far we are doing very well but I think we must do more,” he noted.

The workshop will facilitate regional exchange to encourage first-hand learning and sharing of experiences from civil society and forest dependent IPs engagement in REDD+ processes, and from the Capacity Building Project being implemented by PACJA and MPIDO

The meeting is part of the activities implemented by PACJA and MPIDO, which are intermediaries for the Pan African FCPF Capacity Building Program on REDD+ for CSOs and Forest-dependent IPs supported by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank.

The two-day meeting seeks to enhance linkages with national REDD+ processes, identify challenges and best practices in forest preservation in Africa.

It will also broaden conversation around the FCPF Capacity Building Program and broader REDD+ Readiness/ implementation processas well as strengthening the REDD+ community of practice among 18 FCPF Countries in Africa through.

Among the countries represented are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

In addition to civil society and indigenous groups, government representatives from some countries also attended the meeting.

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