Climate Change (144)

Press statement

It is now official: Chile will not host COP25. In a speech on Wednesday, President Sebastian Piñera blamed a fortnight of civil unrest for the 11th hour cancelation.

The fallouts that led to Chile’s withdrawal from hosting COP25 have been immediate. The UNFCCC is now in a frantic search for an alternative venue. Across the world, governments and other actors of the global climate change movement are grappling with logistical headaches. It is the first time a host has pulled the plugs on a major climate change gathering. In every sense, the organisational challenges that will beset the coming weeks will be huge, widespread and will leave long-terms consequences.

It also creates a leadership crisis. Chile plans to continue chairing COP25 despite not hosting the summit. If the UNFCCC eventually finds a new venue, as it would likely do, it would take exceptional leadership to coordinate between Chile, the new host and the UNFCCC Secretariat. Even then, COP25 would, at best, be cast in the shadow of the Chilean crisis and the consequences of its last-minute change of heart.

The cancellation of Santiago 2019 was to be expected. Chile’s ongoing political unrests are the worst in nearly two decades. Transport infrastructure has been severely damaged in Santiago and there are no signs that the security situation in the country will improve significantly to host thousands of delegates to the climate change summit. Even then, rumours of this eventuality began spreading during SB50 in Bonn, Germany last June . With little prevision, the chaos caused by the last-minute withdrawal could have been minimised.

President Piñera has demonstrated a lack of foresight in his management of the COP25 chairmanship. Only last week, he was still adamant that the country would host the climate summit, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Forum. Yet, it now appears no plans were made to deal with a damaged transport system in Santiago and the obvious logistical and security challenges of hosting thousands of people from around the world.

This will be a huge loss for Chile. The choice of Santiago to host the COP25 seemed sensible in many ways. Until the recent unrests, Chile was one of the most stable countries in Latin America. It was a significantly better option to Brazil, which had just elected a climate change-denier and fiercely right-wing President. Chile was preferred over Costa Rica on the assumption that it had a better capacity to deal with the huge logistical challenges that come with hosting a COP. In the end, it is these assumptions that have helped expose the precarity of Chilean politics.

We believe attention should now turn to President Piñera’s handling of the ongoing crisis and its fallouts. Respecting the rights of citizens is fundamental to our collective effort to address climate change and the range of intertwined challenges that now face humanity. We can no longer have governments that cannot assure the rights of its people at the helm of global climate change negotiations. Clearly, Chile cannot manage this magnitude of an event. Not now!

As an organisation that promotes just climate action, it is our view that the United Nations should now take the opportunity to thoroughly investigate claims of human rights abuses by Chile’s security forces since the protests over fare hikes started. Right now, the country seems to be falling from the cliff on all human development indicators.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (PAMACC News) – The United Nations envoy to Somalia today voiced his concern over the flooding affecting thousands of people mainly in the southern parts of the country, and highlighted the world body’s willingness to support efforts to provide aid to those affected.

“I am saddened by the heavy toll that the floods are taking on the people of Somalia, and deeply concerned about the situation of people who have lost homes and livelihoods,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan.

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to all injured and affected by the flooding,” he added. “The United Nations stands ready to work with Somalia’s federal and regional authorities to support affected communities.”

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and casualties have been reported. Farmland, infrastructure and roads have been destroyed, and livelihoods disrupted in some of the worst-hit areas.

Heavy seasonal rains triggered floods along the Juba and Shabelle rivers in Hirshabelle, Jubaland and South West states. Flash flooding was also reported in Benadir region, Jowhar in Hirshabelle, and Ceel Cade and Jamame in Jubaland.

“I want to thank the Government of Somalia for demonstrating leadership by setting up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate flood response with state authorities,” the UN envoy said.

“The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its humanitarian partners are working with the authorities to quickly deliver live-saving assistance to affected people,” Mr. Swan added. “The World Food Programme is deploying a helicopter dedicated to support humanitarian response efforts in Belet Weyne and other affected locations. I’m grateful to the UN Support Office in Somalia for the temporary use of helicopters to assist in carrying out search-and-rescue operations despite pressing operational demands.”


BAFOUSAM, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Heavy and persistent week long rains triggered deadly landslide on Tuesday 29 October in Bafoussam, West of Cameroon, killing over 50 persons.

Many more are believed to be still buried in the mud as search for more corpses continue, state authorities announced shortly after the sad incident.

"We can now confirm that over 50 lives have been lost in the incident and close to fifteen houses have been buried in mud," said Cameroon minister of territorial administration,Paul AtangaNji in a press briefing after visiting the site yesterday.

The minister said 80% of those killed are children between 6-15 years and women.

The landslide, which occurred at around 10.30 pm after over a week-long of heavy rains, caught the rural population in their sleep,said the governor of the West region, Away Gonna Augustine.

Major recovery efforts are ongoing in the area,government has announced.

Military and the local population say they are using shovel and local tool in their search .

"We fear using complex machines might hurt someone who could have been saved," said a military officer on the site.
Residents who survived the accident said they heard a loud noise while asleep and quickly rushed out

" I heard a loud bang and jumped out of bed only to discover part of the house has been covered with mud and two of my children trapped under. The rescue team that came in hours later managed to rescue the," said Divine Ngambou, survivor of the landslide.

The minister of territorial administration and that of urban development have issued orders for the population living on the flanks of the hilly area to evacuate.

Rains have been very heavy in most parts of Cameroon in the past few months causing flooding and destroying property,environment experts say.

"These prolonged rains are clear signs of climate change. This was not the case in the past.". said Epie Joseph head of meteorology in the ministry of environment..

Floods and landslides he said are triggered by climate abnormality.

Cameroon President Paul Biya has ordered for immediate financial assistance to be provided to the victims,while receiving treatment in the hospitals are getting it for free.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - “Disasters, particularly related to hydro-meteorological hazards, extreme climate and weather phenomena are increasing across Africa. On average, Africa suffers approximately two disasters per week, 8 deaths per day,” said African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ambassador Josefa Sacko, at the official opening ceremony of the Ministerial segment of the 3rd Ordinary session of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment.

By all standards, the figures are alarming, and a timely call to action for African experts on Agriculture, Rural economy, Water and Environment, who have this week been meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The key objective of the STC is to review the relevant strategic goals, linkages, progress and pitfalls,and their implications on the achievement of the continent’s set goals as set out in various strategic documents such as the Malabo Declaration; the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063.

The SCT, segmented in two parts; starts with technical work by experts followed a policy session attended by Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment.

Officially opening the meeting, AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ambassador Josefa Sacko underscored the importance of environmental sustainability as a cornerstone for promoting and ensuring food security in Africa.

“We have the honour and the arduous duty of promoting and ensuring food security and safety, climate change adaptation, resilience to disasters and droughts and environmental sustainability in Africa. Building resilience in arid and semi-arid regions of the continent and supporting land tenure reforms that specifically address the inherent challenges for women in particular are critical areas that we must address. It is also our mandate to assist Member States to rationally manage and utilize the vast natural resources of our continent ranging from fisheries, water, land, forests, wildlife and biodiversity,” said Ambassador Sacko.

Amid the climate crisis, building resilience is the buzz word globally. And for Africa, climate adaptation is not an option but a necessity due to the continent’s majority population’s dependence on natural resource sensitive sectors for livelihood.

“To ensure a coordinated and synergistic implementation of these programmes, we have developed a draft Strategy for the Division of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Management in line with AU Medium Term Plan to enhance resource mobilization and programme delivery. We are the flag bearer in the global environmental discussion, articulating African priorities and concerns and ensuring a fair deal for our continent especially in arena of climate change, biodiversity and desertification negotiations,” she added.

And to highlight the magnitude of the environmental challenge, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), reports that this year alone, over 45 million people across Africa, mostly in Eastern and Southern Africa, are food insecure due to prolonged droughts.

This came to light when the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) and the UNCCD announced a partnership to support the development of financial tools to help Africa to adapt and become resilient to future drought and other extreme weather events.
And the AUC is not leaving disaster risk reduction to chance. According to Commissioner Sacko, it is one of the priority agenda for the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture.

“Cognizant of this reality, plans are ongoing to establish a continental early warning and preparedness system at AUC as a way of improving analysis and early-warning capabilities of weak countries with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO),” she disclosed.

Ambassador Sacko further highlighted other initiatives with regards to sustainable environment and natural resources management, which include the Great Green Wall Initiative, the Sharm El-Sheik Commitments on Water and sanitation, forestry and wildlife strategies as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures including the African Regional Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Global Frame for Climate Services and the AMCOMET Strategy on Meteorology.

On the Agricultural front, the Commissioner gave progress review on the implementation of decisions and recommendations from the last STC in 2017, as well as highlighting programmes and initiatives, the most recent being the launch of the Campaign to ‘Retire the Hand held Hoe to the Museum,’ through promoting Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation in Africa (SAMA).

Following a request by the last STC, “We had worked assiduously with FAO, member states and several other stakeholders to develop the Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in Africa (SAMA). This document that has ten priority elements was launched at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy in October 2018,” she said. “Efforts are now being made to disseminate this document and assist African countries to develop their sustainable mechanization strategies drawing from this Framework.”

And Chairperson of the STC and Minister of Agriculture of Burkina Faso, SalifouOuedraogo, highlighted the need for member states to operationalize the SAMA and support the continent’s zero hunger agenda.

Overall, the projected population growth which is set to hit 2.4 billion by 2050, is set to bring along an added task of doubling production to meet increasing food demand, coupled with rapid urbanization and changing food systems.  

Therefore, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which calls for enhanced agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all, still remains key in the realisation of Agenda 2063.

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