Durban to Rio could be our Road to Damascus
- Jay Naidoo
- 06 Dec 2011 07:01 (South Africa)
Walking among the throngs at the People’s March for the Environment on Saturday, I realised although we were high spirited, we had failed to capture the scale of the human catastrophe of climate change. We had not mobilised as we had done in the struggle against apartheid, nor connected the issue of climate justice to lives.
I felt the despair and the disempowerment. Many had travelled from far. The caravan of Hope from Burundi, the peasant farmers from India and Latin America, indigenous people who bear the brunt of climate change.
I am now convinced we cannot place all our hopes and those of our children on the current negotiations. They are not designed to bring the changes that will benefit humanity. They have become elitist. Unfortunately many governments cannot be trusted. The Arab Spring and Occupy movements and the rising tide of restlessness in the world demonstrate that people are losing confidence and trust in public and private institutions. They feel disconnected even from civil society organisations.
So what is to be done? What is our theory of change?
Firstly, non-state players have to abandon their fixation with turf. I have been in meetings of international NGO's where I see the same level of petty politics we see inside the UN negotiations and governments. Certain leaders and organisations act as “gatekeepers” constructing an industry around poverty. Their obsession with “brand” and the belief that they alone represent the aspirations of the poor means that they can never mobilise people. They have to learn to work together, to build joint campaigns and a shared vision of the future.
The labour movement as the single largest organised movement in the world has to bring its negotiating skills to this partnership. We need a negotiating agenda that is not a wish list, but a focused set of demands that we must take back to the villages and the cities, the factories and farms and beyond the Earth Summit in Rio.
Secondly, we need a different negotiations process. Our negotiators cannot see the trees for the jungles. Left alone it will result in the type of intellectual hyperbole that has bogged down the Doha Round of development talks on agriculture and food security. We need civil society sitting at the main table. We need a focus on solutions.
Thirdly, there are green solutions that are proven effective, but lack the real investment to make them commercially sustainable. This is where public investment is critical to take the first risk to invest.
I look back on the growth of mobile telephony and see similarities. Very few visionaries foresaw the growth of mobile.
I see civil society wanting to exclude this type of entrepreneurship from the equation to build a green economy. Working together with the private sector, we can create the marketplace for green energy in which private and social entrepreneurs can thrive. We should be united behind the demand for new investment in the green economy. Our demand for a Green Climate Fund must be linked to the promotion of small-scale entrepreneurial solutions at a grassroots level. We should be mobilising around the demand for a financial transaction tax?
Fourthly, we need to build the momentum so that Durban will not be the graveyard of climate talks. The strongest allies of the SA government is civil society. We cannot be accountable for the failure of COP17. Only citizens have the power to place electoral pressure on their governments.
The SA government needs to do more to mobilise the African lobby. The failure of these talks have huge consequences for Africa. Our continent has paid heavily for the climate changes that have wrought devastation across places like the Horn of Africa. President Jacob Zuma must now lead the charge. We are being set up to fail and the rich countries can walk away saying we did not provide the decisive leadership needed.
We need to exercise the power we have as part of BRICS. This is an exclusive club that should share a common vision that reinforces our shared interest. Now is the time to call in our favours.
Our allies in small island states, countries with low-lying coastal areas such as Bangladesh, as well the least-developed economies which need to be consolidated to take a strong stand and hold to account the disrupters. They must have no room to manoeuvre. Global blame must be laid directly at the door of the grinch that steals our hopes.
Lastly, Brazil has a deep interest in resolving issues in Durban – or it will inherit a disaster for the Rio Earth Summit. We need to work closely to ensure that the key issues are in the DNA of the climate negotiations. Undoubtedly we cannot leave Durban without an accord on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and a simultaneous track on a long-term agreement to replace Kyoto. We need an “operationalisation” of the Green Climate Fund which provides funding through the financial transaction tax to pay for mitigating the damage we face, especially in Africa. Simultaneously we need to insist that African institutions like the African Development Bank are the conduit for funds that benefit and create African enterprises and capability.
Ultimately the vision of COP17 has to be the challenge of eradicating poverty and inequality: to ensure we comprehensively build a process to ensure viable agriculture in a way that addresses household food and nutrition security and promotes women's empowerment, leadership and incomes.
That should be our political narrative on the road to Rio. We need an integrated process that ensures governments are responsive to the interests of the people above the interests of dirty industry lobbies.
This is the time for a revolution in our thinking. Let us throw the deadwood of dogma out of the window. Dogma will not answer the desperate questions of mothers who see they children starving to death in the villages of northern Kenya, the refugee camps of Somalia, the desperate voices of children whose tearless eyes cry for hope in villages of Bangladesh and India.
Let us be bold. We need credible, powerful leaders with a track record to unite the strands of restlessness we see in our world as it hurtles towards a precipice of unmet expectations. DM
- The global food system is broken; here's how to fix it
- Africa's tomorrow depends on empowering its people today
- Ebola: Fear, Paralysis, Solidarity, Justice
- The UN General Assembly week, New York: A cacophony of noise and hope
- Hiking the roof of Africa; my journey to the depths of myself
- Visualising the end of inequality – a new path to negotiation
- After the platinum strike: We dare not fail now
- Letter to the next generation
- Formal vs. informal economy: Bridging the gap
- Connecting the dots: Building workers’ unity and workers’ power
- Democracy in distress: Are our elections bought and our votes sold?
- May Day 2014: Cosatu's tough choice of the politics of workers unity or politics of political parties
- COSATU: In the eye of the storm
- Twenty years of SA democracy: A new fight must begin
- Kibera: Hope and human dignity rising in the slums of Africa
- The rise and fall of Cosatu: From vanguard to sacrificial lamb
- A leader I would vote for: Botswana's former president Festus Mogae
- A leader I would vote for: President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde
- Op-Ed: A giant stumbling through the minefield of political division – my appeal to the Cosatu workers
- A leader I would vote for: Joaquim Alberto Chissano
- A leader I would vote for: President Mujica of Uruguay
- That Lula Moment: A question of leadership and integrity
- Following the money: Work with citizens to make our money work for all
- Checkmate: The rise of radicalism
- Lords of the Niger Delta: The Shell legacy of profit before people
- Protests, police and cowardice – our State of the Nation
- New stones for my Madiba rosary
- The final journey and the legacy that will always live in our hearts
- After the tears, the hard work of building the world that Mandela believed in
- Mandela's gone. But he will be with us, forever.
- Bekkersdal: The turning point in SA municipal politics – time for a line in the ground
- Africa Rising? Whose Africa?
- The scramble for the Arctic and the dangers of Russia’s race for oil
- Africa's future is clear: Youth, Technology & Broadband
- Child mortality is our human rights failure of the 21st century
- Technology can wipe out the cancer of corruption
- My open letter to South Africa
- Amputating the soul of our children
- The vision of the Invisible Children
- A humble billionaire, asking tough questions
- Cry, the beloved country; cry, the beloved federation
- Humanity at a crossroads: Fighting for climate justice
- Wanted: Ancient wisdoms to heal our planet
- The taste of power: its sanctity and its perversion
- When the town I loved burned down, or, when Heaven was visited by Hell
- As our Constitution lives, so does Mandela
- Bangladesh: Losing some battles, but winning the war
- Rana Square – the Ground Zero of workers’ rights
- Small-scale farming: simple, successful, sustainable
- A global debate needs local voices
- When will Africa be led by the needs of its people?
- The faultlines in our society: Why are we so angry?
- Nigeria: Africa's best hopes and worst fears
- Our ancient African heritage holds the key to our future
- To build a better world for all, we need a new narrative, new energy, new commitment
- A culture of service and tolerance: Lessons from Chris Hani
- Open data platforms: a tool to revolutionise governance
- Aluta continua: Why the fight for quality healthcare can’t be over
- ‘I raped her because she belongs to me’
- Would Hani and Slovo today be accused of Neo-liberalism and Counter-revolution?
- An open letter to my fellow South Africans: I am ready. Are you?
- A trip to Limpopo: The Forgotten Land
- 'I have a right to a toilet - it's human dignity'
- Matric pass rate: On the road to Nobody
- The challenges of today are South Africa's opportunities of tomorrow
- India: The ongoing tyranny of the caste system
- To my generation: Listen. Listen very carefully.
- The Lula moment and this country of ours, South Africa
- African youth: Fulfilling the potential
- Africa’s 'leadership crisis' - we have more agency than we think
- Think climate change isn't your problem? It will be when you can't eat
- The wuthering heights of disenchantment
- An open letter to Cosatu
- Democracy for all: Marikana signals our second chance
- Can't you hear the thunder?
- A new age, a new role for foundations: redefine development
- Video series - great women of SA: Emma Mashinini (I)
- Mother love: Time to add decency and respect to women's hard-won rights
- GAINing ground: The beauty of one good idea
- Education: a morass of mediocrity
- Madiba week: The lessons his sacrifice taught us, part V
- Madiba week: The lessons his sacrifice taught us, part IV
- Madiba week: The lessons his sacrifice taught us, part III
- Madiba week: The lessons his sacrifice taught us, part II
- Celebrating Madiba week: The lessons his sacrifice taught us
- Mandela day: time for the next generation to take control
- The school of sexual predation
- Rio+20: We're not colonies anymore
- Prayers to the rain gods
- Our foreign policy gets more foreign as time goes by
- Not a moment to Spear: Why, in a time of crisis, that painting is irrelevant
- Ma Emma: The true spear of the nation
- Araku - the truth, the inspiration
- An infinite vision - The story of the Aravind eye hospital
- Get up, stand up South Africa!
- Our future lies in the mothers of nature
- There's a Light in the Get Kony Campaign
- Empowerment lies in women in Indian villages talking to those in African villages
- Dear President Zuma
- Adequate food is essential component of social justice
- Durban to Rio could be our Road to Damascus
- The Grinch who stole hope
- The Grinch who stole hope
- iMaverick, Monday 28 November
- Africa at the crossroads: Let's talk Brazil
- The secrecy bill: Welcome back, Magnus Malan & Adriaan Vlok
- The powder kegs of unmet expectations in our midst
- iMaverick, Wednesday 19 October
- Finding one's humanity where little else remains
- Food security: A matter of war and peace