OUR BURNING PLANET
WWF-SA partners with organisations to fight for a greener future for South Africa
If South Africa is going to take steps towards climate action, it needs stronger civil society participation that will hold the government accountable.
South Africa’s social justice activism has seen limited efforts in tackling environmental justice, especially with a small number of NGOs and academics in the field that has little influence over environmental policy. The launch on Tuesday of the Climate Ambition to Accountability Project (CAAP) was an effort to boost those efforts and spark debate on South Africa’s climate policy.
The CAAP, co-funded by the European Union, will also be responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) “code red for humanity” alert, through ensuring implementation and accountability for ambitious climate policy.
Senior policy analyst at WWF South Africa, Dr Prabhat Upadhyaya, said that the IPCC’s findings showing the immense human influence on climate was the last warning and required urgent action.
WWF-SA said environmental organisations in South Africa had faced three key challenges in promoting climate policy: stakeholder influence, the development-over-climate debate and limited resources to implement policy objectives.
Developments related to mitigation have been delayed by limited funding targeted at South Africa, despite a growth in global climate financing. This has often given sectors reason to defend mitigation efforts under the guise of maintaining people’s livelihoods, often resulting in a divided stance.
The European Union’s head of cooperation in South Africa, Bernard Rey, said he hoped South Africa could unite to find a common voice that would champion a greener and more sustainable country.
“I trust that the Climate Ambition to Accountability Project (CAAP) that we are co-funding will be an important tool to increase the participation of South African CSOs (civil society organisations) in tackling the adverse effects of climate change,” Rey said.
The CAAP will see different civil society organisations come together to champion and enhance civil society’s participation in climate governance. Its core actions include supporting and enhancing climate ambition, accountability and implementation in South Africa. Another is training young people to engage with climate policy and action, and the third is elevating mainstream debate of a gender and rights-based approach in the national climate policy.
“Climate change is already affecting every region of the world, including South Africa. It is pertinent that we shift the narrative from talking about plans — what ought to be — to talking about implementation and accountability — what is,” Upadhyaya said.
Partnering with WWF-SA in implementing the project is the South African Climate Action Network and the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ). The organisations said they were well aware of the limitations that civil society organisations have in actively participating in climate governance and aimed to solve this by strengthening that capacity.
“There is a danger in allowing misinformation on climate change to impair our ability to deal with its impacts and chart a sustainable future. Therefore, we join forces with those seeking to build the capabilities in producing and spreading knowledge that will capacitate the activists in their climate actions,” said Dr Basani Baloyi, the Climate, Energy and Infrastructure Programme Lead at the IEJ.
The coalition, which is set for four years, will run its first year virtually to comply with Covid-19 regulations as it seeks to progressively engage climate policy stakeholders for an actionable, inclusive and rights-based approach. DM/OBP