Africa Climate Justice Group

Politics and Principles

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About us

African Climate Justice Groups: Politics & Principles

7 October 2020

We are a group of African civil society organizations, movements of women, peasant communities, African citizens and more, that are fighting for climate justice, and standing in solidarity with the people of the world, especially those in the front lines of the impacts of the climate crisis.  We see the urgent need to organize the progressive flank of the broadly defined ‘climate justice’ movement in Africa, to strengthen our voices and demands for systemic change from capitalism and its twin forces of racism and patriarchy that created this pandemic.

The climate crisis is already impacting some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa. On top of generations of colonialism and exploitation, now Africans face further destruction and dispossession of their most basic resources in the form of land, water, and forest grabbing and polluting for extractive and dirty wars, energy projects, agribusiness and more. 

To make things worse, most African states are following pathways that involve the same old models of extractivism, oil, coal and gas exploration, export-oriented development grounded on capitalist logic, and with no consideration for the poorest and most vulnerable people on the continent, only for corporates and elites. The dominant economic model never ever served Africa’s people, and is a model that created the crisis. Now is the time to demand a transformation, a new model, and we must move urgently.

Women are disproportionately affected by multi-dimensional injustices, climate change and ecological disasters given their role as stewards of nature and carers of their communities. This is especially so for African peasant and indigenous women, women workers and the LBTQ community. Despite this, women are not victims. African women are leading the resistance and protagonists in the defense of our territories and the fight for autonomy over our bodies, lives and labour force. This is why gender justice and grassroots feminism must be a part of our solution for our future.

While our African and other global actors are preoccupied with promoting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to achieve economic growth, our African youth - who are the majority of Africa’s active population - still the great untapped potential -  are facing difficult times. Our youth lack adequate support to nurture and develop their talents, enterprises and activities to earn an honest, let alone prosperous living. Waves of land grabbing and evictions in the rural areas have caused relocation to marginal and unfertile lands with poor natural resource endowments. Many youths, frustrated and seeing no future in the countryside, have migrated to the cities exposing themselves to worse forms of exploitation, urban drudgery and xenophobia.

Today’s youth are concerned by the negligence of our governments with regards to climate change. Many are directly affected by weather variability, seasonal shifts, climate and environmental disasters. Africa’s Youth are calling for changed development away from extractive and destructive industries and to take action now to address their demands before it is too late. They demand that initiatives supposedly meant to fight hunger and poverty through the expansion of corporate large-scale capital be stopped. Programmes such as the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa and other pro-industrial agriculture initiatives such as Grow Africa, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPS-Africa), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the entrenchment of UPOV seed laws through regional economic and political blocs COMESA and SADC only promote debt, poverty and entrench inequality.

At the same time, we are facing a scourge of false solutions and new terrains of extractivism. The rich countries who do not really want to reduce their emissions, instead invent many false solutions to pretend to compensate those in Africa and other parts of the Global South who haven’t caused the climate and ecological crises or to offset their emissions. These schemes coming into Africa as carbon trading, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), climate smart agriculture that relies on genetic engineering and data mining, ‘green economy’, soil carbon sequestration, natural climate solutions, BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage), and other forms of geoengineering are grabbing more community lands and increasing the dispossession, while not actually reducing emissions. These false solutions are not only exacerbating the climate crisis but also worsening the social and environmental injustices being faced by our communities. These schemes and other destructive projects are being perpetuated in a military industrial complex where force is used on people who resist and profit to build an industrial base protected.

What is needed to stop these crises in Africa?

Across the continent people are fighting the false solutions, and developing the real solutions instead. It is system change and transformational action in how we produce and consume energy and food, how we manage our forests and how we structure our economies. We need to change how we determine our development priorities and how we define development. A changed relationship to nature and economies centred around people is needed. One that centers around production for use-value, and care as the primary concern. The systems that oppressed, exploited and dispossessed Africa will never serve its people. We need a different vision, a different development pathway that prioritizes the common good and well being, not the profit and power of individuals. Across the world, people are rising up to fight climate change, to fight dirty wars and dirty energy, and to demand transformation of energy and food systems. 

We call for urgent and deep structural transformations including true agrarian reform, to protect and keep territories (land, oceans, forests, etc) under the control of rural small scale and peasant farmers, pastoralists, indigenous women, mountaineers and fisherfolk. Our governments must prioritize and adopt better public policies that support agroecology, food sovereignty, traditional seed systems and smallholder territorial markets, including the necessary public sector investments to support smallholder farmers and peasants, and provide adequate financing that supports small-scale food producers.

We Africans can and need to work together, to strengthen and consolidate our progressive forces in the African climate justice movement, and bring about a better future for Africa, for a just Africa and for a real Africa uprising.

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Principles

For that to happen, we must adhere to the following principles:

  1. We must be committed to systemic change from capitalism, neo-liberalism, patriarchy and racism and we must promote just development alternatives

  2. We must understand the ethics of anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal, anti extractivist, anti-patriarchal and anti-racist struggle, and build our progressive forces on its foundations

  3. We must be committed to strengthening a progressive, grassroots, feminist, and movement building approach in our work.

  4. We must be clearly against carbon markets, carbon offsetting, REDD, climate smart agriculture, nature-based solutions, plantations, mega-dams, BECCS, net zero, and other forms of false solutions to climate change which are thrown at communities.

  5. We must be committed to dismantling corporate power and holding transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable for their crimes, and not seeing them as a viable solution for our sustainable future.

  6. We must support communities in their claim to the right to say no to destructive extractive projects.

  7. We must be committed to advocating for real climate just solutions for the people of Africa and the Global South

  8. Our tactics must include outside strategies and tactics of non-violent resistance and watchdogging, not only tactics of reform and ‘sitting at the table’ with governments and/or corporations.

  9. We must be committed to supporting and standing in solidarity with communities in building alternative just development solutions and pathways

  10. We should recognise and advocate for the payment of climate debt owed to the Global South by the Global North.

  11. We must be committed to and support citizen debt audit processes, aimed at the abolition of all illegal, illegitimate and odious debts and also challenge the illicit financial flows out of Africa.

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Convening organisations 
  • Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES), Mauritius

  • Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), Zimbabwe

  • Farmers Movement, Senegal

  • Friends of the Earth Africa

  • Grain Africa

  • GroundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)

  • Health of Mother Earth Foundation

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  • Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique)

  • Khelkom Fishers Association

  • La Via Campesina Africa

  • Lumiere Synergie pour le Developpement (LSD)

  • Peoples Dialogue Southern Africa

  • Rural Womens Assembly

  • Save Lamu movement, Kenya

  • South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)

  • WoMin African Alliance

  • World March of Women