In November and December 2011, the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change took place in Durban, South Africa.
And just as they have in years past, a number of Global Greengrants Fund advisors were present at the climate negotiations to call for the inclusion of local voices in the high-level discussions.
Samuel Nnah Ndobe, Global Greengrants Fund advisor from Cameroon, was in Durban last month. We caught up with Samuel to hear his thoughts on the recent climate conference and how climate change is affecting his region of Africa. His initial remarks were less than positive:
“Each year we go in to these discussions hoping to see meaningful changes, but consistently the outcomes are disappointing.”
Samuel is a leading advocate for the rights of forest-dependent communities who are already feeling the effects of climate change. What’s more, certain approaches aimed at slowing climate change are actually threatening these communities’ access to their land and resources.
“In the communities that live along the Congo Basin, we don’t have nearly as much moisture as we used to. In many regions, it has become drier and warmer. Wild foods are ripening prematurely. The indigenous people that live there are hunters and gatherers who have lived from the forest around their homes for centuries. Now, they must go deep into the forest to track animals and collect fruits.”
Samuel has worked with Global Greengrants Fund to channel small grants to a number of community and indigenous organizations in the forests of Central Africa. With his help, we have funded dozens of workshops and actions to define and protect the rights and ways of life of communities in the Congo Basin, particularly those threatened by the implementation of REDD mechanisms (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).
“REDD is about linking forests and climate change. When you talk about forests, you must remember that there are communities that live in those forests and have for generations. In the Congo Basin, the Baka and Bagyeli people live in the forest but have no land rights. We are creating networks of organizations that can bring their concerns to the policy level.”
One notable outcome of the Durban climate talks was the creation of a global Green Climate Fund, which will transfer $100 billion from rich countries to poor countries to be used for carbon emissions reductions and adaptation to climate change. Currently, the Fund is being housed by the World Bank and seems destined to land in the hands of government officials.
“The Green Climate Fund should be made available to civil society groups and grassroots organizations that are working on behalf of local communities. These are the people that are suffering from climate change. They should have access to the funds they need to adapt.”
Samuel was also in Cancun, Mexico for the previous United Nations climate conference. Global Greengrants Fund spoke with Samuel about REDD and COP 16 in December 2010.