Rich and Poor States on the Bumpy Road to Copenhagen

In the run-up to the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen this December, developing countries have voiced concerns about climate change’s disproportionate effect on them.  The Prime Minister of Grenada, Thomas Tillman, spoke at a meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) the day before the U.N. General Assembly opened its September 22nd session.  aosisAOSIS’s 42 members, 37 of whom belong to the U.N., agreed on a Climate Change Declaration, which calls on developed countries to commit to specific mitigation targets and to fund adaptation measures for the developing world (sometimes nicknamed “slash and cash”).  Tillman told those present that “the wealthiest countries must acknowledge ‘the history of their own responsibility’ in the creation of the problem.”

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Africa's next generation of environmental stewards.

More recently, at the Barcelona climate change talks, delegates from 50 African nations walked out on November 2, to show their frustration with the developed countries’ collective foot dragging at publicly agreeing on concrete emissions reductions targets.  Kamese Geoffrey of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)/Friends of the Earth Uganda warned, “Rich countries are attempting to dodge their legal and moral responsibilities to reduce emissions.  Developing countries and communities have historically had practically no fault in the creation of climate change, yet they will be the first to face the devastating impacts of climate change.”  While African representatives have historically had a limited place at the climate change negotiating table, this walk-out and support of it by members of the G77 +China group has amplified their voice.

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A colorful, Senegalese pirogue, pointing out to sea.

But sometimes Francophone Africa’s voice comes across faintly in the international arena, given worldwide reliance on English. In early October, a group of West African leaders and environmental experts met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, at the World Forum on Sustainable Development (Forum Mondial du Developpement Durable), where they agreed on a declaration that President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso will present at COP15.  Fortunately, my UCAD law faculty colleague, Professor Ibrahima Ly, director of CREDILA, was one of the experts at this meeting and brought me a souvenir from his travels:  a copy of WFSD/FMDD’s declaration.  My research shows that this group’s work has not made it into the Anglo world (at least, not on the internet).  While the October 2009 meeting program may be found in English here, the declaration is not.  So stay tuned, as Simmering Senegal provides an English translation of this declaration, serialized over the next 23 days as I make my way from Dakar to Copenhagen.

“We,

The Heads of State and Government, gathered at the World Forum on Sustainable Development in Ouagadougou on October 11, 2009

  • Considering that the 15th Conference of Parties (COP-15) of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) represents a critical step for the creation of a new, post-Kyoto climate regime,
  • Taking into account the New Dehli ministerial declaration on climate change and sustainable development at the 8th Conference of Parties (COP-8) of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held from October 23 – November 1, 2002,
  • Considering the overall orientation of the Bali 2007 road map,
  • Taking into account the ministerial conference on health and the environment in Africa, held in Libreville in 2008,
  • Taking into account the Algerian platform of November, 2008, as well as the Nairobi declaration of May, 2009 on the African process of fight against climate change,
  • Considering the creation of the African Heads of State conference on climate change by the Assembly of the African Union in Syria in July, 2009,
  • Considering the recommendations of the Dakar declaration of May, 2009 adopted by the conference of African Ministers charged with the fight against coastal erosion,
  • Recognizing that climate change constitutes a major challenge to achieving the Millennial Development Goals,
  • Understanding that the simultaneous vulnerability and variability of climate and climate change strongly influences the capacity of countries, individuals, and production systems to attain their sustainable development objectives,
  • Considering the frequency and severity of extreme climate events and their social effects, notably migration, conflicts, and sanitary problems,
  • Considering the enormous potential that Africa represents in terms of renewable energy that could largely satisfy its energy needs but has been insufficiently developed,
  • Noting the important efforts made at the international level to eliminate ozone depleting substance, in light of the insufficient efforts made on climate change,
  • Considering the need for African countries to seize financing and investment opportunities directly linked to the market offered notably by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),
  • Considering that access to and mobilization of financing is an indispensible condition for implementing mitigation and adaptation actions,
  • Considering that South-South cooperation also ensures technology transfer and should be reinforced by African countries,
  • Considering that technology transfer is recognized as well as an indispensible condition for mitigation and adaptation actions,
  • Considering the decision of the African Union Heads of State regarding the application of the conclusions of the First World Forum on Sustainable Development in Africa, held in Brazzaville in October, 2008,
  • Considering the necessity of integrating vulnerable groups, notably women and young people, in the national sustainable development strategies, and
  • Taking notice of the international community’s willingness to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their effects on the climate in a significant manner,

Decide that . . .

Stay tuned:  25 decisions to go over the next 23 days!

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] With this sense of urgency in mind, here is Simmering Senegal’s first installment of the WFSD/FMDD declarations, which follow from the preamble translated in this post. […]

  2. […]  – important tools for diplomacy and equity when seeking international accord – encouraged the African country walk-outs that began in Barcelona and enabled Tuvalu’s well-chronicled procedural points of order at […]

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