Regional Community Exchange: Building a solidarity in resistance to coal

11 September 2018 - From the 10th to the 14th of September 2018, nine environmental justice organizations [1] are gathering in Botswana for a regional community to community exchange under the banner of Building a solidarity in resistance to coal. The exchange will engage 30 participants from Botswana and South Africa.

This particular exchange has a great significance for many reasons, including the recently announced Chinese investment on coal fired power stations and mining in Africa, which is nothing short of a step back in the efforts to develop the African continent towards cleaner, healthier, and more affordable energy. Also, the Department of Energy in South Africa released the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2018, for public comment and the plan includes two unnecessary coal-fired power stations.

The exchange will be hosted by the Botswana Climate Change Network [2], and co-facilitated by groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa [3] and it is a follow through from the international exchange gathering which was held earlier this year when community activists from Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa visited South Africa in January to witness the brutality and devastation of coal industry in South Africa.  This follows South African community people visiting Mozambique in 2016 and India in 2014 to witness the impacts of coal in these countries.  It builds further on the African Coal Strategy Meeting held in South Africa in April 2018 where 32 people representing 13 countries and 28 organizations agreed to campaign together on coal, renewable energy and a just transition in Africa.

Representatives from different organization will put their heads together to share information, build robust resistance strategies, and forge a way forward.  The participants will have an opportunity to dialogue, and strategically map out campaign strategies. The agenda will include but not limited to; exploring the coal landscape in South Africa and Botswana, the status of international climate change negotiations and countries ambitions to reduce green house gas emissions urgently and immediately.

The main objectives of the exchange are; to strengthen activism to discourage investment in coal fired power stations and mines, enable a just transition to renewable energy, to mobilise support for more vocal voices against the negative health impacts of air pollution from burning coal.

The group will also focus on open democracy, and the importance of openness and transparency to allow for appropriate discussion, debate, and scrutiny on energy sector in relation to health and environmental issues.

The three-day event, will also entail field visits to Morupule Power Station and Morupule Mine for an educational tour, Lotsane River, and the Botswana International University for Science and Technology for a benchmarking session on renewable energy.  The input that the participates will make, will go a long way in empowering them on how to respond to challenges they face in their respective communities, and how to confront the power tower with meaningful resistance through diplomatic engagement or otherwise.

 

Contact details: 

Tracy Sonny +267 77 836 078 / +267 72 130 141 / tsonny25@gmail.com
Robby Mokgalaka, groundWork Campaign Manager +27 73 774 3362 or robs@groundwork.org.za

 

Footnotes:

[1] Botswana Climate Change Network (host), Botswana and from South Africa, groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, (co-facilitator); Highveld Environmental Justice Network, Mpumalanga; Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation, KwaZulu Natal; Sisonke Environmental Justice Network, KwaZulu Natal; Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, Gauteng and Free State; Leseding Community Forum, Limpopo; Vukani Environmental Movement, Mpumalanga; and Matjoba Young Girls Group, Limpopo.

[2] Botswana Climate Change Network is an environmental organization on the quest to strengthen capacity on climate change and advocate for the development and implementation of policies that support climate and environment sustainability.

[3] groundWork is an environmental justice and developmental organisation, striving for justice in the areas of climate and energy, coal, environmental health, waste, and health care. groundWork is a member of Friends of the Earth International.

[4] See “Coal Kills – Everywhere”, in the December 2016 newsletter, here.