South Africa's participation in Climate Change negotiations - groundWork, FOESA

15th June 2011 - groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, is an environmental justice community based organisation working with poor, vulnerable rural and urban community people in South Africa, and throughout Africa, through the African environmental justice network, Friends of the Earth Africa.

South Africans are watching how our government prepares to host the UN climate conference in December. South African social movements were at the forefront of the fight against one of the 20th century’s greatest moral injustices: apartheid. Today we stand ready to lead global movements against the most significant moral injustice of the 21st century: climate change.

It is in the neighbourhoods of the poor and vulnerable where there is the first line of resistance to climate change such as:

These are practical daily resistance strategies.

We call on the South African government to act positively and inclusively to ensure that our hard fought democracy – we note we have just come out of our 8th successful election process since democracy – is not abandoned in the climate negotiations which if it happens will result in Africa burning as townships burnt during the apartheid era.

We watched with disappointment, how the Mexican government undermined open and accountable decision making in Cancun. South Africa is building a new democracy, and we expect our Government to support democratic processes globally by having open, transparent and accountable climate negotiations - where every country is respected and all negotiating groups must be represented.

The South African Government cannot have secret or selective side meetings to prepare for these talks - they need to tell the world: when, where, and who they’re meeting and how they’re going to be accountable to the voices of those most vulnerable to climate change: women, farmers and the poor by ensuring their effective and meaningful participation in these meetings.