The 3rd Pan-African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Change Policy and Equity kicked off on May 16, 2023, and will wrap up on May 17, 2023, at the institute’s base in Midrand South Africa with over 250 attendees from various parliamentarians from across all African states, civil society organizations, academia, youth representatives, and other stakeholders. With the African continent being at the crossroads of climate discussions, the theme of the summit is A graceful just transition and Nationally Determined Conditions (NDCs) implementation responsive to African development aspirations and economic realities. Climate change’s impact on the African continent is quite clear. Unprecedented floods in southern Africa and droughts at the horn of Africa have left millions of people scrambling for water. This is something many countries are struggling with.
While chairing the first session of the summit, Dr Augustine B Njamnshi, Head of Technical and Political Affairs at Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said climate change is a cross-cutting issue and it is crucial that Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and PACJA have united lawmakers Africa and Europe to discuss the issues patterning to climate justice policy and equity. He further said this is the most important event as far as climate change is concerned within PACJA’s legislative setting, and that the recommendations of this summit will go a long way in influencing Africa’s position in climate change negotiations.
SELF-RELIANCE, CONTEXTUALIZATION, AND PROBLEM SOLVER
In the opening remarks, the Executive Director of PACJA Dr Mithika Mwenda said this summit is an opportunity to look for and unify solutions to the devastating impacts of climate that have been occurring in Africa in the last few years. “We won’t stop reminding the World that Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change, despite contributing the least to its causes. Indeed, the impacts of climate change are so vivid that we no longer need a scientist to warn us how things have changed – more frequent and intense droughts, floods, heatwaves, storms, and other extreme weather events that threaten our food security, water availability, health, infrastructure, biodiversity, and peace” said Dr. Mithika Mwenda. Among other key issues he raised, Dr. Mithika called on African leaders to harness the continent’s abundant renewable energy resources, mainstream gender, and youth empowerment in all our climate change policies and actions, and the need to enhance the people’s resilience and adaptive capacity by investing in nature-based solutions, disaster risk reduction, social protection, and early warning systems.
INTERROGATING, AND REFLECTING ON A CONTINENT AT CROSSROADS
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) President, Hon. Chief Fortune Chirumbira, highlighted that Africa has been holding conferences revolving around climate change but the time has come to change the narrative and walk the talk as a continent.
“We need a strong institutional arrangement out of this summit and leadership must play a big role in this. Without leadership, nothing will be achieved. Let’s avoid repeating what we have said in the past. We need to interrogate why developed countries are not respecting what they have committed to.” said the Honorable.
Hon. Fortune revealed that the chamber will equip parliamentarians in the continent with the capacity to engage critically in international conversations on climate change and enhance their skills in analyzing climate change policy processes in the continent. He equally stated that PAP will promote dialogue, cooperation, and action among parliamentarians, governments, civil society, and other stakeholders on climate change adaptation, and resilience-building. He confirmed the outcome of the summit will feed into the upcoming African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
CAPACITY BUILDING OF PARLIAMENT, AGRICULTURE, AND AFRICA-EU PARTNERSHIP
While addressing participants, Senator Didier Molisho Sadi, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment at PAP warned that repetitive pangs of hunger that have plagued Africa have resulted from climate change which in turn leads to food insecurity, migration, and poverty. He stressed that climate change impacts the availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability of food systems, leading to hunger and malnutrition just to name a few adverse impacts. He went further to reveal PAP’s plans to promote dialogue, cooperation, and action among parliamentarians, governments, civil society, and other stakeholders on climate change adaptation and resilience-building.
Hon. Senator Didier Molisho Sadi said that revisiting the EU- Africa partnership in the areas of Climate Change and Food Security will harness the role of African parliaments to betterments of livelihoods of African people.
“In promoting the EU-Africa partnership, we will build on the African-European Parliamentary Action Plan on Climate Change and Food Security formulated in 2008. Am glad that in this Summit we are joined by our EU Parliament allies, and hope that part of the way forward will be to revisit this partnership and explore how to use it as our joint instrument for Climate Action collaboration”, said Senator Morisho.
The Pan-African Parliament and PACJA work closely to promote an understanding of the role CSOs and lawmakers in the fight against the impact of climate change in Africa and it should be noted that this summit takes place a few months before the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, and the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) which will take place in the United Arab Emirates in December 2023. With the Kenyan President expected to grace the session on May 17, 2023, it is expected that this summit will enhance interaction, promote partnership in policy and legislative work, and define an action agenda (a communique) with other stakeholders in the Global Stock Taking (GST) process and COP28. The summit is equally expected to increase the profile of adaptation and locally led climate action through exploring climate action funding mechanisms, capacity building, awareness raising, sharing of perspectives and best practices, networking, and coordination of parliamentarians in NDCs implementation both in Africa and globally.