African Civil Society Consults on Strategies to meet the Climate Change Challenges in Preparation of UNEP Governing Council
About 50 representatives of environmental NGOs, trade unions, women groups, Youth, the private sector and indigenous communities from 20 countries gathered at the Workers University Hotel in Cairo for a three day meeting, at the initiative of the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Federation of Trade Unions of Agriculture, Irrigation Fishing and Allied Workers in the Nile Basin Countries (NBF).
The meeting focused on mobilizing finances to meet the climate change challenges in the region, Over the last months there have been major changes in the climate change debate with the release of three new reports of the International Panel on Climate Change, which show that human induced climate change is a reality. No one can escape from climate change and more importantly the challenges cannot be solved unless everyone joins forces.
This meeting, whose aim was to prepare the African civil society’s participation in the 9th Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF) that will be held in February 2008 prior to the 10th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF), also deliberated on UNEP Medium Term Strategy and options for enhancing major groups participation at UNEP’s Governance Level.
The Cairo meeting was expected to develop a regional message to be presented at the special session of UNEP’s Governing Council in Monaco in February 2008.
The Cairo consultation is part of UNEP strategy of enhancing UNEP’s collaboration with civil society through a greater commitment and a more systematic approach to partnerships and dialogues. Regional and global civil society forums are critical processes in the effort to incorporate all important stakeholders in shaping UNEP’s agenda in protecting the environmental base of sustainable development, as they are a crucial source of experience and knowledge regarding the development and implementation of local, national and regional strategies for sustainable development.
This meeting also provided a platform for a capacity building session aimed at improving participants’ understanding of assessment and reporting on the state of the world’s environment though the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report process a few days ahead of the release of GEO-4, the fourth edition of this UNEP flagship and most authoritative report, which not only assesses the state of the environment today but also outlines plausible scenarios for the future.
In addition, the participants also looked at issues related to poverty and environment, as a key concern for Africa and beyond, leading to unsustainable production and consumption patterns and resulting in extreme vulnerability. Poverty is a key factor in human vulnerability and for people to cope and adapt, and to be resilient. Poverty reduces the ability of people to respond and adapt to environmental change. The poor suffer more than the rich when water, land and the air are degraded and polluted. Climate change and environmental degradation increase the frequency and impact of natural hazards, such as droughts, floods, landslides and forest fires, which often lead to the loss of land, food insecurity and migration.