African Activists Spark Hope for Climate Action in Ethiopia

Beneath the warm Ethiopian sun, a vibrant tapestry of minds and hearts gathered for the 2024 ACCJ Global Coordination meeting – a testament to the unswerving spirit for climate justice. Amidst the bustling streets of Addis Ababa and the echoes of uncertainty for climate action, the meeting proved to be timely and ignited a collective flame of hope for African activists as they gathered to discuss their common goals.  

As part of the inaugural session, the meeting took stock of accomplishments in 2023, while recognizing the miles that are yet to achieved in 2024. The session was informing as it sobered participants to acknowledge the challenges that lay ahead and the opportunities that required foresight.

Addressing the assembly, Maureen Olyaro, Programme and Policy Manager at the Africa Women’s Development and Communications Network, said women’s inclusion in the climate justice space is critical and needs to go beyond the traditional representation of gender. Olyaro called for a redefinition of women’s participation beyond mere representation, advocating for the integration of their perspectives and expertise into policy and decision-making processes. 

With the same tone, Dr.Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, highlighted the profound impact of climate change on women in the African continent. He underscored the urgent need for justice for marginalized communities, including livestock farmers, fisher folk communities, and indigenous peoples who depend on the fragile ecosystem, who withstand the worst of environmental degradation. Mwenda also shed light on the disproportionate impact of climate change on the vulnerable group’s especially women, lamenting their continued marginalization.  

Accordingly, Carel de Groot, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, drew attention to the critical need for visibility and accountability in gender-responsive climate action. In his remarks, he said, “Girls and young women must be active participants, driving tangible impact through their actions.” He also emphasized on the need for accountability, ensuring gender-responsive climate action was not just a fleeting melody but a tangible reality. Seemingly, Carol De Groot’s call for enhanced monitoring mechanisms to capture the impact of female-led initiatives resonated with Nyongesa M. Khaduyu of the Africa Youth Commission, who, emphasized on the crucial involvement of young people in effecting substantial transformations.

Khaduyu underscored the vital significance of authentic partnerships within the ACCJ alliance, stressing the necessity for inclusive cooperation to magnify the influence of youthful climate advocates. He also expressed the dilemma faced by young climate and environmental activists and workers regarding whether to challenge the mining industry, which plays a substantial role in Africa’s diverse economies, or to persist in advocating for sustainable, cost-effective renewable energy and biodiversity, despite lacking support from the political elite. 

Finally, Melissa Groenink, a champion for inclusivity at Natural Justice, reminded us that no one is left behind in the fight for climate justice. She emphasized the power of collective action and collaboration in addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change. She also stressed the importance of creating space for diverse expertise and perspectives within the movement, fostering a culture of inclusivity and mutual support. 

The AACJ Global Coordination meeting echoed significant success, leaving behind a vibrant testament to the enduring spirit of climate justice activism. Team spirit soared, solidarity solidified, and the quest for a sustainable future was reignited. The 2024 Global Planning meeting truly stood as a beacon of hope, illuminating the unwavering dedication of environmental champions across Africa, united in their pursuit of a just and equitable future for all.  

FEMNET in continues to echo collaboration with Voix de Femmes  in Burkina faso, Union of Ethiopian Women and Children Associations (UEWCA) in Ethiopia, WOKIKE in Kenya,  Education as a Vaccine in Nigeria, MULEIDE in Mozambique, RECODE in Senegal and NAGAAD Network in Somalia to embody the resilience and determined to forge a path toward climate justice in Africa and beyond. The 2024 ACCJ Global Planning meeting is indeed a testament to the unwavering commitment of environmental activists across Africa, united in their shared vision of a more just and sustainable future for all. 

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