The climate is changing rapidly, and this change is affecting different parts of the world through storms, hurricanes, floods, and so forth, but most importantly, the droughts from which we suffer so much especially in my context in Southern Africa. These events must inspire us not just to raise ambitions for implementation of the Paris agreement but to actually reprioritize climate actions in our communities over everything.
At this time last year – prior COP22– our hopes were raised for a changing world since the Paris Agreement had already been ratified by enough countries for it to be effective. Unfortunately, since the Agreement entered into force we’ve seen implications rather than implementation.
On the 6th of October 2017 Green ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa) and the SAYCCC (South African Youth Climate Change Coalition) held a seminar based on SDG13 at the Durban University of Technology. The main aim was to raise awareness of climate change effects in order to enable increased adaptation and mitigation capacities.
The Sustainable Development Goals are a better approach to build capacity in local communities and to strategize with them on the best ways of combating climate change effects. At the seminar, we had an integrated discussion with the representative of the Ethekwini Municipality’s Representation explored new opportunities of the Durban Climate Change Strategy, especially among the youth, about becoming key players in implementation.
During the seminar, our message of mobilization was: “Durban might face a number of risks in future since climate change continues to have detrimental effects on our society. These include water-related impacts such as floods and drought, threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, impacts on agriculture and food security, potential damage to infrastructure, higher energy consumption, and health impacts.”
Just four days after the seminar, a major storm hit the Durban area destroying infrastructure and properties including three hospitals, and a number of people lost their lives while many more were injured and left desolate.
As ACT Alliance our message is always prophetic which is why we need to be heard. We’ve been advocating for climate justice with a vision of a resilient and zero-carbon society, the end of the half of the century is approaching, and our call for justice– particularly on lowering carbon emissions other urgent actions to keep global warming below 1.5C– is yet to be realized. Unless we act ambitiously and urgently, the storm that hit Durban, as well as hurricanes and other natural disasters that have affected other regions, are nothing compared to what the world is yet to experience. I’m saying that not because what is happening is tolerable but precisely because I think it should galvanize us to implement the Paris Agreement.
As COP23 approaches; we are hoping for enhanced negotiations with Human Rights at the top of the discourse. The Conference of Parties serving as a Meeting to the Kyoto Protocol or the CMA should be able to develop a legal treaty that will allow the implementation of the PA.
The Lutheran World Federation adopted a resolution on climate change calling upon its member churches to take urgent and integrated actions for climate justice and in its last paragraph; “The Assembly affirms the fact that the global ecological crisis, including climate change, is human-induced. It is a spiritual matter. As people of faith, we are called to live in right relationship with creation and not to exhaust it” (LWF Twelfth Assembly: 2017).
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1)
Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza is from South Africa. He is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) and a Theology Student. He is LWF Council Member and part of the LWF Climate Network. He is championing the Green ELCSA which is a church’s climate change initiative and he is Secretary-General of the South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC)