Friday, March 11, 2016

OUTCOMES FROM THE CIVIL SOCIETY MEETING: Debrief on COP21 and reporting on activities of the Policy and the Communications Working Group

The first of the two CSO Debriefs on COP 21 organized by the Organization “Project 90 by 2030” was convened on the 8th of March in Cape Town. The participants were representatives of a great deal of non-governmental organizations and observers of climate negotiations.  The purposes of this workshop, like its corresponding follow up in Johannesburg scheduled on the 11th of March, are numerous:

 Report back from the ad-hoc working groups: policy and communications;
  • Exchange Knowledge and viewpoints on COP 21 outcomes and implications for South Africa;
  • Review of civil societies red lines for COP 21 and identify key messages for year ahead;
  • Identify civil society events and actions around international and national climate change policy in 2016;
  • Develop a joint press release: what a coalition of civil society is expecting from South Africa in light of the Paris agreement;

In this connection, the meeting started with the presentation by Jaco du Toit (WWF South Africa) on the outcomes of the Paris Agreement, particularly stressing the implications of the bottom-up approach endorsed by the Parties and its reflections on the text of the Agreement. As a result, it was shown that an additional effort seems to be required to attain the global goal of 2° C of temperature increase. The pledges currently submitted by the Parties are supposed to restrain the increase of global temperature by 3.5° C - whereas the absence of any action inspired by the business-as-usual approach would lead to an increase by 4.5° C.

The intervention by Happy Khambule (Policy and Research Coordinator of Project 90 by 2030 and co-organizer of the meeting) focused on a review of the Civil Society Red-Lines, striking a balance with the last meeting in November 2015. Such Red-Lines are a set of “non-negotiables” agreed by a great deal of NGOs and enshrined in a document submitted to the South African Government prior to COP21. Their purpose is to drive and influence South African policy vis-à-vis climate change, pushing for climate-smart and sustainable choices.

In the last part of the meeting, participants were encouraged to talk and discuss, finding a common positions regards South Africa’s response to climate change, both in the national and in the international arena. Consensus was reached that there are 6 main priorities to work on in order to improve the existing framework:
  • Revision of South African Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs): These can be improved upon so that South Africa takes the lead in the fight against climate change, by setting and pursuing more ambitious targets;
  • Civil Society Organization (CSO) strengthening: public participation in climate-related matters is to be improved, particularly by studying strategic alliances with enterprises. The proposal was raised to set up frequent climate change meetings on a regular basis;
  • Stronger engagement in CODESA, a forum in which a great variety of South African stakeholders gather in order to deeply discuss climate issues.
  • Avoid double counting: the Paris Agreement bans double counting on several occasions in the final draft. However, there are the gaps and the weaknesses in the enforcement of this rule, as to date no mechanism has been put in place yet. As a result – also due to the complexity of the topic – there are still many ways by which countries may circumvent this obstacle and few are the institutional mechanisms to denounce and stop such unlawful practices. Possible ways forward include the institution of a national register grouping together every single mitigation project and/or the parallel standardization of accounting rules;
  • Signature of the Agreement: South Africa is encouraged to take this step before the deadline of April 2017.
Brief by Luchino Ferraris - International Fellow at Natural Justice.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Natural Justice – Cape Town Office – Skill and Information Sharing Session – March 2016.

The Cape Town Office of Natural Justice, joined by Nayana Udayashankar, from our India office, via the internet, hosted its third monthly Skill and Information Sharing Session on 3 March 2016. This time we were honoured with the presence of Dr Laura Foster, Gender Studies, Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Foster has expertise in science and technology studies, feminist and critical race legal theory, post-colonial feminisms, and feminist research methodologies. She is a research partner on NJs ‘Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights’ Project.

Dr Foster shared with the team her skill of grounded theory coding which could be very helpful in processing volumes of information. She explained that coding helps in narrowing down the scope of sometimes a very wide range of knowledge that we so often have to work through, to extract main points or core themes in one’s work. Grounded theory allows one to consider issues from the ‘bottom-up’, to assist in constructing community meanings. Dr. Foster also stressed that although a variety of sources can be analysed using this methodology, e.g. interviews, publications, Parliamentary Bills, email and correspondence, indeed multiple sources are beneficial however triangulation is essential.

Developing coding, as a skill within Natural Justice will enhance our capacity to analyse the multiple sources of information we encounter during our work in a more systematic way.

We look forward to further integrating this methodology within thematic areas such as land, customary law, climate change, amongst others.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Natural Justice – Cape Town Office - Skill and Information Sharing Session February 2016

Natural Justice’s Cape Town office hosted its second monthly Skill and Information Sharing Session on 29 February 2016. We were honored with the presence of Mr. Wilberforce Laate, our Ghanaian partner from CIKOD. His discussion focused on endogenous development and traditional leadership. It is particularly of interest since Natural Justice is currently working with the National Khoi & San Council to realize the formal recognition of Khoi-San peoples’ customary leadership institutions and its communities.
This approach of endogenous development entails the idea of taking a look backward, to pick up ideas and values that were useful from the past, in developing the future. It advocates that all aspects of a community must be regarded in that community’s development, those relating to the spiritual world, material world and social world. According to this endogenous development approach, development is already active in communities all the time. It is also a combination of both indigenous and appropriate external knowledge and support.
Mr. Laate also shared the traditional authority system in Ghana; how it works and what challenges they have faced and how they have been addressing these issues since the late 1950s when their colonial system ended.
The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill 2015 (PDF), the first to give recognition to Khoi-San leadership institutions, is currently in South African parliament and open for public consultation (see Parliament news here and here). Thus, at this time, Mr. Laate’s insight on endogenous development and his example of the place of traditional authorities in Ghana serves as a shared African experience.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Call for contributions for the forthcoming book "Indigenous Perspectives on Living with Sacred Heritage (2016)"

A forthcoming book aims to amplify Indigenous custodians voices in a publication entitled "Indigenous Perspectives on Living with Sacred Heritage (2016)".

The book will look to the notion of a sacred site as defined by its indigenous custodians. The primary interest of the volume is to provide a platform for indigenous custodians to explain how they view and treat the sacred through a written account that is available to a global audience.

The volume seeks contributions that provide examples of indigenous sacred sites governance and management, with each example treated as a separate chapter. The goal is to highlight indigenous approaches and present concerns regarding sacred natural site management. The prefereance is to encourage indigenous authors, but all voices that further the proposed goals of the book are invited.

Authors should indicate their expression of interest by 30 June 2016. Please seethe Sacred Natural Sites page here for more details.

Indigenous Fellowship Programme with OHCHR

The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner call for applications for the senior indigenous fellowship is now open. The Indigenous Fellowship Programme (IFP) is a comprehensive programme which aims to contribute to build capacity and expertise of indigenous representatives in the UN system and mechanisms dealing with human rights in general and indigenous issues in particular. The IFP is accessible in four languages, it is held annually for 4-5 weeks in Geneva usually in June/July to coincide with the annual meeting of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Please see the OHCHR IPF webpage for further information on how the programme works, who can apply, and how to apply.

The deadline for applications is 11 March 2016.