Nairobi, Kenya – September 4, 2023– We, as members of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), represent the largest social movement comprising farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous communities, and civil society organizations across the continent. As the Africa Climate Week 2023 (ACW) convenes from 4 to 8 September 2023 in Nairobi, and runs parallel to the Africa Climate Summit on 4-6 September, both hosted by the Government of Kenya, we seize this moment to emphasize the significance of African-driven, people-centred, and sustainable solutions to the pressing climate crisis.
While these platforms offer vital opportunities for discourse on climate solutions across various sectors, it is disheartening to acknowledge that the relentless impacts of the climate emergency continue to reverberate throughout Africa. Each day, rising temperatures, floods, storms, droughts, and land degradation disproportionately affect small-scale food producers and communities, amplifying their vulnerabilities. Faced with the urgency to adapt and safeguard their livelihoods and families’ sustenance, the need for enhanced support becomes paramount.
AFSA recently held a regional summit on Climate Change, Biodiversity Conservation, and Food Systems in the Congo Basin, from 29th August to 31st August 2023, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Over 200 representatives and participants from six Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon), representing governments, civil society organisations, indigenous people, religious institutions, cultural institutions, pastoralists, fisherfolks, smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs were part of the convening.
The Congo Basin, a reservoir of immense natural resources and unparalleled biodiversity, stands as a cornerstone of Africa’s ecological and cultural heritage. However, this vital treasure is tainted by deforestation, the reckless exploitation of resources, unsustainable agricultural practices, poaching, illegal mining, and resource extraction that threaten the very essence of the region’s environment.
The precarious equilibrium between the Congo Basin ecosystem and local food systems is imperilled by the encroaching impacts of climate change. Escalating temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns herald a transformative environmental landscape that has the potential to disrupt wild plant species and agricultural yields, jeopardizing food security.
The custodians of the Congo Basin Forest, the local communities, endure an ongoing cycle of human rights violations, including Gender-Based Violence and land rights infringements, exacerbated by inadequate and disjointed policy frameworks. Moreover, they bear the brunt of climate change, grappling with its myriad impacts, including food insecurity.
We categorically reject the false climate solutions that have been proposed and executed within the Congo Basin. Deceptive remedies, such as large-scale monoculture plantations leading to deforestation and biodiversity loss, carbon credit projects masked as conservation initiatives, and purported Climate Smart projects that corrode the very soils essential for sustenance, are unacceptable.
We, therefore, implore African government leaders to:
- Elevate agroecology as the cornerstone for transforming the agri-food system, cultivating resilience, and empowering small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and fishers to confront the challenges posed by climate change head-on. Advocate for the inclusion of agroecology within the UNFCCC climate negotiations and the outcomes of the Africa Climate Week.
- Pledge public funding towards sustainable food systems, recognizing the urgency for a substantial and deliberate increase in financing for small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities to usher in sustainable food systems through the principles of agroecology.
- Commit resolutely to safeguarding the rights of local and indigenous groups in the Congo Basin, recognizing their pivotal role as stewards of the forest, and acknowledging their indispensable contribution to its preservation and conservation.
- Condemn both foreign and local conservation endeavours that come at the grave cost of the rights of the people of the Congo Basin.
- Denounce spurious climate solutions, such as carbon credit schemes, REDD++, and Climate Smart Agriculture, which undermine sustainability, impede climate adaptation and mitigation, and regress our collective progress.
In closing, we fervently urge all stakeholders to stand in unison with the people of the Congo Basin, aligning efforts to uphold their pursuit of food sovereignty. The Congo Basin is not just a regional treasure; it is a shared heritage of humanity, nurtured by generations of local communities and forest dwellers. Its preservation mandates the unwavering commitment of each individual while championing the rights of these communities to dignified livelihoods and sustainable food systems.