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Caravan of Hope in Durban

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Caravan of Hope in Durban

Demember 5, 2011

Ewa Modlinska

Global Day of Action rally on the streets of Durban bring inspiration and hope to the 17th Conference of Parties in South Africa.

Let me introduce to you Ndayiragije Diendonne, who travelled on a bus more than seven thousands kilometres from Burundi to make his voice heard at the climate change conference in Durban. Ndayiragije is part of the Trans-African “Caravan of Hope” where 300 farmers, youth, and activists from 10 eastern and southern African countries took busses to arrive at COP17 and try to tell the world how climate change is affecting their communities. After all, COP17 is hosted on African soil. And the people here, already disadvantaged by the current economic and political system, are and will continue to be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Before Saturday’s Global Day of Action protest, important gatherings took place in parks and the KwaZulu-Natal University where people shared their stories and talked about what climate justice means to them.

Before Saturday’s Global Day of Action protest, important gatherings took place in parks and the KwaZulu-Natal University where people shared their stories and talked about what climate justice means to them.

Unfortunately, I was at the Convention Centre listening to a United States representative give a media update of hoping to achieve a “balanced outcome”, of major economies not being prepared to sign a legally binding agreement, and of different governments taking different pathways – the same old story.  But what I can write here are some of the messages that were voiced at the protest: “our Africa, our climate, our rights”, “protect our workers and communities”, “grow food, not emissions”, “listen to the people”, “respect the earth”,  “time for climate justice”…

Ndayiragije and the Trans-African Caravan of Hope are leaving Durban today because they do not have the money to stay until the end of the week when the COP17 negotiations come to an end. Meaningful participation of people from the ‘developing’ world in future COPs means that there should be financial resources for both the official delegates as well as for people from affected communities. Climate justice is about building institutional spaces within the United Nations so that ‘people’, and not just official delegates, get to participate in the formation of international law on climate change. The distance between the official delegates in the Convention Centre and those who are protesting outside is too big.

I have asked Ndayiragije if he believed that COP17 would result in an agreement. He just smiled. “Then your seven thousand kilometers journey was a waste of time”, I responded too quickly. He looked at me and then at the protest, and said, “no, this is not a waste of time.”

For videos from the protest, please click on the links below:

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Ndayiragije Diendonne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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