Memorandum from the Rural Women’s Assembly to President Zuma and Minister Nkoane-Mashabane

We the Rural Women’s Assembly of Southern Africa, meeting in Durban on the event of the 17th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban stand alongside you, the South African government, as you negotiate to implement the terms of the Bamako Declaration, which lays out the minimum necessary for the survival of the people of Africa, including legally binding emission reduction targets by rich developed countries (annex 1 countries) of 40% by 2017; a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol by annex 1 countries without conditions; and adequate public finance to meet Africa’s mitigation and adaptation needs.

We are deeply concerned about the on-going debate about a new mandate here in Durban and ask you to stand firm in your rejection of any talk of a new mandate as this will lock in inaction for another decade. Annex 1 countries must be held accountable and deliver on their existing promises without making new promises that they will not fulfil. If we go with inaction this will, as you know, have devastating impacts on people, particularly rural women, in Africa. The consequences of irregular rainfall, floods, and drought, are lowered food production levels, increased hunger, with many knock on effects to health and education, for example.

Rural women across Southern Africa are already reporting 20% decreases in food production, and current trends tell us that if we fail to take action now, by 2020 we will have seen a 50% loss in crop yields in our region. We produce 80 per cent of the food consumed by households in Africa. In the absence of support for us, we believe that local and national food security will be deeply threatened.

In addition,

  1. We ask that you continue to press for a filling of the Green Climate Fund with new public finance and work to keep business interests out of the GCF.
  2. Because of rural women’s central role in food production, at least 50% of adaptation funding in the GCF and national budgets should be reserved to support women farmers.
  3. We ask that you properly recognize women’s critical role in fighting climate change and protecting livelihoods and the environment. Equal rights to land and natural resources is critical to fight climate change. The Rural Women’s Assembly asks that governments implement the principle of 50/50 land to women through national programmes of land redistribution and agrarian reform.
  4. Finally, we ask that as you push for the implementation of the Bamako Declaration you simultaneously reject the false climate solutions that are being pushed by rich developed countries. Agrofuels, GMOs and carbon markets allow rich polluting countries to escape their historical debt, pushing these obligations onto poor farmers like us to carry.

Let us stand together to stop Africa Burning!


Rural Women’s Assembly


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