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A delegation of hope at COP17

Caravan of hope

As governments from around the world converge on Durban, South Africa, for the 17th UN Climate Change summit, a delegation of another kind is doing its own moving and shaking.

Meet the Trans Africa Caravan of Hope, a project undertaken by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and supported by Oxfam. The caravan is a symbol of unity amongst Africans over the need for action on climate change, and is a way of sharing the countless stories about the effects of climate change over this vast continent.

The caravan’s journey comprises of 10 stops down the East African coast: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and finally to its destination of South Africa, where the Durban negotiations are being held.

A caravan team member, Annette Linda Kagaaga, from the Rwandese Environmental NGOs Forum said, “We are here as one East African voice. We are expressing our concerns how negative climate change is affecting our right to food.”

Gloria Najjuma from the Uganda Climate Action Network released a joint statement with PACJA, spelling out the five demands the Caravan of Hope wished to convey: “Developed countries must provide adequate financial resources to address their climate debts and implement their commitment. Global warming must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The principle of a just transition must be strengthened and operationalized. Developed countries must reduce their emissions by 50% by 2017 and African countries must undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions.”

Just as the Durban negotiations were getting underway, others have also been adding their own voices to the collective call for climate action. Yesterday the streets of Durban were filled with celebrities, politicians, religious leaders and locals alike – united in their demand for progressive action.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu led a rally at a soccer stadium urging action, while Pope Benedict XVI urged governments “to craft a responsible and credible deal to cut greenhouse gases that takes into account the needs of the poor.”

For the next two weeks, Oxfam will be bringing you all the up to date news on COP17, so make sure you check in with us and follow our climate tracker Clancy Moore as he covers the talks.

You can also add your suggestions for Climate Minister Greg Combet’s ‘to do’ list and vote in our Facebook poll for what Minister Combet should push for at the Durban talks.