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Ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to be held at the United Nations Headquarters, 6th-17th of November 2017, in Bonn, we faith communities in Southern Africa stand together with the broader civil society as well as state actors, especially the most poor and vulnerable communities in African and island states.

Scientific evidence and recent catastrophic global climate events call for urgent action. Human carbon emissions continue to grow and the associated global impacts and vulnerabilities place millions of lives, of all species at risk. We believe that caring for the community of life on Earth is our shared responsibility.

The challenge ahead requires honest, self-reflection, courage and immediate action to reduce emissions. We underscore that to limit the effects of climate change and achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication it is crucial to raise issues of equity, justice, and fairness and to demand a shift away from business as usual. It requires a deeper contemplation and understanding of our relationship with the Earth to ensure that actions and guidelines set for the Paris agreement implementation are consistent, equitable, ethical and inclusive.

Our expectation for COP 23:

  1. We urge all governments (especially those that have not yet participated) to sign, ratify and implement the Paris agreement and to raise their level of ambition to keep the global temperature increase to below 2°C and to further reduce to 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels);
  2. We insist on a rapid emissions reduction plan, with emissions peaking by 2020; with the Paris Agreement Rulebook concluded by 2018 in order to keep the global temperature goal limit within reach;
  3. We strongly advocate for greater finance on adaptation, and on loss and damage. The Adaptation Fund should remain a fundamental and cross-cutting means of support to developing countries within the Paris agreement beyond the second commitment of the Kyoto protocol, since it is core to the principle of human and earth rights;
  4. Adaptation measures should consider the needs of the poorest communities and should take into account and learn from traditional knowledge and southern institutional systems;
  5. Safeguards for vulnerable communities should be increased, including adhering to existing UN standards on human rights, women and children’s rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples;
  6. Ensure that the “global stocktake” and the Rulebook are primarily equity dedicated so that human rights violations (including intergenerational equity and justice) related to climate related impacts and vulnerability are considered and integrated.
  7. We encourage the exploration of faith-based and traditional economic systems that would inform an ethical approach to greater equity for human and planetary wellbeing.

Our national position towards COP 23:

  1. South Africa’s NDC should inclusively, equitably and effectively respond to the environment and climate effects as well as the needs of poor and vulnerable communities including the national development needs. We therefore call on the RSA government to promote energy efficiency as well as fossil fuel divestment, and to move away from plans for nuclear energy, on the basis of a just transition and reinvestment in renewable energy including most especially solar, wind, hydro and other alternative energy sources.
  2. Adopt a policy framework on food sovereignty so as to protect diverse sources of nutrition including indigenous knowledge systems, pastoralism, wild food gathering, small scale farming, artisanal fishing excluding climate smart agriculture involving Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) seeds and crops to protect local genetic diversity and ecosystem integrity.
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