Cooking a Continent

While we might be heading into yet another terribly unsuccessful climate debate in Durban, let us take an African view on things.

A lot is at stake for many countries at this year’s COP 17 climate summit in Durban, taking place from November 28th until December 9th. That is why “the countries of the global South hope for some listening as well as all the talking”. Those are the words of Nnimmo Bassey, international climate campaigner.

The mottos of the conference “working together” and “saving tomorrow today” seem appropriate if we think like the Fiji Times that “the stakes could never have been higher”. This year’s discussion must come up with a solution for after the Kyoto Protocol and finally build up the grounds to create a climate fund, helping developing countries to adapt to the impacts of Climate Change.

Now back to Nnimo Bassey, director of Nigeria’s Environmental Rights Action. He explains that “unless the connection is made between resource extraction, profiteering and climate change, the talks can not resolve the crisis we all face.” Issues like environmental debt should finally be real part of the UN agenda and the discussion in Durban, in order to find a sustainable solution for ALL countries in the world.

Bassey also “points out that climate change has the most direct impact on people whose lives are most closely intertwined with their environment, threatening their livelihoods, health and access to food.” The activist argues in his book To cook a Continent that unlike what is often said, having resources must not be a curse for African countries. It is all about drawing up a new relationship between North, South and the Southern resources which take nature as a real stakeholder into account.

In To cook a Continent – tracing the history of the extraction of resources in Africa – he tells stories of “greed and rapacious consumption” and of “incredibly destructive extractive activities” and their environmental impact, asking himself when we will start taking the real environmental cost into account.

Maybe Durban will be that moment. So far it is not looking that way, but the representatives and leaders present can still surprise us in the upcoming week. Let us hope they will start to listen.

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2 thoughts on “Cooking a Continent

  1. Good perspective. Unfortunately most people in my country will focus only on their own wants, describing them as needs, and will remain oblivious to the impacts on the rest of the world. People rarely stop to consider that “borders” and “countries” exist only in the human mind; clouds of chemicals, winds of toxins, rivers of effluence, and storms of trash and contaminants travel freely without passports. Pollution and climate change are not detained by border control guards, even ones we think are very far away. At some point it may occur to corporations, governments, and consumers that we all share just one Earth, and that, like a body, poisoning one place means poisoning every place.

    • Great comment Rob, thanks! I especially loved the phrase “People rarely stop to consider that “borders” and “countries” exist only in the human mind; clouds of chemicals, winds of toxins, rivers of effluence, and storms of trash and contaminants travel freely without passports.” Very nicely put.

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