Climate change is having a disproportionate effect on poor communities, especially those in Africa, said Mithika Mwenda, executive director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), at a lecture Monday afternoon.
In his lecture, “Building an Enduring Climate Justice Movement: Lessons from Pan African Climate Justice Alliance” at the Thomas J. Dodd Center, Mwenda said climate change is a broad, issue that affects everyone, and all of us have a role to play in addressing it.
Mwenda spoke on climate justice, which PACJA defines as “just response to climate change in a manner which accords stronger voice to those at the frontline of climate impacts in international dialogue and response processes.” He said the definition has evolved to become more complex.
“I am very excited that 10 years ago, the discourse [was] not the way it is [now],” Mwenda said. “It is progress, I assure you.”
Climate change is not a single cause-and-effect issue, but rather one that is shown to be a poverty, justice, humanitarian, economic and political issue.
PACJA’s main objective is to coordinate citizen efforts on a global scale to collectively combat climate change, Mwenda said, centering the efforts on the fair treatment of poorer regions of coastal Africa. To work toward these goals, they have campaigned both locally in Africa and around the globe, through joining other coalitions and organizing petitions.
“When it becomes difficult, we use the tools of the civil society,” Mwenda said, explaining the Alliance’s use of petitions.
PACJA’s efforts and campaigns have not gone unnoticed, as Mwenda was named one of the most influential people in the world and was nominated by the Sierra Club for an Earthcare Award.
The Alliance is also working toward the proper implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as contributing to the achievement of Agenda 2030.
In his lecture, Mwenda detailed the disproportionate effect climate change is having on poorer communities, namely those along the African coast, and explained why climate change is a broader, global issue that affects everyone, and “all of us have a role to play” in addressing the problem. Therefore, the burden should not fall on these underdeveloped communities only, Mwenda said.
Mwenda answered questions about the difficulties of running the Alliance, how we should better address the issues of climate change and what issues Mwenda hoped to see resolved in the next meeting of the United Nations. Gaining access to resources, as well as working against racism and rallying the support of government, have been among the challenges of running PACJA and he hopes to see more nations take accountability in resolving and fixing the problems of climate change.
Mara Tu, a fifth-semester environmental science and urban and community studies double major, said she attended the lecture because climate justice is such a relevant issue at the moment, and is a topic that everyone should pay attention to and care about.
PACJA’s main objective is to coordinate citizen efforts on a global scale to collectively combat climate change, centering the efforts on the fair treatment of poorer regions of coastal Africa, according to Mwenda.
Amanda Kilyk is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org