Dear Earthlife Africa Community
Before the year wraps, here are some of 2022’s highlights:
2022 (Twenty-Tutu) got off to a poignant start, with the loss of one of our heroes, beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And then, in July, the environmental justice movement also lost activist and comrade Judith Taylor. We continue to draw strength from them and all the courageous environmental defenders who are no longer with us. Hambani Kahle!
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg kicked off the year was Nersa’s hearings regarding Eskom’s MYPD5 application, which were a shambles, since many of those who registered in the different provinces, were unable to present. It is clear we still have our work cut out for us because while meaningful public participation is fundamental to our many rights and responsibilities, it still remains a critical shortcoming in the country.
Then, in a bid to ensure that no-one is left behind and to bring communities into the climate change and just transition conversation, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg continued the community-based #JustTransitionDialogues and workshops. “Nothing about us, without us”. And I am happy to report that our work with communities in Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape, is paying off. People want to know where they fit in to the climate action and they want to be included.
Earthlife Africa has also started developing our very own activist group Grassroots for Climate Action, mostly young activists, who follow the work of and engage the Presidential Climate Change (PCC) Commission. This young group submitted their comments on the Just Transition Framework, with some of them penning powerful articles on the changes that must take place to move the country toward the #JustTransition. On top of all this, these activists also had a regular slot on Kingfisher FM (an Eastern Cape community radio station) to share what they know about addressing the climate crises with local audiences.
Our premier event in August – the annual Women and Climate Justice Seminar (in partnership with GenderCC) – held space for more than 100 indigenous women from Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo to robustly discuss their role (from challenges to solutions) in #ClimateAction. Empowering communities to speak and stand up for themselves, especially when it comes to environmental and climate justice, is critical to what we do at Earthlife Africa. This was demonstrated by the impactful keynote speeches by vhoMphatheleni Makaulele – Keeper of the scared sites, and Makoma Lekalakala and Ndivile Mokoena.
On Saturday 10 December 2022 World Human Rights Day, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg together with partner organizations launched the Mulambwane Eco-Mapping Report. The report raises awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources and nature, including heritage and sacred sites in response to the proposed Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ). The event also highlighted the threats to those who defend the environment, especially remembering those who have lost their lives, in the fight for environmental justice.
Each year, sometime during the annual COP event, climate and environmental justice activists from around the world join in a Global Day of Climate Action to urge decision makers to treat the climate crisis like the global emergency it is. This year’s march drew close to 1500 activists and concerned citizens – affected by the energy and climate crises – to the Constitutional Court to call for the development of strong policies that will fast track the just transition to a low carbon economy. Activists are particularly dissatisfied that these very important negotiations, which will affect people from all walks of life around the world, are largely driven by fossil fuel industries, with very little community-based representation.
Finally, this was a great year for Earthlife Africa’s Digital Storytelling Champions. This group of young activists continue to develop their social media storytelling skills, sharing stories from their communities. They particularly excelled when asked to share people’s struggles with the ongoing loadshedding – interviews with community members and their lived experience were well received online. Additionally, the Champs shared some great ideas for the holiday season with a focus on Reduce, Reuse and Recycling of waste.
Even though this has been a particularly tough year, it is clear that we do have much to be thankful for, but we should keep pushing for the just South Africa we want.
Looking forward to the year ahead, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg will continue to emphasize the importance of gender and how it should form part of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Time is flying toward 2030. We are just seven (7) years away from what has been identified as a critical turning point, according to the climate science, before global temperatures reach disastrous levels, with impacts that cannot be backtracked. Therefore, we will continue with the successful #JustTransitionDialogues to ensure that the voices of those people at the grassroots are heard and recognised.
The fight against the Musina Makhado SEZ development also continues, since we must create awareness and highlight the destruction of the region’s rich biodiversity, at the forthcoming BRICS summit to be hosted by SA.
And while there remains a push for further nuclear development, we will be keeping an eye on the proposed plans to extend the lifespan of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and will continue to point out the risks and dangers of such plans.
Earthlife Africa also commits to continue supporting coastal communities in their struggles to stop the destruction of our oceans, through gas (and oil, i.e. fossil fuels) exploration.
With that, I would like to thank you for your continued support throughout the year. May you have a good break over the holidays, and come back feeling refreshed and revived, ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead, with gusto.
With love and respect,
Director, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg