Leaders and stakeholders from various domains will meet this week at the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) Summit to address the pressing and interconnected issues of climate change, biodiversity, and Indigenous rights.
“One continent cannot continue to bear the burden of the actions of a whole planet”
Prudence Muchinouta is the Chief Financial Officer of COMACO, a social enterprise that supports wildlife conservation and 225,000 food-secure farmers in the elephant-rich Luangwa Valley. She is also a member of The Rallying Cry, an organization focused on supporting climate- and gender-responsive agriculture enterprises in Africa.
Here is her contribution to the Our World in Your Hands project.
Dear global leaders,
It is time for governments to step up, as I do every day.
Your references may be the multitude of reports and articles that have been written around the biggest environmental challenges attacking countries, continents and life on our planet. But I live in Zambia, and I see and live with these challenges every single day.
Many little children can no longer play outside as they would have some years back. The warming climate is shifting weather patterns in Zambia creating stronger and more frequent storms. In some months, the heat is unbearable.
There is no doubt to me that climate change must be addressed with urgency and bold courage. And it must be tackled alongside the interlinked issues of deforestation, natural resources use and biodiversity loss.
The question I therefore pose is: are you willing to help reverse this damage? It is true that billions of individuals must decrease their carbon footprints, but it is time for you and your governments to step up and show us what true leadership looks like.
Firstly, you must find the courage to be honest and publicly acknowledge the causes of the climate change before us.
There is so much power and wealth invested in the fossil fuel driven global economy, and with all the research done there is no doubt that you are fully aware of the effects of such investments.
You must be more open about the vested interests behind climate change.
People in rich countries don’t often hear of the stories around families in Africa that for years have lived in poverty with no food, no grant support and no basic livelihoods as the climate impact has destroyed any potential productivity.
We need more stories of leaders who are doing the right thing; I know many of them in Zambia. They aren’t politicians, they are farmers and women business leaders like me. These are the untold stories from poorer countries and their communities, particularly women leaders and women in poverty — who hold up half the sky.
We need you to be open to listening to, and learning from, this knowledge so we can devise the most effective and fair solutions. We need innovative financing facilities to support adaptation and mitigation practices across the board.
This is about supporting the billions of people creating micro actions that together create change. We deserve global leaders who live and breathe the change we so urgently need.
As countries boast about their levels of development and industrialization, there is another continent that must bear the impacts of such development. It is only fair that profits generated are distributed fairly – towards women we know who live in the villages in Zambia impacted by climate change.
Global leaders need to do more. Overtime, the depletion of our natural resources will lead to an energy crisis.
With real government leadership, these challenges can be controlled. I hope at this upcoming COP you will show us what leadership looks like – leadership that will be praised in, as yet, unwritten history books.
It is time for you to stand up and confront the battles faced by all of us. This is why I ask you once again: where are the funds that are being channelled towards the solutions?
It is time to plant trees, balance our ecosystems, stand up to the fossil fuel industry, boost renewable energy and most importantly, show authoritative action and bold leadership by once and for all setting an agenda for positive change.
The time is now.
Prudence Muchinouta, Chief Financial Officer Community Markets for Conservation, Zambia and member of The Rallying Cry
Young people and future generations are environmental stewards of the future. The Climate Champions Team, in support of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, are committed to strengthening youth agency in climate action.
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The demands of the most impacted — particularly African, Indigenous, youth, and women voices — must be centered throughout these next two weeks at COP27 and beyond, writes Carissa Patrone Maikuri, Program Coordinator, Drawdown Lift, Project Drawdown