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A mighty undertaking

By Red Constantino

I’m here in Johannesburg at the moment, working closely with colleagues who’ve become great friends, to produce strategies and approaches that help increase the ambition of developing country governments to act on climate change.

The welcome dinner last night was excellent, and also really tough for people who’ve just arrived after traveling for up to 24 hours. South African wine (beautiful), boerewors (typical meat sausages here), biltong (dried, cured meats), cheeses, salads, potatos, bread, and craft beer from Cape Town. I couldn’t keep my eyes open close to midnight and had to beg off early.

We’ve begun today’s gathering on time. Everyone’s here.

Sreedhar Ramamurti is here on behalf of Mines, Minerals and People and Environics Trust. He is with Madhuresh Kumar of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, whom I have met only now. I am looking forward to getting more insights from Madhu and Sreedhar ji, as the meeting proceeds. Both are from India, and the two embody not only rootedness in so many social and ecological struggles but also wisdom based on their work on natural resources, energy, economics and democratic governance.

Also here are Li Na and Bai Yunwen from Greenovation Hub, a new, Chinese civil society policy group based in Beijing and working on climate finance and sustainability issues. A small organization formed only three years ago, G:Hub, as it is also known, is working heroically on such a huge agenda, often times based on high level engagement, considering the current trajectory of China’s economy.

Tristen Taylor is here, with Makoma Lekalakala, Sello Ntoane and Trusha Reddy to represent Earthlife Africa — one of the largest campaigning organizations in South Africa working on environment, development and energy. With them is the indefatigable Bobby Peek and David Hallows of groundWork.

Also here is Vladimir Slivyak of Ecodefense, based in Russia. It’s my first time to meet Vladimir and I am aware of his storied background. I expect to gain lots of insights from Vladimir as well. For the Philippines, it is Gerry Arances representing the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and myself for iCSC.

We are here to attempt to hammer out — together — common strategies, common understanding, even a common agenda related to the climate negotiations that will conclude next year in Paris, where a new international climate treaty is expected to be agreed.

Earthlife put this event together and we are all most thankful for the opportunity to break bread and exchange views and, with luck and hard work, come up with useful unities that can carry all of us through next year’s turbulent calendar — particularly the tumult of getting governments to make the right moves and stave off irreversible catastrophe. #