groundWork’s statement to the African leaders taking part in the conference

Submitted by Rolina Vorster on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 11:30

Africa is not a cave: Coal, waste incineration, and plastics are a danger to our environment and the well being of our people.

No to coal - yes to renewables; no to closing of democracy - yes to open democracy; no to incineration and plastic pollution - yes to Zero Waste as an innovative solution to addressing environmental problems and job creation, energy and food security and mitigating climate change. This is the call of groundWork and the very many community organisations and partners we work with to the Seventh Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) that is being held at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya from 17 to 19 September 2018. It will consist of a meeting of the expert group to be held from 17 to 18 September 2018 and a ministerial segment to be held on 19 September 2018.

Any foreign investment, including that coming from China should be in line with Africa’s future and our continents’ development plan. In this day and age, any investments in coal-fired energy, and coal mining should be called-out for what it is; a deliberate act to undermine Africa’s efforts towards a ‘just transition’ into renewable energy, and a direct onslaught on the environment and the people who have suffered and continue to, because of the negative impacts of coal.

Community people from Botswana to Kenya, from Ghana to South Africa are all saying no to coal, plastics and dirty energy such as waste incineration.

In Africa, 36 out of 55 African states have some legislation dealing with plastics in place. We call on African governments to take action to make the legislative changes actions on the ground.

Seventy eight organisations globally are calling on UN Environment to give a clear stance and policy statement supporting sustainable waste and resources management approaches at the top of the waste hierarchy, to refrain from endorsing waste incineration projects and to stop advocating waste incineration in all their publications and statements.

If we all agree that renewable energy is the only way towards a sustainable growth path, socially owned and directly benefiting those most in need, economically, and otherwise, then we must accept and admit that because of air pollution, water pollution, deaths, sicknesses, strain on water resources and land, coal has never been and will never be a friend. Unless your conscience is made of stone and your core self feels more for markets than the well- being of humanity.

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