Ephrem reports on the community talks held to prepare the COP 17 where participants called for greater leadership and solutions based on science and justice

Few days before the UN climate conference on climate change in Durban, delegates and activists from around the world are converging by different means to the coastal city of South Africa. Some have already started their journey through caravans; others are on the way on bike and few still making final logistic arrangements.

Community members, local political and traditional leaders in Idjwi recently met to discuss about the meeting and to clarify the message I will be taking there as their representative. Most of our community members have never heard about COP. Few know that it is the place where decisions about the climate are taken.  For the last 15 years, Idjwi has suffered a lot from bad effects of climate change (droughts, famine, floods, etc). To address this, we have been advised to stop deforestation, to plant more trees and improve our agricultural methods. And we did it. Since 1999, members of VAM and other community members have planted an average of 9,000 seedlings each year and we’re still committed to the reforestation programme.

Community dialogue is largely used to address various issues across Africa

Challenges ahead of us are many, sometimes they even seem enormous. But there is a hope. Because if we as citizens using our knowledge and means can do our best to tackle climate change, why can’t political leader to their best at their level?

At COP 17, I am bringing messages of my community members made of farmers, traditional leaders, pastoralists, elders, women and youth of Idjwi. All those people have decided to stand up and take action to stop ravages of climate change.

I am not only bringing messages, pictures, stories on how the climate crisis is affecting my community, but my desire is to show and share solutions we have been applying, based on traditional knowledge and local means.

We may fail to solve the global warming in Durban but again we will demonstrate that solutions to the climate crisis exist, work and can save our planet. COP 17 is a privileged opportunity for DRC, Africa and Least Developed countries to resist passivity from industrialized countries and urge for solutions based on science and justice.