SAFCEI, COP 17 and climate change

SAFCEI and partners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the Rally for Climate Justice at COP 17 in DurbanI am, until the end of February, working part-time as a communications officer for the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, which works to raise awareness of environmental issues amongst the various faith communities. (My connection with SAFCEI evolved out of my long-time Buddhist practice and my media work.)

SAFCEI, along with various partners across the subcontinent, has been working hard to raise awareness of the UN climate change conference beginning next week in Durban, COP 17. Our biggest event will be a huge mass rally of the faith communities (and others), on Sunday 27 November in Durban’s Kings Park Stadium, aiming to remind the COP of the ethics of dealing with climate change. This last Sunday, I was interviewed for half an hour on CapeTalk/702 by Kate Turkington about the rally, the COP and climate change.

For the last year, I’ve also been running a blog that’s a major clearing house for information relating to general civil society activities at COP 17, now pulling close to 1,000 hits a day.

A UN office building without any light switches that’s also a power station

After a taxing day in Nairobi working to finalise a declaration of African faith leaders on climate change, it was good to take a break and a tour with some senior African clergy of an amazing new office building constructed here on the UN’s Gigiri compound to house staff of the UN Environment Programme. (Our SAFCEI/AACC/Procmura conference was kindly hosted by UNEP.)
Continue reading A UN office building without any light switches that’s also a power station

‘Climate justice for sustainable peace in Africa’

African faith leaders gathered to discuss climate change at UNEP in Nairobi.
African faith leaders gathered to discuss climate change at UNEP in Nairobi. Not yet panicking.

[I was part of the team that drafted this statement.]

A message from African faith leaders to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from 29 November – 9 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. 

You must treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It is loaned to you by your children. – Kikuyu proverb

1. Introduction 

Africa is a continent of the faithful. We gathered as African faith leaders at UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya on 7th and 8th June 2011, to discuss climate change and how it will be addressed at COP17.

Scientific reports indicate that climate change may well be the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, with, on current targets, Continue reading ‘Climate justice for sustainable peace in Africa’

Getting the climate change asteroid onto page one

the editors briefing on climate change 6 august at the hyatt johannesburg Full report on this event, written for the Goedgedacht Forum

Alarmed that the urgency of the climate change crisis has not yet dawned on South African editors, this August I partnered with the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, Project 90 by 2030 and the Goedgedacht Forum for Social Reflection, as well as leading South African science writer Leonie Joubert and the environmental writer Monica Graaff, to hold an Editors’ Briefing on Climate Change.

We particularly wished to emphasise the importance of the imminent COP15 talks in Copenhagen in December. There, of course, we very much hope that South Africa will contribute to the world negotiating a visionary extension to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, one that will turn us away from runaway climate change.

We ran the event at the Hyatt, in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on August 6. I had raised money from the Danish government to fund it. Our contributors Continue reading Getting the climate change asteroid onto page one

Incite Sustainability


Since January 2008, I have been working fairly consistently with Incite Sustainability as a writer, editor and researcher. Late last year, I became an associate. At present, one of my key roles is writing and maintaining the Incite blog.

Incite Sustainability is a South African based consultancy that provides strategy and implementation advice on sustainability policy and practice to the private and public sector. Combining substantial local and international experience across a broad range of industries and sectors, we help our clients to identify the risks and market opportunities associated with sustainable development.

Recent Incite clients include Sasol, Anglo Coal, Pick n Pay, Engen, Bidvest, Western Cape Provincial Government, UNEP, UN Global Compact, Development Bank of Southern Africa, and International Institute for Sustainable Development

An editor again

I’m now, for a short time, the editor of Research Africa.

Research Africa covers the research environment — policy, funding, infrastructure, training — across the continent. Much of it, I fear, is at present crashingly dull: notices of conferences, scholarships and funding opportunities, lightened (if that is the word) by a heady mixture of endless announcements by aid organisations, governments and other earnest twiddlers of the knobs of continental development. These announcements are rarely if ever accompanied by statements of past achievements or measurable targets, and so far my efforts to discover just how much is achieved, and when, and where, are proving frustrating.

I have gained new insight into just how much aid and development is designed without consulting Africans, how much those running these organisations like to patronise Africans, and how self-interested much of this purported benevolence really is.

But the attempt to uncover these things, at least, is enjoyable.

My contract with Research Africa ends on 20 July.