A legally binding international treaty on climate change should be the ultimate target

Marrakech, Morocco hosted the22nd Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)-COP22 between 7th-18th November 2016. This conference also acted as the first session of the conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1), which entered into force on 4th November.

Several world leaders and state representatives recommitted themselves to the implementation of the Paris Agreement- a positive step in combating climate change. The remaining challenge though, is still the lack of an international legally binding mechanism to punish climate change defaulters.

The outcomes of the Paris Agreement were great but were non-binding and therefore not an international treaty. Countries voluntarily set their national targets for carbon emissions, a serious weakness, since it’s not an obligation.

Coal- the main source of human carbon emissions wasn’t properly addressed in the Paris Agreement and thus puts the planet at the mercy of the biggest polluters: Unites States, China and India, they have no legal obligation to stop doing so, it all depends on their will.

More to that, there was no agreement on including Carbon tax in the Paris agreement which would have impacted transporters and power suppliers to change their decisions and start limiting their carbon emissions.

The Marrakech summit was a positive step towards the implementation of the Paris agreement, world leaders recommitted themselves to take action on climate change and sustainable development, what remains to be seen are the tangible actions by individual states.

A legally binding international treaty on climate change should be the ultimate target for all concerned parties in order to seriously reduce global warming and safeguard our planet.

/Frank Habineza 

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President, African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

Green Forum at the heart of the African Greens Success Story

It was during the Second Global Greens Congress in April-May 2008 which took place in Sao Paulo-Brazil, that Green Forum Sweden recommitted itself in support the African Greens Network, as it was called then. Previous efforts in West Africa and East Africa had not been successful and this was a serious cause for concern, since without the continent of Africa, there would not be a Global Greens Movement.

After the Global Greens Congress in Brazil, Rwanda Green Society submitted a project proposal to Green Forum, which would help to unite all Greens in different parts of Africa, and as well establish a Green political federation, comprising of political parties and political movements.

The first activities were held in Benin, Morocco and Tunisia, it was later decided to hold an African Greens Movement, preparatory meeting in Benin, which was attended by 13 countries from East, South, North, Central and Western Africa. This prep meeting took place in June 2009, it was agreed that the founding congress for establishing the African Greens Federation would be held in Kampala, Uganda in April 2010.

Indeed, in April 2010, Green Forum supported this founding congress and 23 countries were present and a political federation was officially established and leadership elected. The African Greens Charter was also adopted. This Congress was also attended by the Secretary General of the European Greens Federation and a representative of Green Forum. The diversity of different cultures, languages and national political dynamics has been a source of our strength.

There has been tremendous growth and success after the official establishment, the Federation officially got registered as an international political Association in June 2012 in Burkina Faso, West Africa and a continental secretariat was established and launched immediately after. The federation was also able to host the Third Global Greens Congress in Dakar, Senegal in April 2012. This was not an easy task but when people are united they can really achieve a lot.

The federation went into its second growth phase and established five regional federations, which are:

  • the Southern Africa Greens Federation bringing together Madagascar, Mauritius, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola.
  • the North African Greens Federation, bringing together, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and South Sudan
  • the East African Greens Federation, bringing together, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi
  • the Central African Greens Federation, bringing together, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Gabon and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
  • and the West African Greens Federation, bringing together, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry.

The Africa Green Federation has 29 member countries, and several member parties are participating in national elections, some have won seats in parliaments and local governments. Others have been appointed ministers. The green vision is getting stronger. Green Forum has played a key role in achieving this success story.

The Federation has now entered its third growth stage, which is strengthening this regional networks and make them able to support member countries.  It has also got new partners, the Green Party of England and Wales/West Minister Foundation for Democracy and the Belgian Green Party (Groen), whom have committed to supporting both East Africa and West Africa respectively.

The journey is still long, but we are very proud of what we achieved and how far we have come from. All this could not have been achieved without the tremendous support of Green Forum Sweden and several partners. We hope more will be achieved in the coming years as we consolidate the regional federations and move to the fourth growth stage.  We are putting more focus now on participation and winning general elections and have seats in Local Government structures, national Governments and national Parliaments.

/Frank Habineza 

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

The Return of Rwanda’s Exiled King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa – a pillar to achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Roi kigeli

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda recently called upon the Rwandan Government to help bring back the exiled last Rwandan King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, who was overthrown in 1961 and currently lives in the United States of America. The king’s return is a key factor for achieving sustainable peace and stability as well as several Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).

SDG Goal number 16 states: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Before colonialism, the Rwandan monarchy ruled for at least 1000 years, people lived together without racism and ethnic divisions. The king was the supreme leader for all his people. Wars fought were only for conquests but not against his people.

However, things changed with colonialism and by the end of 1959, the Rwandan society was deeply divided alongside ethnic lines and several people were killed, so many others were forced into exile. The king was eventually overthrown in 1961 and a republic was proclaimed, then independence granted on 7th July 1962. Continued animosity and ethnic divisions marked the following years after independence and by April 1994, those divisions culminated into the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, where almost one million lives were killed in just 100 days.

After the genocide, many people believe that the return of the exiled king would be a key factor in consolidating unity and reconciliation amongst Rwandan people. It is well known that during the monarchy period, people never killed each other due to ethnic differences, they embraced each other, inter-married and life went on. Similarly, many Rwandans believe that the return of the exiled king, would be a good omen for the country. The king would be expected to play a big role in unity and reconciliation of his people. This would mark the real beginning of sustainable peace and stability thus fulfilling SDG goal number 16.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has taken a hard decision to demand the Rwandan government to help bring back the exiled king. This decision is in line with the party’s policy on resolving the persistent refugee problem. The party resolved that in order to completely end the refugee problem, the exiled king should be assisted to return to his country. DGPR believes that his return will be the exodus of the return of all remaining Rwandan refugees and it will be a pillar for bringing sustainable peace and security to Rwanda and the great lakes region.

The Rwandan government has been requested to recognize the exiled king as a former head of state and provide him with all the privileges that are guaranteed by law for a former head of state. The king cannot come back as an ordinary citizen. He represented Rwanda before the UN and he also requested for independence.

The party finds it difficult for the country to achieve sustainable development and social justice for the Rwandan people when the issue of the exiled king is still unresolved. It would be hard for Rwanda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) when peace and stability is not guaranteed.

/ Frank Habineza

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

Climate change resilience strategies a tool towards achieving SDGs

Every country needs to review its progress towards achieving sustainable developments goals by assessing challenges facing its policies in combatting climate change. There is a need for continued technical support, close monitoring of the implementation of all commitments, adequate resource mobilization and mainstreaming of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their targets and indicators within the strategy.

We have seen global demands over the past years for a paradigm shift to more sustainable patterns of development that will ensure that the economic progress that countries would continue to make in the coming years will no longer compromise unduly environmental sustainability and would adhere to the principles of equity, the 2012 Rio+20 Summit’s outcome document, “The Future We Want”, recognised “green economy” as an important avenue for sustainable and inclusive development as well as accelerated poverty eradication by promoting improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental deterioration and ecological risks.

Recent publications by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reconfirm the imperative for accelerated transformation to a green economy for achieving the various global agenda, notably the Sustainable Development Goals. Within the context of these debates, active discussions are ongoing on “inclusive green economy”, which highlights elements of a socio-ecological and economy-wide transformation firmly underpinned by principles of sustainability and energy saving technologies and processes.

They, thus, call for radical changes in production and consumption patterns, strong institutional and capacity building, wide spread introduction of energy saving technologies and accompanying economic, fiscal policy reforms and legislative changes that are specifically geared towards safeguarding the above principles of sustainability, environmental protection and social equity. We need to promote greener development, transformation processes and climate resilience.

The rationale for all this is derived from the increasingly apparent adverse effects of climate change on human lives, livelihoods, social capital and physical infrastructure as well as over reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels, such as petroleum and coal.

There is by now incontrovertible scientific evidence that the effects of climate change being progressively experienced today in all parts of the world are caused by rising and volatile temperatures from an accumulation of Green House Gases, dominated by carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Several scientific studies indicate that this process of releasing Green House Gases intensified with effect from the industrial revolution.

The argument is thus made that the releasing of Green House Gases into the atmosphere has principally been the responsibility of the advanced industrialized countries as well as the newly industrialized ones. This notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the responsibility for effectively responding to the increasingly devastating effects of climate change lies with all the nations around the world.

This responsibility should be discharged through reduction of carbon footprints, adaptation and mitigation of risks of damage to crops, homes and other property, infrastructure, loss of livestock, wildlife and other biodiversity and above all, to human lives. This means systematically incorporating climate change considerations into all development and transformation strategies. It is also crucial that changes in our mind-sets, behaviors and cultural practices in consumption patterns and economic activities are urgently effected.

In this regard, we must endeavour to use resources efficiently in consumption and production and ensure that our production processes and other economic and lifestyle activities are low-carbon generating, meaning the release of the minimum possible greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 

/ Frank Habineza

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President African Greens Federation

Presentation Frank Habineza