“Blue carbon is Ocean Grabbing in disguise; therefore we need to focus on Systems Change”.

This is what small-scale fishers and other organisations fighting for the rights of peasants, fishers and small-scale producers said at COP 21, during the People’s Summit, an event that formed part of the COP 21.

The event took place in Paris, France in December 2015.

CLSA/Masifundise, together with Afrika Kontakt, Transnational Institute (TNI) and World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), World Forum of Fish Harvesters (WFF) and FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN International) championed this notion of focusing on systems change by promoting the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines, Governance of Tenure and the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.

Governments and policy makers should focus on changing the systems that are currently in place in order to sustain and protect the livelihoods of those who will be mostly affected by decisions which serve to promote capitalism and the exploitation of natural resources.

Climate change is caused by many factors which include oil exploration, deforestation and carbon storage mechanisms, which in turn have direct effects on the livelihoods of the poor.

“Businesses are looking at new ways of Carbon Storage mechanisms, and these include the usage of mangrove forests as carbon storage mechanisms under the guise of conservation areas” said Christian Adams who attended the COP 21.

“For us, this means that if these systems are in place, there is a high probability of Marine Protected and Conservation Areas cropping up, which will lead to a lack of access for fishers and other natural resource users” continued Adams.

Adams said that decision makers are subsidising the depletion of the natural resources through the lack of proposals on efforts to discourage oil exploration and deforestation and  are not looking at ways to keep the oceans and natural habitats healthy.

“The current neoliberal policies are subsidising the depletion of the resources, and the violation of human rights” said Adams.

He said that real change will be brought by the people on the ground and COP 21 is a powerful platform through which these changes can be brought about, as it attracts a number of decision makers.

“We had a role to play and had to make sure that the message ‘if the ocean is well our lives will be well’ was  championed”, he further said that it is important that we make sure that there is a sustainability of the ecosystem for food sovereignty in fisheries and non-violation of human rights.

Christian also took part in a number of groups which included “Africans on the Front Line” a forum which dealt with racial oppression of Africans, across the globe and “Convergence of Land and Water Struggles” which dealt with the day to day struggles faced by small-scale producers.

The Conference of Parties takes place annually and aims to review the implementation of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The framework is an international political response to climate change that began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ was adopted, as well as the UNFCCC.

This framework is for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs), to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties.

Read more about the Climate Change Conference also known as COP here: http://www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21/


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