MEG member Liam Murtagh went along recently to a special seminar entitled ‘Climate Justice begins at Home’ – an event held to coincide with the Mary Robinson Foundation’s international conference in Dublin, ‘Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013’ The seminar was organised by Friends of the Earth and Food Sovereignty Ireland.
Cecilia Kibe from Kenya was just one of the many grassroots community members from the developing world who had travelled to the Dublin conference to represent their communities. The conference aimed to focus the eyes of the world and in particular the attention of decision makers on the injustice of climate change – a situation in which the people who have not caused climate change are the ones who are suffering the most from its effects. At the seminar Cecilia described how climate change is being primarily caused by the burning of fossil coal and oil in the developed world and that it is setting back the efforts to address the Millenium Development Goals in the developing world. She outlined the impact of droughts on food production in East Africa and also the effects of land erosion which happens in certain areas when there are downpours following long periods of drought.
There has been regular failure of the maize crop in areas such as Kitui and loss of grazing land. All this has led to a lot of hunger, poor nutrition and poverty. The Kenya Climate Change Womens Champions of which Cecilia is Co-ordinator has a membership of over 75,000 women and has received some support from Trócaire. Cecilia and her group have been involved in a range of projects that include the awareness raising among women of the need to campaign on climate change issues and promote some practical responses. They participated in initiatives to promote the growing of more drought tolerant crops and also more indigenous crops that are highly nutritional. In certain areas of Kenya it involves efforts to address erosion by reducing the cutting down of trees for firewood and introducing more sustainable alternatives such as solar stoves.
Molly Walsh of Friends of the Earth outlined a ‘Start, Stop and Continue’ message. She says that everyone needs to ‘start’ recognising that climate change is a planetary emergency. Governments should ‘stop’ backing the big business that are contributing to the problem, including businesses that push western foods on developing countries and adversely affecting the local food production and distribution systems. Molly concluded by saying that we need to ‘continue’ to focus on the importance of leadership and a rights based approach in addressing the climate change crisis.
John Brennan who farms organically in Co Leitrim highlighted the need to have shorter food distributions systems and to build more resilience into the Irish agriculture. He said that we need grow a diverse range of crops including more vegetables – at the moment 75% of the vegetables we consume are imported. John also expressed the view that Irish Government’s Food Harvest 2020 targets will indirectly damage livelihoods in the developing world. John is a member of the group Food Sovereignty Ireland. Its aim is to build a more just and sustainable food production model in Ireland and worldwide.
An open forum was chaired by Oisin Coughlan, Director of Friends of the Earth. He referred to the need for ongoing lobbying of the Government so that the current Climate Change Bill going through the Oireachtas will have targets, because without them it is ’’just aspirational’’. In concluding the seminar, Oisin called for people to support The ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ coalition and to register on their website in order to join others in meeting a TD or Senator member of the Oireachtas Environment Committee in Dublin on May 15th.
Links www.mrfcj.org (Mary Robinson Foundation) www.kcjwc.org (Kenya Climate Justice Women Champions) www.foe.ie(Friends of the Earth) http://foodsovereigntyireland.wordpress.com/ www.stopclimatechaos.ie