From 7th-18th November, the 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) was held in Marrakech, Morocco. The main objective of COP22 was to encourage countries to commit to a low-carbon economy, following the Paris Agreement adopted by 195 countries on December 12th, 2015.
The effects of climate change are now becoming visible in many places around the world. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere— including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa. Global sea levels have risen about 6.7 inches in the last century. The number of extreme weather events around the world has increased dramatically, leaving millions of people affected and displaced.
Climate change has also been a critical issue for many local communities in the countries where our partners work. In Burundi, for instance, rural communities have experienced severe droughts and floods, altering their crops’ cycles and threatening their food security. Association Protection des Ressources Naturelles pour le Bien-Etre de la Population au Burundi (APRN), one of All We Can’s local partners, is an organisation working to prevent the effects of climate change by promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, focusing on land restoration, forest conservation and sustainable farming practices.
APRN’s director Alexis Nikiza, recently participated in the World Conservation Congress, organised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One of the things that struck him most at the Congress was to hear that we are the first generation of victims of climate change and that we are the last generation that can work and change the situation positively.
At the Congress, Alexis shared with other participants some of the main challenges facing Burundi in relation to climate change. For example; poverty, lack of resources, weak governance, and the difficulty in accessing some regions. Alexis was very impressed by the Congress’ location: Hawaii, and its extreme natural richness. Hawaii has 25,000 native plants and animals, and the Hawaiian government has launched a rehabilitation programme for the natural environment. Hawaii has also implemented programmes for clean energy, intelligent growth, reinforcement of education and the development of new policies.
There were other initiatives highlighted by Alexis, such as the Bonn Challenge, which is the global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. Burundi has already committed to 2 million hectares for landscape restoration.
Now back in Burundi, Alexis feels that it was a great opportunity for him and his organisation to attend the Congress and share experiences with other people. Given the numerous challenges of a changing climate, the work of preserving the environment for the benefit of present and future generations in Burundi is now more important, and urgent, than ever.