We, the 150 delegates to the West and Central African Women’s Climate Assembly, held on the 24-28 September 2023 in Lagos, Nigeria, represent communities and organisations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. We are women at the forefront of resistance against large developments which extract and export Africa’s natural resources wealth, causing violence, pollution, and the loss of lives and livelihoods.
(Cross section of African Women at the 2023 Women's Climate Assembly)
Over the past 27 years, countries have gathered at the Conference of Parties (COPs) to talk about climate change. However, instead of taking real action to tackle the root causes of this crisis, big corporations, with the support of some scientists and powerful governments, have used the space to push false solutions. These false solutions only serve to give them the means to expand their control over the global population and our common natural resources. These stakeholders don't want to take financial, legal or any other responsibility for the damage caused, or to genuinely transform in the face of climate change as that would bring in less profit.
Now, looking ahead to the twenty-eighth edition of the Conference of Parties (COP28), scheduled for 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, African women are organising under the banner of the Women’s Climate Assembly (WCA) to discuss better ways of combating climate change. Our main goal as an assembly of women is to support and unite women-led movements in Africa against harmful energy practices, the new 'green' exploitation of Africa's resources, and ineffective climate solutions that allow big corporations to keep harming the planet. This platform allows women to share knowledge, strengthen our efforts, and propose development alternatives that prioritise women's well-being, adapt to a warming climate, and protect nature's right to coexist with humanity. The signs of a worsening climate crisis are evident, and African women, closely connected to nature and often in caregiving roles, are feeling its impacts the most.
We are determined to send a strong message to governments across West and Central Africa, united in our call for climate justice, reparations and development alternatives! Through a process of consultation within our countries leading up to and during the Assembly, we as African women have clarified our collective demands –
We Say NO to:
● The exclusion of African women, particularly those in frontline communities most heavily impacted by the effects of climate change, from decision-making on climate change, loss and damage governance.
● The ongoing exploitation of our land, natural resources, the installation of harmful ‘development’ projects that pollute our environment, degrade our lands, poison our forests and water bodies.
● Land-grabbing and grabbing of resources that belong to us and our communities.
● The destruction of our livelihoods and lands, of forests, which causes the loss of biodiversity
● The installations and projects of multinationals e.g. agroindustries, mining and other extractive companies in Africa.
● To development that does not serve African women and communities. This includes the development of so-called ‘green development’ projections as part of the ‘green revolution.’
● Climate-related disasters including flooding, conflict and violence, displacement and forced migration.
● The use of conventional, genetically modified (GMOs) seeds and fertilisers that have a bad effect on our harvests.
● The destruction of the Congo Basin, which impacts six countries and the African continent at large.
● The construction of destructive mega-industrial projects that displace communities from their ancestral lands and territories, the sources of their way of life and livelihood, and more.
We Say YES to:
● Development projects that respect the environment, human rights and voices of the communities and women in particular.
● Respect for living spaces and the well-being, historical cultural sites and practices of communities when it comes to caring for our land, resources and animals.
● Sharing, cultivation, promotion and preservation of indigenous seeds as well as our local, cultural practices of agroecology and organic farming.
● More sustainable development projects, such as micro-dams, or manageable extraction of natural resources that benefit our communities instead of killing them!
● Clean energy solutions that serve African women and communities such as environmentally-friendly stoves, biofertilizers.
● The enforcement of the “polluter pays” principle for ALL companies in their country of origin.
● Transparency from mining companies and their government partners who must be held accountable to the people and communities as well as our environment.
● Reparations for historical and ongoing climate and ecological debt owed to Africa!
● Preservation of forests and other precious natural resources that provide Life to our continent.
● African Women’s Voices must be heard and respected in all matters of development and climate action that impacts them!
Long live the Women’s Climate Assembly!
Solidarity with women in resistance all over Africa!
Issued by the Steering Committee of the Women’s Climate Assembly.