South Africa has a tradition of charterist politics. From African Claims, to the Freedom Charter and now our Constitution, which is a charter of rights, freedoms, institutions and procedures. However, in more recent times, in the context of climate crisis politics, people driven instruments as expressions of working class and popular power are also gaining a lot of significance. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba Peoples Summit for Climate Justice, 2010), the Leap Manifesto in Canada, Generational Justice principles championed by school children in California to WOMIN’s mining charter etc., we need to build on this to confront the biggest challenge we face as a species. As democrats we need to put forward our demands, aspirations and alternatives to build a society that can mitigate and endure climate change.
The purpose of the Charter is to:
- Unite important players in the fragmented civil society, environmental justice and climate justice and water sectors of South Africa, to encourage a re-alignment of climate justice forces;
- Ensure those most affected by climate change and shocks, particularly the working class, the poor, the youth, the unemployed and the landless have a voice and lead this process of eco-centric transformation
- Develop a progressive, grassroots inspired Climate Justice Charter to:
- Sustain life
- Recognise the class, racial, gender and ecological impacts of carbon and climate capitalism
- Advance generational justice
- Critique the failed role of political parties in the climate crisis
- Construct a narrative around climate justice and a transformative just transition
- Serve as a tool to engage government stakeholders to ensure that climate change is placed on the national agenda.
- Provide a compass to build pathways from below to achieve systemic change and advance systemic alternatives from below
Key themes for the Charter to be elaborated in grassroots dialogues relate to systemic alternatives that would bring down carbon emissions and ensure we sustain life as climate shocks hit. These themes include:
- Principles for the charter
- Our conception of the just transition for South Africa taking into account class, race, gender and ecological relations
- Systemic alternatives related to land use, water, rights of nature, energy, food, production, consumption, waste, transport, housing, finance and adaptive systems to sustain life;
- The role of the climate emergency state and our international relations as a climate justice society
- Communication, education and awareness raising to mobilise society
- The role and form of people’s power from below
Send your input to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want alternatives, answers, and viewpoints from below to inform the People’s Climate Justice Charter.