Remembering climate change at the World Economic Forum

While Africa's corporate world debated at the World Economic Forum in Dar es Salaam last week, the Tanzania Civil Society Forum for Climate Change joined the African People's Forum to bring together residents from across the country to discuss the impact of big business on climate change and livelihoods for the average Tanzanian.

Over 300 people gathered at the African People's Forum in Dar es Salaam on 5 and 6th May 2010 to discuss their ideas for prosperity, resilience, and inclusive growth in Africa. The event took place at the same time as the World Economic Forum where business and some government leaders were meeting to discuss Africa's Growth Strategy.

The African People's Forum was a space for Tanzanian citizens to discuss their own development, share the challenges they face and make their suggestions for the kind of future they want. The participants were from a wide range of organisations including women's groups, farmers associations, pastoralist communities, and non-government development organisations.

A statement from the African People's Forum

"We therefore call on leaders of business and government who had gathered at the World Economic Forum to ensure:

  • Pro-poor and gender sensitive economic strategies that will benefit the poor and vulnerable and give people a way out of poverty.
  • Transparency and citizens' participation in decision making processes about the use of natural resources and related investments.
  • Proper implementation and enforcement of land and environment acts to protect existing rights and access to land and other natural resources that people depend on for their livelihoods.
  • Big business becomes part of the solution to climate change by dramatically cutting carbon emissions, paying compensation for the impacts of climate change and environmental destruction, and increasing investment in clean energy technology and projects to provide electricity for all Tanzanians in a sustainable way.
  • Women and men in poverty who are negatively affected by climate change are assisted to have resilient livelihoods.

The participants in the Forum noted that:

  • The current growth orientated economic model as well as the investments from big business that come with it are often not benefiting the citizens of Tanzania. Inequalities are growing and the poorest are getting poorer.
  • The government is not doing enough to protect the rights and interests of citizens from the activities of big business that does all it can to profit.
  • Small scale producers are losing their rights to land and other natural resources. For example communities in Loliondo have been displaced to make way for a hunting company; in Kisarawe farmers lost land to an international bio-fuel company; and in North Mara water sources the communities depend on where polluted by an international mining company.
  • The impacts of climate change are affecting women and men in Tanzania more and more, such as through prolonged droughts, floods, and changing weather patterns.
  • Basic services that people depend on such as health and education are not improving and in some cases are deteriorating while government tries to cut costs. While people are being asked as part of economic liberalization to pay for the costs of health and other services, big corporations are free to profit through endless tax holidays.
  • Women and children are suffering the worst consequences from these challenges due to their vulnerable position and continuing patriarchy in the society.

We are demanding an alternative economic system that will ensure: prosperity; resilience; and inclusive growth for all Africans."

--From a press statement by the organizers of the Africa People's Forum

The African People's Forum was organized by: ActionAid, HakiArdhi, Oxfam International, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, and the Tanzania Civil Society Forum on Climate Change