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Khulumani Highlights COP 17 in Durban 2011

Khulumani's Project Officer for Ending Impunity in the Southern African Region, Mr Golden Misabiko, shares his view on the relevance of the forthcoming International Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held in Durban in two weeks time.

Khulumani is hoping to be part of the Global March for Awareness of Climate Change planned for December 3, 2011.

Khulumani is also working with the 3 Continents Film festival to take screenings of films to Khulumani-organised rural communities close to Durban during the conference.

The Environmental Consequences of Congo DRC Natural Resources Mismanagement in the Context of the forthcoming International Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

By Mr Golden Misabiko, Khulumani's Project Officer for Ending Impunity in the Southern African Region

The International Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa between November 28 and December 9, 2011, is an important event. It provides an opportunity to put the spotlight on human rights violations and environmental mismanagement that continues in Africa with a special focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Congolese environment is being affected by illegal and irresponsible operations that are devastating its vital natural resources areas including its forests and rivers. The rainforests of the Congo are indispensable for humanity, being called the lungs of planet Earth.

But these rainforests are being exploited by companies which are involved in cutting down hardwood trees for exporting as timber to other continents. Destruction of the Congo Forest will have major impacts on climate change in Africa and in the world. Action to stop illegal logging needs to be taken. While measures exist for regulating the size of trees that are allowed to be harvested, there is very limited monitoring of illegal logging activities that are taking place in the Congo rainforests.

The extractive industries are another major contributor to environmental damage in Africa, leading to large-scale pollution in almost all African countries where transnational companies are involved in these operations. Multinational mining companies are involved in extracting copper, germanium, cobalt, coltan (colombite), gold, diamonds, cassiterite, zinc, manganese and uranium, in Africa in operations that have detrimental impacts on the people who live in the communities that surround these mining operations.

Of special concern is the pollution of water, land and air caused and the lack of accountability for avoiding or at least minimising the damage caused. Most mining operations in Africa derogate responsibility for the environmental impacts of their activities to the host governments. If budgets are set aside for mitigating the environmental impacts of mining activities, these budgets are seldom allocated to environmental rehabilitation initiatives such as the planting of tress to replace those cut down to make way for mining activities. Cumulatively the impacts of mining activities across the African continent are wreaking devastation.

African Civil Society will be working to use the opportunities created by COP 17, the International Climate Change Conference, to draw attention to these situations. African Civil Society has responsibility to promote clear messages about these situations including raising awareness of illegal, dangerous and irresponsible exploitation of uranium resources in Africa. This has been exposed in a study commissioned by OENZ, the Ecumenical Network for Central Africa, entitled, "Uranium Mining in the Congo: A Radiant Business for European Nuclear Companies? "

Khulumani has plans to participate in the Global Day of Action about Climate Change taking place on the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu Natal in 3 December 2011.

Khulumani is also planning to attend the International Climate Jobs Conference that follows on December 4 and 5, 2011.

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