African Civil Society has expressed disappointment at the failure of African leaders to fully rally behind their resolve to demand climate justice for the continent at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York.

The Committee of African Heads and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) had an opportunity to meet, get updates, exchange views and analyze the continent’s effort to consolidate itself on the ongoing international dialogue process for a suitable climate change agreement, which will be reached in Paris in December 2015.

According to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the New York meeting provided a key strategic moment for the convergence of African leaders to discuss and agree on a position that will secure African people a promising future in view of the rising impacts caused by the changing climate, which will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in the society.

CAHOSCC remains the platform of Heads of State and Government and was conceived to provide the highest political leadership possible.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) has provided the stewardship in positioning climate change as the top-most priority for the Commission.

Civil society is however concerned that some Heads of State continue to bypass the crucial opportunity to join CAHOSCC, which is their platform to demonstrate their commitment to navigating this critical issue.

PACJA is disappointed at the absence of several CAHOSCC members at a press conference convened by its Coordinator, Fattah El Sisi, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and attended by Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Robert Mugabe.

“We wish to remind our leaders that the Ministers have their platform where they compile the African Position and priority issues, under the guidance of the African Group of Negotiators,” stated Mithika Mwenda, PACJA Secretary General. “As the civil society, we are on top of the developments in Africa as the climate change negotiations unfold and hope that our leaders will not fall into the trap of 2009, when they gave into a wholly unacceptable outcome. This can only happen if they are available to listen and widely consult with other stakeholders across the continent.”

PACJA has echoed the views discussed at the press conference that Africa should be left to develop its own initiatives to enhance the climate resilience of its people while contributing to the global effort to defeat the challenges of climate change.

“We urge our Governments to build on the existing initiatives and avoid the emerging trend where the African continent is turning out to be the experimental ground for climate change solutions developed elsewhere,” said Mithika. “We want to see our Governments’ firm commitment to a strong unified African position during COP21, on the Initiative on enhancing support to Africa on Adaptation and Loss and Damage, and the African Renewable Energy Initiative”.

Energy access and adaptation are the most pressing issues in Africa’s response to the climate crisis.

The Civil Society group feels that Africa has strong networks, institutions and the sufficient capacity to deal with any area of climate response, may it be adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer or finance.

Under the Climate and Development for Africa Programme (CLIMDEV) partnership, the AUC, AfBD and the UNECA have come together in an unprecedented relationship that has provided policy and programmatic guidance on continent-wide outreach: bringing together governments, UN Agencies, Regional Economic Integration Communities, the Private Sector, and Civil Society among others.

Governments and development partners have been asked to support the work of the CLIMDEV Africa Programme to enhance its capacity rather than duplicating the work it’s already doing under African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF) and CAHOSCC.

“We urge that recommendations of this partnership continue to set the framework of Africa’s response to climate change, and any other effort should be geared towards strengthening them. Only then will we see hope for millions of people suffering at the hands of climate change across Africa,” said Mithika.