COP23-Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders: local elected women champion the voice of Africa

The involvement of women is essential for the implementation of collaborative climate actions. This is the position championed by the President of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès and Ms. Clara Doe-mvogo, Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia, at the climate summit of local and regional leaders.

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The Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders organized on November 22, 2017 within the framework of the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bonn, Germany, November  6-17, 2017, witnessed the impressive participation of 1000 people. The mobilization was also outstanding regarding the local elected officials from Africa, who undertook the trip to champion  the voice of local governments at the negotiation table.

In his opening address, the Mayor of Bonn set the tone by stating that, “the cities and regions have a key role to play in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” Mr. Ashok Sridharan seized the opportunity to highlight the efforts deployed by his city to reduce its CO2 emissions. “We are gradually coming out of nuclear power. We will close the last plant in 2018. A coal mine will also be closed in 2018. We must promote reforestation projects to mitigate the evolution of global warming. Some large businesses such as DHL, whose headquarters is sited here, want to open factories for the manufacture of electric cars.” The COP23 participants had the opportunity to travel in electric buses that serve the City of Bonn, as well as the City of Cologne.

African local elected officials participated actively in the seven sessions of the day’s schedule, dedicated to local and regional leaders. The local elected women of Africa were not left behind.

The panel entitled, ‘Collaborative Climate Action: forging the future through community commitment,’ was attended by Ms. Clara Doe-Mvogo, Mayor of Monrovia, Liberia. In her contribution, the city councillor invited her peers to base their actions on youth and women. “Use the youngsters, use the women. Because most of the time, women will tell the children and the community what to do and they will do it,” she said.

For the mayor of the Liberian capital city, who singled herself out through her ability to manage the Ebola epidemic in her city between 2014 and 2015, women form part of the most effective community leaders. They have a strong mobilization capacity and as local elected officials, they are in direct contact with the different strata of the population.

The President of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès, also advocated for the involvement of women in the implementation of collaborative climate actions. “Women are the key to the success of the implementation of climate projects. In Africa it is the woman who are at the heart of the family and all the actions that affect the climate,” explained Ketcha.

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As a member of the Panel 2 entitled, ‘Collaborative Climate Action: Integrated Planning and Sustainable Investment in Cities and Regions,’ the REFELA President will share with the audience the experience of her Bangangté Local Government where ecological toilets are built in the markets and schools. These latrines consist of two-compartment pits: the first for excrement, that helps to direct urine into cans and the second for cleaning water. This avoids contamination of groundwater because the faeces is not mixed with water. After a month of ‘hygienization’ they are used to fertilize the fields of corn, beans, potatoes, plantains,” she explained to the newspaper Notre Benin, Pierre Marie Wanang, Head of the Bangangté Local government Water Management Board.