Yvette Dzakpasu, GEN Advocacy Director, attended the Talanoa Dialogue on behalf of the GEN Advocacy Working Group, which also includes Executive Director Kosha Joubert and Main UN Representative Rob Wheeler. Yvette filed this report for the event:
The Talanoa Dialogue took place in Bonn, Germany on 6 May 2018, bringing the traditional Fijian storytelling tool to the UN Climate Change policy process. As described by the UN, “the purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.” It gathered together governments and non-State actors to share stories from their perspectives on the effects and potential solutions to climate change.
GEN believes that such conversations are of great value because they provide an opportunity for civil society to illustrate a different perspective than that typically taken by government. Through an integrated, community-led approach, GEN supports community regeneration that combines all five dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology, economy and whole systems design). The result is not only more resilient and sustainable communities, but also active progress toward achieving the SDGs and objectives set by the Paris Agreement.
During the Dialogue the small island states, as well as the governments of European and North American nations, shared stories of the real impact of climate change on their countries. Their testimonies were very personal in many cases and made for quite an emotional event. It was clear that the participants were interested in and recognise the importance of community-led action and incorporating non-state actors to tackle adverse effects of climate change. In this vein, GEN’s expertise is of particular value.
GEN’s goal was to share a story about building a sustainable future for all through a network of empowered communities, designing and implementing their own pathways of development to tackle the adverse effects of climate change. GEN shared stories about the young men and women at KITA in Ghana, about how local farmers have received training in composting, crop rotation and carbon farming to improve soil fertility. By increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil, they increase productivity while also sequestering carbon in both plants and soil. The KITA farmers’ local agribusiness cultivates social entrepreneurship to create sustainable solutions while empowering the local economies generating well-being for all through economic justice.
GEN’s story illustrated how ecovillage principles contribute to climate resilience and mitigation in an organic and sustainable way, which in turn contributes to carbon offsets by improving local agricultural outputs to reduce food travel needs, advancement of inclusive gender roles and integration of local knowledge in farming practices to preserve and celebrate culture and heritage.
GEN’s call for community-led action made it into the summary of the morning session of the Dialogue. Such success is important to carry forward, including during GEN’s engagement in COP, including by working with governments and key stakeholders to recognise:
- The importance participatory processes with communities involved in their own governance and decision-making
- The need for strategies to strengthen local economies and communities for sustainable human
- development and building resiliency.
- That methods of land reclamation and soil fertility management, soil restoration using biochar/COOL.DESIGN, alternative energy solutions and permaculture are necessary to help achieve the objectives set by the Paris Agreements by drawing down carbon from the atmosphere.
Action does not start on the international level; it has already begun in ecovillages and communities around the world, like KITA. Government and multilateral organisations can learn from the principles espoused by communities to pursue regenerative development.