Securing Land Rights in Zambia

Timothy A. Wise

Chief Ndake received us in the community land rights office of the small compound that constitutes his “palace.” As one of Zambia’s traditional authorities, he reigns over a swath of Nyimba District in the country’s Eastern Province, and he is working with the Zambia Land Alliance to improve land rights and tenure security for his subjects.

The only thing traditional about Chief Ndake was the formal greeting we were expected to offer, on one knee. He greeted us casually and warmly, smiling from beneath his glasses. Perhaps in his forties, the chief wore a polo shirt emblazoned with the slogan-of-the-day: “We use a toilet—do you?” The chief explained that they had just installed a lot of toilets across his kingdom, a major public health advance.

Chief Ndake is one of a number of traditional leaders trying to bring order and tenure security to those who live without land titles on customary land, which covers more than half of Zambia and is home to the vast majority of its small-scale farmers. These leaders are seeking to construct a middle ground in a battle over Zambia’s new land policy, one that rejects efforts to privatize customary land through formal titling but improves tenure security by granting villagers traditional landholding certificates.

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Spotlight Durban: Durban, Another Failure

Fander Falconí

In Durban, South Africa, world officials and diplomats decided to do nothing about climate change. Although China produces per capita emissions that are four times lower than those of the United States,  it should not ignore the fact that these emissions are already above the world average. Meanwhile, the US blames China for the rise in its aggregate emissions and refuses to make any commitments to reduce its own emissions. In Durban, rich countries pledged money, but also more carbon dioxide. Latin American countries took a variety of positions.

The Seventeenth International Climate Change Summit (Conference of Parties (COP-17)), which ended last month in Durban, should have forged a strong international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012.

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Spotlight Durban: Equity: the next frontier in climate talks

This week Triple Crisis is giving its regular contributors a week off and featuring some great re-posts of their recent columns and commentaries. Original content will return in 2012.

Sunita Narain

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons—the atmosphere in this case—equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialised countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.

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Spotlight Durban: Durban’s climate Zombie tripped by dying carbon markets

Patrick Bond

Looking back now that the dust has settled, South Africa’s COP17 presidency appears disastrous. This was confirmed not only by Durban’s delayed, diplomatically-decrepit denouement, but by plummeting carbon markets in the days immediately following the conference’s ignoble end last Sunday.

Of course it is tempting to ignore the stench of failure and declare Durban “an outstanding success,” as did South African environment minister Edna Molewa. “We have significantly strengthened the international adaptation agenda,” she explained about the near-empty Green Climate Fund. “The design of the fund includes innovative mechanisms for bringing private sector and market mechanisms into play to increase the potential flow of funding into climate change responses.”

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Spotlight Durban: Durban Resource List

Following the conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference of COP 17 & CMP 7 in Durban, South Africa, and as part of our Spotlight Durban series, Triple Crisis recommends the following analyses on the package of decisions adopted at Durban and what they mean for the Kyoto Protocol and the 2020 successor agreement.

Triple Crisis bloggers

Martin Khor, New talks launched at Durban , The Fight at the Heart of the Durban Climate Talks, and Gloomy Outlook in Durban
Sunita Narain, Choice is between a rock and a hard place and Durban’s final hours
Patrick Bond, A dirty deal coming down in Durban and Occupy Durban
Frank Ackerman, Climate stalemate in Durban: What can be done?
Elizabeth Stanton, Climate change gets personal and Taking Development and Emission Reduction Seriously
Edward Barbier, A REDD and green paradox

Other Commentaries
Robert Stavins, Assessing the Climate Talks — Did Durban Succeed?
Fiona Harvey and John Vidal, Durban Deal will not avert catastrophic climate change
John Broder, Climate Talks in Durban Yield Limited Agreement
Oxfam,  Climate deal fails poor people
Durban Climate Deal: The verdict , a compilation of reactions from world leaders at The Guardian
Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, Climate Justice
Jagdish Bhagwati, Deadlock in Durban

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Spotlight Durban: Durban’s final hours

Sunita Narain

Durban, December 9: The halls outside are full of people who are now waiting for some action. But strangely enough, there is no sense of anticipation or excitement. Strange in a world, which is increasingly seeing the pain of climate change impacts, and which knows that time is running out.

So what was the agenda for this conference, and what is the expected outcome?

To the climate uninitiated, Durban has been portrayed as a fight between the ‘good’ – namely, the European Union (EU) – and the ‘bad’ – in this case, India in specific and China in general. The EU wants to move the world, and urgently; it has set a target for the completion of a new agreement by 2015 at the latest. It expects that this agreement will be legally binding and will include all countries to take commitments to reduce emissions in the future. This is necessary because the existing agreement, Kyoto Protocol, only sets emission reduction targets for the industrialised countries. Now with the world changing – China’s annual emissions have overtaken the US and India’s are growing as well – the new agreement must have all these countries on board. This is all good and necessary. The world indeed needs urgent action and the emerging world’s emissions have increased: therefore, new kinds of agreements are necessary.

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Spotlight Durban: New talks launched at Durban

Martin Khor

United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban ended on Sunday morning with the launch of negotiations for a new global climate deal to be completed in 2015.

The new deal aims to ensure “the highest possible mitigation efforts by all Parties”, meaning that the countries should undertake deep Greenhouse Gas emissions cuts, or lower the growth rates of their emissions.

It will take the form of either “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”.

In a night of high drama, the European Union tried to pressurize India and China to agree to commit to a legally binding treaty such as a protocol, and to agree to cancel the term “legal outcome” from the list of three possible results, as they said this was too weak an option.

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Spotlight Durban: The Fight at the Heart of the Durban Climate Talks

Martin Khor

Another in a Triple Crisis and Real Climate Economics Blog series on the Durban Climate Change Conference.

The UN Climate Conference is reaching its climax.  Perhaps the most important decision being made is on the future of the global climate regime, and whether it will be as fair as the present one, or less so.  And also whether what is decided is enough to tackle the worsening climate situation on the ground.

The hottest topic is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.  Japan, Canada and Russia have announced they do not want to undertake a second period of commitment, when the first period expires in 2012.

The developing countries have been fighting for the protocol’s survival and vowed that Durban shall not be the protocol’s burial ground.  All developed countries except the United States had committed to reduce their emissions by a certain percentage under this protocol.

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Spotlight Durban: Climate stalemate in Durban: What can be done?

Frank Ackerman
Another in a Triple Crisis and Real Climate Economics Blog series on the Durban Climate Change Conference.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the world is again conferring about what to do about climate change, and again deciding to do very little. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. The satirical publication The Onion greeted the COP17 conference in Durban, South Africa by announcing the release of a new report showing that global warming may be irreversible if no action is taken to prevent it before 2006; in an example of fair and balanced reporting, they also interviewed a critic who put the point of no return as late as 2010.

The real debate in Durban seems less realistic than The Onion’s satire. Should the Kyoto Protocol, currently scheduled to expire next year, be extended or replaced by a better agreement to limit emissions? Will the promised $100 billion funding for climate adaptation – let alone the larger sums that will actually be needed – somehow materialize? Or should we just agree to keep talking?

While others are not blameless, the United States is the leader of the do-nothings, the country whose inaction ensures a global climate stalemate. As long as the world’s largest economy, with the largest cumulative emissions and the greatest resources to tackle the climate crisis, refuses to act, others are not likely to move forward on their own. Yet there is not a snowball’s chance in Texas that any significant climate policy will survive the current U.S. Congress.

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