Once again, the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and Allies participated in the annual UN Climate Summit (COP17) and related events in Durban, South Africa, where politicians, private sector investors, NGOs, and social movements from all over the world gathered to discuss and plan solutions to stop climate change.

Our delegation brought together Marlén Chacón (Costa Rica) and Dudú Ferreira (MNCR, Brazil) from REDLACRE; Aliou Faye and Harouna Niasse from Book Diom (Dakar, Senegal); Sushila Sable and Suman More (KKPKP, Pune) from AIW; Simon Mbata, Cynthia Nkosi, Nimrod Mati, Nompumelelo Njana, Musa Nokwe, Douglas Maphumulo, Fikile Mkhonto, Hanzel Ekwa, Almed Mahamadou from SAWPA; and Lesego Mokgadi and Chandra, representing a local community impacted by waste incineration at a cement kiln. GAIA, groundWork, KKPKP, and WIEGO supported the organization and campaigning.

Prior to the COP, “The Dirty Energy Week,” organized by the South African environmental justice NGO and GAIA member groundWork, provided an opportunity to expose and debunk corporate-led false solutions as well as to highlight real solutions from the grassroots communities.

The delegation’s first large intervention at the COP was at the CDM Executive Board side-event. All the waste pickers had prepared questions to put forward, and it was a great collective action. The delegation members had many other meetings and multiple opportunities to raise awareness about important issues. Climate Change Studio, the internal COP17 TV studio, interviewed many members of the delegation. (Interviews are available online here and here.) Both the action and press conference organized in the second week of the conference resulted in important coverage that can be read in our blog. The delegation also marched, danced, and sang with the whole climate justice movement during the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

In the midst of the COP, the first South Africa Waste Pickers Alliance (SAWPA) National Gathering brought together 70 waste pickers from all over South Africa to develop the organization’s internal structure and decision-making processes, with special attention to the inclusion of women. Alliance members were active and members presented on their projects.

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