Oxfam 2023 Highlights
COP28 and Our Climate Justice Agenda
As the world converges for the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), the stakes have never been higher. We are on the cusp of the first formal review since the Paris Agreement—the ‘Global Stock-take’. This is not just a review; it’s a reckoning. It’s our opportunity to take a hard look at the promises made and the actions taken towards a more sustainable world.
A critical discussion point this year is the fate of fossil fuels in our energy systems. The conversation isn’t just about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels; it’s about outright eliminating their ‘unabated’ use. At Oxfam, we are pushing for a Just Energy Transition (JET): a swift, fair transition to renewable energy that leaves no one behind.
Following the landmark win for Loss & Damage (L&D) funding last year, COP28 must now ensure that the newly established L&D finance facility becomes more than just an idea. It must be a lifeline to those on the front lines of the climate crisis, a tangible embodiment of our collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.
Amid political dialogues, a glaring issue stands out: the unmet $100 billion climate finance goal. It’s time for a new, ambitious adaptation finance goal – one that reflects the urgency and scale of the challenge at hand.
Across all our priorities, we are weaving a powerful narrative: the fight against climate change is a fight against inequality. We are mobilising the public, advocating for policies that hold the biggest polluters financially accountable, ensuring they pay their fair share for a crisis they largely caused.
We are shaping the narrative around COP28, placing climate justice at the centre of the public debate. Our demands are clear:
- A commitment to phase ‘out’ fossil fuels.
- Taxing the wealthiest polluters to finance the transition.
- Ensuring robust funding for the L&D Finance Facility and supporting a Just Transition.
- Empowering Frontline Voices
COP28 is more than a summit; it’s a platform for the marginalised voices. We are increasing the influence of those who face the harshest realities of climate change, ensuring their stories drive the COP28 agenda.
As our partner, your voice is critical.
16 Days of Activism for Gender Justice: Championing Structural Transformation
As Oxfam South Africa, our strategic approach to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is deeply intertwined with our broader commitment to eradicating inequality and promoting human rights. During these 16 days, we not only amplify our advocacy efforts against the pervasive violence that women and gender non-conforming individuals face but also integrate these actions into our year-round programs that challenge the structural and systemic pillars of gender injustice. We mobilise communities, partner with local organisations, and engage with policymakers to push for transformative changes that extend beyond awareness, aiming for concrete policy shifts, improved support systems for survivors, and a societal reformation that uplifts gender equality as a non-negotiable standard. This initiative reflects our enduring dedication to fostering an inclusive society where every individual can live free from violence and discrimination, a core pillar of Oxfam South Africa’s strategy for a just and equitable future.
Act Now! Amplify 16 Days of Activism messages available here:
Read 16 Days media statement here.
Oxfam Gears Up with a New Gender Justice Strategy: Charting the Course for 2023-2028
In an inspiring move towards heightened gender equality and empowerment, Oxfam has embarked on the ambitious journey of crafting a comprehensive Gender Justice Strategy set to span the next five years (2023-2028). This strategy, rooted in the innovative Theory of Change (ToC), aims to unify Oxfam’s global programming and advocacy efforts in championing gender justice.
The inception of this strategy has been marked by a pivotal three-day validation workshop held by Oxfam South Africa. From the 23rd to the 25th of October, a diverse group of individuals, including Oxfam staff, members of the Steering Committee, and key stakeholders in the Gender Justice (GJ) strategy process, came together to refine and ratify the proposed strategic direction.
This workshop was not only a hub for collaboration but also a melting pot of expertise, drawing in gender justice practitioners from a wide geographical span. Representatives from Oxfam Philippines, South Africa, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Latin America and the Caribbean region, Lebanon, Canada, and the United States brought their unique perspectives and insights to the table.
The African Business & Human Rights Forum Side Event
The African Business & Human Rights Forum held in Addis Ababa from September 5-7, 2023, marked a significant stride toward addressing human rights within the African business landscape. Oxfam South Africa and its partners (Business & Human Rights Resources Centre, UBUNTU Rural Women & Youth Development and ONEFARM Share), convened a side event to spotlight the urgent need for improved Business & Human Rights (BHR) practices, particularly in sectors like mining and agriculture.
Key outcomes included raising awareness of human rights abuses, sharing lived experiences of communities, and advocating for better policy and legal frameworks. The side event generated momentum for change, with South Africa leading calls for a binding international treaty to regulate business activities.
Discussions focused on the necessity for evidence-based policies, the proactive engagement of businesses in BHR, and the role of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) in advancing these issues. The event also underscored the importance of National Action Plans and responsible business conduct as pivotal to attracting investment and ensuring fair labour practices.
The event concluded with a collective call for integrating human rights into business models and creating reliable systems to track and report violations, setting the stage for a future where African economies can grow together with the protection of human rights.
Charting the Path to Sustainability: Waste Management Exchange Visit Sparks Change
The Waste Management Exchange Visit in Ekurhuleni was a landmark event in fostering an inclusive economy in waste management. Esteemed leaders like Hon. Cllr Sivuyile Ngodwana of Ekurhuleni, Hon. Cllr SN Janda of Mbhashe, and Hon. Cllr Yandiswa Vara of Makana contributed to discussions on strategic planning for a cleaner future. The initiative focuses on empowering individual waste pickers and women-led enterprises within the recycling sector. It’s a step towards cleaner municipalities, with better waste management systems developed through partnerships between local governments and community businesses.
Celebrating Climate Justice at the 2023 African Human Rights Film Festival
Oxfam was proud to support the African Human Rights Film Festival in Cape Town, which highlighted the crucial intersection of climate justice and human rights. The festival coincided with the 75th anniversary of the UN’s declaration on human rights and the 25th anniversary of the declaration protecting rights defenders.
Focusing on the newly recognised universal human right to a healthy environment, the event emphasised the urgent necessity of safeguarding land and environmental defenders. These courageous individuals are central to the fight against the climate crisis, often facing grave risks, with many tragically losing their lives each year for standing against powerful interests.
Through a collaboration with Earthrights International, Oxfam advocated for the US Congress to pass the Voices of Freedom Act, aiming to provide better protection for defenders globally. Additionally, Oxfam’s publication, “Threats to Human Rights Defenders: What Companies Should Do,” provided a crucial guide for corporations to develop and implement policies that support human rights defenders.
A key moment of the festival was the premiere of “Hold the Line,” a poignant documentary co-produced with the Ford Foundation and Earthrights International, which narrated the stories of six human rights defenders from South Africa, Colombia, and the United States. These defenders are on the frontlines, challenging corporate abuse and safeguarding our environment. The film also bolstered Oxfam International’s Make Polluters Pay campaign.
Oxfam and its partners remain dedicated to amplifying support for defenders across various geographies, ensuring a sustainable and just future for all.
Advancing Safe Agricultural Practices: Oxfam’s Pesticide Awareness Campaign
In our ongoing commitment to sustainable agriculture and the well-being of farmers, Oxfam South with its partners, Ubuntu Rural Women & Youth Development, Farmers Network South Africa and Women on Farms Project convened to discuss a transformative Pesticides Awareness Campaign. This initiative, stemming from the insights gathered at the pivotal event in Cape Town, is geared towards promoting safer pesticide use and advocating for alternative, eco-friendly pest control methods.
The campaign will underscore the importance of equipping farmers with the knowledge and resources to protect their crops, their health, and the environment, while denouncing the dumping of toxic pesticides on African farmers. Oxfam South Africa will actively foster solutions by collaborating with agricultural experts to disseminate best practices and by push for policy changes that support the use of less harmful substances.
Oxfam South Africa’s engagement in this campaign also mirrors our dedication to the health of consumers and communities, ensuring that the food reaching communities is the product of safe and ethical farming.
Exploring Sustainable Agriculture in Eastern Cape: A Visit to Alfred Nzo District
In an enlightening visit to Alfred Nzo District Municipality, Oxfam South Africa and its partners immersed themselves in the initiatives led by Farmers Network South Africa and engaged with key stakeholders shaping the region’s agricultural landscape. This mission, driven by a desire to understand and support the network’s efforts, facilitated meaningful discussions with local farmers, stakeholders, and partners, including the respected Chief Nomvume Makaula. Visits to the farmlands of Mzimvubu, Ntabankulu, Bizana, and Matatiele were also a testament to the vitality and challenges of the Eastern Cape’s agrarian communities.
The collaborative spirit of the visit shone through the involvement of Oxfam South Africa, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Umzimvubu Local Municipality, and the backing of OXFAM Germany. The partnership underscored a commitment to fostering sustainable farming practices and empowering local farmers. These experiences have been invaluable, offering insights that shape strategies and initiatives to promote agricultural prosperity and environmental stewardship in the Eastern Cape.
United for Resilience: Oxfam’s Humanitarian Mission in Harare
In a proactive move to fortify the Southern African region against unforeseen adversities, Oxfam and a coalition of humanitarian partners convened in Harare, Zimbabwe, for a vital three-day meeting focused on Humanitarian Contingency and Preparedness Planning. This crucial conclave crafted a comprehensive strategy delineating our collaborative response to potential emergencies, outlining key alliances, and pinpointing the necessary resources. With a storied history of successful interventions in Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, our collective expertise is our pledge to ensure resilience and rapid response in the face of humanitarian challenges.
Civil Society Consultation Meeting for COP28
The Civil Society Consultation Meeting for COP28 brought together passionate individuals committed to addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change.It emphasising the importance of socially owned renewable energy plants and the polluter pays principle. Key discussions involved cutting emissions across both private and public sectors, increasing resilience investments, and challenging the hypocrisy in climate finance. The forum advocated for the non-privatisation of climate solutions, urging for a tax on the wealthy and the redirection of funds to communities and grassroots activists. Transparency about the impacts of fossil fuel mining and enhancing adaptation strategies for vulnerable populations were also central topics.
The event highlighted the need for binding agreements on loss and damage, support for local farmers, respect for indigenous rights, and the application of a gender and diversity lens in climate actions. There was a strong call for funding indigenous and civil society participation in COP28 and making climate conversations more accessible to communities. The forum concluded with a push for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the development of comprehensive policy frameworks, and the establishment of social safety nets and safe civic spaces, emphasising freedom of speech and inclusive dialogue in climate change solutions.
Read key demands here.
Inaugurating a Greener Future: Morondava Commences Urban Greening with Foundation Stone and First Plant
In a significant stride toward environmental stewardship, Oxfam in Madagascar has initiated the creation of urban green spaces, starting with the laying of the foundation stone in Morondava. This initiative addresses the urgent need for green areas in urban settings to counteract the detrimental impacts of urbanisation, such as air pollution and biodiversity loss. The planned green spaces, including children’s play areas and gardens enhanced with solar lighting and litter bins, will be established in two key city areas: NOSY-KELY and Morondava Centre. These spaces are designed to offer residents not only recreational and leisure opportunities but also to improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, and bolster mental health.
Marking a significant achievement in Morondava’s pursuit of urban climate resilience, the city celebrates the inauguration of an elevated road, the refurbishment of three bridges, and the commencement of its urban greening project. These developments demonstrate a profound commitment to environmental preservation and the enhancement of citizen well-being. Morondava exemplifies how cities can integrate state-of-the-art infrastructure with sustainable urban design to foster economic growth, connectivity, and a healthier, more sustainable habitat for future generations.