COP28: ‘Leave no one behind’ should include Palestinians
With less than a month to go for the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference to convene in Dubai with the theme ‘leave no one behind’, it is particularly troubling to observe the silence amongst the climate community, effectively leaving Palestinians behind. We therefore urge all organisations in this field to uphold their commitment to people and planet principles.
As a collective of committed climate activists and change-makers, we stand united in unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people. In the face of unprecedented global challenges - from killing innocent people to damaging ecosystems - it is disheartening to witness the devastating impact of violence on innocent lives and communities. We firmly believe that peace and justice are fundamental prerequisites for building a sustainable future for our planet.
''To be truly committed to the people and planet agenda, we must educate ourselves on these issues, and extend our allyship to the people of Palestine.''
The relationship between the occupation of and environmental injustices in Palestine has been well documented over the years. To provide a few examples out of many, according to Amnesty International, Palestinians are forced to house water tanks in their homes and in their farms to store rainfall water, while Israelis living in the illegal settlements and in ‘48 lands (‘Israel’) enjoy unlimited supply due to the appropriation of water resources at the hands of the Israeli authorities. The water consumption by Israelis is at least four times that of Palestinians living in the OPT.
The imposition of road blocks, an illegal annexation wall, and checkpoints have been built, disrupting the natural biodiversity of the land, according to the Environment Quality Authority’s annual report, and leading to patterns of over and undergrazing due to restricted access of land for Palestinians. The artificial creation of Israeli ‘national parks’ under the guise of conservation (‘Green-washing’) have been used strategically as a tactic to declare Palestinian homes and lands as state land or as conservation zones, with the purpose of taking them and transforming them into settlements years later.
Additionally, waste transported across the green line and from the illegal settlements into Palestinian villages have notoriously been placed in dumping zones, which have not only polluted the villages and released toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, but have led to high incidents of respiratory and skin diseases and increasing rates of cancer amongst residents.
Settler violence has led to an uptick in the loss of crops and vegetation, an example being the uprooting and burning of olive trees on Palestinian farmers’ land, and the chemical poisoning of soil has led to major losses in agriculture.
More recently, the ongoing bombardment of Gaza has led to the further weakening of infrastructure around water, hygiene, and sanitation, with around 97% of the water remaining undrinkable for (several years now), which has worsened since 7 October.
Prominent experts in the field of human rights have stated that the Israeli strikes on Gaza constitute serious war crimes, including acts of collective punishment, ethnic cleansing and genocide punishable under international law. Amidst these atrocities, Israel has awarded 12 licences to six companies including oil giants BP and ENI. These companies, despite their public commitments to environmental sustainability, highlight their hypocrisy, as they profit from the exploitation of fossil fuels while the region continues to suffer from the consequences of the internationally recognised illegal occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinian people.
There exists a stark disparity in the response of the Climate Action community, despite the apparent climate justice implications in Gaza and the broader Palestinian cause. This divide is marked by its biased advocacy approach and conspicuous silence, even though the principles of sustainability and just transition are ostensibly promoted. This phenomenon fosters an alienating, divisive, and insincere environment for dedicated climate advocates, particularly those from the global south.
To be truly committed to the people and planet agenda, we must educate ourselves on these issues, and extend our allyship to the people of Palestine.
We urge the climate community to speak out against Israeli state violence which has already killed more than 11,200 lives in Gaza, over 4,700 of them children, and more than 180 lives in the West Bank since 7 October. Join us in the call for an immediate ceasefire now.
It is imperative that we safeguard the lives of the people of Gaza, especially the youth. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that almost half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years of age, which makes young people not only the future, but also the driving force behind our collective progress. They hold the potential to transform our world and spearhead the fight against climate change. We must ensure their survival and nurture their potential.
Palestinian lives are not just invaluable; they are indispensable in our quest for a better world.
Call to action:
Emphasise the environmental impact of the ongoing war on Gaza and how climate change intersects with social justice.
Feature Palestinian environmental challenges in communication channels amplifying their voices on the global stage including during the upcoming Climate Conference (COP28).
Advocate for change
Contact policymakers and urge them to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and issue public statements expressing solidarity with Palestine.
Take a clear stance against the current war, and lobby governments and international bodies to pressure Israel to comply with International law and respect Palestinian rights, including the right to a safe and healthy environment.
Disengage from greenwashing
Raise awareness about Israeli greenwashing efforts, where companies and the government present a misleading environmentally friendly image to mask the brutalities of the ongoing illegal occupation.
Disengage from partnerships or collaborations with Israeli institutions and companies involved in greenwashing aforementioned war crimes and Apartheid policies.
Support Palestinian environmental initiatives
Collaborate and/or provide funding and support for environmental projects within Palestine including Gaza, focussing on sustainable development, renewable energy and climate adaptation/resilience.
Platform Palestinian environmental organisations and activists to amplify their voices and share their initiatives within the global climate community.
2. Arcs-Cameroun Anges Réunis pour une Conscience Solidaire
3. The Gender Security Project
4. Furat Food Company
5. Global Youth Biodiversity Network-Niger
6. Green MENA Network
7. Miracles Foundation
8. Recycle Lebanon
9. Arab Youth Green Voices
10. Green Innovation Center - Jordan (Greenovation)
11. Yemsat Youth Community Development Initiative
12. Foundation for Agriculture and Environmental Conservation
13. World Opera Lab
14. Youth Leadership Algeria
Sarah Baqqali is a human rights expert and advocate for people and planet, actively engaged in examining the intersections of human rights, sustainability, race and gender in today’s society.
This statement has been collectively published by the signatories exclusively with The New Arab.
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