COP27 Must Deliver Climate Justice if Somalia is to Survive Devastating Impact of Climate Change

Today, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference has opened in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and a delegation from the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) is attending this conference which is also known as the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27). The conference, running from 6-18 November, will assess progress made since COP26 with a view to building on previous successes and paving the way for future initiatives to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change. 

The implications for workers in Somalia – who constitute the majority of the population in the country – within the climate crisis is clear. The link between rising temperatures and poor labour productivity is very pronounced, with the country projected to lose more than 5% of total working hours (more than 172, 000 full-time jobs) due to heat stress by 2030. A transition towards a low-carbon economy must place at its centre, the future and livelihoods of workers, their families and their communities. 

FESTU, which is part of over 100-strong trade union delegation from around the world led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), is actively participating in the proceedings of the conference to serve as visual and audible reminders that COP27 must deliver on Somalia’s pressing needs on climate adaptation, moving to renewable energy sources and adequate climate finance, if Somalia is to successfully and justly transition. 

“Nothing for us, without us, as the popular refrain goes,” says Omar Faruk Osman, FESTU’s General Secretary. “Global and national responses to the climate crisis impact affect workers and their families in the most profound way. We are here to ensure their voices are not drowned out. We are also a visible reminder to the Somali government that Somali trade unions are a social partner that is campaigning for the country to get the necessary support to address the multifaceted climate crisis through concrete climate action based on Just Transition. The Paris Agreement refers to decent work and quality jobs as key elements of Just Transition, so mainstreaming just transition in climate negotiations is one of our specific calls.”

In addition, Somalia’s organised labour are calling on the federal government of Somalia, African governments and developing countries to prioritise the following: 

  1. Implementation of Just Transition with a Focus on Human and Labour Rights: A clear and comprehensive Just Transition strategy or policy for Somalia based on the Paris Agreement should be developed through social dialogue. 
  2. Mitigation: the Federal Government of Somalia should ensure that the country’s Cross-Sectoral Committee on Climate Change (CSCC) is functional and involves a range of civil society partners, including trade unions. 
  3. Social Protection: Somalia with the help of international partners should effectively and comprehensively implement its Social Protection Policy to support vulnerable groups against social and economic shocks.
  4. Loss and Damage: This refers to the consequences of climate change where communities have not had access to mitigating or recovery-focused resources or options. An agreement that includes a financing mechanism for loss and damage which provides details of funding streams and contributions from developed countries must be reached in COP27. 
  5. Climate Finance: Somalia must get clarity on the progress regarding the delivery of the annual USD 100 billion to actualise commitments to finance Somalia’s adaptation plans to build community resilience. This is critical if the country is to secure the USD 6.96 billion required for mitigation actions. 
  6. Strengthening the Gender Component of Just Transition: Addressing gender inequalities within climate action ensures mitigation and adaptation measures are rooted in gender awareness. Somalia’s climate action programme must have within its goals the achievements of human rights and gender equality. 

The upcoming two weeks promise to be dynamic, introspective, and the site of tough negotiations and compromises. Trade unions will not let up on ensuring that the adherence to fundamental human and labour rights and principles underpin these talks. 

“We will also continuously advocate, in the case of Somalia, the use of social dialogue as a vehicle for the implementation of the commitments made at COP27” insisted Osman. 

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