COP 17 and Civil Society: The Centre did not Hold
The aim of the paper was to explore how civil society in South Africa organized to achieve an ‘impact’ on COP 17. There are two ways in which impact is defined, Firstly, what impact was achieved on the COP 17 negotiations? Secondly, how did the work support movement-building, with particular attention to organizing from a ‘climate justice’ perspective? South African civil society organized itself in three different ways for COP 17: ▪ sectorally (labour, faith, land and food etc.) ▪ through the national C17 (the structure responsible for convening the alternative civil society space) and ▪ through loose alliances such as the Climate Action Network (CAN) and, to some extent, Climate Justice NOW! (CJN) South Africa/Durban, as well as other alliances constructed during or just before COP 17 on the basis of political synergy. All of these different ways and forms of organizing for COP 17 had global links and associations. This paper focuses on two ‘sectoral’ case studies (land and food from the perspective of rural women, and energy) and the C17. These two ‘sectors’ have been selected for their political significance to COP 17: ▪ On the one end of the continuum are rural women from Southern Africa, representing the interests of rural women in the region – likely the grouping of people most impacted by climate change globally, and with therefore the most vested interest in a ‘just deal’. ▪ On the other extreme is the sector working on energy, the primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and therefore associated with one of the most politically contested terrains in the negotiations.