Join forces – and change will happen: Interview with Hamid:

Hamid Taybo is Director for ADEL in Beira, Mozambique.

1. How do you see the connection between COP21 and ADEL in Mozambique?

ADEL’s work in Mozambique is of course a small contribution to fight climate change, but the activities we have integrated at community level gives opportunity for people to think at a global level. People in Mozambique are aware of the fact that climate change is intertwined to the rest of the world but they can still see the meaning of acting on a local level.

I have participated in three COPs: Copenhagen, Rio, and Durban. The COP-meetings are important because each country has to improve the efforts on fighting climate change. It’s a big opportunity for each country to stay together and share best practice examples. And we can try to convince the governments that we need more than talk. COP is an opportunity for the civil society to look the politicians in the eyes.

Regarding the work of ADEL I would say that women in most African countries are very important to include in finding solutions for environmental problems. They are the main actors. They collect firewood, carry water and they are involved in agricultural work. But the hard work does not always benefit the women. Finding solutions requires the involvement of both men and women.

2. Do you travel with the government delegation when you participate in COPs?

No, but COP-meetings give a great opportunity to meet government representatives. Government officials are often surprised, yet happy to meet their citizens at the COP. We can ask them questions like “Why are you not implementing your policy in practice?” Often politicians want to paint positive pictures and are less inclined to face realities. It is quite common that the government invites members from civil society to discuss climate issues after a COP-meeting. That gives us opportunities to discuss climate change at a local level.

3. How do politicians in Mozambique react to criticism?

For example, I asked the Minister of Environment why citizens just dropped their garbage on the beach instead of using litterbins. The minister explained that this had to do with people’s attitudes. But I did not agree. My explanation is that it happens because the government is absent. Because how can you explain why the behaviour of people changes when they move to South Africa? There you pay a fine if you drop your garbage on the beach. We have a lot of beautiful laws but the government is not implementing them. This is the weakness of our state. But our new young Minister of Environment perhaps can make a change.

4. What are your expectations of the COP?

Of course we have not the capacity to make an influence on a very high level. But the movement to make a cleaner world is a movement of the people. We all believe that this movement can do something. Things are changing – but slowly. In Paris we can join forces with both politicians and other members of civil society.