Diakonia - People change the world
Mithika Mwenda is currently visiting Sweden to make contact with Swedish decision makers, congregation members and media to promote the voice of the poor regarding climate change. Photo: Markus Marcetic

Mithika Mwenda: Climate change must be pro-poor

Mithika Mwenda is the secretary general of Diakonia’s partner organization PACJA (Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance). PACJA is a climate network that since its birth in 2008 has incorporated more than 500 organizations all over Africa to tackle climate change, and it is an important advocate both in Africa and globally.


PACJA has grown very fast since you started it. Why do you think that you have been so successful?

When we started PACJA, we were conscious why networks in Africa have not worked before. Therefore, we laid a foundation on what we should do: have a democratic process where like-minded people met for an open dialogue. Our success is therefore thanks all about the foundation we set and accepting the diversity of members and colleagues.

What is PACJA planning for the future?

The last 5 years, we’ve focused on becoming a vibrant and influential network. Now that we have that, the next level is to influence policies at national and global level, and influencing the future climate change policy so that is pro-poor and equitable. We also want to work on national and African level on the integration of climate change on poverty reduction and sustainable development.

What do you see as the role of developing and developed countries in tackling climate change?

We must rise to the occasion and face reality that the need to preserve the health of the planet! The blame game that has been going for years is not an option. I believe there is hope because we see willingness to negotiate and interest in solving this global problem. You have to remember that a country like Sweden has more capacity and resources to make a change than many countries in Africa. It is therefore important that countries like Sweden are progressive and take climate change seriously.

What do you see as the single most important action the world can take regarding climate change?

The domestic emission reduction by the industrialized countries is urgent. There is no other way we will address climate change if we do not change. We need a paradigm change in the way we live in the way we produce and consume.

We also have to acknowledge that the North and South need each other; the countries should provide finance and honor their commitments. We are disappointed that the promises made in Copenhagen 2009 were a lie. Climate finance must be new and additional.

Finally, will we be able to take enough action to stop climate change in the future?

We have no choice, we must. We don’t want the future generation to come and say that you could have done more, but because of our difference we were unable to do it. During my time in Sweden, I have been to the Vasa museum. I think his type of leadership was very bad since he didn’t make decisions that were in the interest of the poor. Today, we have a new Vasa called climate change, and like the king, it must be handled from a pro-poor perspective.