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Networking, coalitions necessary for climate action

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Domestic climate change responses are always critical towards holistic climate action. Nothing supersedes the internal climate-based initiatives in the fight against climate change, as they are not only context-specific, but people-centred and are also proactive.

guest column: PETER MAKWANYA

Fighting climate change using local initiatives should be at the heart of any sustainable development programme. In this regard, the agents of change are local people themselves, intrinsically driven by versatile climate-based discourse coalitions and communities of practice.

Climate-based discourse coalitions are not only advocacy-centred, but they focus on critical cross-cutting climate change issues without leaving any sector behind.

Discourse means symbolic human interaction in its many forms, whether directly through spoken or written forms or through gestures, pictures, diagrams, films, music and many others. In this regard, discourse is seen as a particular way of interaction and understanding the world, situations or events taking place in the world.

Therefore, climate change issues are better understood and communicated from different patterns, points of views or sectors.

Climate-based discourse coalitions are fundamental within policy networks, as they articulate climate issues from a variety of communicative frameworks or stand points. As such, the contextualisation of the climate change policy processes requires specific points of articulation.

Climate-based discourse coalitions articulate climate policy initiatives from shared values and world views. Climate action, based on the transdisciplinary dialoguing would develop the local people’s capacity to solve their own climate change problems rather than selling hot air (carbon credits). Discourse coalition based on smart-partnerships contribute towards resilience in terms of climate change adaptations. Climate-based discourse coalitions define the network relations and exchanges that contribute to specific climate culture.

Discourse coalitions create rules that regulate human behaviour through the nature of communicating, perceptions, and interacting with their immediate environments.

Within the diversity of climate change points of view, some climate-based discourse coalition sectors are considered genuine and more important than others. That is where the problem begins and that is why countries always struggle to come up with climate change solutions and best practices. Every sector is equally important and its initiatives should be harnessed for the good of the environment. The shunned discourse coalitions would end up taking a back seat, waiting for the preferred ones to do what they are assumed to know best, but the results are obvious failure.

Climate-based discourse coalitions operate on shared terms and concepts through which meaning is assigned to the social and physical environments. The issue of domain-based style of interactions determine the power of any climate-based discourse coalition. This brings in the new impetus to how climate change issues can viewed, handled and communicated. Relying on one climate-based discourse coalition may present communication challenges as this discourse can have their jargon that may not be understood by everybody. The fight against the effects of climate change are supposed to be a collective effort and, therefore, these various climate-based discourse coalitions are encouraged to network and share notes. This may not be as easy as perceived, since people like the limelight and they are hindered by self-interests too.

Overusing certain climate-based discourse coalitions at the expense of the others normally leads into discursive hegemony in the fight against climate change, where actors would always want to push for their world views and definitions of realities. In this domain-based struggle, the credibility and acceptance of the specific climate-based responses normally suffer. Therefore, it is everyone’s wish that, agents of climate-based discourse coalitions achieve fluency, coherence and credibility through sustainable linkages and networking. This would pave way for some symbiotic working relationships among these discourse communities so that the previously misunderstood issues and concepts have new meaning.

For these climate-based discourse coalitions to be people and environmentally-friendly, they need to thrive on the power of their knowledge, legitimacy, power of articulation and tolerance, not what they benefit from shunning others. Therefore, fluidity in the content and scope of their sectorial members is greatly anticipated. This would enable them to focus their attention on the environment that is under threat from climate change impacts to sustainable biodiversity management, human health and climate justice for future generations.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

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