Thursday, October 7, 2010

Climate Change in Africa: Africa Speaks and Connects

WHAT: Climate Change in Africa: Africa Speaks and Connects
WHERE: Cancun, Mexico
WHEN: December 2010
DEADLINE: October 22, 2010
WHO: Artists

An artistic intervention at COP16 Cancun, Mexico, December 2010
Heinrich Böll Foundation
in association with COPART and the Arterial Network

The Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) Southern Africa Office is planning to hold a visual arts exhibition depicting climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation opportunities in Africa at the 16th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December, 2010. It is envisaged that this exhibition would include prints of visual artworks, such as photographs, paintings, collages, as well as multimedia artworks that can be exhibited using audio visual equipment. The exhibition would constitute HBF’s media and PR strategy for COP 16, which aims to communicate directly with high powered decision makers.

There are several themes we would like to cover in this exhibition, including the impact climate change has on people's access to water, food and agriculture, natural resources and biodiversity and health. Recently the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that by 2020 between 75 and 250 million people in Africa will be affected by water stress. Varied water distribution will lead to flooding whose impacts will include the destruction of traditional living environments, more limited access to clean water, decreasing food production from farms, forests and aquaculture, threats to food security and loss of agrarian identity. Climate change affects all aspects of our environment and our society.

+ WATER: Southern Africa is facing periods of intense drought. The distribution of water will change dramatically in the coming years marked by increased flooding in some areas and intensifying droughts in others. The result will be a general reduction in access to usable water both in terms of the available amount and quality.
+ FOOD and AGRICULTURE: The IPCC predicts that the number of people facing starvation could rise from 50 million people in 2020 to 266 million by 2080. With increases in extreme weather patterns, agricultural productivity and availability of food is threatened by a rising incidence of droughts, fires and plant damage.
+ HEALTH: The already high number of cases of malnutrition in Africa will increase, particularly in the tropical regions; this will have fatal consequences for children in particular. Malaria is projected to spread to parts of the world where it currently is not a problem. Globally, between 220 and 440 million more people could be at increased risk of malaria, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where exposure to malaria is projected to increase by 16-28 percent. The rising incidence of dysentery will hit families with little income particularly hard, and up to 3.5 billion people will be threatened by dengue fever. The World Health Organization (2009) has estimated that at present approximately 150, 000 additional people die every year as a result of climate change.
+ GENDER: The impacts of climate change on water and food security, as well as on health, will affect women and men differently, with women often bearing the most severe consequences, and also often being on the frontline of climate change adaptation. The gendered reality of climate change is often overlooked, particularly by policy makers.
+ NATURAL RESOURCES and BIODIVERSITY: Climate change will have serious impacts on natural resources and biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity, with severe consequences on rural livelihoods which are intimately linked to agriculture, wildlife, wild fruit and other non timber forest products.

The HBF, alongside the COPART movement and the Arterial Network is eager to enable artists to enter the climate change social-justice movement. We believe that what is needed most in the Climate Change response is a creative revolution that nurtures the development of connected communities, and reveres the relational responses to climate change and not merely the individual ones. This work entails working with conscious artists to help usher in a new approach. The interconnected intimate artist is a revolutionary, a peaceful social activist, who nurtures their resilience through relating themselves to others and their environments, and allowing people to personally relate to the stories of climate change, to the women, men and children who are affected by uncertain changes in weather, increased intensity of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, and everything that follows. We are calling all African visual artists to send submissions for this exhibition, which will highlight the specific climate challenges facing this continent, and offer insight to powerful decision makers from around the world, thus speaking to the personal beings of the negotiators, using provocative and intimate depictions of personal experiences.

COP stands for Conference of Parties and refers to the annual meeting of signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was opened for signature in 1992. The UNFCCC aims to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at a level that would prevent dangerous human-induced interference in the earth's climate system. Signatories are divided into two categories, roughly on north-south or developed-developing country lines, known as Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries. Annex 1 countries are required to act first to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions since they are historically responsible for the rapid rise in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Currently negotiations at the COPs have reached deadlock as agreement cannot be reached on how much each country should reduce their emissions, who pays for this and who pays for the adaptation needed to reduce the devastating impact of climate change, particularly in developing countries. Needless to say each country is trying to minimize their own commitments while extracting legally binding commitments from others. These multilateral negotiations are unable to respond to the urgency of far-reaching, ambitious targets needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The most recent COP was held in Copenhagen in December 2009. The next COP, COP16 will be in Mexico at the end of this year, followed by COP17 in South Africa in December 2011.

HBS plans to hold the exhibition at the official COP16 venue, details of which will be finalized in due course. Selected artworks will be submitted digitally, and then printed on various A1 and A2 canvas panels (59cm x 84.1cm or 42cm x 59.4cm) and suspended in a 15m2 space. The exhibition will also have a digital screen that will be able to show short films, animations and snippets from African contributors. Running concurrently with this exhibition, COPART will organize a climate fluency week in Cape Town and Johannesburg, where artists, activists, scientists and other citizens will come together and respond to specific themes, issues and outcomes from the COP16 event. The artworks, performances and other creative outputs from this process will be streamed to Cancun each day, to be screened in the exhibition venue. This means the exhibition will link African citizens to the happenings at COP16 and will be able to enter and impact the typically exclusive world of the COP negotiations.

Artists whose work is selected will receive a modest award for their contribution. The artworks themselves will be used to inform and alert heads of state, ministers and other government officials to the real challenges and concerns of citizens across Africa. They will be focal points that raise the status of issues such as water, food security and gender democracy in the face of climate change.

+ All artworks must be of the highest resolution/quality and electronically submitted:
Image format suggestion: JPG or Bitmap, 300+ dpi, minimum size 3 MB.
+ Video format suggestion: All formats, max 12 min, high resolution, up to 100MB (upload via

All submissions must be sent to Tigere Chagutah at by 22 October 2010, or if more than 5MB, via free upload site: to the same address.

Owners of selected works will be notified by 29 October 2010.

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