SADC Leaders speak with one voice at COP 28

SANF23 no 26 – by Fauny Mawere and Neto Nengomasha

“To postpone climate action today is to contribute to the irreversible destruction of our planet and humanity.”

President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique said this while addressing delegates at the 2023 climate negotiations in Dubai.

These sentiments reflect the position of southern Africa and that of African leaders who spoke with one voice on climate resilience, following the Nairobi Declaration adopted at the Africa Climate Summit in September this year.

They argued that developed countries should honour their commitment made at the COP 15 to mobilize USD100 billion for climate action by developing countries per year by 2020.

The SADC leaders said climate finance is an important enabler of climate action, and it is imperative that funding is made available and accessible to developing countries that continue to suffer the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change and variability, yet they have contributed only five percent of the greenhouse gases which have impacted negatively on the climate.

Leaders and climate experts conferred at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

The COP 28 covered a number of topics including phasing out fossil fuels; building climate-resilient societies, and investing in climate solutions.

The key priorities discussed were the need to transition to clean energy; focus on nature, people, lives and livelihoods; and delivering on finance and mobilizing inclusivity.

The UNFCCC Conference of Parties is the only multilateral decision-making platform on climate change which takes place every year, with member states represented at the highest level.

Speaking on behalf of King Mswati III of Eswatini, Prime Minister Russell Dlamini said developed countries, that led the way in causing climate change, must also lead the way in mitigating the impacts. He underscored the need for technology transfer to the global South.

“Resources have to be availed to assist countries to adapt to the climate wrath being experienced and ensure that these match the development agenda which urgently remains a great priority for the developing countries,” said Prime Minister Dlamini.

President Nyusi called for partnerships between the public and private sectors under an initiative to support the sustainable and integrated management of the Miombo forests, one of the most important ecosystems in southern Africa which is under threat from climate-induced changes.

He said Mozambique is scheduling an international conference in 2024 to discuss the situation of Miombo forests and increase the contribution of such forests to carbon sequestration.

Carbon sequestration is a process through which atmospheric carbon dioxide is captured and stored by vegetation such as forests and is stored in soils and oceans.

As an example of traditional strategies that respond to climate change, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa presented a success story on farming techniques known as the Pfumvudza/Intwasa.

Pfumvudza refers to a conservation agriculture technique, a traditional crop production intensification approach under which farmers ensure the efficient use of resources on a small area of land to optimize its management and its yield.

Based on the findings from Zimbabwe, the climate-smart policy that is long established in the dryer areas of the country has improved agricultural production and food security at the household level.

The regional leaders further presented examples of their strategies for transitioning from coal-produced energy to cleaner sources such as hydroelectric and solar energy.

In Mozambique for example, about 70 percent of the energy comes from hydroelectric sources, 14 percent from natural gas, and 16 percent from other sources, especially solar energy,

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana spoke on his country’s transition from non-renewable energy sources as part of its renewable energy implementation strategy.

The President of Malawi, Dr Lazarus Chakwera said climate change is increasingly affecting the health of communities and needs a bolder path forward that prioritizes investments in health and wellbeing, ensuring a just transition from fossil fuels to promote a healthier future.

The leaders called for increased funding for research and technological innovation.

Other leaders from southern Africa also presented their national perspectives and indicated that they have joined the African carbon market initiative, and have started to develop plans to activate a carbon market.

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