Press statement

It is now official: Chile will not host COP25. In a speech on Wednesday, President Sebastian Piñera blamed a fortnight of civil unrest for the 11th hour cancelation.

The fallouts that led to Chile’s withdrawal from hosting COP25 have been immediate. The UNFCCC is now in a frantic search for an alternative venue. Across the world, governments and other actors of the global climate change movement are grappling with logistical headaches. It is the first time a host has pulled the plugs on a major climate change gathering. In every sense, the organisational challenges that will beset the coming weeks will be huge, widespread and will leave long-terms consequences.

It also creates a leadership crisis. Chile plans to continue chairing COP25 despite not hosting the summit. If the UNFCCC eventually finds a new venue, as it would likely do, it would take exceptional leadership to coordinate between Chile, the new host and the UNFCCC Secretariat. Even then, COP25 would, at best, be cast in the shadow of the Chilean crisis and the consequences of its last-minute change of heart.

The cancellation of Santiago 2019 was to be expected. Chile’s ongoing political unrests are the worst in nearly two decades. Transport infrastructure has been severely damaged in Santiago and there are no signs that the security situation in the country will improve significantly to host thousands of delegates to the climate change summit. Even then, rumours of this eventuality began spreading during SB50 in Bonn, Germany last June . With little prevision, the chaos caused by the last-minute withdrawal could have been minimised.

President Piñera has demonstrated a lack of foresight in his management of the COP25 chairmanship. Only last week, he was still adamant that the country would host the climate summit, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Forum. Yet, it now appears no plans were made to deal with a damaged transport system in Santiago and the obvious logistical and security challenges of hosting thousands of people from around the world.

This will be a huge loss for Chile. The choice of Santiago to host the COP25 seemed sensible in many ways. Until the recent unrests, Chile was one of the most stable countries in Latin America. It was a significantly better option to Brazil, which had just elected a climate change-denier and fiercely right-wing President. Chile was preferred over Costa Rica on the assumption that it had a better capacity to deal with the huge logistical challenges that come with hosting a COP. In the end, it is these assumptions that have helped expose the precarity of Chilean politics.

We believe attention should now turn to President Piñera’s handling of the ongoing crisis and its fallouts. Respecting the rights of citizens is fundamental to our collective effort to address climate change and the range of intertwined challenges that now face humanity. We can no longer have governments that cannot assure the rights of its people at the helm of global climate change negotiations. Clearly, Chile cannot manage this magnitude of an event. Not now!

As an organisation that promotes just climate action, it is our view that the United Nations should now take the opportunity to thoroughly investigate claims of human rights abuses by Chile’s security forces since the protests over fare hikes started. Right now, the country seems to be falling from the cliff on all human development indicators.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (PAMACC News) – The United Nations envoy to Somalia today voiced his concern over the flooding affecting thousands of people mainly in the southern parts of the country, and highlighted the world body’s willingness to support efforts to provide aid to those affected.

“I am saddened by the heavy toll that the floods are taking on the people of Somalia, and deeply concerned about the situation of people who have lost homes and livelihoods,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan.

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to all injured and affected by the flooding,” he added. “The United Nations stands ready to work with Somalia’s federal and regional authorities to support affected communities.”

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and casualties have been reported. Farmland, infrastructure and roads have been destroyed, and livelihoods disrupted in some of the worst-hit areas.

Heavy seasonal rains triggered floods along the Juba and Shabelle rivers in Hirshabelle, Jubaland and South West states. Flash flooding was also reported in Benadir region, Jowhar in Hirshabelle, and Ceel Cade and Jamame in Jubaland.

“I want to thank the Government of Somalia for demonstrating leadership by setting up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate flood response with state authorities,” the UN envoy said.

“The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its humanitarian partners are working with the authorities to quickly deliver live-saving assistance to affected people,” Mr. Swan added. “The World Food Programme is deploying a helicopter dedicated to support humanitarian response efforts in Belet Weyne and other affected locations. I’m grateful to the UN Support Office in Somalia for the temporary use of helicopters to assist in carrying out search-and-rescue operations despite pressing operational demands.”

 

BAFOUSAM, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Heavy and persistent week long rains triggered deadly landslide on Tuesday 29 October in Bafoussam, West of Cameroon, killing over 50 persons.

Many more are believed to be still buried in the mud as search for more corpses continue, state authorities announced shortly after the sad incident.

"We can now confirm that over 50 lives have been lost in the incident and close to fifteen houses have been buried in mud," said Cameroon minister of territorial administration,Paul AtangaNji in a press briefing after visiting the site yesterday.

The minister said 80% of those killed are children between 6-15 years and women.

The landslide, which occurred at around 10.30 pm after over a week-long of heavy rains, caught the rural population in their sleep,said the governor of the West region, Away Gonna Augustine.

Major recovery efforts are ongoing in the area,government has announced.

Military and the local population say they are using shovel and local tool in their search .

"We fear using complex machines might hurt someone who could have been saved," said a military officer on the site.
Residents who survived the accident said they heard a loud noise while asleep and quickly rushed out

" I heard a loud bang and jumped out of bed only to discover part of the house has been covered with mud and two of my children trapped under. The rescue team that came in hours later managed to rescue the," said Divine Ngambou, survivor of the landslide.

The minister of territorial administration and that of urban development have issued orders for the population living on the flanks of the hilly area to evacuate.

Rains have been very heavy in most parts of Cameroon in the past few months causing flooding and destroying property,environment experts say.

"These prolonged rains are clear signs of climate change. This was not the case in the past.". said Epie Joseph head of meteorology in the ministry of environment..

Floods and landslides he said are triggered by climate abnormality.

Cameroon President Paul Biya has ordered for immediate financial assistance to be provided to the victims,while receiving treatment in the hospitals are getting it for free.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - “Disasters, particularly related to hydro-meteorological hazards, extreme climate and weather phenomena are increasing across Africa. On average, Africa suffers approximately two disasters per week, 8 deaths per day,” said African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ambassador Josefa Sacko, at the official opening ceremony of the Ministerial segment of the 3rd Ordinary session of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment.

By all standards, the figures are alarming, and a timely call to action for African experts on Agriculture, Rural economy, Water and Environment, who have this week been meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The key objective of the STC is to review the relevant strategic goals, linkages, progress and pitfalls,and their implications on the achievement of the continent’s set goals as set out in various strategic documents such as the Malabo Declaration; the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063.

The SCT, segmented in two parts; starts with technical work by experts followed a policy session attended by Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment.

Officially opening the meeting, AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ambassador Josefa Sacko underscored the importance of environmental sustainability as a cornerstone for promoting and ensuring food security in Africa.

“We have the honour and the arduous duty of promoting and ensuring food security and safety, climate change adaptation, resilience to disasters and droughts and environmental sustainability in Africa. Building resilience in arid and semi-arid regions of the continent and supporting land tenure reforms that specifically address the inherent challenges for women in particular are critical areas that we must address. It is also our mandate to assist Member States to rationally manage and utilize the vast natural resources of our continent ranging from fisheries, water, land, forests, wildlife and biodiversity,” said Ambassador Sacko.

Amid the climate crisis, building resilience is the buzz word globally. And for Africa, climate adaptation is not an option but a necessity due to the continent’s majority population’s dependence on natural resource sensitive sectors for livelihood.

“To ensure a coordinated and synergistic implementation of these programmes, we have developed a draft Strategy for the Division of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Management in line with AU Medium Term Plan to enhance resource mobilization and programme delivery. We are the flag bearer in the global environmental discussion, articulating African priorities and concerns and ensuring a fair deal for our continent especially in arena of climate change, biodiversity and desertification negotiations,” she added.

And to highlight the magnitude of the environmental challenge, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), reports that this year alone, over 45 million people across Africa, mostly in Eastern and Southern Africa, are food insecure due to prolonged droughts.

This came to light when the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) and the UNCCD announced a partnership to support the development of financial tools to help Africa to adapt and become resilient to future drought and other extreme weather events.
And the AUC is not leaving disaster risk reduction to chance. According to Commissioner Sacko, it is one of the priority agenda for the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture.

“Cognizant of this reality, plans are ongoing to establish a continental early warning and preparedness system at AUC as a way of improving analysis and early-warning capabilities of weak countries with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO),” she disclosed.

Ambassador Sacko further highlighted other initiatives with regards to sustainable environment and natural resources management, which include the Great Green Wall Initiative, the Sharm El-Sheik Commitments on Water and sanitation, forestry and wildlife strategies as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures including the African Regional Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Global Frame for Climate Services and the AMCOMET Strategy on Meteorology.

On the Agricultural front, the Commissioner gave progress review on the implementation of decisions and recommendations from the last STC in 2017, as well as highlighting programmes and initiatives, the most recent being the launch of the Campaign to ‘Retire the Hand held Hoe to the Museum,’ through promoting Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation in Africa (SAMA).

Following a request by the last STC, “We had worked assiduously with FAO, member states and several other stakeholders to develop the Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in Africa (SAMA). This document that has ten priority elements was launched at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy in October 2018,” she said. “Efforts are now being made to disseminate this document and assist African countries to develop their sustainable mechanization strategies drawing from this Framework.”

And Chairperson of the STC and Minister of Agriculture of Burkina Faso, SalifouOuedraogo, highlighted the need for member states to operationalize the SAMA and support the continent’s zero hunger agenda.

Overall, the projected population growth which is set to hit 2.4 billion by 2050, is set to bring along an added task of doubling production to meet increasing food demand, coupled with rapid urbanization and changing food systems.  

Therefore, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which calls for enhanced agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all, still remains key in the realisation of Agenda 2063.

OPINION

In our beloved, land-locked nation of Zambia, the government has demonstrated encouraging foresight and pragmatism in guiding the country’s efforts to mitigate the causes of the climate crisis and, more relevant to low-emitting African states such as Zambia, adapt to the hazards it brings.

Although some of the world’s most powerful political figures are liable to deny it, we in Africa are living with the consequences of climate change every day in new ways. The impact is inescapable. Indeed, over the last several years, the 1.2 billion people living on our proud continent – the second largest population in the world – have suffered significantly the adverse effects of historic droughts, floods, storms and other severe weather events made ever more common by the warming of our planet.

The world’s climate scientists, economists, development specialists, urban planners, engineers and any number of other experts among society’s public, private and academic spheres agree that these unnatural weather patterns are, more likely than not, destined to become the norm in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Their conclusion? Governments of the world must re-evaluate their national priorities, and allocate far greater attention and resources to adapting their respective economies to this new normal, a verdict that increasingly appears to be gaining traction.

This at least is the major takeaway from the recent 74th convening of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Here attendees focused nearly exclusively on climate change and how governments of the world can and should mobilise their political and economic resources to take action.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Sub-Saharan Africa needs leadership and international coordination on this issue, and both are in short supply.

The absence of urgency may be related to the fact that we are not the world’s worst polluters. Often discussed in recent years has been the region’s profound vulnerability to the hazards of climate change, despite being responsible for less than 5% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and less than 2.5% of global cumulative CO2 emissions.

Yet it is we who are suffering. No one will soon forget the “Day Zero” water crisis in Cape Town that came after three years of drought. But the problems are diversifying in scope and range. Average climate change-induced temperature increases in the region are projected to be significantly higher than the global mean. And, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the same can be said for the duration, intensity and frequency of droughts and major storms, such as Cyclone Idai.

To make matters worse, while this alone is cause enough for alarm, sub-Saharan nations’ quickly growing population, insufficient infrastructure, lack of financial resources, institutional instability and over-dependence on industries highly exposed to climate change, such as agriculture and extractives, render the region ill-equipped to make the necessary adaptations.

Yet, against the odds, there are some exceptions.

In our beloved, land-locked nation of Zambia, the current government has demonstrated encouraging foresight and pragmatism in guiding the country’s efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change and, more relevant to low-emitting African states like Zambia, adapt to the hazards it brings. In an address to the legislature ahead of the UNGA earlier in September, 2019, President Edgar Lungu unveiled a sweeping plan for accelerating Zambia’s sustainable development that, among other things, is in line with the administration’s Vision 2030 development agenda, incorporates recommendations from the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, and has earned the approval of numerous civil society organisations, such as the WWF.

The timing could hardly have been more appropriate. The country’s agriculture industry, which contributes 19% of GDP and in 2017 employed 54.8% of the workforce, is facing a challenging period. Drought and weather changes have reduced harvests and strained electricity supply, and although we project a return of heavier rains in the near future, this is a situation we cannot allow to continue without determined action.

It’s understandable then why Lungu, with the support of government leaders from across the Zambian political spectrum, has made climate action one of his administration’s top priorities ahead of the next legislative session. The new climate agenda will build on government measures begun in earnest following a period of similarly adverse weather activity in 2016, particularly the 2017 National Climate Change Policy, which established a two-pronged scheme built on numerous complementary mitigation and adaptation strategies ranging from information dissemination to capacity building at every level of government.

The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is among the stakeholders playing a part in helping the country respond to negative impacts of climate change. As the principal environmental regulator, ZEMA looks to benefit from the political will demonstrated by Lungu to acknowledge environmental management as a critical part of all development initiatives and activities. Climate change is an environmental issue and the path Zambia has taken is the right one.

But Zambia cannot do this alone. For that reason, the Lungu administration will keep its doors open to international investment in its renewable energy sector, working with global partners like the United States, the EU, Italy and Japan to modernise agricultural, water and disaster relief management practices, and will expand other existing engagements with multilateral institutions such as the Climate Investment Fund of the World Bank.

In Zambia, we are bringing together our best and brightest minds to debate the best and most feasible solutions. We are studying improvements that can be made in small-scale farming techniques and irrigation systems. We are looking at an accelerated installation of renewable energy systems, and we are examining food security resilience programmes, among numerous other proactive efforts to guard against the threat of climate change.

It is time for greater regional leadership on the climate change issue. We need strong voices to achieve determined action. If we don’t speak up soon, who will?

The author is Director General of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA)

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Enhanced forest protection, improved forest and agricultural management, fuel-switching and efficient cooking and heating appliances can promote more sustainable biomass use and reduce land degradation in Africa.

The experts pointed this out at the 2019 Africa Climate Risk Conference (ACRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while addressing a team of African journalists at an event organised on the sidelines of the conference to discuss the importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) reports to Africa.

The training was organised by Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).

Dr Tony Knowles and Dr James Kairo who authored the IPCC's Special Report on Land and Climate Change and the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate respectively, took the journalists through what the report means for the African continent.

Dr Knowles, the Lead Author of the Report on Land and Climate Change said that land was a critical resource that people rely on for food, water, health and wellbeing, yet, it is already threatened by the growing population pressure and climate change.

“The time to act is now; delayed action will increase the costs of addressing land degradation, and can lead to irreversible biophysical and human outcomes,” said Dr Knowles.

In 2016, the IPCC decided to prepare a special report after member states and observer organisations were asked to submit views on potential themes for special reports during the current Sixth Assessment Report cycle. Nine clusters were considered on different themes, including land, cities, and oceans.  

The Special Report on Climate Change and Land represents the second largest cluster and covers seven proposals from member states and observer organisations that related to land.

When it was released in August 2019, the report showed that land is critically important as a source of greenhouse gas emissions and is also a solution to many problems caused by climate change.

According to Dr Knowles, population growth and changes in consumption of food, feed, fibre, timber and energy have caused unprecedented rates of land and freshwater use.

“We, humans, affect more than 70 percent of ice-free land.  A quarter of this land is degraded. The way we produce food and what we eat contributes to the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity,” said the lead author of the land report.

He noted that whenever land is degraded, it reduces the soil’s ability to take up carbon and this exacerbates climate change. “In turn, climate change exacerbates land degradation in many different ways,” he said.

Today, 500 million people worldwide live in areas that experience desertification, and such people are increasingly negatively affected by climate change.

According to research, desertification and changing climate are projected to cause reductions in crop and livestock productivity, modify the composition of plant species and reduce biological diversity across drylands. Rising CO2 levels will favour more rapid expansion of some invasive plant species in some regions.

So far, drylands cover about 46.2 percent of global land and are home to 3 billion people. As well, food systems, which include food production and processing, transport, retail, consumption, loss and waste, is currently responsible for up to a third of the global greenhouse gas emissions

Of the land degradation processes, deforestation, increasing wildfires, degradation of peat soils, and permafrost thawing contribute most to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases and the reduction in land carbon sinks following deforestation.

Dr Kairo, the author of the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate pointed out that the IPCC special reports are about issues that merit explicit consideration out of the main reports.

“The special reports are designed to address policy relevant issues that may require input from a wide range of disciplines,” said Dr Kairo.

He said that the world’s ocean and cryosphere have been ‘taking the heat’ from climate change for decades. “Consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe,” he said.

He noted that smaller glaciers found, for example, in Europe, eastern Africa, the tropical Andes and Indonesia are projected to lose more than 80 percent of their current ice mass by 2100 if emissions continue to increase strongly.  
“As glaciers melt and snow cover shrinks, warm-adapted plant and animal species migrate upslope. Cold- and snow-adapted species decrease and risk eventual extinction, especially without conservation,“ said the researcher, noting that the retreat of the cryosphere will continue to adversely affect recreational activites, tourism and cultural assets.

According to Mairi Dupar, the CDKN Technical Advisor and Managing Editor Overseas Development Institute (ODI) overemphasized the critical role played by journalists in disseminating of climate change relate information.  

“CDKN will continue supporting journalists to ensure that they communicate climate science information to the relevant consumers for social and political development on the continent,” said Mairi.

The African Climate Risks Conference was organised by the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) in collaboration with the UKaid, the Science of the Environment (NERC) under the theme ‘Dismantling barriers to urgent climate adaptation action.’

The conference begun today and ends on Thursday at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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