President’s active involvement galvanises Zambia’s in-country climate action
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24 September 2016
Author :   Friday Phiri
President Lungu of Zambia signing the Paris Agreement : >> Image Credits by:Friday Phiri

SIAVONGA, Zambia (Pamacc News) – The active involvement by Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, in the climate change processes has cheered stakeholders.

Lungu personally took it upon himself to append Zambia’s signature to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the Treaty Event at the just ended High-Level Segment of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

While he was away assuring the country’s commitment to the climate treaty, climate stakeholders back home were meeting, mapping out the Southern African country’s participation at the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP 22), to be held in Marrakech, Morocco later in November.

After the landmark adoption of the Paris Agreement, COP 22 is seen as an implementation meeting at which stakeholders are to map out strategies to meet the overall objective of the Agreement of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.

And the Zambian climate stakeholders are upbeat about the country’s participation considering the President’s keen interest in the processes.

“I think the President’s personal interest in the matter gives us courage and galvanizes our participation at the upcoming COP as a country,” said Richard Lungu, Zambia’s designated United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) focal point person.

Lungu, who is also the Chief Environment and Management Officer at the Ministry of Lands, Natural resources and Environmental Protection, told delegates at the COP 22 preparatory meeting, to re-dedicate themselves to the country’s cause in the climate agenda.

Acknowledging the huge task of mobilising resources to implement the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Lungu reminded stakeholders of the need to collaborate and speak with one voice with other African countries in ensuring that financing for adaptation remains a key priority for Africa.

Meanwhile, Godwin Gondwe, Director in the Department of Environment and Natural Resource management says for Zambia, “climate change is a matter of life and death,” in view of a country-wide energy crisis due to low water levels at the country’s hydro power stations and reduced agricultural productivity as a result of poor rainfall linked to climate change.

“It is clear even to a layman how climate change is affecting us, energy and agriculture are just but some of the most visible sectors manifesting the reality facing us,” said Gondwe, highlighting the need for proper coordination of all climate change activities.

But for Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Lenox Kalonde, “the country should not lose focus of the key component in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, finance.”

And this is a point that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zambia office, also emphasized especially in relation to capacity building to ensure a smooth implementation of the country’s climate agenda.

“We are moving into a crucial stage of implementation, and Zambia should not lag behind for it is here where it matters the most,” said Winnine Musonda, the Deputy UNDP Country representative, a key partner to Zambia’s in-country climate change programmes, through the UN Joint Programme on climate change.

According to Article 11 of the Paris Agreement, capacity-building is recognized to be particularly important for developing country parties to take effective climatechange action.The agreement further proposes that the said capacity-building should be country-driven, based on and responsive tonational needs, and foster country ownership of Parties, in particular, fordeveloping country Parties, including at the national, subnational and local levels.

However, most developing country parties lack the financial muscle to undertake such programmes, hence the need for financial support from developed country parties.

“As civil society, we must not lose truck that most of what we have planned in our NDCs require huge financial support,” said Bornface Mumba of the Centre for Environmental Justice, adding that capacity is particularly needed to access funds under some complicated initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund.

But for Robert Chimambo, Board member of the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), “even as we extend our begging bowl, we should not be sacrifice our indigenous knowledge and practices for fake and unrealistic solutions,” because according to him, Zambia, and Africa in general has a lot to offer.

With 187 signatories to the Paris Agreement, and 60 States depositing their instruments of ratification as at 22nd September 2016, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.76% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, the deal could come into force within this year, way ahead of the 2020 scheduled date.

This is so as only eight percent is remaining of the required 55 percent GHG threshold as outlined in article 21 of the Paris Agreement which states that the treaty shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date onwhich at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least anestimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have depositedtheir instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

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