Climate change is widely recognized as one of the major challenges facing humanity and to address such a global issue, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was therefore adopted in 1992 to stabilize Green House Gases (GHG) concentration in the atmosphere. By definition, climate change is “a long-term change in the earth’s climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature.” It is widely recognized that climate change constitutes a significant and serious threat to sustainable development of any country. Evidence shows that Zambia has over the past years experienced a number of climate related hazards including droughts and dry spells, seasonal and flash floods, and extreme temperatures. Therefore, actions to minimize the potential future impacts of climate change are critical. The Climate Change Secretariat in Zambia recently indicated that over US$ 50 billion is required for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change effects. This is because the impact of climate change is long term and therefore long-term interventions are required.
International Agreements on Climate Change
The Paris COP 21
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. COP 21 negotiated the Paris Agreement, “a global agreement on the reduction of climate change”, which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it. Zambia pledged to fight the effects of climate change by signing the Paris Agreement when President Lungu appended Zambia’s Signature to the historic Paris Agreement in September 2016 at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.
MarrakeCh COP 22
In November 2016, negotiators from more than 150 countries (including Zambia) convened in Marrakech; Morocco, for the 22nd Conference of Parties, (COP22) to discuss and showcase progress and begin the important process of turning the UN’s Paris Agreement into a detailed blueprint for action. The Marrakech Action Proclamation, issued by Heads of State and government gathered at the COP 22. It was widely seen as a reaffirmation of global commitment to the Paris Agreement. Further, a new fund to encourage transparency efforts was established and given a $50m injection of cash from countries including Australia, Canada and Germany. To this effect, Zambia needs to continuously seek out opportunities for international funding available for climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes.
The National Climate Change Policy (NPCC)
The Government of the Republic of Zambia recently launched the National Policy on Climate Change and PMRC welcomes this development, as it has been long overdue. PMRC notes that the formulation of the National Policy on Climate Change is based on mitigating the threats posed by climate change to the development process including attainment of the Vision 2030. Most importantly we note also that the policy provides guidance on how the Zambian economy can grow in a sustainable manner and compliment the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan. We further believe that this Policy on Climate Change will promote coordination of all adaptation and mitigation measures towards combating climate change.
Insight into the National Policy on Climate Change
The Vision of the National Policy on Climate Change is “A prosperous and climate resilient economy by 2030”. We note also that the rationale for formulating the NPCC is to establish a coordinated national response to climate change; as previously, climate change issues have been addressed in a fragmented manner using various sectoral policies, strategies and plans and these have had limited overall effect.
The overall objective of the Policy is to provide a framework for coordinating climate change programmes in order to ensure climate resilient and low carbon development pathways for sustainable development towards the attainment of Zambia’s Vision 2030.
- To promote and strengthen the implementation of adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures to reduce vulnerability to climate variability and change;
- To promote and implement sustainable land-use management practices in order to contribute to reducing Green House Gases (GHG) emissions from land use and land use change and forestry;
- To promote mainstreaming of climate change into policies, plans and strategies at all levels in order to account for Climate Change risks and opportunities in decision making and implementation;
- To strengthen the institutional and human resource capacity in order to effectively and efficiently address all aspects of climate change at international, national, provincial, district and local levels;
- To promote communication and dissemination of climate change information to enhance awareness and understanding of its impacts;
- To promote investments in climate resilient and low carbon development pathways in order to generate co-benefits and provide incentives for addressing climate change more effectively;
- To foster research and development in order to improve understanding and decision making in responding to climate change;
- To engender Climate Change programmes and activities in order to enhance gender equality and equity in the implementation of climate change programmes
Climate Change Department
As PMRC, we further applaud the establishment of the Climate Change Department. This department was established under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in order to facilitate effective implementation of NPCC. Further, for purposes of coordination, overall oversight and mainstreaming of climate change in national development planning processes, this Department will closely collaborate with the Ministry responsible for National Development Planning.
Moving forward, we note that having of this National Policy on Climate Change is an important development, which presents the country with a well-structured national strategy to respond more effectively to the adverse effects of climate change. We note that the structure and implementation arrangements will ensure effective delivery of efforts to mitigate climate change. The policy will also promote stronger collaboration between various ministries and institutions that have a critical role to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The mainstreaming further ensures coherence between the recently developed Seventh National Development Plan and all climate change programmes. We believe that this multi-sectoral collaborative approach is critical for success in implementing programmes because it requires coordination through a defined institutional framework. Further we note that the policy will support and facilitate a coordinated response to climate change by re-aligning its climate sensitive sectors of the economy and society. The policy provides stakeholders with a clearer framework on how to tackle climate change in Zambia. With a policy in place, duplication of efforts and time wasting would not arise because of the integrated approach.
Having launched the National Policy on Climate Change, the next steps for Government as custodians is to ensure that all players and stakeholders critical to the implementation are consistent in their delivery. Further, to ensure success, a monitoring and evaluation mechanism must be put in place with clearly defined key performance indicators that can serve as a guide to asses the state of implementation and success. What is next after having this policy is to ensure that cooperating partners and other stakeholders are consistent in implementing the policy. There is need to ensure that adequate provision of resources for climate change initiatives are available.
PMRC pledges to support all government efforts in evaluating and responding to Zambia’s needs to fight climate change based on evidence. PMRC remains supportive of highly feasible plans to reduce global emissions and build climate resilience for the immediate and future benefit of our generations. Government must further enhance efforts towards communication and dissemination of climate change information so as to increase awareness and understanding of interventions, programmes, opportunities and impacts. The fight against climate change concerns all citizens of the country and to this effect; there should be information available on the roles that citizens need to play in order to look after the environment. Furthermore, PMRC welcomes the launch of the National Policy on Climate Change as it is envisaged to provide a framework that will allow the implementation of existing, and future initiatives and opportunities in a more coordinated manner, while providing a long-term vision to achieve sustainable development.