Civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) have requested governments in the region to be committed in climate change adaptation.
Sadc member States have also been asked to translate climate change policies into programmes and actions benefitting the affected groups.
The Sadc Civil Society Forum made the call in Gaborone, Botswana, prior to the Sadc Heads of State Summit two weeks ago. The forum is a platform for CSOs to discuss and reflect on issues affecting the regional community as identified by stakeholders in the region.
In an interview with The Nation, Heather Maseko, assistant national coordinator for the Civil Society Network on Climate Change (Cisonecc)—which is a member of the forum, said global warming is bringing to the Sadc region greater challenges for the agriculture, water, health and other key socio-economic sectors.
“A number of countries in the Sadc region are observing changes in the length of the growing season, leading to a drop in agricultural productivity and science predicts worse climate change scenarios for the region.
“Reports of widespread droughts and floods across the region have been made and some Sadc Member States are now reporting the impact of sea-level rise. Seychelles, a member of Sadc, has described that climate change has left the island in danger of losing its protective reef barrier and a sea-level rise could threaten its survival. Botswana and Malawi continue to face droughts and floods respectively,” Maseko said.
She added: “Climate change is a worrisome issue to the region because of our low capacity to adapt and usually influenced by a range of factors, such as the level of economic development, education, access to credit and adoption of technology. It is, therefore, crucial that Sadc member states identify appropriate policy options and commitments to address the phenomenon.”
Stakeholders (governments, civil society and private sector) are all gearing towards the next UN climate change negotiations in Paris, where a new climate agreement is to be made. There are high expectations on the Paris Agreement, and CSOs are looking for a fair and equitable deal that will ensure that the North takes a lead in cutting down emissions, and assist the South financially and technically to enable them develop sustainable pathways.
“And as we prepare for Paris, countries including member states in Sadc are preparing their contributions to addressing climate change [termed the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions].
“CSOs at the forum called for the participation of all stakeholders in the development process to ensure the successful preparation of country owned and ambitious contributions,” she said.
The theme for this year’s Sadc CSOs forum was Together making Sadc better: Achieving Justice, Peace and Equitable Development for all. Climate justice, food and women farmers were one of the thematic areas of focus during the forum. CSOs in the Sadc region held a dialogue session on the upcoming climate agreement and held lengthy discussion on issues affecting women farmers and food security in the region.n