There is no planet B. There is sometimes this notion that the environment is separate from humanity.
The environment is our home and the health of the planet is linked to ours.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has understandably been dominating news headlines, the adverse effects of climate change have been looming in the background and gradually increasing around the world, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
As a result, the lives and livelihoods on the frontline are hurt and the most vulnerable are suffering in silence.
Approximately 80 percent of the food we consume here in Malawi is produced by smallholder farmers. Similar percentages are also seen in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the continent is also the one suffering the most from hunger and poverty exacerbated by climate change.
This year, Madagascar was the first country to declare a famine as a result of climate change.
All this now calls for concrete actions to change and reverse this trend.
Last month, the Government of Malawi in partnership with the United Nations and the British High Commission organised a National Green Climate Conference to assess the status of climate action; identify challenges and barriers; and prepare for COP26, the global climate summit known as the Conference of the Parties to the UN climate change treaty to be held in the UK in November 2021.
The conference brought together representatives from all sectors, including the public, private, civil society, academia, the UN and development partners.
At the event, President Lazarus Chakwera stated in his opening address that climate change presents the single biggest threat to Malawi’s sustainable development.
Its impacts are disproportionately burdening the poorest and most vulnerable people and damaging the already-fragile national economy and ecosystems.
Climate change poses a long-term threat to food and nutrition security in Malawi.
According to the National Planning Commission (NPC), Malawi has experienced more than 19 major flooding events and seven dry spells over the past five decades.
Urgent climate action is therefore crucial to bail Malawi out of its present situation and help achieve its development agenda.
The NPC further states that over half of Malawi’s districts are declared disaster prone, exacerbated by limited early warning systems, inadequate preparedness and recovery capacity and an unsustainably high dependency on natural resources for livelihood and energy.
This situation has a significant impact on food systems as well as natural resource management and economic growth.
We cannot afford to lose more time. Urgent action is needed. As development partners, we also need to break down the barriers and harmonise our dynamism.
Efforts to address climate change, gender inequality, education, hunger and poverty should fit neatly into coordinated actions.
Let us also not forget the smallholder farmers who make up most of the Malawi’s population and are most likely to be among those most hard-hit by the effects of climate change.
The most vulnerable are not only victims but also potential agents of change.
Given their localised knowledge and perspectives, they are uniquely positioned to contribute to climate-resilient communities and find the right solutions to their own problems like planting trees to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems.
All sectors and individuals should join efforts in a “green team” working together to reduce emissions; invest in cleaner technologies; and increase the adaptive capacity of the Malawian people to face climate change.
This is a call to climate action to save our food systems
Everyone should do their part!