Youths urged to grab opportunities offered by climate change

Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu has urged the youths to be innovative and craft ways of grabbing opportunities offered by the global threat of climate change.

The Minister made the remarks at the Post Fifteenth Conference of Youth (COY 15) and the 25th Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 25) feedback meeting that kicked off at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare today.

“Following the 15th Conference of Youth, it is imperative that youth participants share feedback and engage their peers on climate diplomacy and map possible plans of action as national youth basing on the outcomes and experiences from the two conferences (COY 15 and COP 25). That is the reason why we are gathered here, we have to plan and come up with an action plan. The million-dollar question is how innovative and how ready are you in grabbing opportunities offered by this global threat of climate change. We have an opportunity to work together for a common cause and build a more prosperous and more sustainable future for everyone,” Minister Ndlovu said.

The Minister alluded to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai that are still fresh on people’s minds with an estimated 270,000 people, including 129,600 children, who were affected by the floods according to UNICEF. The disaster showed that time is running out, hence the need to plan and act fast.

The country has been experiencing droughts due to unreliable rainfall patterns. The droughts have crippled agricultural production resulting in food and livelihood insecurity. This has directly affected vulnerable households in both rural and urban communities. The worst affected are rural households relying on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. This is another clear indication that the Climate Crisis is real and there is a need to act now.

Due to the population increase in urban areas, waste management has been a major problem to deal with. Waste contributes to about 5% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to properly manage waster, change our throw-away mentality, and continuously raise awareness – in companies, shops and schools, and other institutions. In line with having a circular economy by 2030 and as a way of making people cautious of their surrounding environment, His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe, declared the first Friday of each calendar month to be the National Environment Clean-Up Day. I would also want to take this opportunity to applaud the work being done by youth in leading this initiative through clean-up campaigns, recycling, and reuse, playing an important role in the value addition of PET bottles amongst other innovations.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the workshop, Jean Betrand Mhandu, the Director of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Zimbabwe said it is incumbent upon the youths to take a leading role in climate change mitigation initiatives.

“Climate change is a reality and as the youths we are the majority in terms of demographics since we constitute more than 60 percent of the population, especially in developing countries like Zimbabwe. That calls on us to be innovative in mitigating the phenomenon. We should embrace technologies on clean energy like making solar panels and engaging in climate-smart agriculture among other critical interventions,” Mhandu said

The government is committed to climate action, hence juxtaposing the environment and the economy since the two are intertwined.

“We recognize that we need to leave future generations a clean, healthy, and wealthy planet and in order to do that, we need to be very ambitious by moving towards a greener and cleaner future, creating greener jobs for our youth and a stronger economy,” said Minister Ndlovu.

The Government is doing a lot of work in trying to climate-proof all socio-economic sectors by putting in place proper policy and institutional frameworks.

Hon Ndlovu said the Government developed the National Climate Policy (2017) and a National Climate Change Response Strategy to guide climate change work in the country. The objective of the policy is to guide climate change management in the country, enhance the national adaptive capacity towards climate resilience, scale up mitigation actions, facilitate domestication of climate-related global policies and ensure compliance to the global mechanisms.

Various other Policies and Strategies have been developed and have climate change considerations such as Renewable Energy and Biofuels Policies (2019) and the Industrial Development Policy. Various sectors are implementing the National Climate Policy in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment in designing and implementing programmes and projects incorporating climate change considerations.

There are prospects to develop or strengthen climate change legislation that will establish a firm, well-defined institutional structure for climate change management in the country; establish a National Climate Change Funding Mechanism; and, ensure climate change is mainstreamed in planning and budgetary processes at national and sub-national levels as well as facilitate access to data for monitoring, reporting and verification purposes.

Zimbabwe is in the process of National Adaptation Planning (NAP) with support from the Green Climate Fund NAP Readiness Programme. The NAP aims to strengthen adaptation readiness of the country and create an enabling environment for concrete adaptation investment projects. Climate change adaptation will be mainstreamed/ integrated into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning processes and strategies, within all relevant sectors at national and sub-national levels as appropriate.

Recently, the Green Climate Fund approved a US$ 26.6 Million grant on “Building climate resilience of vulnerable agricultural livelihoods in southern Zimbabwe.” The project will benefit at least 2.3 million people, mostly women, and youths in the vulnerable provinces of Masvingo, Manicaland, and Matebeleland South, through revitalisation of 21 irrigation schemes, enhancing water and soil moisture management and water use efficiency, promoting climate-resilient agriculture, improving access to climate information and markets, and building partnerships with public and private sector actors.

On another note, Zimbabwe was admitted into the United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership programme for Southern Africa and received a grant for the development of a National Climate Change Learning Strategy. The country finalized the development of a National Climate Change Learning Strategy which will strengthen learning and skills development to address climate change in Zimbabwe. The Strategy is going to be launched before the end of the year together with the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS). Mainstreaming climate change in education is key to ensure effective climate change programmes implementation.

The Environment Ministry, in partnership with the Ministry responsible for agriculture, is rolling out the Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) Manual for Agricultural Training Institutions in Zimbabwe.

The manual will help in promoting climate- and environmentally-friendly ways of farming. CSA practices are expected to sustainably increase productivity and resilience (adaptation), reduce GHGs (mitigation), and enhance the achievement of national food security as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Zimbabwe is among the first countries to sign and ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. The Government of Zimbabwe also ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement and pledged to lower its energy-related emissions by 33% per capita by 2030 below the projected Business-As-Usual through interventions such as adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency interventions and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) among others. This was reflected in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which the country communicated to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

“Right now the country is in the process of revising the NDC and by the end of this year, we should have communicated our revised NDC to the UNFCCC. The country developed an economy-wide Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS), 2020 to 2050, to promote the adoption of cost-efficient ways to make the economy more climate-friendly and less energy-consuming. This strategy is key to achieving the country’s emissions reduction commitment. We are going to launch the LEDS this year and we need your support in implementing it,” Minister Ndlovu added.

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