Botswana gears up for climate change; embarks on preparing a Policy, Response Strategy and Action PlanAug 28, 2013
As the effects of climate change become apparent, and are expected to worsen in many parts of the world, the Government of Botswana is taking necessary steps that will ensure these effects do not adversely impact on its development programmes. This was demonstrated today when the government convened an inception workshop to initiate a stakeholder-focused process for the development of a National Climate Change Policy and Comprehensive Strategy and Action Plan (NCCSAP) in Gaborone. As a scientifically established fact, the threats that climate change poses are potentially catastrophic. These could range from longer drought periods in some parts of the country to unprecedented floods being experienced in others. Climate change is already starting to affect some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the country.
In Botswana, climate change is expected to have wide-ranging effects on key sectors such as water, agriculture, food security and human health. Botswana is especially exposed because of its fragile and arid environment. Already, increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events like droughts and floods have been observed and are hindering progress towards the realization of the goals and aspirations of the Vision 2016 and tenth National Development Plan (NDP10). The country’s 2012 Second Communication to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) predicted that Botswana will experience a temperature rise of up to 2 degrees Celsius by 2015 and a decline in river flows of up to 13 percent.
At the inception workshop, government emphasized its commitment in safeguarding the lives of Batswana through a holistic approach to addressing the challenges that climate change pose. In addition to the national policy, the process will also develop a long term low carbon development strategy, a national adaptation plan, nationally appropriate mitigation actions, technology development and transfer, plan for knowledge management capacity development, education and public awareness and a financial mechanism. This total package ensures that the policy is implementable.
Speaking during the workshop, Mr. Thabang Botshoma, the Director at Department of Meteorological Services, expressed his gratitude that finally the process to develop the policy, strategy and action plan had taken off. He called for broad consultation with all stakeholders so that the products of this process represent the views and aspirations of Batswana people and respond to their felt needs. Noting that Botswana ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994, Mr. Botshoma emphasized that as a signatory to the Convention and other related international instruments, Botswana was committed to a sustainable and climate resilient development pathway that will help build on the development progress so far achieved.
He thanked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for the technical and financial support being rendered towards the process. He further stated that the Botswana Government will pursue a transparent and holistic approach to addressing climate change at all levels from communities, through to districts to national levels in a cross-sectoral manner.
Invited stakeholders at the meeting called for an all-inclusive process that take into account past and present development challenges attributed to changing weather patterns, based on locally-established facts. They emphasized the need for extensive public engagement in shaping not just the process but also the products. Several stakeholders also expressed their willingness to participate in the process while others offered data and tools that can be used in the policy and strategy development process.
The United Nations Human Development Report of 2007/8 shows that climate change is not just a future scenario as increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying livelihoods and reinforcing inequality. It is clear that inaction on climate change will lead to unprecedented reversal in human development progress made over the past decades, and poses acute risks for future generations. Climate change has the potential to halt and reverse gains made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The outcome of this process will be significant in guiding how the country responds to the development challenges across all sectors that are attributed to global warming and climate change. This will be informed by already exiting climate change information, socio-economic and development indicators, local experiences as well as existing policies, plans and institutional frameworks. The initial product of the process, the National Climate Change Policy, is expected to be ready by March 2014, while the Strategy and Action Plan will follow later in 2014.
UNDP Communications Specialist