Botswana in the global climate change agenda

Ernest Moloi BG reporter
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
A field of dead maize crop. A field of dead maize crop.

Like the rest of the world, Botswana has not escaped the effects of climate change, which over the years have manifested themselves in extreme temperatures, heat waves, floods, heavy rainfall and recurring droughts.

Given its cross-cutting nature, the resultant impacts of climate change on the economy have been far-reaching. In the agricultural sector, crops and livestock production have drastically declined leading to reduced household incomes and ultimately, loss of livelihoods – thereby exacerbating poverty levels and burdening the already choked government welfare system.

Land degradation, loss of biodiversity and emergence of new pests and diseases have suddenly become the norm rather than the exception, which factors ultimately led government to stand up, take notice and begin tackling the elephant in the room that wouldn’t just go away.

Although the country’s response to this threat – the biggest in the 2st Century to the survival of humankind – has been slow, there is a discernible effort building up, a clear sign that the country doesn’t want to be left behind.
Already Botswana has signed and ratified quite a number of international treaties related to climate change. A Climate Change expert at the Department of Metrological Services, Dorcas Masisi cited among these, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties (COP) may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.

Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. Botswana ratified this Convention on 27 Jan uary1994 so that it entered into force on 27 April 1994.

Botswana is also a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets for developed countries, as well as its amendment called Doha Amendment,. The country ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 8 August 2003 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The Doha Amendment was ratified and entered into force on 7 March 2016.

And lately the country joined the global lobby to combat climate change effects by assenting to the Paris Agreement on 11 November 2016 so that it entered into force on 11 Dec ember 2016.  The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to submit their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.

In response to the threat of depletion of the ozone layer, the global community developed and signed the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 and the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer in 1987. Botswana acceded to both in 1992. 
The climate change experts at the Metrology department say that the driving force behind the treaty was the protection of human health against damages caused by the increase of Ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth as a result of ozone depletion.Under the Convention and the Protocol, Botswana’s obligation is to reduce the consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) in the country.

These are gases that are used in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Fire Fighting. The country does so by following a specific phase out schedule set by Parties to the Montreal Protocol which also requires that each country submit, on annual basis, its production and consumption data to the Ozone Secretariat. Botswana is also in the process of ratifying the Kigali Amendment, which is the recent amendment to the Montreal Protocol of 1992, adopted in 2016. Under the Kigali Amendment, parties reached an agreement to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

By this commitment, Botswana has demonstrated a willingness to go to all extremes to protect her biodiversity and preserve it for future generations. But with the advent of climate change, which is explained as “the measurable variation in the state of the climate over an extended period of time – thee has been added pressure on the country’s leadership to show political will.

There has been a groundswell of opinion that the National Policy on Climate Change has remained on draft form for a long time: Official response to this recurring query is that the draft has been circulated through ministries is hoped will be submitted to the next parliament sitting. Additionally, the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan are being developed with funding from the United Nations Development Programme. (UNDP)

The Strategy and Action Plan will assist in the implementation of the Policy. The consultants have to complete the work by June 2018. Currently the country does not have National Mitigation/Adaptation Plans. It is envisaged that the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan will have the plans.

The mitigation and adaptation measures are contained in the reports that are called National Communications (NC) which the country is required to submit to UNFCCC as an obligation, but most of these measures are being implemented by the different institutions and individuals. And this is one grey area currently frustrating the country’s efforts to transition to low carbon development.

The imperative of policy coordination and coherence cannot be gainsaid. Mitigation generally refers to uptake of renewable energy technology while adaptation actions relate to adoption of climate smart agricultural (CSA) practises and sustainable natural resource management. Botswana has proposed a 15% greenhouse (GHG) emission reduction by 2030 starting from 2010

Botswana’s NDC were based on different projects that the departments/institutions were embarking on and there was a conditionality that implementation of these projects can only be achieved if funding was provided. Botswana’s National Communications and National Determined Contributions has identified agriculture sector as one of the highest priority sectors where urgent and immediate action is needed to build resilience through adaptation and mitigation.

A group of experts drawn from various public, private, civil society and farmers associations – has just wrapped up a five-day Botswana Climate Finance Design Workshop for GCF Concept Note Development. The aim of the UNDP-sponsored Department of Agricultural l Research workshop was to develop a ‘Concept Note’- or document to request funding from the UNFCCC organ called GCF to build climate resilience in agricultural systems in the country.

Workshop convener, Douglas Machacha who is DAR acting deputy director and the workshop Facilitator, Dr George Wamokoya,, a consultant of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – radiated joy Wednesday halfway through the development of the Concept Note.

They were confident that the Concept Note would eventually be turned into a full Proposal. And with the help of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and UNDP, both of which are the National Designated Authority (DSA) and Accredited Entity (AE) respectively, it is hoped this process should culminate in securing funding from the GCF or development partners to help the country build climate resilience in her economy.

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 August 2018 09:11

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