Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has announced that Namibia will host an international conference in August to focus on the development of a strategic framework to improve drought resilience in Africa.
“It is no longer acceptable for us to be caught unware by drought events, especially as these events are set to become even more frequent under the climate change scenario. This conference will look at solutions to enhance our preparedness for drought events and will be held in partnership with a number of international partners, including the UNCCD and the World Meteorological Organisation,” the minister said.
Shifeta, who was speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, said the event was proposed in line with decisions and outcomes from the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held last year, as well as the 12th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held in October 2015.
The historic Paris agreement, which commits all nations of the world to a first-ever universal, legally binding global deal to tackle climate change, was the key outcome of the 21st CoP to the UNFCCC.
The agreement, which enters into force in 2020, comes with domestic obligations and opportunities for Namibia, Shifeta said.
It is most crucial for African countries as it signals a high level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of climate change globally. It also reflects a good balance between mitigation and adaptation and would support communities in developed countries to scale up financial support for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.
Shifeta said a two degree Celsius increase is the average global temperature above the pre-industrial level that is scientifically regarded as the upper limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change – such as floods, drought, heatwaves, rising sea levels and more intense storms – are likely to become much more dangerous.
The global agreement aims to limit the increase in global average temperature rises to well below two degree Celsius and states that the intention is to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius.
“This is a highly ambitious attempt to curb the catastrophic impacts expected from global warming, which is good news for vulnerable countries such as Namibia and the small island developing states,” he noted.
According to Shifeta, adaptation to climate change is a critical priority for Namibia. Therefore, it is highly significant that the Paris agreement contains a global goal on climate change adaptation to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change, he said.
Further, he said greater international cooperation is called for to strengthen adaptation in developing countries, particularly those countries most vulnerable to climate change: “This will allow Namibia to mobilise support for strengthening the resilience of farmers and rural communities to drought events and for the construction of climate-proof infrastructure.”
He also announced that the Green Climate Fund is now fully operational and is expected to become the main global fund for combating and adapting to climate change. About U$100 billion is expected to flow through the fund annually by 2020.
Shifeta said Namibia’s Environmental Climate Fund has been accredited by the Green Climate Fund and they are presently preparing to submit six projects to the Green Climate Fund later in the year.
The Paris agreement will open for signature on April 22 and Shifeta strongly believes it is in Namibia’s best interest to ratify the agreement without delay.