Botswana NGOs on Climate Change subject

22 Dec 2014

Some Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations, especially those involved hands-on with projects related to environment have said that not enough has been done to cover the Climate Change subject. Their observation is that the country is also lagging behind on important ‘green economy’.

Chenesani Tamocha, Programs Manager at Somarelang Tikologo said,” Climate Change is still a very difficult subject to discuss, let alone explain. This is indicative of the fact that Batswana are not educated on this subject.” Her organisation promotes green economy. It promotes recycling so much so that it is one of those trading on bottles’ and cans’ recycling. The organisation has also had diversifying projects with communities. Its staff engaged Makomoto community in the Central District which lived on firewood sales. The community has since been educated on alternative revenue spinners like poultry and bee keeping.

Public Relations Officer with Cheetah Conservation Botswana, Connie Sebati said Climate Change is generally understood by residents of Gaborone who access information on the subject from various sources; including attending workshops.

“A closer look on this matter will reveal that some industries which could benefit a lot from having enough information on the matter like crop producers and even livestock farmers are left out. I think something has been done but a lot still needs be done. Topics like recycling should be discussed and people must be informed about it,” said Sebati. But Botswana, just like other countries often participate in world conferences, aimed at ensuring climate change is efficiently tackled.

“We’re not moving fast enough on climate change - already we are seeing the impacts of climate damage on the most vulnerable communities, species and ecosystems, including here in Botswana”, said Dr Kabelo Senyatso, Director at Birdlife Botswana.

“Yes, there is incremental progress, but what we need is a rapid and fundamental shift towards low carbon, climate resilient economies. Governments will need to take bold and urgent action over the next 12 months to ensure an effective and equitable 2015 agreement. We urge the Botswana government to take a strong lead on this matter by quickly finalizing the Climate Change Policy, and then supporting local actors working to ensure that climate change impacts on humans and livelihoods are kept at a bare minimum. Only then could we be in a position to engage internationally, knowing that at national level, ‘all our ducks are in a row’,” he said.

Commenting on the recently held conference in Peru, Dr. Senyatso said there was a degree of optimism heading into the Lima negotiations, with the world’s largest emitters – China, US, and Europe – communicating their emission reduction targets, and countries pledging a combined total of US$10 billion to the Green Climate Fund. Disappointingly, governments missed the opportunity to build on this momentum to lay a robust foundation for a global post-2020 agreement on climate change to be finalised in Paris next year, and to ramp up pre-2020 action on climate change.

He said countries made progress on the possible elements for the Paris agreement, developing a shopping list that will be negotiated further in Geneva in February.

“However, only limited guidance emerged on the content of countries’ post 2020 climate action pledges – so called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – which are to be communicated early next year. What is concerning, however, is the lack of a robust assessment of the adequacy of INDCs in staying within the two degree limit and of the fairness and equity of each countries’ proposal. As Botswana develops its own climate change Policy, it will be particularly interesting to see the extent to which we commit to reducing our own emissions, which although currently low, will rise with the increased use of our coal reserves for power generation,” said Senyatso.

Moreover, he said as a country, there is need to develop this target with transparency, both to local actors, and to interested and affected parties internationally. Globally, the resistance of some big polluters to an assessment of their INDC pledges undermines trust and credibility, and it would be critical that Botswana sets the right tone, as there would otherwise be loss of moral ground to critique INDCs of other states on account of their fairness and equity.

Tracy Sonny of Climate Change Network said NGOs are doing the best they can to send the message home that climate change is here. She said the fact that policy document on the subject is being crafted is a step in the right direction by government and other stake holders.

“We will ultimately get there,” she concluded.