Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Matambo’s budget leaves the environment in cold

Even as the country reels from the impact of climate change, a recent national budget for the year 2018/19 presented by Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo remains completely silent on the matter.

Despite the lack of a specific budget geared towards climate change, Botswana is a signatory of the Paris Agreement of 2015, the country only has a ‘Draft Climate Change Policy’ which is yet to be tabled in parliament.

Climate change has direct impact on food security and livelihoods of people in Africa. It is manifested by shifting seasons, erratic rainfall, recurrent droughts, torrential rainfall when it rains, disappearance of rivers, appearance of diseases where they never thrived and so forth.

At the same time, the failure by Botswana to put up a substantive policy has contributed to its failure to follow suit countries like South Africa which have started to tap into the Green Climate Fund. The Green Climate Fund is a product of Paris Agreement meant to aid developing countries to tackle climate change.

These shortfalls are so pressing to Non State Actors (NSAs), as evidenced by discussions during a breakfast meeting hosted by Botswana Climate Chance Network (BCCN) Friday that stakeholders decided to change their approach in engaging the government.

BCCN as a part of the global networks is party to the strategic plan led by Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) of 2016-20. The Alliance’s Secretary General, Mikitha Mwenda told participants that the plan has five operational approaches: “Policy influence, public engagement and mobilization, holding governments accountable (at global and African levels), knowledge development and communication as well as institutional and governance strengthening. Under policy influence we device means of where and how to strategically engage with inter-governmental as well as national government processes to ensure realization of environmental and climate justice for all people, and particularly the most vulnerable.”

On holding governments accountable and ensuring equity/HR adherence of inter-governmental agreements, Mwenda said civil society has a critical role to play in acting as witness to the compliance of governments to their international and sovereign commitments to human rights in the context of environmental and climate justice and the broader development agenda. He decried the fact that the governments largely rely on external expertise to craft their policies thus not compatible with their contextualized research/policies.

“You have the likes of David Lesolle here who know the country, the society and the challenges they face. Foreigners will just facilitate the theory while practical is also needed,” he said.

Non-State Actors he said have curved their space in African Climate Change discourses, and played prominent role in experimenting new ideas, prototypes; which have shaped decisions and actions-ideally their work. However there is worrying shrinking space and in some countries, the relationship between NGOs and the government is not cordial while in others CSOs don’t exist; thus there is a strong missing link from regional/continental processes and national/sub-national levels.

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