By Byron Mutingwende
The Awareness Workshop on Climate Change and Ozone for Editors held at Kadoma Rainbow Hotel last Saturday has been hailed as a platform that enlightened editors from main media platforms in Zimbabwe on climate change issues, causes and effects in Zimbabwe and around the world as well as how the country is responding to the change in its quest to attain a climate resilient and low carbon Zimbabwe.
The workshop covered ozone issues highlighting regulation of ozone depleting substances in the country; the Kigali Amendment and the Montreal Protocol; as well as activities in the RAC sector to mitigate impacts of ozone depletion and climate change.
“The impacts of climate change and variability are becoming more evident with increased incidences of droughts, floods, hailstorms and heat waves. Recently the country witnessed a climate-induced event, Cyclone Idai, which destroyed infrastructure and left more than 300 people dead and some are still missing. Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the global economy with developing countries including Zimbabwe being more vulnerable due to their low adaptive capacities and over-reliance on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and forestry. The impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe are likely to stall the country’s development endeavors, posing serious risks to the main economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry and water resources,” said Mr. Washington Zhakata, the Director for Climate Change Management in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Climate and Rural Resettlement in his welcome remarks at the workshop.
On his part, Mr. Dumisani Muleya, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF) said the workshop was important as it placed editors at home with aspects of climate change to enhance the journalists’ capacities of effectively communicating the subject through educating, warning and entertaining as espoused in their key roles.
Taking note that mostly poor and vulnerable communities due to their low adaptive capacities feel the impacts of climate change at the local level, the Government of Zimbabwe has come up with policies, institutional structures and processes to guide the nation to a climate-resilient and a sustainable low carbon future.
“It is good to let you know that as a country we have a National Climate Change Response Strategy and a National Climate Policy. We also communicated our Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pledging to reduce our energy related emissions and climate proof all our socio-economic sectors. Right now we are working tirelessly to introduce a Climate Bill to operationalize the National Climate Policy for enhanced climate change mitigation and adaptation in Zimbabwe. The bill also endeavors to ensure compliance to multi-lateral climate and ozone protection agreements namely UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement; the Montreal Protocol on Substances that depletes the Ozone layer and its Kigali Amendment which Zimbabwe is expected to ratify soon,” Mr. Zhakata added.
Climate change has been globally recognised and accepted as a reality. It poses serious problems with far reaching social, political, economic and environmental consequences. The need to manage climate change at global level dates back 1992 when the UNFCCC was put forward with the objective to achieve the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Both developed and developing countries have obligations under the UNFCCC and have accepted certain commitments taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and other specific national and regional development priorities. To fulfill these commitments Parties need to promote and facilitate various education, training and awareness programmes at the national, and, as appropriate, sub-national levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within their respective capacities as required under Article 6 of the UNFCCC on Education, Training and Public Awareness.
In 2015, another climate agreement was agreed upon in Paris, France and became known as the Paris Agreement, the aim being “to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the 21st century.” Article 12 of the Paris Agreement challenged Parties to take measures to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under the Agreement.
Alphonse Mbizo, a journalist with Alpha Media Holdings said the media is very important in the climate change agenda since it plays a vital role in educating and enlightening the entire citizenry about climate change issues at both national and international levels.
“Media plays a pivotal role in creating awareness and bringing the positive behavioral change among people in mitigating and adapting to the anthropogenic climate change. Media coverage of climate change can give better-informed public and more effective policy making. Across the world media creates awareness of the challenges that developing nations face in as much as climate change is concerned,” Mbizo said in his presentation on the role of media in ozone and climate change awareness.
Mr. Tirivanhu Muhwati, the Climate Change Scientist and Supporting Enhanced Climate Action (SECA) Project Coordinator in the Department of Climate Change Management said embracing energy efficiency; use of enewable energy; forest conservation; mass transportation; and climate smart agriculture are some of the important actions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He added that the Government of Zimbabwe treats climate change adaptation as a priority as evidenced by the Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP); National Climate Policy; National Climate Change Response Strategy;
Developing Low Emission Development Strategy (by 2020); and Developing National Adaptation Plan (by 2021).
Mr. Tatenda Mutasa, the Climate change Scientist responsible for Publicity and Communication in the Climate Change Management Department said the workshop was convened in line with Article 6 of UNFCCC that is on climate change education, training and public awareness.
“Creating awareness of climate change issues is important to the government as evidenced by the establishment of the Publicity and Communications Office in the Climate Change Management Department that I am leading.
“The office is the national climate change information and education unit and is responsible for planning of climate change communication, training and public awareness programmes; coordinating awareness project proposal writing as well as mobilising resources for awareness activities; developing climate change communication and outreach strategy; as well as working with information or media and other publicity offices in other ministries on this noble initiative,” Mr. Mutasa said.
The Department, in collaboration with other Ministry Departments and organisations like Environment Africa has held various awareness workshops on climate change targeting farmers, government officials, private sector, civil society and many others.
The workshop was successfully held courtesy of the generous support from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) which was ably represented by Mr. Tafadzwa Dhlakama, the institution’s Project Coordinator responsible for Climate and Environmental Policy.