COMESA Member States Discuss Regional Climate Resilience Framework
COMESA countries are vulnerable to the threats of climate change. The year 2019 was a particularly challenging one for the region. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth had devastating effects in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe causing more than 1,000 deaths. Infrastructure and property damage amounting to billions of dollars, with 90% of the key port city of Beira (Mozambique) submerged for weeks. Simultaneously the region was hit by the worst drought in many decades, which led to a significant reduction in the water level at lake Kariba, severely curtailing hydroelectric power generation, leading to massive power cuts in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
To address their climate change challenge, the COMESA Secretariat with the support of the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme, organized a two-day meeting from 23-24 July 2019, in Chisamba, Lusaka to discuss the status in the region and map the way forward. More than 48 senior officials from Ministries responsible for planning, agriculture, environment, health, disaster management, and mitigation units, from 17 Member States, participated in that meeting.
COMESA Member States have agreed to strengthen their policy and coordination mechanisms and develop national resilience policies and implementation frameworks. These will serve as national guiding documents to resilience building and project implementation at Member State level.
The experts have also agreed to use the regional resilience framework as a guide to strengthen their national policies in handling issues brought about by climate change.
The highly interactive meeting covered topics such as introduction to Resilience and Risk, the benefits/dividends of resilience, insuring against risks, case studies from the African continent, the essentials of an effective early warning system, disaster preparedness, preventive and corrective response measures, policy requirements to promote resilience and financing resilience at the national level. Other topics included country experiences in resilience building, best practices, gaps, challenges and areas for improvement and opportunities to mainstream resilience in national development planning.
Among the key recommendations that came out of deliberations was the need to have a research or dialogue into market-led resilience initiatives in the agricultural sector that are linked to Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives and weather index insurance; adding that market guarantees will support commercial viability of agriculture resilience activities and subsequent viability.
COMESA was called upon to assist in the enhancement of trade activities amongst the Member States by providing a platform for cross border exchange of resilience and sustainability linked goods and products, such as small grains. National marketing authorities should be capacitated to be able to market climate resilience linked products within the region and beyond.
Small Island Developing States such as Comoros, Madagascar, and Seychelles appealed to COMESA to include solutions in the Resilience Framework which will enable them to deal with the threats to their marine ecosystems from international marine criminals and threats to the tourism sectors due to rising sea levels.
French-speaking countries in COMESA expressed the need to have all documents dealing with issues of climate change translated into the different languages spoken in the COMESA region.
In addition, COMESA was called upon to strengthen its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in order to strengthen the African negotiations platform.
The participants also called on the COMESA governments to capacitate the region to be able to handle disasters in order to strengthen resilience.