Parliamentarians from African Union (AU) member states have been urged to consider climate change as a security threat and integrate issues affecting the environment into national policies to reduce the effects on livelihoods and the economy.
The call was made to parliamentarians drawn from 14 countries, including Zimbabwe, at an Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue on Climate Change and Peace and Security in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week.
The dialogue, organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and attended by climate change experts, sought to encourage MPs to recognise climate change as both an environmental and security challenge.
“Climate change may not directly cause violence, but it interacts with and exacerbates existing problems. Social tensions and the potential for violence could increase where the arrival of a climate-displaced population causes competition. As the African population continues to rise and the demand for resources continues to grow, there is significant potential for conflicts over natural resources to intensify,” said the senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Ethiopia Debay Tadesse
“Conflicts arise when people of a different ethnic group move quickly into areas suffering from limited resources. Compound social pressures and transfer conflict risk from one location to another can worsen a situation.”
Alex Evans of the Centre on International Co-operation at the New York University bemoaned lack of commitment from governments.
“We need more radical participation from the governments. There have been a number of conferences held on climate change. But we are not making progress. Africa should lead this debate,” he told parliamentarians.
FES-AU liaison officer Brenda Chikwe Mofya said the dialogue aimed at enhancing the MPs’ knowledge and skills on policy issues.
“Members of Parliament’s inclusion is to ensure that AU decisions and instruments are implemented. This conversation with the MPs is important because they are the implementers of the laws. We need to help each other concerning the role MPs can play in order to mitigate climate change.”
Zimbabwe is represented by Tsholotsho South MDC MP Maxwell Dube and Musikavanhu MDC-T MP Prosper Mutseyami.
Mount Darwin North Zanu PF MP Dickson Mafios did not show up.