The African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (Amcomet) ended its meeting at the weekend at a critical moment when the global agenda is focused on climate change and its impact on society, economy and the environment.
Wisdom Mdzungairi Viewpoint
It is essential to continue the momentum generated at various climate change fora.
The crucial indaba in Harare zeroed in on an integrated African strategy for meteorology to meet challenges such as climate change and extreme weather hazards that was adopted by a ministerial-level conference.
Environment and climate ministers from across Africa also focused on how to improve weather and climate services for sustainable development, particularly for priority sectors such as agriculture, water, health, disaster risk reduction and transport.
Regrettably, most African countries’ climate services are generally poorly developed and in a number of countries basic climate services are only available from external sources.
African countries should develop their own meteorological products, strengthen their human capacities and use their own financial resources. Once that is done, it will improve Africa’s ability to monitor extreme weather and climate events.
No doubt the timely meteorological early warning services and forecasts would save Zimbabwe in particular and Africa in general, billions of dollars every year.
There is no doubt that food production, livelihoods, various socio-economic sectors and well-being of Africa will gain from better and more accurate climate information.
Perhaps African countries would need to ask themselves whether they are investing “enough” in climate services for Africa’s development. It is hoped that the just-ended Amcomet meeting will again give impetus to the climate change debate as it may provide an avenue for closer interaction, to raise awareness of stakes and opportunities and to renew the commitment to the climate change fight going forward.
It must be noted that credible climate services constitute a good foundation for managing risks and leapfrogging development not only in Zimbabwe, but elsewhere. Improving the quantity, quality, accessibility and utility of climate information is therefore an essential part of the trajectory towards a climate resilient economy and society in Africa.
Africa will take solace in that the Implementation and Resource Mobilisation Plan for the Integrated African Strategy for Meteorology (Weather and Climate Services) has been completed and validated by the Member States of the different African Regional Economic Communities: East African Community, Sadc, Economic Community of Central African States, Economic Community of West African States and Arab Maghreb Union.
The Task Force on the Implementation and Resource Mobilisation Plan has also worked very hard to make it as comprehensive as possible taking into account continental needs. According to the African ministers, it was now for subregional and national institutions to use it as a guide to develop their own plans and address more specific needs.
In that regard, national meteorological services are critical actors within the national structure in the development and implementation of national strategies for climate change adaptation and for sustainable socioeconomic development.
Yes, because they are the designated national authorities and chief advisers to governments on matters relating to weather, water and climate resources.
So, policymakers are the owners and the customers of enhanced weather and climate services in Africa. Therefore, the policymakers must be the champions, both nationally and globally, to support effectively the efforts of their countries in achieving sustainable development goals and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
Amcomet has the full backing of the Ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa. It is a driving force for the provision and use of weather and climate services in Africa.
Hence, political support is important to achieve the ambitious objectives that were set for advancing the developmental agenda of meteorology in Africa, and through it supporting the sustainable development of Africa.
The Amcomet indaba ended as the United Nations climate negotiations are expected to resume this week for a 10-day session which will include two “high level” ministerial meetings, one on raising 2020 climate targets under the Kyoto Protocol, and another on the longer-term negotiations.
This UN conference will also include the ongoing technical work of the UN climate body, including rules relating to accounting for emissions. Most importantly, it is the first session with a large civil society observer presence since a “walkout” of the negotiations at 2013’s Warsaw Conference, which ended with vague and ineffective decisions.
The Durban Platform negotiation will be undertaken in two work streams –the first on developing an agreement under the existing UN climate convention with legal force to be agreed by 2015 for application from 2020.
The level of action and commitments under the convention to tackle climate change between now and 2020 will also be relooked at with a view to mitigating effects of climate change. It is at this meeting that a new technical examination of opportunities to cut climate pollution, including in land use, and in cities and the urban environment will be discussed.
Regardless of the progress achieved this far, questions could emerge during the talks such as how the commitment by developed countries to raise pre-2020 targets will be met; What should the scope of the 2015 agreement be and how should it be developed; and does the technical work on issues like carbon markets and land use create more accounting loopholes?
Once, African countries integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in its new Africa Climate Change Strategy, until then can Africa talk of mitigating effects of the devastating phenomenon –global warming.
But, are African countries investing enough in climate services?