MMD President Dr. Nevers S. Mumba was invited guest speaker at the Marrakesh, Morocco Climate Change Symposium held between 7- 13 November 2016. This was a follow-up conference to the epoch-making December 2015 Climate Change Conference held in Paris. He delivered his speech on Friday 11th November and was honoured to officiate and again speak at the award-presentation gala dinner on Saturday evening 12th November 2016.
Below is the Full speech
INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE SYMPOSIUM – MARRAKESH, MOROCCO, NOVEMBER, 2016
CLIMATE CHANGE : A GOVERNANCE CHALLENGE IN AFRICA
We are all here today because we believe that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future as a planet than climate change. It is something that scientists and world leaders alike are strongly agreed upon that unless we embark on a new journey of climate-change- mitigation founded on real, practical, nation by nation action, we will not meaningfully intercept the devastating reality of climate change.
We believe that unless we develop a strong “bottom up” approach as opposed to the “top-down” Kyoto Protocol-related approach, we will not overturn the current threat on the global environment that climate change poses to our world today.
We are also here, because we believe that no continent could be struck that severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa. Given its geographical position, the continent could be particularly vulnerable due to the considerably limited adaptive capacity, exacerbated by widespread poverty and the general low levels of development.
THE REAL CHALLENGE
But, I am also here to raise a serious objection to the assumption that climate change in Africa can be mitigated simply by asking African leaders to implement climate change symposium resolutions.
The current problem of Africa is not a lack of good policies or a lack of funding to implement those policies, but a consistent carelessness in the choice of its leaders. Africa has continued to use flawed electoral processes that keep away the competent, disciplined and honorable candidates from ascending to positions of power. Until Africa places a premium on leadership, all the grand ideas of mitigating the challenges of the continent including climate change will only be a pipe dream. I am convinced that, the equitable delivery of goods and services to any people depends on the morality and integrity of its leaders. Until we achieve this, our many good efforts shall continue to be in vain.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
In an article dated February 2016 by Charles Krokoff entitled, AFRICA: THE ANSWER TO GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY, in which Krokoff argues that Africa had an estimated 60% – about 1.4 billion acres – of the world’s uncultivated, arable land with fertile soils, a readily available and an affordable labour force from a population set to double to 2 billion by 2050, abundant water resources from its many rivers and lakes, a favorable tropical climate that allows cultivation of at least two crops per year and with the right kind of investment, should be able to feed not only itself but much of the rest of the world.
However, the troubling negative effects of climate change such as poor rainfall, droughts, floods and mudslides coupled with escalation of global food prices and population explosion, all combine to pose a real threat that could wipe out this opportunity for global food security.
In addition to all these challenges, Africa is desperately short of electricity.
According to the Africa Progress Report 2015, ‘Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities,’ some 620 million Africans, accounting for two-thirds of the continent’s population, are without access to electricity. Former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, who also chairs the African Power Panel (APP), says this vast energy deficit is “an injustice that robs millions of our fellow citizens of the dignity, opportunity and freedom that comes with access to modern energy”.
He also feels strongly that Africa’s wealth in renewable resources provides the greatest hope to eliminate energy poverty and pursue low carbon development.
I agree with him.
Therefore if we are able to power Africa and expand the development base, it will have a positive impact on health, education, manufacturing, job creation and a whole range of issues where Africa is not left behind but contributes to the fight against climate change by pushing for renewable energy.
The stark conclusion we can draw from this, is that the pursuit of hydro-electricity is not a sustainable option due to successive seasons of poor rainfall thus resulting in insufficient water levels in hydro-electric dams required to generate electricity, which leaves (or makes) renewable energy as the most sustainable, long-term, cost-effective, viable and most accessible option to a continent as ravaged by climate change as Africa is.
IMPACT ON AFRICA?
In finding sustainable solutions to tackling the challenges of Climate Change, it must be kept in mind that African economies are critically and heavily dependent on the climate. The raw use of land and related natural resources for the sustenance of its population, particularly by the vast poor rural pupulations demonstrates a great vulnerability in any event of extreme weather.
Regrettably, at the same time as climate, the environment, land and natural resources assume greater significance in the human and economic development of Africa, humanity itself has been depleting the very life systems on which the well-being of the planet depends. As a consequence, expansion of economic activities such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism, especially eco-tourism, have suffered at the hands of man’s own destructive tendencies resulting in the depletion of these life systems.
On the continent, floods could also result in rise of water-borne infectious diseases. At the same time, many Africans argue that the continent is the least responsible for GHG emissions, the least prepared for the changes and yet will require the most efforts to adapt and is already burdened with human security challenges related to poverty and conflict.
Drought is a key factor behind the declining agricultural productivity of Africa. There is a strong correlation between rainfall and GDP, and between land degradation and the incidence of poverty. Many scientists believe that climate change is going to make this situation even worse. Adaptation and mitigation are therefore going to be central to the future development of the continent.
POLITICAL OWNERSHIP OF MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The climate-change Paris Agreement reached in December 2015 was a rich victory for diplomacy. China, India, the United States and the European Union must all be applauded for their pre-Paris pledges on climate action which made the agreement possible at long last.
These countries’ commitments created the sense of responsibility, trust, and solidarity that enabled 195 nations not merely agree on a one-off deal, but also set in motion a series of increasingly ambitious five-year cycles to phase out greenhouse-gas emissions in this century.
But the Paris Agreement simply marked the beginning, not the end, of the road. It is now the collective duty of all of us to hold our political leaders to account and ensure that they turn promises into action. We hope that Environment and Climate change issues are urgently incorporated and integrated in national planning – especially in Africa where political rhetoric is more popular than the strict compliance, implementation, follow-up and adherence to agreed programs of action.
We must therefore ensure that African governments play their part and keep their promises made on national emissions targets and the environment, for example. Adherence to these targets is voluntary, rather than inscribed in the agreement, so they are not legally binding. It may be prudent therefore, for this conference to set up a mechanism that provides incentives for compliance and promotes cooperation.
THE SEARCH FOR A PRINCIPLED AND VISIONARY AFRICAN LEADERSHIP
I now wish to pay great tribute to former President of Nigeria General Olusegun Obasanjo who is a member of the esteemed Africa Progress Panel (APP), for the remarks he made last year that climate in Africa is becoming increasingly volatile and difficult. Electricity supply is unreliable and erratic.
In most sub-Saharan countries, the situation has reached unbearable levels for the people, and businesses in the manufacturing industry and the SME sector, who are now facing power outages stretching between 8-12hrs per day on average. Some countries experience power outages running in 24-hour cycles. For the sake of political patronage and fear of becoming unpopular, transparency in managing the electricity challenges is usually shrouded in unrealistic populist pronouncements promising to end load-shedding are the order of the day instead of courageously facing up to and tackling the challenges of the current power deficit.
I completely agree with the sentiments General Obasanjo referred to in the APP Report of 2015, which calls for a bold, determined and, I might add, a leadership of MORALITY AND INTEGRITY within Africa to effectively address the realities of climate change. The international community and other cooperating partners must continue engaging African governments in their anti-corruption initiatives as corruption has continued to be a wide-spread drain on financial resources.
In addition, African leaders must be made aware that an emerging investment fundamental, apart from other well-known economic fundamentals, is what is called ‘satisfaction with a country’s level of democratic values’ in which Namibia ranks number one.
This criteria assesses a country’s level of democratic freedoms and governance which include freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of opposition parties in offering checks and balances. A free media is critical in playing a role of a ‘watchdog’ and whistle-blower against possible government and political abuse of authority and office in the use of national resources. Unfortunately, many countries in Africa are experiencing a systematic clampdown on these democratic freedoms, harassment and silencing of opposition parties as more and more governments become more despotic. They are more averse to dissenting views resulting in compromising good governance, the rule of law and accountability in managing national resources.
Many are veering towards resisting leaving power at the end of their tenure, or blatantly engage in massive electoral malpractices thereby stifling democratic governance and economic development such that the tremendous gains made in the 1990’s in the emergence of democracy on the continent are unfortunately fast disappearing.
Strong voices on the continent must begin to speak up early to stem this dangerous tide or else all the progressive efforts being undertaken by such organizations as the APP and other bodies will not yield the intended outcomes.
In Africa, climate change may already be responsible for falling water levels in West African rivers; declining coral reefs in tropical waters; lower fruit production in the Sahel; fewer fish in the Great Lakes region; and the spread of malaria in the Kenyan uplands. By threatening basic human needs, such as food and water, climate change will be a catalyst for instability, migration, and conflict. Africa will pay a heavy price. This means that Africa is facing an emergency energy situation which must be addressed ‘yesterday.’
In conclusion, Africa must immediately reconsider the type of leaders it chooses to place in office if it is to achieve any of the set targets in the areas of climate change mitigation. This is a challenge we must accept and act upon now as the window of opportunity to achieve this will not last forever.
To overcome the challenge of climate change, Africa should look beyond the mere rhetorical resolve by our leaders to adopt and implement the latest environmental protocols. Rather, Africa needs to take a bold step and ensure that leadership in our countries becomes the exclusive preserve of men and women with vision, determination and requisite academic education. Finally, and most importantly, they must be men and women who will be driven by moral aptitude and integrity in the management of their nation’s resources and people.
Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Dr)
Leader of Opposition Party in Zambia – Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, (MMD)
Former Republican Vice-President – Republic of Zambia
Minister of the Gospel – Victory Ministries International
(MBA – GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC POLICY)