Call to invest in climate-proofed ecosystems to fight climate change

AS Zimbabwe and other SADC countries face the looming El Nino-induced drought, experts have called for investment in healthy climate-proofed ecosystems to survive climate change shocks.

The need was stressed at a meeting on the sidelines of the 28th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to discuss healthy systems in climate action.

The meeting was organised by Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Agency (EMA) at the Zimbabwe pavilion at the Dubai Expo Centre.

This year has been noted as the hottest year in recorded global history, as the world continues to suffer adverse effects of global warming.

More than 100 000 people from across the globe have since November 30, been gathered at the COP28 to try and find solutions to the crisis.

Weather experts have predicted that most parts of Zimbabwe and SADC will receive normal to below-normal rainfall due to the El Nino effects this season.

According to the rainfall forecast, Matabeleland South, parts of the Midlands and parts of Matabeleland North provinces are expected to receive below-normal-to-normal rainfall.

Normal rainfall with a bias towards below-normal rainfall is highly likely for the remaining provinces for the sub-season October-November-December 2023.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Professor Prosper Matondi said the time to invest in climate-proofed ecosystems is now.

“The intention is to have a healthy society which enjoys its rights and also values planet Earth, and therefore how we use natural resources sometimes brings challenges. As we debate with others internationally, we should be able to identify issues that are key to us as we amplify the critical need to invest in safeguarding and restoring climate systems,” he said.

“As climate change continues to pose significant challenges globally, it is imperative to recognise the vital role healthy ecosystems are playing and so by investing in climate proofed ecosystems, societies can enhance their capacities to adapt to a changing environment and minimise the impact of changing environment.”

Prof Matondi said ecosystem restoration has emerged as a strategy for combating climate change by restoring graded ecosystems and making it possible to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This helps provide essential services such as water purification, habitat conservation and serves as a natural buffer against climate change, and helps build safety from climate shocks as well as opening up opportunities and contributing to economic growth,” he said.

“The time to invest in climate-proofed ecosystems is now. We need to strategically prioritise ecosystem resilience and direct resources to rebuilding ecosystems.”

Speaking during the same event, EMA director Mr Aaron Chigona reiterated the need to invest in climate proofing ecosystems so that they can survive when catastrophic events happen.

He said the environment suffers the most whenever there is a natural disaster.

“Why we fail to manage disasters is because we focus on saving humanity and forget the environment and this is why ecosystems should be rebuilt. We need to work around pollution, veld fires, land degradation and biodiversity in general to ensure that the environment can respond and regenerate,” said Mr Chigona

“So, as Government through EMA, we are putting in place interventions through communities where we make sure we conserve what is there, especially through tree planting. If our water sources are polluted and it doesn’t rain, the toxic levels of pollutants get worse.”

Department of Civil Protection chief director Mr Nathan Nkomo said there was a strong link between environmental hazards and disaster risk reduction as the environment bears the brunt of disasters if not properly managed.

“We must manage our environment properly so that we prevent disasters and every person must take it upon himself or herself to avert levels of damage to the environment while Government should also use by-laws to enforce compliance,” he said.

Mr Nkomo said Zimbabwe’s national vision towards Agenda 2030 feeds into Sustainable Development Goal number 6 which talks about environmental issues and SDG 11 on safe cities and communities.



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