Dane Armstrong – Consultant for Eswatini’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP)
Effective national climate action relies heavily on continuous training and capacity building being provided to relevant government stakeholders and key decision makers. It is for this reason that a fundamental aspect of Eswatini’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) revolves around building awareness and increasing policy-maker capacity on the latest climate change impacts, implications and solutions.
Under Eswatini’s NAP readiness Project, a multi-day workshop was held for technical staff of relevant government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on change climate impacts, vulnerability, policy integration, adaptation opportunities, awareness on the guideline for the integration of NAP into policies, programs and strategies.
These MDA participants are integral stakeholders in facilitating effective national and political climate action, therefore it is imperative to ensure that they are effectively sensitized regarding global climate change implications, national impacts, international protocols and mechanisms for action and assistance.
During the workshop, participants were first thrown into the deep-end with the “Climate Collage” groupwork game, which gave everyone the opportunity to visually engage with the cross-cutting, cause-end-effect nature of global climate change. The causes and implications of climate change are deeply interlinking and cross-cutting, and was therefore imperative that participants get the opportunity to directly engage with the topic through a collaborative, visualized process.
After sharing the stories created by the different groups, participants were taken through the latest climate updates and implications by NAP consultant Dane Armstrong, followed by an overview of Eswatini’s NAP process by Kuhle Hlophe. Climate change science and impacts are constantly updating – and it is therefore important to keep key stakeholders (especially those not directly involved in climate or environmental-related departments) up to speed with the latest global, regional and national implications (and opportunities for action).
These presentations provided the groundwork for exploring the importance and role of climate adaptation, which was then taken further by project partners COSPE, who shared grassroots case studies gathered in Eswatini through their Local Adaptation Plan (LAP) projects conducted over the last 7 years in the Lubumbo region. Participants were then provided with the LAP method tool used by COSPE and were given the opportunity to role play in a community scenario to determine their own collective priority hazards, risks and vulnerabilities. This provided a much-needed grassroots context for understanding the very real consequences of appropriate planning and contextualization of climate change on a community level in Eswatini. It is extremely important to directly link national policy and planning efforts with consequences on the ground, and this work highlighted very tangible examples for the policy planners and civil servants in the room to engage with in a meaningful and profound way.
On Day 2, Eswatini’s Climate Finance advisor, Dr Sam Ogallah, presented online (from Namibia, where he was representing Eswatini at the 10th Conference on Climate Change & Development in Africa) about climate financing barriers and opportunities for Eswatini – providing a detailed overview of the context, justification and elements of overall climate finance. This is a key topic for all policy makers to be exposed to, as the financing mechanisms available need to be fundamentally understood and planned for in order to access long-term assistance for necessary and relevant national climate action moving forward.
This was followed by Eswatini’s NDC Coordinator, Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, who provided an overview and timeline of Eswatini’s national and international climate commitments, with a particular focus on the pledges made under the Global Paris Agreement and Eswatini’s revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Eswatini has come a very long way, particularly in the last seven years since the Paris Agreement and Eswatini’s first NDCs, with a lot of very important groundwork being laid – particularly the wide engagement of stakeholders across all sectors of public and private society.
Ncamiso Mhlanga then updated participants about his important work under the NAP process focusing on guidelines for integrating climate action and the NAP into national policies, strategies and plans. As stated by Mr. Mhlanga in his presentations, “ The main crux of the matter here focuses on the extremely urgent need to implement the plans and deliberations that have been taking place for some years now. Climate change mainstreaming or integration into planning and decision-making processes is critical to ensure that climate change actions, development and poverty reduction are implemented simultaneously, considering risks and opportunities while pursuing mitigation and adaptation measures that are in tandem with long-term development objectives of Eswatini. Mainstreaming is necessary to integrate adaptation options into different levels of government plans and policies to ensure that our national and sectoral level programs and projects are designed with adaptation measures to reduce the potential risk of climate change, and to make certain that these do not contribute to the increase of vulnerability to climate change. All of this collective work under the NAP will serve as a tool for guiding the mainstreaming of climate change in national and sectoral plans and frameworks.”
Dr Pullanikkatil closed the workshop with an overview and update about the Conference of Parties in Egypt, and the role of delegations like Eswatini at the forum. Group discussion were held throughout the workshop, with opportunities provided to all participants to engage with the various topics at hand. As stated by Kuhle Hlophe, the NAP Assistant Coordinator “This workshop was an important, but by no means final, step in the process of increasing national capacity. We need to ensure that we regularly involve all key partners and stakeholder so that Eswatini ensures it has a robust, relevant and collaborative national adaptation plan in the coming months and years; the health of our future generations relies on it.”
Khetwise Khumalo, Eswatini’s national climate change programme coordinator, confirmed that “This training is not standalone – we will be following up with all participants through the distribution of workshop resources and a training manual, as well as a further workshop in early 2023 that is geared specifically for high level policy and decision makers in Eswatini such as ministers, principal secretaries and members of parliament. It is imperative that our leaders at the top are made aware of the urgency of the situation pertaining to climate change, as well as the encouraging support (both financial and logistical) that is at hand so that we collaboratively facilitate and fast-track national climate action”.