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Tackling climate change

COMESA has been devising mechanisms to manage rising regional threats

THE COMESA region has not been spared from climate change, man-made disasters and shocks like cyclones, flooding, landslides and droughts, among others.
Recently, the region experienced devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth which affected Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, causing more than 1,000 deaths, and infrastructure and property damage running into billions of dollars with 90 percent of the key port city of Beira in Mozambique submerged for weeks.
At the same time, the worst drought in many decades, led to a significant reduction in the water level at Lake Kariba, severely curtailing hydroelectric power generation leading to massive power cuts in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Given the increasing impact of climate change-related disasters in the COMESA region and particularly the effect of the recent Cyclone Freddy, which caused unprecedented levels of devastation especially in Malawi and Madagascar, Member States need to be proactive,COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe says to be proactive, COMESA has resolved to develop and implement programmes that address the effects of climate change to enhance the region’s preparedness.
Ms Kapwepwe sent a message of hope to the countries affected by the climate change shocks like tropical storm Freddy.
This was in a solidarity message to the Heads of State of Madagascar and Malawi, two COMESA Member States that suffered severe destruction of lives, property and
infrastructure from the effect of
tropical storm Freddy.
To respond to climate change shocks and make COMESA resilient against such threats, many interventions like COMESA Climate Change Programme have been designed and are being implemented by the Intra ACP GCCA+ Programme.
The programme’s objective is “To increase the resilience of the COMESA region (and its Member States) to climate change and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” in order to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development.”
The specific objective is “to improve regional and national adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change challenges faced by COMESA countries at operational, institutional and financial levels.”
COMESA Director, Infrastructure and Logistics Jean-Baptiste Mutabazi said one way to deal with climate change shocks is to focus on the agreed economic agenda in line with the theme of the 22nd COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government, “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition and Tourism.”
Talking about green investment, Mr Mutabazi said this will require combating climate change from different perspectives, including through the development of green infrastructure.
According to him, as the world gears for green projects to mitigate effects of climate change, COMESA is positioning itself to attract environment-friendly investments like solar projects.
Mr Mutabazi said the promotion of a green economy agenda is being supported by Member States, which are adopting various renewable energy investments.
He said respective COMESA Member of States are taking various steps in mitigating the effects of climate change by promoting alternative green investment in the energy sector.
He said solar energy and green infrastructure are some of the measures which are being implemented to respond to climate change shocks which are being experienced in Member States.
To this effect, under the Development of COMESA Model Solar Standards, the initiative to develop Model
Standards for Solar was undertaken as a measure to respond to the proliferation of low-quality products in the region.
The model standards will be used as a tool for the promotion of quality and regional trade among the Member States to ensure interoperability of manufactured products.
The process commenced in April 2022 and concluded in December 2022.
The Model Solar Standards was presented for adoption in the Ministerial meeting.
Equally, the Model Common Customs Tariffs Framework (MCCTF) for Solar Products was developed.
This initiative is aimed at promoting a more uniform approach to tariff setting for solar products in the region.
This is in recognition of the prevailing situation of high variation of duty regimes across the region, which are a hindrance to trade and adoption of off-grid renewable technologies.