When the entire world is awaiting the results and outcomes of the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change (COP 15), Tanzania is one among African countries that has been hit hard by the effects of climate change with some effects on tourism and wildlife resources.
Vulnerable African countries are being urged to stand strong and united at the UN climate change conference underway in Copenhagen.
African civil society groups have led noisy demonstrations in the halls of the UN climate change conference for the past two days, calling for a more ambitious global response to the threat climate change poses to vulnerable people.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, is losing its snow due to climate change. The mountain is Tanzania’s leading tourist attraction.
In this Executive Talk entry on climate change initiatives, Sir Andy Chande, a prominent Tanzanian Rotarian who has served as a Trustee of the Rotary Foundation and chairman of the Institute for Environmental Innovation (IEI) based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, gave his personal views on this hot button issue
eTN: What is your call to global leaders on climate change initiatives, ahead COP 15?
SIR CHANDE: World leaders in the past few years have declared their interest and commitment to redress climate change issues. What is now necessary is to translate that political commitment into a timeframe based action plan to achieve agreed targets.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing talks on climate change initiatives, there has been slow progress on government pledges to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change or to provide the large-scale finance that African nations need to adapt to the impacts ahead.
eTN: What do you think should African leaders do to enhance climate change protocols be signed?
SIR CHANDE: African leaders should jointly negotiate an agreement with industrialized countries, while seeking from developed countries their fiscal support. African states and other developing countries should actively mobilize the support of civic organizations, business community, women and the youth in an effort to expedite climate change action.
Commonwealth leaders at their last meeting in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago have taken decision, which if implemented on time, will enhance the achievement of desired goal towards climate change initiatives. Commonwealth has a long history of concern for the environment and protecting the planet. Twenty years ago Commonwealth leaders declaration during their meeting in Malaysia took the lead on these vital issues. I hope the leaders when they meet in Copenhagen will bring out a concrete program, so that this critical issue can be meaningfully tackled.
eTN: What do think about the roles of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and the civil society in forging ahead with climate change initiatives?
SIR CHANDE: With regard to NGOs, particularly in the field of carbon dioxide reduction, there are institutions such as the International Small Group and Tree Planting program (TIST) which have done much in the last five years where they have documented seven million surviving, hand planted trees in India, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
There are more than 50,000 farmers who everyday plant 6,000 new trees which have changed their lives and environment. This institution (TIST) is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, and is working in partnership with donor agencies such as USAID. Members of Rotary Clubs, through their “Preserve Planet Earth” programs, are also working in this field.
Climate change is just not about environment but other factors like consumption, human behavior – they all pay a critical role.
Sub-Sahara Africa depends more on its environmental resource-base for its economic and social needs than any other region in the world, but with the nature of resource-base seriously declining, the entire region – rural and urban – is being profoundly affected.
Two-thirds of the Region’s people live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture and other natural resources for income. To them, the region’s severe environmental problems like soil erosion and declining soil fertility, deforestation, pollution of water supplies, and biodiversity loss are everyday, real and critical concerns.
Tanzania, for example, had its forest cover dwindled or reduced from 44 million hectares to 28 million hectares between 1930 to present. Due to many factors including fires, increase in population pressure on land and enhanced agricultural activities, Tanzania’s forests are disappearing at an alarming, estimated rate of 130,000 hectares per year.
Climate change poses a grave threat to present and most importantly to the next generation. Let us work to preserve the plant earth for succeeding generations.