Climate vulnerability, underfunding could undo economic gains

Seeking partnerships: Serame says the country needs external partners to help fund climate resilience programmes PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Seeking partnerships: Serame says the country needs external partners to help fund climate resilience programmes PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

DUBAI: Overlooking Botswana’s climate vulnerability and needs could be detrimental to the country’s adaptation plans as well as its overall economic status, Finance Minister Peggy Serame has told the COP28 meeting.

Addressing a United Nations Environment-themed session entitled 'Unleashing Climate Resilient Infrastructure Investments', yesterday afternoon at COP28, Serame stressed that Botswana’s classification as an upper middle-income country was constraining the semi-arid nation’s access to climate-related financial assistance.

“Climate finance is very important for climate resilient infrastructure,” she said. “When it comes to financing, Botswana’s classification as a high-income country comes at a cost. “There is a need to critically look at the needs, risks, and vulnerabilities because if we are not assisted Botswana might slip back.”

Serame added that financing was critical for Botswana to develop climate-resilient infrastructure. This refers to infrastructure that is well-planned, designed and built to adapt to changing climatic conditions. Given the role of resilient infrastructure in climate extremes, Serame appealed to the developed polluting nations who have pledged towards the recently operationalised Loss and Damage Fund, to support Botswana with funds.


“There is still need for external resources because though we finance 70% to 80% of our budget, finance is never adequate. “There is need for resource mobilisation considering the risks associated with climate change,” she explained.

The fact that the national budget is largely financed from mineral revenue means that uncertainties in markets could send shocks across the economy, further highlighting the need for external support, the minister said.

She further told the COP28 session that Botswana was on an economic diversification transformation drive, and needed to increase efficiencies in aspects such as revenue collection, and expenditure as that “could avail more resources for climate-friendly infrastructure”. She underscored the need for partnerships in financing the development trajectory.

African Development Bank (AfDB) manager for Climate Change and Green Growth Division, Dr Al Hamnduo, who was also a panellist in the session, emphasised the need for African countries to align development finance to climate finance as well as global development goals. He said poor infrastructure in terms of insufficiency and the low quality of existing infrastructure was a challenge.

“Existing global financing structures are complex and difficult to access and there is need for expertise and capacity building in order for African countries to benefit,” Hamnduo said.

He further said African countries need $2.8 billion to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030, of which $250 million is required annually yet less than $20 billion was accessed per year.

The AfDB estimates Africa’s infrastructure needs at about $130 billion to $170 billion a year, with an investment gap of over 50% to 60% of that amount. Through the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme partnership, Hamnduo said the bank was working towards mobilising $25 billion to scale up climate-resilient actions in the continent.

Meanwhile, Senegalese Minister of Environment, Alioune Ndoje echoed Serame’s sentiments calling on developed nations to keep their end of the climate financing bargain. Speaking at a High-Level Panel on Strengthening Loss and Damage Response Capacity by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ndoje called on the biggest emitters, particularly the G20 countries who represent 80% of the global pollution, to take responsibility for their actions.

“That should be faced. “We shouldn’t do the same things as always with the same processes. “There is an emergency and the priority should be saving humanity. “Therefore, we need accountability to advocate for funds to make their way to countries and communities needing the finance,” he said.

As a coastal country, Senegalese’s climate change profile is characterised by rising temperatures, decreasing rainfall, and increased length and intensity of dry spells and drought.

Saltwater intrusion also threatens the agriculture sector, worsening existing vulnerabilities. As such, it is one of the countries where IDRC’s climate-focused research and other interventions have been scaled up.

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