Eswatini Mlilwane Landscape/ UNDP Eswatini

The Government of Eswatini has launched revision of the climate action commitment, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement.  Supported by the UNDP climate Promise Initiative in collaboration with the NDC Partnership members: United Nations Environment Programme  (UNEP), World Resources Institute, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the country aims to enhance its climate ambition, monitoring, reporting and verification framework. Adopted at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015, the Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement. The agreement seeks to, but not limited to reduce carbon emissions, taking a global stocktake that drives transparency and accountability through the development of nationally determined contributions (NCDs).

Key results have been noted under Eswatini’s current NDC and they include the scaling up of investments in restoring and maintaining ecological infrastructure; establishing long-term biodiversity conservation, landscape management and natural resource management programmes; planning and managing ecological infrastructure; enhancing biodiversity and eco-tourism and alignment of the Water Policy 2019 with climate change policy and strategy.

Under the UNDP-GEF supported Strengthening National Protected Areas System Initiative (SNPAS) progress includes integrated landscape planning as part of enhancing nature based solutions, development of an invasive alien species strategy, and wetlands policy. Under the UNDP-COMESA/EU Smallholder Market-led project, key focus has been on the resilience of the agriculture sector to increase contribution to economic development through promotion of sustainable use of natural resources; improved access to markets and disaster and risk management systems.

Officially launching,  Hon. Minister Moses Vilakati, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs stated,  “It is important for Eswatini to be ambitious in its climate action, because it will benefit the country not only in building resilience to its population but also address emerging threats such as pandemics and extreme weather events which may become more frequent in the future due to climate change. Furthermore, raising ambition in the NDC will help the country achieve its national goals such as Vision 2022, National Development Strategy, and economic recovery too, because all these goals are threatened by climate change.

Minister  of Economic Planning and Development (MEPD) represented by the Principal Secretary Bheke Bhembe, underscored that the importance of mainstreaming climate change into national policies, plans, and development projects towards  reducing vulnerability to climate impacts and variability;  increasing the adaptive capacity of communities and national activities facing climate impacts, and ensuring sustainable development and avoiding decisions that will generate maladaptation (failure to adapt). He emphasized that it is critical to focus on “whole of government” approach that supports iterative planning and budgeting that takes climate change into account and expressed appreciation to NDC Partnership and the partners supporting Eswatini’s NDC revision.

HE John Lindfield, British High Commissioner, emphasized the importance of common but differentiated responsibilities that underpin the Paris Agreement. “It is important for countries like Eswatini, that have contributed very little to global emissions, but are most vulnerable to climate change, to call for all major emitters to raise their ambition”. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic provides both an opportunity and a risk-the risk is that countries can go back to business as usual, and the opportunity is that global economies can grow back better, to lay foundations for a clean, resilient and inclusive recovery. Therefore the need to make post COVID-19 recovery strategies to integrate climate change actions for a greener and more resilient society the United Kingdom will use its presidency of the 26th conference of Parties (COP 26) in collaboration with the Italian Government to unlock action by the financial institutions to move beyond the $100billion per year for the climate finance goal.

Shaima Hussein, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, highlighted the significance of tackling climate crisis towards a sustainable future:  “We have a once in a generation opportunity through the Paris Agreement on climate change and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all”. She further underscored the importance of a gender inclusive and nationally owned NDC revision process and commitment. The Deputy Resident Representative pointed out that the UNDP Climate Promise is the world’s largest offer of support for the enhancement of countries’ climate pledges. She thanked UNDP’s development partners, - Governments of Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the European Union (EU).

UNDP, through the Climate Promise initiative is assisting 114 countries for NDC revision. Through this support, UNDP aims to strengthen political and society ownership at national and sub-national level; align and integrate NDC targets in national strategic plans; raise ambition through nature-based solutions and additional mitigation sectors; and establishment of monitoring, reporting and verification systems.

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