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Environment & Climate

Address climate crisis to avoid future pandemics

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WITH no end in sight to pandemics, Zimbabwe   needs to brace itself for the looming health crisis compounded by the impacts of climate crisis. Since the onset of Covid-19 in 2020, innovations in science and support from the international community facilitated governments in creating vaccines to tackle its hazardous health impact.

 However, to mitigate its effects and to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases, international governments have to work towards addressing the environmental crisis. Since 2020 we are all living the consequences of our broken relationship with nature.

Covid-19 and other zoonotic diseases have emerged owing to the over-exploitation of natural resources. Intensive industrial agriculture, changes in the way land is being used, and unsustainable trade, production and consumption, have contributed towards deadly diseases through frequent contact between wildlife, pathogens and humans.

Climate change is real and its impact is long lasting. It is one of the greatest development challenges Zimbabwe is currently grappling with. The country over the years has witnessed extreme weather events, heatwaves, floods, droughts and other such events that impeded economic growth.

The Global Climate Risk Index has placed it among the 10 countries most affected by climate change. It loses 0.52% of GDP per unit on an annual basis due to climate crisis-induced catastrophes. Owing to limited resources, lack of adequate fiscal space and competing urgent priorities in fiscal policy responses such as Covid-19, Zimbabwe needs to work on increasing the flow of climate finance into the economy.

The government must acknowledge   the importance of integrating climate change into the mainstream planning and budgeting processes. It must accept that climate change is no more a niche issue that could be addressed in isolation but needs to be incorporated in all the strategic and policy documents that govern the economy such as budgetary framework and budget documents.

The process of integration requires a deep insight to the impact of climate change on the county’s finances. Such sectoral medium-term strategic plans will   ensure that climate-related projects and initiatives, with cost estimates, are set out in a succinct manner. This includes clear policy targets for climate change, including mitigation and adaptation.

The government must also work on integrating climate change at provincial   or district levels. However, this should be aligned with the budget planning and approval component of the public finance management cycle.

Provincial or district authorities must take all the necessary steps to include climate change components in the pre-budget document stage and take into account the aspects of climate change and costs of adaptation and mitigation in macro-economic analysis, macro-fiscal forecasts and in devising budget strategy.

 Moreover, provincial and dis trict authorities must take up the responsibility to highlight climate-related issues during the budget preparation stage and make them a part of budget circulars and guidelines, sectoral and annual development plans and allocations.

Finally, budget review, budget approval and accountability stages must ensure that all financial elements of climate crisis are addressed in the processes. In order to ensure smooth and effective integration of the climate emergency into budgeting, the government has to align reform measures with the budget cycle and clearly define roles of all the important stakeholders including relevant government departments.

The devastating impacts of climate change require a well-coordinated response from the government. A clear plan of action needs to be formulated to mobilise adequate finances to mitigate and adapt to climate breakdown.

 Climate finance in a developing country like Zimbabwe could be drawn from public, private and other alternative sources of finance such as the global Green Climate Fund. However, the challenge for any developing country is to find a way to access the climate fund, as getting money out of it is quite a cumbersome task.

 If the government fully realises the importance of wisely allocating and spending budget on climate related activities, we would be able to combat major disasters and contagious diseases that stem from it.

 Besides, it must be ensured that climate funds are decided and spent by the local people, the process should be inclusive and participatory and needs to bring on board women in each and every step of the way.

*About the writer: Tinashe Kaduwo is a researcher and economist. Contact: [email protected] WhatsApp +263773376128

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