Resounding Call for Land Restoration and Climate Action

June 5, 2024

United against land degradation.


A resounding call reverberated across valleys and over rolling hills of Eswatini on this World Environment Day commemorated by about 250 people at Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre, in Manzini. 

It was a call to arms, not of war, but of land restoration. UN Agencies, development partners, policymakers, communities, activists and the youth on June 05 as they committed to act against land degradation and climate change. Leading the call was the United Nations in Eswatini Resident Coordinator, George Wachira, who was represented by WHO Resident Representative, Dr. Susan Tembo. 

“One cannot emphasise enough the fact that the climate crisis is an immediate reality for Eswatini and the region,” said Wachira, adding: “As we meet today, several countries in the SADC region have declared a drought emergency and will require support to the tune of USD 5.5 billion to import food to meet their needs.”

 He highlighted several crucial areas where Eswatini could showcase the imperative of climate action to rejuvenate the environment, aligning with this year's theme, "Generation Restoration," notably emphasising coordination within the United Nations. As an illustration, he pointed out that UNDP, in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), administers the Small Grants Programme, empowering civil society organizations to seek grants of approximately E1 million or $50,000 per entity for community-driven initiatives like land restoration.                          

Furthermore, Eswatini's climate policy document, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), pledges to mitigate land degradation through restoration, tree planting initiatives, and improved livestock management practices. UNDP has played a vital role by offering technical expertise and coordination assistance to the government during the development of the NDCs.

Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon. Jane Mkhonta-Simelane


Adding her voice to the call was the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon. Jane Mkhonta-Simelane, who said one of the key strategies involves addressing the root causes of land degradation. This encompasses investing in sustainable farming methods and infrastructure development, focusing on enhancing road networks to minimise soil erosion and foster sustainable land utilisation practices.

“Furthermore, we must leverage innovative technologies and sustainable practices to rehabilitate degraded land. This includes reforestation initiatives, soil conservation measures, and the promotion of agroforestry systems. By harnessing the power of nature-based solutions, we can enhance our ecosystems' resilience and ensure our land's long-term sustainability,” said Mkhonta-Simelane. 

She said the recent announcement of the ban on plastic bags in Eswatini, effective from December 01, 2024, highlights the Government's dedication to efficient land management. 

“Plastic pollution not only poses a substantial threat to human health but also aggravates land degradation by contaminating soil and destroying habitats,” she said, adding: “By phasing out plastic carrier bags, we are proactively safeguarding our land and ensuring its preservation for generations to come.”

Speaking at the same event, the British High Commissioner, Simon Boyden, urged every liSwati to act at their level; be it individual, family or community, to protect and restore the environment. 

“It’s the little things we do such as recycling that contribute to a circular economy,” he said. “We have a responsibility at our level to act for future generations.”

Future generation listening attentively to speeches.


Vimbai Kapurura, Director of Women Unlimited, urged the nation to prioritize waste management, emphasizing that it not only safeguards the environment but also serves as a source of livelihood for women.

“The time to step up is now,” she said. 

 Young voices were also heard at the event. Takaruva Generous, a Form V student from St. Mark’s, emphasized the importance of youth involvement in all decision-making processes concerning the environment and climate change, highlighting that they are the future of the country. He noted the presence of numerous stakeholders working in the climate change arena and called for increased participation of young people.