Climate Action: National Adaptation Symposium in Malawi

Posted June 4, 2018

Walking for improved Climate Action in Malawi

Malawi launched the first ever National Adaptation Symposium on Wednesday in Lilongwe with calls from both the UN Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres and the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi urging stakeholders that climate action needs to be integrated into all national development planning and districts.

The event is steered by the Expert Working Group on Adaptation (EWGA) in close collaboration with Association of Environmental Journalists. This year’s event has been organized ahead of the International Community Based Adaptation CBA 12 which will take place in Malawi in June.  Over 300 participants came from various stakeholder institutions that include Government Departments and Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations, Academia, Researchers, and Development Partners among others.

In his opening speech of the symposium, Masi advised the community of practice composed of government agencies, academia, researchers, local communities and the private sector to remove barriers to better planning and access to information.

“It is important that we promote knowledge management and information sharing in the country if we are to fully adapt and build resilience in our communities. If we manage knowledge and share information, we can develop better policies and strategies that consider emerging issues” said the Minister to the stakeholder attending the symposium.

Taking her turn Torres emphasized during the launch of the symposium that innovative solutions are needed for the twin climate and development challenges, and that there is need to build on what is already proven to work in delivering low-carbon and climate-resilient growth.

She said; “adequate finance is needed for adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development overall, and countries need to build the capacity to navigate and access the complexities of the different financing streams for climate adaptation”

According to Torres Malawi has recently witnessed extreme risk of climatic and hydrological hazards which include floods, dry spells or both affecting the country, almost yearly. Responding to such high risks of climate change requires innovative approaches that focus on community-driven participatory planning, the implementation and promotion of sustainable technologies, policies and livelihood strategies, and a consistent focus on putting locally-driven needs first.

With realization that climate change adaptation demands application of a lens to the already complex development challenges, incorporating new information, thinking and approaches and working with different actors/stakeholders is important.

The event started with a 5km procession walk where stakeholders displayed placards with diverse call to action messages on climate change adaptation. Participants shared experiences on climate change adaptation and resilience building through case studies, success stories, exhibition of technologies, short video documentaries, research papers among others.

Professor Sosten Chiotha, Regional Director of the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Eastern and southern Africa made a powerful opening presentation underscoring the importance of integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Information Technology to support innovative and transformative community based adaptation. It was noted that adaptation interventions fail to secure the participation of poor people because of the absence of instruments and mechanisms that enable them to use their own knowledge. There was consensus, that adaptation in Malawi should promote ways on how people use their own locally generated knowledge to change and to improve their lives. More effort is needed to strengthen the capacity to develop local techniques that involve both scientific and traditional knowledge.

With support from UNDP-GEF, the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has been facilitated to initiate the first ever National Adaptation Symposium.  The event that took place between 30th and 31st May 2018 at BICC in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe, is a multi-stakeholder platform for showcasing and disseminating best practices in climate change adaptation and resilience building for replication in the country’s strategies and policies

The Malawi National Adaptation Symposium is expected to be an annual event that provides a formalised channel/platform for dialoguing on what adaptation means for Malawi and to ensure that interventions in the country have a harmonised definition.