Private firms overtaken by climate catastrophes

Demands are rising at the global climate talks in Madrid, Spain, that action to lessen the frequency and severity of floods, drought and other extreme weather events will be futile unless the private sector invests more in strengthening community resilience.

When floods displaced nearly 90 000 Malawians in March, private businesses joined government and non-governmental organisations in a rush to the disaster zones to present relief items.

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However, Evans Njewa, Malawi’s principal negotiator at the 25th Conference of Parties (CoP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, says private firms can do more than just giving aid to prop up their corporate image.

He said the country has completed its National Adaptation Plan (NAP), but it is not easy to get private sector’s support to help Malawians prevent, mitigate and adjust to climate-related emergencies.

“Malawi is one of the countries that have developed their NAPs process and it will be published soon. We hope that it will translate into concrete action based on our experience and vulnerability to climate change.

“As such, we want to work with everyone on the ground, including the private sector. However, it is proving difficult to get their support for adaptation,” said Njewa, who is also chief environmental officer in the Environmental Affairs Department.

Malawi started developing its NAP in 2014, but the process stalled in 2017.

However, it resumed last year with the support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Civil Society Network for Climate Change coordinator Julius Ng’oma, who sits on GCF board, said the push for private sector involvement is one of the major talking points in the negotiations underway in the Spanish capital. In an interview, he said: “During these climate negations, the position of Africa and all Least Developed Countries across is that wealthy nations, which are major producers of the emissions that fuel global warming, should pay more because the continent is the least emitter although it is hit hard by effects of climate change.”

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