Malawi forms think-tank on linking population, climate change

Malawi has become one of the first nations in the world to build a team of experts on linking population dynamics and climate change.

This follows a successful training workshop on population dynamics and climate change organised jointly by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Washington DC based Population Action International (PAI).

The workshop drew together population and climate change/environmental experts from government, universities, international organisations, media, civil society and non government organisations.

According to the workshop trainer, Roger Mark De Souza, who is Vice President of Research and Director of Climate Program at PAI, the experts are expected to help government and other stakeholders to integrate population dynamics into climate change initiatives at macro, meso and micro levels.

Anthony Kapesa of Malawi's Zombwe village stands amid the mulch he has applied to his maize field in an effort to combat dryer growing conditions believed linked to climate change. ALERTNET/Karen Sanje

“The workshop also aims to pilot test the training materials that are under development at the global level linking population to climate change programming,” he said.

UNFPA and PAI are developing a series of training materials around population dynamics and climate change to be included in the UN CC Learn which is partnership of 30 UN agencies which supports member states and other developing partners in designing and implementing results-oriented and sustainable learning to address climate change.

The draft Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS 11) recognizes that efforts to slowing population growth are mutually reinforcing with those aimed at improving environmental protection, reducing poverty and achieving economic progress.

“The strategy clearly defines climate change, natural resources and environmental management as one of the key development priorities making it one of the nine priorities within priorities,” UNFPA Deputy Resident Representative Dr Gift Malunga said when she opened the workshop.

Talking about the training, Malunga said by highlighting the links between population dynamics and climate change, donors, government and various stakeholders will commit more resources towards tackling these development-binding constraints.

And in her closing remarks, UNFPA Assistant Resident Representative Dorothy Nyasulu said time has now come to stop rhetoric but take action and make a difference.

Various papers presented at the workshop exposed particular aspects of the linkages between population and climate change in Malawian scenario.

In about two week’s time, the world’s attention will shift to Durban, South Africa where the United Nations 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) will take place from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

This Climate Change Conference will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, youths, international organizations and the civil society to discuss how to, among others, advance the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 in December 2010.

*The author is a Blantyre-based environmental journalist

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