28 October 2022

The hybrid event, held from 24 - 29 October at the Mbombela campus also encouraged collaborations among climate experts to share knowledge that will assist in tackling the climate crisis.

Dr Isaac Agholor from the UMP School of Agriculture shared that wealthy nations have been using fossil fuel since Industrial Revolution and have already been inundated with the increasing effects of climate change and therefore an urgent response for the new reality for adaptation is required. 

He explained that some countries have contributed the least to increasing greenhouse gasses, because their level of emission is very low and yet they are often the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“Justice within the context of climate change means that the poorest countries should be supported by those who have contributed to climate change,” he said.

The disparity in sharing the burden of climate change is disproportionate. Poor countries are more affected by climate change despite contributing the least to greenhouse gas emissions.

“Issues of justice can be achieved by assisting developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change through capacity building and technology transfer.”

Other solutions include providing short and long-term climate finance to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impact and to pursue low carbon development strategies.

"Climate justice requires the pooling together of resources across nations and sharing skills relevant to the attainment of successful goals of climate change. It also needs the openers to partnership as an important approach to climate change response," said Dr Agholor.

UMPDirector: Library and Information Services, Ms Zanele Motha.

Role of Women 

International development and gender and climate change catalyst, Ms Cleopatra Masinga from Ottawa Canada, spoke about issues of climate change in women and youth empowerment.

“We've seen it in KZN, the disasters that had happened, and we're all not ready for it for it. So, it is evident that in all countries that are most reliant on natural resources for their lives, livelihoods have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards, such as droughts, landslide floods and hurricanes," she said.

“Women and equal participation in decision making processes and labour markets is still compound inequalities and often prevent women from fully contributing to climate change related planning, policymaking and implementation,” she added, noting that women can play a very critical role in response to climate change.

Ms Masinga emphasised that the inclusion of women at the leadership level has led to improved outcomes of climate-related projects and policies.

“On the contrary, if policies or projects are implemented without women's meaningful participation, it can increase existing inequalities and decrease effectiveness. It is very important to make sure that we involve women in all the decision making that we are doing on climate change. Therefore, it is evident that women are very important in leadership and decision-making processes,” she added.

“This means integrating diverse gender perspectives across holistic and enduring climate, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies, and programmes. I believe that without gender equality today, a sustainable more equal future remains beyond our reach. Climate change solutions must take a gender-responsive approach to finance women-led action that needs to be sufficiently and equitably funded to achieve just green transitions. It’s very important to come up with good sustainable projects that women participate in."

Youth Empowerment 

Ms Masinga further said the youth is equally important in fighting climate change as they are adaptable and can quickly make low-carbon lifestyles and career choices. 

“Youth should therefore be given a chance to take an active part in decision making of local, national, and global levels. They can actively support initiatives that will lead to the passage of far-reaching legislations. A more defined role should be given to the youth to prevent impacts of climate change.”

“Involvement of the youth on this campus who have started their own organization and making sure that they participate in creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly institution. I can say it can only start with you as the youth in the institution. As I believe that youth play a very crucial role in combating climate change."

She explained that women and youth are still marginalized groups. “By virtue of their positions and role and function of solutions that tackle climate change, it is critical to leverage their knowledge, capacities, and skills towards adapting to end mitigating climate change.

“We should consider supporting the work of local women-led and youth- organizations, enterprises and cooperatives, taking actions against climate change,” she said.

Other speakers included Ms Zephanii Smith Eisenstat from Honolulu, in the USA, who spoke about Youth participation in Sustainable Development Goals: Goal13. Ms Khetiwe Malaza from the City of Mbombela elaborated about the role of local government in responding to the impacts of climate change. 

UMP student, Payal Mehta did a presentation about their student association: International Association for Impact Assessment South Africa (IASASA).

The event ended with the announcement of the winner of the climate change student competition.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @Chrisplphoto.