Embedding Climate Change into National Dialogue Processes

By Reginald Ngwenya –

The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) has been a significant global platform for climate change conferences. In the context of Zimbabwe, the country can leverage the Zimbabwe Council of Churches Dialogue Engagement Framework to align its national dialogue processes with the global discussions on climate change.

Amongst the myriad of challenges faced by Zimbabweans is climate change which has caused ripple effects of conflicts. The El Niño effect being felt as a result of Climate change has caused water shortages, recurring disasters, and imminent starvation being farced contributing to water point conflicts and domestic and Gender-Based violence.

The COP28 limitation included a lack of adequate voices from communities affected by climate change at such a high-level policy dialogue. Consequently, climate change has adversely widened the inequalities and the wedge between the elite and the poor.

In the national dialogue context, Zimbabwe could use COP conferences as a platform to engage different stakeholders within the country on the importance and urgency of addressing climate change. This would involve integrating climate change concerns and commitments into the national dialogue agenda.

Leveraging the ZCC engagement framework, Zimbabwe can facilitate multi-level processes that involve holding public discussions, and consultations, and engaging with various sectors such as government, civil society, and the private sector to ensure that climate change is firmly embedded in the national dialogue agenda.

The ZCC National Dialogue engagement framework recognizes the provision of the platform at the community level for communities affected by the effects of climate change to be important actors in the documentation of climate change-induced conflicts.

Churches provide a safe space for conversation for all demographic groups for inclusive-based dialogues on climate change. The church has structures such as Youth Ecumenical Fellowships which provide platforms for young people, as well as Women Ecumenical Fellowship which is a safe space for women cantered dialogues as these demographic groups are affected comparatively more by climate change.

Through Community Dialogues, affected communities are also able to streamline climate change issues in key governance and development processes such as the budgeting process, devolution, natural resource governance, and disaster and risk management among many other processes. 

Dialogue at this level also doubles up as a platform for awareness raising on climate change.

More so, dialogues at this level foster agency for local actors to have an understanding of their reality as well as proffer locally tailored strategies that take into cognisance of local context.

At the organised society level, Civil Society Organisations with technical expertise and financial resources can be used to break down climate change technical jargon as well as to elevate community issues. In line with the COP meetings, actors at this level can mobilise resources for community members to attend these global dialogues on climate change.

At this level, Church-CSO dialogues are essential for generating consensus for climate agenda in communities and with policymakers.

At the policy-making level that’s when COP meetings are pivotal in having international actors as well as national governments provide policy frameworks and allocate resources towards climate change prevention, adaptions, and mitigation.

Multi-stakeholder dialogues are needed even to redress global inequalities between countries of the north and those from the south towards finding sustainable and equitable solutions to climate change.

In this regard, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in partnership with the Methodist Development and Relief Agency with support from Act Alliance will provide a platform for Inter-Faith Actors to contribute to Dialogue on Climate Change action in Zimbabwe.

The dialogue to be facilitated on 27 March will leverage Christian church structures and those from other faiths anchored in communities to assess the current Climate Change Adaptation efforts based on lived realities monitored by these interfaith structures.

In seeking local solutions to the global challenge of climate change, the National Dialogue framework could provide a pathway towards climate change justice. 

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