SONA 2023: Questions, Insights and Recommendations.
The Botswana Climate Change Network, representing its individual and civil society organization members, welcomes the attention given to climate change in the 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA). We commend the government’s recognition of the climate crisis and the efforts to respond to its impact on our nation. While we acknowledge the positive initiatives outlined, we also recognize several areas of concern and opportunities for improvement.
The Republic of Botswana held the State of the Nation Address on the 6th November 2023 at the Parliament Chambers in Gaborone. In this blog, we will discuss arising questions as a CSO, insights that the community should consider and recommendations for “Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation. Botswana's 2023 State of the Nation Address climate change section focuses on adaptation and mitigation. The government is reviewing the country's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and utilizing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to update its Technology Needs Assessment Report. The government is also collaborating with local and international stakeholders to conduct research on climate change vulnerability and gender, and to raise awareness among Members of Parliament. Additionally, the National Development Bank is undergoing accreditation with the Climate Change Adaptation Fund of the Global Climate Facility to increase Botswana's participation in the climate change finance space. Currently, 16 projects in 10 districts have been funded to address climate change, especially desertification.
Watch the SONA, delivered by President Mokgweetsi Masisi here: https://www.facebook.com/BotswanaGovernment/videos/1683093675519263
It is worth noting that the speech ran to 84 pages containing 16,145 words of which climate change was mentioned 7 times, the main statements on climate change were made under section IV SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT. It is noted that the SONA is not focused on policy implementation as there is no mention of it.
Review of Botswana’s Initial Nationally Determined NDCs and Technology Needs Assessment
The NDC review and Technology Needs Assessment update are both still ongoing, and there is no clear timeline for when they will be completed. This means that Botswana's climate change ambitions are still not fully aligned with the Paris Agreement, and the country is missing out on opportunities to access new technologies and financing. According to the UNFCCC NDC Registry, Botswana’s first NDC was submitted on 11 November 2016, however, 7 years later, it is yet to be updated and there is no clear track and monitoring. The revision which was due in 2021 is now 2 years late, this fact is not mentioned in the SONA 2023. Find Botswana’s first draft here: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/NDC/2022-06/BOTSWANA.pdf. The SONA did not provide a comprehensive update on the actual progress of implementing the revised NDCs. It's essential to have clear and measurable indicators to assess whether the country is on track to achieve its climate targets. The address, lacking specific details on the achievements and challenges in implementing NDCs, makes it difficult to evaluate Botswana’s climate action.
Gender and Climate Change Vulnerability Hotspot Mapping:
The government's collaboration with local and international stakeholders on climate change research and awareness raising is commendable. However, more needs to be done to translate this research into concrete policy and action. For example, the findings of the ongoing study on gender and climate change vulnerability hotspot mapping should be used to develop targeted adaptation measures for vulnerable communities. While there was a mention of the study assessing the climate vulnerability hotspots, there was no clear detailed information about the development or implementation of a comprehensive National Adaptation Plan (NAP). A NAP is crucial for addressing adaptation needs in a systematic manner, however, Botswana has not yet completed creation of such a policy document. Find Botswana’s National Adaptation Framework Plan of June 2020 here: https://napglobalnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/napgn-en-2020-nap-framework-for-botswana.pdf
National Development Bank Accreditation with GCF Adaptation Fund and P32m Funding for Climate Change Projects through the National Environment Fund:
While there was a mention of accreditation with climate funds such as GCF, there was no specific information on the scale of climate finance needed, secured or how much it would be allocated. The SONA should have provided more clarity on the financial resources allocated for climate projects and how these resources will be mobilised to support climate adaptation and mitigation projects. The funding of 16 projects to address climate change, especially desertification, is welcome. However, the total amount of funding allocated to these projects is relatively small, and it is not clear how effective they have been in reducing the country's vulnerability to climate change.
The address did not mention engagement with civil society, academia and the private sector. Collaboration with Various stakeholders is crucial for comprehensive climate action. Botswana should emphasise engagement with diverse stakeholders to harness their expertise and resources for effective climate policies and projects.
The construction of a 300 MWh coal plant was given prominence in addition 30 MWh of energy will be added using Coal Bed Methane. Whereas solar is limited to three projects Bobonong (3 Megawatts) and Shakawe (1 Megawatt) were commissioned in October 2023 and a 50 Megawatts Photovoltaic plant at Mmadinare will be started in 2024. So, the inventory of energy is such that coal produced energy increases from 630 MWh in 2023 to 960 MWh by 2028 and solar increases from 2 MWh in 2023 to 56 MWh by 2028. This means that solar will provide 56/1016 or 5% of energy by 2028.
Most notable non mentions
The SONA did not mention a long-term emissions reduction strategy, which is essential for achieving climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement. The absence of a clear strategy for long term emissions reduction makes it challenging to assess Botswana’s commitment to addressing climate change effectively.
Transport like energy is a large producer of green-house gases – SONA makes no acknowledgement of this and so does not indicate how transport is to become greener. Instead, the section is dominated by road building with no reference at all to public transport. It fails to mention the approval of the National Transport Masterplan 2036 that gives prominence to Public Transport. It provides a further indication of how little impact the National Climate Change Policy or the NDC has on sectoral planning.
The 1 and half page dedicated to climate change on the SONA leaves us with the following questions:
What are the specific goals of the government's NDC review and Technology Needs Assessment update?
What are the findings of the ongoing study on gender and climate change vulnerability hotspot mapping?
How is the government raising awareness about climate change among Members of Parliament and the general public?
What is the timeline for the National Development Bank's accreditation with the Climate Change Adaptation Fund of the Global Climate Facility?
What are the specific outcomes of the 16 projects that have been funded to address climate change?
Looking at the energy production priorities and goals, is Botswana prioritising energy transition?
While we acknowledge the positive steps highlighted in the address, we believe that addressing climate change requires continued commitment and, most importantly, action. As such, we would like to offer the following recommendations to strengthen Botswana's response to climate change:
Enhance Ambition: We encourage the government to set more ambitious targets for emissions reduction and renewable energy adoption in line with the latest climate science and the goals of the Paris Agreement. We call on the government to commence the development of a National Green Economy Plan to provide strategic guidance on sustainable pathways for economic reform, encourage private sector participation in the just transition and accelerate the creation of new green jobs for the youth.
Timely Submission of NDCs: We urge the government to provide a clear timeline for the submission of the updated commitments and commit to the timely submission of NDCs. The urgent roll-out of NDC actions and subsequent monitoring and review of NDC implementation by civil society relies on this commitment to timely review and implementation
Integration of Climate Considerations: Ensure that climate considerations are mainstreamed across all sectors of government policy and planning, including including local government planning and budget allocations. This mainstreaming exercise should be structured, programmatic and swift. The strategic leadership of the Presidency is thus crucial.
Increased Public Participation: Promote the continued active engagement and participation of civil society organizations in the development, implementation, and monitoring of national climate policies and projects.
Monitoring and Reporting: We highlight the importance of establishing a robust framework for monitoring and reporting on climate progress, ensuring transparency and accountability.
Project Impact Reporting: While funding for climate change projects is mentioned, we urge the government to provide information on the outcomes and impacts of these projects. Transparency and accountability are crucial.
Equity and Social Inclusion: In addition to the vulnerability study, we emphasize the need to address broader equity and social inclusion aspects of climate action, including the needs of indigenous communities and marginalized groups.
While the SONA acknowledged some important climate initiatives and commitments, it has shortcomings in terms of transparency, accountability and the provision of specific and measurable information regarding the progress of the NDCs, NAP and other climate policy requirements. Addressing these shortcomings is crucial to ensuring Botswana’s effective response to climate change and its alignment with international climate goals. The SONA would be driven by critical reset drivers like climate change, additionally, there was no mention of decarbonisation, global warming, climate change policy, or carbon emission levels.
As per the SONA, there is to be an exercise on building climate change awareness by Members of Parliament, however, Botswana has already passed the climate change policy. Botswana Climate Change Response Policy, Draft Version 2 of 2021: https://info.undp.org/docs/pdc/Documents/BWA/DRAFT%20CLIMATE%20CHANGE%20RESPONSE%20POLICY%20%20version%202%20(2).doc
Read more on the response to climate change in Botswana in the following documents. Botswana Climate Change Strategy 2018: https://drmims.sadc.int/sites/default/files/document/2020-03/2018_Botswana%20Climate%20Change%20Strategy.pdf