The workshop was organized for Southern Voices by CISONECC in Malawi, with support from PACJA and the CARE Adaptation Learning Programme, and brought together climate networks and practitioners from East and Southern Africa to share lesions on linking local experiences to policy processes in climate change
In one of the workshop sessions the climate networks present called upon government negotiators from their countries to become more committed during international climate negotiations in the interest of their countries which suffer most from the impacts of climate change.
Are officials committed during negotiations?
During the workshop, a discussion on development of National Adaptation Plans sparked a debate on whether government representatives in climate negotiations spend enough time in negotiations; most participants observed that it was not the case. Examples were given of situations where some negotiators move around or outside the premises of negotiations during times when negotiations are in progress. This tendency was considered by participants to be counterproductive to the expectations of vulnerable African people whom they represent.
We are on national duty
In his presentation on National Adaptation Plans, a Malawian government official stated the key role that lessons from implementation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (which focus on addressing priority adaptation needs) will have in the development and implementation of National Adaptation Plans which are long term in nature. He went on to say that Malawi is one of the countries that have received significant amounts of money for implementation of its NAPA because Malawi negotiators are mindful of the seriousness of the responsibility bestowed upon them. "When we go to these meetings (international negotiations on Climate change), we know that we are on national duty." He went on to say that they had to seek clarification on guidelines for funding applications from the responsible agency, hence the results. While participants commended the Malawian example, they expressed dissatisfaction with the tendency by some negotiators to pursue other priorities instead of negotiations.
When one considers that African governments are usually outnumbered by their counterparts from developed countries, a lot is expected from the few African negotiators that make it to negotiation meetings. It is in this regard that climate networks demanded more seriousness from their negotiators if progress is going to be made in Africa's quest for urgent action from the international community to address the impacts of climate change. Equally important is the need for government negotiators to provide feedback after negations.