GLASGOW, Scotland 06th November, 2021 (AEJ) - Malawi delegation leader to UN Conference of Parties 26, Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo has signed the Glasgow declaration on fair water footprints for climate-resilient, inclusive, and sustainable development on the sidelines of the summit in Scotland.
The Glasgow declaration on water aims to transform the way the global economy interacts with water, environment and local communities' resilience. It also pledges countries, corporations, and non-state entities to take steps to ensure water's long-term viability.
The summit host nation United Kingdom, Finland, Madagascar, Peru, as well as Malawi, are leading proponents of the ambitious declaration on water commonly referred to as life.
"We collectively commit to taking all necessary steps to ensure that the water footprints which we have control over and influence upon, at home and abroad, will be sustainable, resilient, and fair by 2030," reads part of the declaration.
This implies that within eight years, Malawi and the rest of the signatories will have to achieve zero water pollution, strengthen resilience to drought, floods, and water conflict, ensure sustainable withdrawal and equitable allocation of water, and step up nature protection efforts.
Malawi's aquatic ecosystems have been worrying spots of untreated liquid and solid pollutants in recent times. This has had effects on downstream water users. High on the list of these rivers include the Mudi in Blantyre, the Lilongwe River, and the Lunyangwa in Mzuzu as some of the most polluted urban rivers.
Tembo, who is also responsible for water, stated on the sidelines of the event that the declaration challenges Malawians to create pathways that will ensure water quality and quantity in a sustainable manner.
“We need to encourage industries and ourselves that we should not only aim to have water but also use it in a more sustainable manner and avoid pollution at all cost. A case in point is Mudi river in Blantyre and the Lilongwe river too. Can we now move to pathways that will help contain pollution of the rivers because, eventually, if we continue with what is happening now, it means we will continue to have poor quality water not fit for human consumption and use," a concerned Tembo lamented.
Tembo further highlighted that her Ministry is trying hard to end both industrial and individual pollution that has made most of the rivers more dangerous. In her assessment, previous efforts have not yielded much because of financial and logistical challenges, but was quick to point out that all is not lost.
She said: "We have not done much in the past. Our industries were not engaged as much and this is the time to engage them more. If we get resources that can support the clean up, this is the time to access those resources, but there has to be a commitment on the part of everybody and massive sensitization targeting industries, vendors, government, and civil society. These rivers are not sewer systems; these rivers are the life that we breathe, and for us to fight climate change, water has to be at the top of the agenda at this conference and in our respective countries."
Civil Society Network for Climate Change (Cisonecc) National Coordinator Julius Ng'oma hailed the government for signing the declaration. Ng'oma concurred with the minister that water issues should not be isolated as silos from climate change. Ng’oma cautioned government to ensure that a clear road map be drawn to create a conducive environment for all key stakeholders to participate in the implementation process.
He also emphasised a need to come up with specific targets for Malawi, if something is to come out from this declaration with only eight years before 2030.
Some of the immediate actions to follow include the development of an action plan and pathways to achieve the objective, which will include baselines, milestones, and indicators of progress and impact. Annual meetings to report and review progress are expected to mobilise adequate resources to improve capacity and leadership to attain the objective by 2030.
Water Witness has been leading the campaign and more parties are expected to sign after the official launch on 8th November.