Climate change education, awareness and communication as bedrock to a climate-resilient Zimbabwe
- There are legal and constitutional provisions which allow for creativity and imagination in climate-resilience issues in Zimbabwe.
- Communicators have a role to play in conveying climate messages to various audiences/readers.
- The country’s leadership needs to acknowledge and recognize its human resources and intellectual expertise/guidance in its quest for self-determination.
- All individuals in a country have something to contribute to the growth and development of their country.
The state of climate-resilience in Zimbabwe can be loosely summed in these words, “bouts with unpredictable facades,” when we analyze the foundational ideals, the declared constitutional values and the resolve to build a united, just and prosperous nation. We are discussing a country which as described by Transparency International Zimbabwe “corruption is a problem of power” such that this uncontrollable tendency obstructs innovative ventures from daring minds and risk takers. In climate issues, the resolve can be viewed from the efforts and activities to fashion a climate-resilient economy. A climate-resilient economy is one in which human’s creative abilities in solving problems of the times through climate change education, awareness and communication irrespective of “differing persuasions” is recognized.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 on environmental rights states that:
“Every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures – that (i) prevent pollution and ecological degradation; (ii) promote conservation; and (iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development…”
This declaration sets the precedence for legally permissible demiurgic pursuits to ensure that Zimbabwe’s environmental resources are used with the best of interests and intentions.
According to Zimbabwe’s National Climate Change Response Strategy, a forward-looking national document whose goal is to “mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in economic and social development at national and sectoral levels through multi-stakeholder engagement.” The government’s lead entity on climate issues, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), with the guidance of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (MoEWC) have set into motion credible processes for engagement with all actors in the country.
Climate change education and awareness need agile and magnetic communicators. According to the OPC, in a Media Briefing on Climate Change Communication, the key information shared to participants was the existence of the department focused on knowledge management and public relations, which media practitioners and communicators could work in close collaboration within communicating climate change and related issues. It means that it is important for media personnel and communicators to be absolute of facts, opinions, and views regarding their content, in addition to other things.
There is also a myth that the audience/readers cannot understand particular jargon in communication. Thus promptings to have the message as simple as possible. One could argue that the target audience can understand any communicated jargon as long as it was created for them. There should be no hasty conclusions that as soon as one fails to understand certain jargons, then that’s the end of the deciphering process. The communicator should encourage the audience to go deeper on the message. The communicator’s role is even more vital given the completed country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and the processes surrounding the completion of the National Climate Policy.
Another example of climate change education and awareness initiative is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s operational arm, the Climate Technology Centre and Network Technical Assistance (TA) to Zimbabwe on Developing a Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Manual for Agriculture Education in Zimbabwe. Work on the CSA manual is a national assignment that brings together three parties, namely, the MoEWC ( a government entity); the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development ( a government entity) and Green Impact Trust (non-government entity). The TA entails remedying the challenges in agriculture education curriculum and the rural advisory services in the country through a CSA manual for professionals and practitioners. It is also an opportunity to catalyze actions in and around climate resilience among the various stakeholders in the country, including the farming communities.
A first national stakeholders’ consultation workshop was held in July 2016, where various interested parties in the country proposed themes to be included in the manual. Soon after, an open call for Expression of Interest (EOI) was circulated to national, regional and international platforms which resulted in the selection of individual consultants who would work on each chapter as per the EOI. There are advanced preparations in place for the second workshop to now review each of the chapters as prepared by the authors and taking in of feedback from the stakeholders before the final CSA manual is finalized, validated and approved by all parties, and especially the Government of Zimbabwe. A key lesson that’s emerging from this national assignment is that parties should work together closely in seeking positive change through climate change education, awareness and communication, one of the strategy enablers in the country’s Climate Change Response Strategy. Working together in pursuit of national objectives by any means necessary is prerequisite to discovery and learning among the relevant stakeholders.
The guiding principle in climate change education and awareness should be to catalyze essential economic, cultural and social development. Pioneering global development ideals such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement of 2015 should be a model to Zimbabwe to “get its act together” on all issues concerning civilization and human progress. They should also assist the country with learning the best practices in lines with standard conventions and disregarding undesirable practices in climate and other human development issues using Confucius’s analogy on mastery in knowledge and skill illustrated by a master and two students engaged in a conversation, with one student on either side.
It takes and will take lots of focused independent and national programs and initiatives to end up with a climate-resilient economy. The country’s human resources and intellectual guidance/expertise in areas such as business, development, innovation and research should be recognized and allowed to charge towards human progress for the sake of ingenuity, learning and preservation of the Constitutional principles and values. A clear reminder to parties passively and actively working to build a climate-resilient Zimbabwe is that in this scope of work, there should be no trace of “winner takes all imaginations.”
This article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used to institute any constitutional and (or) legal action against any of the parties and examples are given herein. Simply savor the content and let it end there!
Key words in the article
Climate change, Climate-Resilience, Constitution of Zimbabwe, human progress, stakeholder engagement, Zimbabwe