Dar es Salaam. Deputy Finance Minister Hamad Chande doubted if the world was on the right path to tackle the climate crisis that continues to wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people worldwide, calling on rich nations to commit more funding to climate action.
Mr Chande, who doubles as Kojani MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), gave the assessment while officiating the two-day 2023 International Transparency and Accountability Conference (ITAC 2023) currently underway in Arusha.
This is the third ITAC that WAJIBU – Institute of Public Accountability, a local think-tank working to promote public accountability in Tanzania, has been organising. The conferences occur annually, bringing national and international experts to exchange experiences and best practices on better management and utilising public financial resources.
Themed ‘Strengthening Accountability for Climate Action,’ this year’s conference focuses on climate change, which WAJIBU is jointly organising with the Vice President’s Office, under whose docket all national environmental interventions happen. It focuses on ways to strengthen accountability for climate action.
Single biggest threat
In his keynote speech, Mr Chande, who gave the speech on behalf of Vice President Philip Mpango, described the climate crisis as “the single biggest threat” to all lives on earth.
He cited the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shows, among others, that the world is not on track to keep within reach of the 1.5 ºC limit agreed upon in Paris, which also called on the need to cut emissions by 45 per cent in the 2020-2030 decade.
“Are we in the right direction, especially in delivering the finance commitment countries make to achieve the set target?” Mr Chande asked. “Which opportunities have we missed?”
“You all know that COP15 delivered only a quarter of its commitment to provide US$100 billion a year to developing countries for [climate] adaptation,” Mr Chande told participants.
He urged world nations to avoid past mistakes and move forward to address the climate crisis that he says disproportionately affects third-world nations, including Tanzania.
In Tanzania, the ramifications of climate change are tangible. A recent study by the University of Dar es Salaam’s Institute of Resource Assessment reported an alarming rate of deforestation, with approximately 400,000 hectares cleared annually.
The research shows that between 40 per cent to 55 per cent of Tanzania’s land surface of 85.6 million hectares is seriously degraded because of over-exploitation of its natural resources.
Studies also show that in 2020, Tanzania emitted 0.18 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is low compared to other developed countries. Still, the nation has witnessed devastating impacts of climate change, from prolonged drought to extreme weather events.
Stakeholders have commended the Tanzanian government for its efforts on climate action, including developing the National Climate Change Strategy 2021-2026 and the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), among other commitments.
In collaboration with other stakeholders, Tanzania developed the National Environmental Masterplan for Strategic Interventions 2022-2032, which serves as the country’s strategic intervention tool for environmental management.
Need for accountability
However, stakeholders have raised concerns about whether resources invested in addressing the climate crisis – both at the global and national levels–are spent in a transparent and accountable manner.
During his speech at the conference, for example, Mr Yona Killagane, the chairperson of WAJIBU’s Board of Directors, questioned whether countries’ public financial management systems and structures are well-placed to integrate climate action financing.
“Look at our disaster management programmes, [and ask yourself], are they responsive enough [in addressing the climate crisis]?” Mr Killagane questioned.
“Are we well prepared for national calamities? How are developing nations stimulating domestic climate change financing to address these challenges?”
He said these questions drove WAJIBU to organise the conference, inviting participants to explore opportunities and challenges associated with public financial accountability in climate change action.
“The conference aims to identify effective strategies for strengthening accountability mechanisms in financing climate action at national and international levels,” Mr Killagane explained.
Speaking during the conference, Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Charlotta Ozaki Macias, noted that accountability is paramount for any meaningful action on climate change.
“Because it helps ensure efforts to mitigate and adapt to the challenge of climate change are effective and equitable, and ensure that nations and leaders are held responsible for the commitments,” she said.
“[Accountability] is the bedrock upon which we build the trust and cooperation, together with our citizens,” she added.
To strengthen accountability for climate change, Ms Macias proposed several key principles, including transparent governments, organisations and individuals who are open and honest about their actions and environmental impacts.
She said the government must also integrate climate action into the policies and demonstrate a clear commitment to reducing emissions.
Ms Macias also touched on the importance of financing in climate action, pointing out that those who have historically contributed most to climate change must also bear a significant portion of the financial burden.
“Sweden is committed to continue climate finance, [and] to support developing countries in their transition to low carbon and climate resilient future,” she said.
“International cooperation is key as climate change knows no boundaries, and solving it requires global cooperation.”
On his part, the Swiss Ambassador to Tanzania, Didier Chassot, emphasised the role of the citizens in ensuring elected leaders are accountable for climate action, describing elections as one of the ways they can achieve that.
“Elections are the main vehicles through which citizens select their representatives and express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the government,” Mr Chassot noted.
“Since the government works for the people and not the other way around,” he added, “climate change should be one of the accountability elements during our elections so that elected leaders can be held accountable.”