Last week whilst Gambians were engrossed in participating in the nomination process for the Presidency of the republic from Saturday October 30th to November 6th 2021 with the IEC confirming the eligibility of 6 candidates to run for President in the 4th December elections, national representatives, delegates from across the world have been gathering in Glasgow, Scotland for the Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC aka COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference.
The summit is taking place at a crucial time. Nations of the world urgently need to slow down the rate of global warming and tackle the effects of climate change. The Gambia’s expectations from COP26 are high. It is our expectation that as we are playing our part in the global climate change effort and have raised the level of our ambition, other nations should do the same. UDP reaffirms our position that developed countries have a responsibility to assist developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
While the discussions taking place on the other side of the world may seem far removed from the issues that matter to the voters in our Presidential elections, the reality is that the agreements reached at the global climate summit affect the daily lives of all our people. They affect many of the issues that will feature prominently in December 4th Election: electricity, water, jobs and housing, among others.
A UDP Government is committed to making our fair contribution to the global climate change effort, and have in its Founders’ Day Declaration 2020 set an ambitious target of panting two million trees in a bid to contribute to greening the Gambia. While we are undertaking national efforts to achieve these targets, it is equally important that we combat climate change through local actions.
At local government level, we need to integrate climate change considerations into service delivery planning. This needs to be in areas such as the design of human settlements, in energy management though solar water heating for low-income households, and in the use of renewable energy in municipal water and wastewater infrastructure. It also includes greater use of renewables in electricity generation and the use of green technologies in water and waste management.
A UDP Government will support a recycling economy by promoting buy-back centres and integrating waste-pickers into the recycling economy value chain. Through land-use zoning policies a UDP Government will make more land available for agricultural production in communities, including for communal organic food gardens.
I understand a number of municipalities around the developing world, are already piloting the use of different renewable energy sources such as landfill gas to electricity, biomass, biogas and small-scale hydro power. This was made possible by reforms to their electricity regulations that allow municipalities to buy and generate their own power are expected to lead to a greater uptake of renewable energy technologies over time.
A UDP Government will certainly explore such options in our drive to build a capable state that will empower local government by enhancing the decentralization process. Beyond energy considerations, a UDP Government will work to advance the constitutional right of citizens to a clean and healthy environment. Pollution remains a major concern for urban communities, particularly those in close proximity to areas of industrial activity.
A UDP Government will intensify the efforts to build resilience in communities, and to harness the potential of the green economy to make a difference in the lives of our citizens and grow our economy. As a result I have taken note and wish to commend the wonderful work of the Ecosystem Based Adaption Project is doing throughout our homeland. Also worthy of commendations is the work of CBOs, CSOs and Environmental activists engaged tree planting activities and advocacy for the protection of our environment at the level of their communities.
I believe that communities that are safer, healthier and climate change resilient are key to our collective future. Even as actions are taken at a national level and decisions made on the global stage, adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change is our shared responsibility. Environmental conservation and climate action have the potential for new business development and to support job creation on a large scale, including through community public private partnership employment programmes.
We can all make a difference by making responsible decisions, whether it is by recycling our waste, by choosing sustainable food sources, by conserving water, or by keeping our communities clean. Each of these decisions we make has an impact on our natural world and on the climate crisis that affects us all.
Let us all play our part in the fight against climate change, whether in our homes, in our communities, in our country or on the global stage.