His Majesty King Letsie III’s call for countries to urgently address climate change issues cannot be overemphasised in a country and region such as ours where rain fed agriculture and pastoral activities remain the main features of our economic production.
His Majesty made the call in the Moroccan city of Marrakech where he joined other world leaders at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP22). The conference which has been running for the past two weeks comes to an end today.
Despite their importance, such conferences are usually shunned by countries which contribute the most to global change through greenhouse emissions and other industrial activities.
And if there is one leader who should have attended it should have been America’s President-elect Donald Trump who has a well-publicised disdain for climate change issues.
That notwithstanding other countries must still forge ahead and implement measures to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
After all, as we report elsewhere in this edition, His Majesty rightly observed that it is the poor and vulnerable countries who suffer most as a result of nations’ half-hearted or down right inaction in addressing the deleterious effects of climate change.
And sadly, Lesotho is one of those of those poor and vulnerable countries.
As the 2015/2016 drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon has shown us, climate change is no longer an issue which is confined to textbooks where it is the preserve of scientists.
It is for us a matter of life and death which can no longer ignored especially as we woke up to the reality of failed harvests, dead livestock and seriously depleted water levels which meant more than half a million people required food assistance.
And all this happened, we are told, when the global temperature had only increased by less than one degree Celsius- how much more will the damage be should it rise any further?
Ours is, as His Majesty pointed out, “a landlocked country with mountainous terrain and a fragile ecosystem, remains one of the vulnerable countries in the world to the adverse effects of climate change.”
“Lesotho’s ambitions to tackle climate change can be seen from her Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submitted to the UNFCCC. With her own limited resources Lesotho has increased its mitigation ambitions,” the king said, adding such efforts would help the country achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is heartening to note that there have been some attempts to address the issues of climate change on the part of government.
Ours is therefore a humble plea for all stakeholders in the country to play their part as the issue of climate change is simply too important to leave in the hands of government alone. Nor can our mountainous terrain and fragile ecosystem be made to wait for foreign intervention and foreign funding but the duty to protect is primarily ours as Basotho.
While it is all well and good to interact and share ideas, we simply owe it to ourselves and future generations to develop homegrown solutions in the fight against climate change and religiously implement them.
This calls for dynamic agricultural practices, our herd boys and our communities all need to play their part in the fight to preserve our environment.
There is an urgent need to examine our land-use systems and decide which of our age-old practices need to be discarded in the interests of environmental conservation.
It is a war we all need to gird ourselves to participate in. Paying lip-service to this issue and sitting and waiting for foreign intervention can only lead to consequences that are too ghastly to contemplate.