Speech by Jan SADEK, EU Ambassador to Botswana and SADC at the occasion of the Clean UP Campaign at Gaborone Dam, 15 November 2019
Let me start by first acknowledging our host, Kgosi Oageng Mosole and his community of Old Naledi, my counterpart, the CEO of Water Utilities Corporation Mr Gaselemogwe Senai and his staff and also the Chief Waste Management Officer Ms Tshenolo Sechele and her staff. I also recognise the presence of Gaborone City Council; Heads of Government and parastatal organisations here present, members media and everyone who is with us today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to stand in-front of all of you today at this beautiful place following our clean-up of Gaborone Dam. This is an exercise that we can all be proud of. Gaborone Dam is the second largest dam in Botswana and together with other dams and water sources such as our rivers and boreholes it provide us with a very precious resource in this semi-arid country.
We have been blessed with rains recently – and we wish for more of them. The last time Gaborone Dam was filled to highest capacity was in 2016 following cyclone Dineo which unfortunately also had devastating effects on infrastructure. Let’s hope for calmer rains this time!
Water is life! This, we can all agree! Your motto; PULA (let it rain) captures this reality. And it is further confirmed by another Setswana saying, tsamaya ka Pula, which I know you say when you wish people well or safe journey. This and the fact that Pula is the currency of Botswana demonstrate how much you value rain and water as a resource that has to be safeguarded at all times because of its scarcity.
This event serves as an awareness raising campaign on safeguarding and keeping our waters clean. We had hoped to have your children from Tshwaragano and Therisano Primary Schools with us here today but unfortunately due to examinations they have not been able to come. But we are happy that their teachers are here with us and will take the message back to them.
This exercise is the second one after our successful clean-up campaign at Bokaa Dam last October. Our dream together with our partners to make this an annual exercise is now becoming a reality. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Through these participative campaigns we would like to highlight the importance of holding everyone accountable in the reduction of plastic waste. The reality is, every year; millions of tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans. Sadly, it takes hundreds of years for these plastics to degrade.
A quick check on facts and figures shows that around 95% of the marine litter ends up at the bottom of our ocean, causing damage to the seabed, fauna and flora. Only 5% is washed ashore. This means that when cleaning the beach, in our case our dams, Gaborone Dam included, we only see the tip of the iceberg. The United Nations estimated the total natural capital cost to marine ecosystems of plastic littering damage at USD 13 billion per year.
When launching this campaign last year at Bokaa Dam, we hailed Botswana for making history by banning plastics. But as we all know, this did not happen. However, we still hope that Botswana will in the not so distant future follow up on this pledge. In the mean-time, WUC has and continues to spend billions of Pula in building dams and related infrastructure around the country in order to ensure water security for its people as you have already heard from the WUC CEO Mr Senai.
Another threat to our survival as humanity is of course climate change, which has a devastating impact on biodiversity, water resources and agriculture as it leads to extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. You will also remember the recent cyclones that hit the SADC region leading to serious lack of food in some countries such as Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. As we speak now, Botswana is going through one of the worst droughts in its history and this will significantly affect the agricultural sector and also wildlife.
Climate change requires global and joint action. The EU is currently putting in place its domestic legislation for reaching its target of cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030. And we are also taking a responsibility to support our partners outside the EU, stepping up our international cooperation. The EU contributed EUR 20.2 billion in public climate finance towards developing countries in 2016, which was roughly half of global public climate finance.
In the new EU Commission, climate will be even more of a priority, and we remain committed to the collective goal of mobilizing EUR 100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to support action in developing countries. From the EU Delegation, we are funding climate action through SADC. We recently signed two climate-related programmes worth almost 200 million Pula.
Locally in Botswana, we are supporting activities that promote effective communication on climate change. The “Youth climate change competition” that closes today is one such example. With this competition young people have the opportunity to propose innovative ideas to fight climate change. The winning ideas will be announced at the end of this month and will receive nice prizes.
In October Young Africa Botswana with support from the EU and the German Embassy hosted 'The Green Art & Farmers Market 2019' to inspire people to take smart decisions that contribute to the fight against climate change.
Just last week, in collaboration with Botswana Climate Change Network and the Ministry of Environment, we hosted over 200 young people for the second annual Youth Climate Change Festival at the University of Botswana. The purpose was to create awareness and promote dialogue on climate change among the youth. Perhaps there will be activists here, like the young Swedish woman Greta Thunberg who keeps pushing world leaders to take more urgent action in order not to fail our young people.
I understand that tomorrow, the Environmental Club at Therisano Primary School will partner with Barclays Bank on a tree planting campaign. This is a great and goes directly towards addressing the many environmental challenges we face today, particularly climate change. Together with my team, we are planning to boost their efforts by planting a few more trees with them. Through the participation of school children we can shape future leaders who appreciate the need to keep our environment clean.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you have all seen, the amount of dirt around your dam is far more than what this exercise can resolve. I therefore plead with our Botswana friends to be the keepers of this dam by ensuring that people do not pollute it by throwing plastics and all sorts of rubble into it.
Finally, allow me to single out and thank the Department of Waste Management and Pollution Control ably led by the Chief Waste Management Officer Ms Tshenolo Sechele for sticking with us and we look forward to continue growing our collaboration. We are also happy for the support from Gaborone City Council, Kgosi Rre Mosole, Old Naledi community, your schools and the youth for standing with us. I am also happy that we have various interest groups from Old Naledi here, amongst them furniture manufactures who we see along the road over there.
And to all of you, we look forward to an even bigger EU Beach Clean Up next year.
Ke a leboga, Pula!!! Pula!!!