Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation and Value Creation

Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation and Value Creation
February 23 17:32 2022
By Dr. Patrice Talla Takoukam

It gives me great pleasure to share perspectives on one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today – Climate Change. Therefore, discussions about how we mitigate the risks associated with a changing climate, while adapting our production and consumption systems, making them more resilient to these realities, and identifying associated investment opportunities, are of great importance.

We know that increased climate variability is affecting negatively on Africa’s agricultural production systems, with prolonged periods of drought and more floods experienced in some countries in recent years. Indeed, Zimbabwe and several countries in the Southern Africa sub-region have first-hand experience of the negative consequences of this global phenomenon.

Overview of Climate Change in the Region and in Zimbabwe

The 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that climate change is affecting every region of the world (from droughts, extreme heat, increase in the frequency of rainfall, increase in the frequency of forest fires, effect on oxygen concentrations in the oceans, water scarcity, etc).

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in November last year, once again highlighted the severity of the climate crisis that the world is grappling with.

It is well known that agri-food systems are particularly impacted negatively, while at the same time contributing to Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about one third of total global emissions.

African countries are especially prone to the impacts of climate change, as their economies are heavily dependent on agriculture. For example:

  • Zimbabwe lies in a semi-arid region with limited and unreliable rainfall patterns and temperature variations
  • Rainfall exhibits considerable spatial and temporal variability characterised by shifts in the onset of rains, increases in the proportion of low rainfall years, decreases in low intensity rainfall events, as well as increases in the frequency and intensity of mid-season dry spells.
  • Extreme weather events, namely tropical cyclones and drought have also increased in frequency and intensity.
  • Moreover, according to the Zimbabwe Meteorological Service, daily minimum temperatures have risen by approximately 2.60C over the last century while daily maximum temperatures have risen by 20C over the same period.
  • Overall, the climate in Zimbabwe is regionally differentiated, but is generally becoming warmer with more erratic rainfall patterns.
  • Climate changes (extreme heat, erratic rains) have been drivers of loss of productivity, increased poverty, malnutrition, and vulnerabilities.

There is a need, therefore, for scaling up of initiatives and investments in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use sectors to address climate change. New and innovative ways are needed to contribute to strengthening adaptive capacity and enhancing resilience to climate impacts. It calls for urgent, bold, and rapid measures to shift the continent to a trajectory that is compatible with a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and sustainable future. Aspects of Vulnerability and coping mechanisms in Zimbabwe 8. At the macro level the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe, particularly rainfall variability and extreme weather events are expected to affect socioeconomic sectors that are linked to the SDGs.

Vulnerability in Zimbabwe is closely related to existing development needs, especially among poor people who commonly lack the adaptive capacity to cope with additional stresses posed by climate change. We know that adaptive capacity is typically limited by poverty, natural disasters, environmental degradation, reliance on rainfed agriculture and climate-sensitive resources (UNFCCC, 2007).

Let me provide a brief overview on a few productive sectors of the Zimbabwean economy that are likely to be affected by climate change, with potentially significant costs. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few examples mostly focused on those sectors that relate to our work as FAO— on agriculture, food and nutrition security, and livelihoods:


The economy and livelihoods of the poor in Zimbabwe are highly vulnerable to climate change due to their heavy reliance on rainfed agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 15-18 % of Zimbabwe’s GDP.

Rising temperatures and increasing rainfall variability, notably drought, are also exacerbating declining agricultural outputs, further compromising economic growth and stability, food insecurity, demand for other goods and poverty reduction.

According to the IPCC (2007) report, Climate change is also leading to expansion of marginal lands rendering traditional agricultural systems unsustainable. Even diversified livelihood systems with a livestock component are also becoming vulnerable. Mixed crop-livestock systems are a traditional strategy for smallholder farmers in semi-arid rural areas. These systems tend to be well adapted to climatic conditions characterised by erratic rainfall patterns.

If no adaptation measures are taken, yields from rainfed agriculture are expected to continue dropping. Consequently, climate change is likely to exacerbate food insecurity, especially during prolonged drought events, which are becoming more frequent and intense.


Estimates by experts indicate that Zimbabwe’s water demand far outstrips supply. Persistent droughts in Zimbabwe severely affect and strain surface and ground water systems, contributing to deteriorating water supply. Surface 5 water is mostly from rivers and dams as there are no large floodplains and swamps because of the semi-arid climate and topography.

Surface water is also prone to high loses due to evaporation caused by high temperatures. For example, in 2007, evaporation from high temperatures resulted in low water levels in most dams which led to many of the dams to be decommissioned. This situation becomes worse with climate change where evaporation is projected to rise. This is projected to worsen the existing deficiency of water resources especially in dry zones.

At present, the majority of Zimbabwe’s water (80%) is used in the agricultural sector, followed by the urban industrial sector (15%), rural authorities (2%), conservation (2%) and mining (1 %) (GoZ).


Less than 10% of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to modern energy services, with just over 20% of the total population connected to electric power supply (AFDB, 2008). As a result, energy provision remains one of Africa’s principal development challenges. Zimbabwe is no exception.

However, climate change is likely to compromise energy development, especially hydropower. Low water supplies since 2007 and drought conditions created by climate change are expected to reduce run-off further reducing the water levels required to support the operation of dams. Gender

Climate change presents a significant threat to human security, especially for women who represent 70% of the world’s poor. It is widely recognised that climate change will worsen the gender dimensions of vulnerability, which arise from existing social inequalities. In addition to the disproportionate effects of disasters on women’s mortality and morbidity, climate change is expected to jeopardise women’s livelihoods by reducing economic opportunities.

In Zimbabwe, 70% of women are smallholder farmers dependent on rain fed agriculture and climate sensitive resources. Women are therefore particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Responding to Climate change

An effective response to climate change should aim to achieve of a more productive, resilient, and low-emissions agricultural and allied sectors.

However, a principal challenge facing adaptation projects in Zimbabwe is the uncertainty associated with climate variability. Most farmers in dry regions have experienced and are still experiencing multiple climate risks. There is also varying local perceptions and interpretations of climate variability, which can be broad and diverse within different social groups and communities.

Additionally, lack of downscaled climate data is particularly problematic in countries like Zimbabwe where climate impacts and vulnerabilities are highly regionally differentiated. As a result, strengthening national and local capacities to manage climate risks, as they are currently understood, is imperative for dealing with climate risk in the future.

The 2022-2026 Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (ZUNSDCF) articulates the strategic engagement of the United Nations Country Team in Zimbabwe to support the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It encapsulates the shared commitment to leaving no one behind through delivering concrete results that ensure inclusive participation and reaching the people typically left the furthest behind.

To leave no one behind, UN interventions are geared to pursue equitable, resilient, and inclusive growth delivered in partnership with strong, transparent, and accountable institutions where duty bearers uphold human rights while strengthening governance mechanisms. Building the resilience of vulnerable populations requires helping people cope with change, adapt their livelihoods, improve governance systems and build ecosystem health so they are better prepared to respond to shocks and stresses to which Zimbabwe is exposed.

The ZUNSDCF is designed to deliver integrated support in four priority areas aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals and National Development Strategy 1

  • People-centred – inclusive, equitable human development and wellbeing – People Pillar
  • Environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resources management- Planet Pillar
  • Economic transformation, equitable and inclusive growth – Prosperity Pillar 7
  • Transformative, accountable, equitable and inclusive governance – Peace Pillar The work under the planet Pillar is particularly relevant to the topic of climate change that we are discussing today

The work under the planet Pillar is particularly relevant to the topic of climate change that we are discussing today.

FAO is currently reviewing its Climate change strategy, and this Strategy will focus on providing support to member countries in their climate action. It has identified some major priorities (national and regional) that will look into impact of climate change on food security and nutrition, and innovation (technological, social, policy, institutional, and financial innovations that can be developed and/scaled up). The new strategy will also enable FAO to work with partners and prioritize actions that will strengthen climate action at regional and national levels.

A growing number of institutions, UN, NGOs and research organisations, including civil society’s organizations, are engaging in a variety of development projects, many of which have strong adaptation components. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines adaptation as the process through which societies increase their ability to cope with an uncertain future, which involves taking appropriate action and making adjustments and changes to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

In this regard, it is also important to promote private sector participation and investments for climate adaptation and mitigation. Zimbabwe’s Climate Smart Agricultural Investment Plan (2019) makes key recommendations on climate smart agricultural investments, including investments in:

  • Enhanced Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods through Diversified Livestock Systems.
  • Water Harvesting for Resilient Crop and Livestock Production.
  • Women- and Youth-Focused Value Chain Development.
  • Resilient Commercial Dairy Farming. These should provide opportunities for the private sector to invest and create value

A common lesson learnt is the importance of local context in developing adaptation strategies that build on local knowledge and cultural norms, practices and value systems. Externally imposed adaptations may be discarded or ignored by communities.

Participatory methods/approaches are very useful in engaging communities and marginalised groups to identify diverse needs to as many adaptations options as possible and instil ownership of adaptations initiatives.


In conclusion, what can we do as a country to address issues related to climate change, include among others:

  • Reconceptualise participation in climate change projects as an instrument for empowering communities to influence policy making at all levels
  • Consider climate information in projects including scientific data and local knowledge about trends and changes.
  • Undertake participatory vulnerability and adaptation assessments at scale and across a variety of sectors, share the results to foster learning between private, public, government and civil society.
  • Explore climate finance and other funding mechanisms (e.g GCF, GEF, Adaptation Fund, etc), as real opportunities to fund good projects that reduce risk and bring benefits to the vulnerable
  • Promote private sector participation in climate adaption and mitigation initiatives
  • Develop climate awareness raising campaigns aimed at government (especially decision makers, legislators and planners, etc), civil societies, communities and the general public.
  • Adaptation is central for African countries including Zimbabwe, hence there is the need to learn and exchange the best experiences, promote sharing of knowledge and solutions among different groups of in our societies.
  • Zimbabwe can leapfrog its socio-economic development trajectory by adopting climate smart development strategy.
  • In this regard, the private sector can play critical role by adopting and expediting the migration of existing socio-economic sector to green economy. This is the new frontier of business for profit and sustainable development.
  • As the UN and FAO, we look forward to engaging the business community through establishing a local compact for sustainable development.

Dr. Patrice Talla Takoukam, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa & FAO Representative for Zimbabwe, Eswatini & Lesotho presented this keynote speech during the Diplomat Business Networking Club breakfast meeting held at Golden Conifer Functions venue on 11 February, 2022.

The meeting’s prime objective was to give corporate leaders a better understanding of climate change and its adverse impact on sustainable development, their role in reducing Carbon emissions and how they can also exploit the beneficial business opportunities presented by climate change.

The Diplomat Business Networking Club was established by the Diplomacy Appreciation Trust in December 2020. It is a high-profile social and business networking organization that connects diplomats, senior business executives, policymakers, government officials, civil society, media, and other key stakeholders in a diverse and multicultural atmosphere of positive dialogue, goodwill, and opportunity. The Club is a unique platform for decision-makers and influential members of society to share knowledge and experiences, discover opportunities, and cement collaborations. [email protected]


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