Remarks by the UNDP Resident Representative Claire Medina, 9a.i.) at the Green Media Awards Gala, Golden Peacock Hotel in LilongweNov 8, 2017
· The Guest of Honor, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, the Honorable Aggrey Masi MP.
· The Principal Secretary, Natural Resources Energy and Mining, Mr. Patrick Matanda
· Trustees for the Association of Environmental Journalists here present
· Senior Representatives from the Malawi Government ministries
· Representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations
· The media fraternity present here tonight…
· All protocols observed
I am honored to represent the UN family at this year’s Green Media Awards made possible by the Association of Environmental Journalists and its partners. I wish to express my gratitude to our Guest of Honor, the Right Honorable Aggrey Masi MP, for gracing this special occasion, and for the commitment of your Ministry in tackling environmental and climate change issues. Let me also thank the organizers for all the work you put in to make this event a success.
As we gather here tonight, let us make no mistake about it: the world is at a tipping point. The planet’s climate is changing and there remains precious little time to limit its effects to a degree that societies can manage.
This is no scaremongering. The scientific evidence is unquestionable. Not only was last year was the hottest on record, but the last decade has also been the hottest on record. The effects of climate change are being felt around the world. They are dangerous and they are accelerating. Just in the last few months, we have seen devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and southern United States and massive floods in South Asia, affecting businesses, and the lives of people in these regions. No country is immune.
Two years ago, world leaders came together in Paris and agreed to a goal of keeping global temperature rise within 2 degrees. Yet earlier this week, the UN an Emissions Gap Report, emphasized that the goal will be missed unless there is urgent and collective action.
And it is not just the climate. Biodiversity, water, waste. We are stretching global planetary boundaries to our detriment.
The statistics confirm what we can see with our own eyes and environmental degradation is out there for all of us to see: the barren, deforested landscapes in Malawi; the polluted waterways and Malawian children, begging not for money but for water. The impact, frequency and spread of drought in Malawi have intensified in the past four decades and are likely to worsen. Malawi has suffered from 8 major droughts in the last 36 years.
Climate change and environmental degradation is aggravating Malawi’s already existing challenges of population growth and poverty, undermining resilience and threatening to reverse hard-won development gains and the opportunity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. And let us make no mistake about it, those most affected are precisely those who are at the bottom of the developmental ladder. Dependent on rain-fed agriculture and their small landholdings, many Malawian families are on the front line.
But before I depress us all, the point is to bring us to what we, collectively, are doing about it. Urgent and collective action is needed. As the UN Secretary-General in his speech earlier this year in New York said: Formidable challenges must be matched by an equally formidable commitment to action.
Are we ready to take the call?
There is still hope. Strong institutions committed to collective action based on clear rules, upscaling of affordable alternatives delivered through effective markets, and expanding access to clean energy, are essential to tackle these challenges. But they are not enough.
The goal cannot be achieved without the collective effort of society at large. And in this sense, I would like to stress the crucial role played by the media.
You bring environmental issues to our attention; and are the source of accurate information on what we can do about them; you support constructive debate about the hard decisions that critical are to Malawi’s national agenda and prosperity; and you can support social accountability that ensures policies and budgets take into consideration the need to restore and sustain the environment.
In short, you can be opinion makers, and thought leaders. Your stories are testimony to this.
Long before I came to Malawi, I read a beautiful story of a Malawian boy from a small village who with the help of some old textbooks constructed his own windmill. He took the power of a free, clean and ever-present energy source, to bring electricity to his home. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind of course is now famous. It is an inspiring story because it shows that it can be done – not in America, not in China - but here in Malawi.
Through commitment and perseverance, Malawi and Malawians can bring new innovations to bear to address these environmental challenges [and at the UN we try to support these initiatives with the resources we have].
By and large, Malawi already has supportive policies in place. Now is the time for action.
I hope the stories we will hear tonight will help strengthen your passion for reporting on environmental and science subjects and that the awards will help increase coverage on stories of the environment,
I wish you the very best of luck and on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I say congratulations to all the winners tonight.
Thank you and good evening! Zikomo Kwambiri!