Maputo: Mozambique depends on nature to fight climate change.

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The Government of Mozambique has launched a USD 6 million project to protect its coasts from the impacts of climate change through the restoration and conservation of nature.

With funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and support from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the project is drawing on the natural defences and buffers that coastal ecosystems offer against storms, flooding and saline intrusion.

Taking place in the Greater Maputo area on the south-eastern coast of Mozambique, the initiative will cover a combined population of 3 million people in the municipalities of Maputo, Matola and Boane, as well as the districts of Matutuíne and Marracuene.

The project was officially launched on the 24th February at an event hosted by the Ministry of Land & Environment (MTA) and the National Fund for Sustainable Development (FNDS), the lead executers of the project.

“These areas are home to many coastal ecosystems whose services and goods are vital to local communities,” said Wetela Jone, General Inspector for the Ministry. “This includes firewood, charcoal and timber, cultural identity, social services, welfare for recreation and tourism, as well as ‘regulating services’ such as carbon sequestration, decomposition of organic water, water purification, erosion control, flood reduction and buffer storage.”

Despite their vital role, these coastal habitats are being degraded at an alarming rate by the effects of climate change and the extraction of resources to maintain local livelihoods.

“The Greater Maputo Area, where more than three million people live, is already severely affected by floods, cyclones, erosion, and sea-level rise,” says Jone.

In 2019, according to the Climate Risk Index, Mozambique was reported as the country most affected by climate change in the world.

Faced with this reality, the government, in partnership with the various economic and social sectors, developed the new project to respond and build resilience. The five-year initiative provides the Government of Mozambique, municipal authorities, districts, and especially local communities with the support, tools, and planning frameworks needed to develop sustainable solutions to protect coastal ecosystems and encourage climate-resilient livelihoods.

“The project brings together the climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation agendas,” said Francisco Roquette, UNDP Deputy Representative speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard, at the launch event. “Working in close respect with nature to improve climate resilience is an absolute priority.”

“There is no denying it, climate change is already here and we must prepare ourselves,” continued Roquette.

The use of nature-based solutions for adapting to climate change is known as ‘ecosystem-based adaptation’. Research around the world shows these ecosystem-based approaches are generally very cost-effective, as demonstrated in UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2021.

For more information on the project, officially titled Building Resilience in the Coastal Zone Through Ecosystem-based Approaches to Adaptation, contact Jessica Troni (Jessica.troni@un.organd Sonia da Silveira (sgsilveira1@gmail.com)

For more information on UN Mozambique, contact helvisney.cardoso@one.un.org

To learn more about UNEP’s work in ecosystem-based adaptation, visit us here.