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Mainga Luwabelwa


Ministry of National Development Planning Represented by

Mainga Luwabelwa

National Coordinator – National Designated Authority Project Office
Zambia nominated the National Development Planning Department of the Ministry of Finance as its National Designated Authority (NDA) to the GCF in August 2014. The department is now under the Ministry of National Development Planning.

Share with us a game-changer programme that GCF could fund in Zambia that would represent a paradigm shift?

A major challenge for Zambia is ensuring universal access to electricity. Currently, only 25 percent of Zambians have access to power. Electricity is generated using five sources—hydro, heavy fuel, gas, solar and wind—providing a combined capacity of nearly 2400 MW, of which only 0.06 MW is coming from solar systems. Against this backdrop, it is clear that a game changer for Zambia is renewable energy through massive investments in the energy sector. Additionally, we have other projects to put forward to the GCF. This includes a sustainable and climate-smart agriculture initiative, focused on enhancing the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in rural zones of the country, and a project to strengthen Zambia’s hydrological and meteorological services to make better linkages with national planning and emergency frameworks.
We are proud that Zambia’s project pipeline reflects a consultative process, at the national and regional level, driven by the NDA. A call for expressions of interest was launched earlier this year to solicit inputs from stakeholders to hear what projects should be brought forward or scaled up, as well as to get a sense of which entities are the right ones to put forward as candidates for direct access. This has helped us focus on how to achieve our aims.

What are the major challenges and opportunities in implementing Zambia’s Paris Agreement commitments?

The overarching issue is climate change programming and financing to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. This is a major hurdle. As outlined in Zambia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the 2015 Paris Agreement, the total budget for implementing Zambia’s mitigation and adaptation targets is estimated at USD 50 billion by 2030. Of this, USD 35 billion is expected to come from external sources including the GCF. A second challenge is national capacity. It is not a matter of having external consultants come in to advise but actually building the country’s systems in all areas, including policy, and filling the skills gap in the short, medium and long term.

Public awareness and communication are equally important areas to strengthen. When you go to a village and talk about climate change without putting it in the right context, people will not listen—they think they have other issues to deal with like poverty, lack of water and limited education facilities. The message has to be simple yet contextualize the seriousness and implications of climate change. Importantly, we stress climate change is real and that it will only exacerbate the existing issues if not addressed now. Ultimately, if we overcome these challenges, the opportunities lie therein.

How to foster effective partnerships to support Zambia’s climate action agenda?

The starting point is identifying your stakeholders and knowing early on who you want to partner with and why.  As climate change is not only about the environment, agriculture or energy but a cross-cutting issue, we need to ensure that our partners are diverse and reflect the broad scope of sectors and sub-sectors what we are trying to achieve results in. If indeed our main issue is poverty reduction, we look to action climate change initiatives within the context of poverty alleviation.

As a matter of principle, a partnership must be transparent and open. Countries have to be transparent as recipients on behalf of the people and accountable to their stakeholders. This is why when Zambia formulated its approach to working with the GCF, a strategic decision was taken to operate at the institutional level and the department was nominated, not an individual as focal point. We want our engagement with GCF to help build our institutions.

How do you make decision-making innovative?

You need to see innovation from our perspective—innovation is not creating a new structure, but identifying what is already existing and to use that to the fullest. In Zambia, we have a national stakeholder committee that draws on all stakeholders at the national level. We are looking to replicate a similar structure at the provincial level using the already existing structures that will also involve traditional authorities. I often summarize our decision-making approach by saying ‘we need to work as one engine, with pistons firing at different times’.

Associated link

Zambia INDC