The Municipalities of Maputo, Matola and Boane have developed a firm commitment to carry out the actions defined by their newly developed climate action plan, as was evident in September 2023 when the plan was officially launched.
On the stairs of a hotel in Maputo, political representatives from three of the municipalities that make up the Maputo Metropolitan Area gather for a group photo. Representatives from Maputo, Matola and Boane, along with other signatories from the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) and the most relevant representatives of different local, international and financing organizations, cooperation agencies, and experts in climate change and sustainable development met for the launch of their first joint climate action plan: The Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP).
The plan contains 44 priority climate actions for the Maputo Metropolitan Area that are designed to protect communities from climate challenges, ensuring their access to sustainable energy. The project in Mozambique is composed of a consortium of experts and political representatives from different institutions, including the municipalities of Maputo, Matola and Boane, the Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMT), UN-Habitat with technical assistance from Architects without Borders (ASF), ICLEI Africa, and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and with the financial backing of the European Union (EU) and The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), who is also coordinator of the initiative in Mozambique.
The African population will triple by 2050, making it the second most populated continent in the world. Without thoughtful urban planning and access to sustainable energy, this pace of growth will be unsustainable in the face of climate challenges. Despite being the continent most affected by climate change and only contributing 4% of global greenhouse emissions, only 3% of climate finance flows to Africa. The challenge is to create a plan that would respond to these threats and at the same time provide access to sustainable energy on a continent where 548 million people do not have access to electricity.
In response to this challenge, the Covenant of Mayors of Sub-Saharan Africa initiative was born in 2015. CoM SSA has the political commitment from over 350 local governments. The purpose of CoM SSA is to support local governments in moving from planning to implementation, with a focus on unlocking climate finance at the local level. In 2020, the municipalities of the Maputo Metropolitan Area became signatories to the CoM SSA initiative, and started working on one of CoM SSA’s fundamental pillars, the development of a robust and evidence-based SEACAP.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index, the country most affected by the impacts caused by climate in 2019 was Mozambique. In turn, the majority of the inhabitants of the city of Maputo live in informal peripheral neighbourhoods with poor living conditions, lacking basic services such as waste collection, drainage and safe sanitation (UN-Habitat, 2010). It is estimated that around 70% of the population of the city of Maputo lives in these informal settlements and 35% of the homes in these neighbourhoods are located in environmentally sensitive, exposed and high-risk areas (UN-Habitat, 2020).
Subsequently, the natural resources that the city depends on for its adaptation to and mitigation of climate change are in danger from unchecked urbanisation and unsustainable practices for obtaining energy. For example, valuable resources such as the mangroves and other forested areas, that today are being cut down for firewood and the production of charcoal for cooking, risk the inherent protection the mangroves provide against cyclones and rising sea levels. The Mozambique Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs 2021) indicate that the main climate threats observed in Mozambique are tropical cyclones, floods and drought. Cyclones are becoming more and more violent, and scarce infrastructure and the lack of urban planning are unsustainable and allow increasingly negative impacts on the most vulnerable population. Sustainable development and thoughtful urban planning are essential for the resiliency of the Metropolitan Area of Maputo in the face of these current environmental challenges.
The SEACAP is the key document to support municipal planning, helping to define strategies and actions for sustainable development, reinforcing climate resilience, seeking strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and guaranteeing access to safe and affordable energy, as well as developing a sustainable response to the current and future impacts of climate change in the region. The SEACAP is both a strategic and operational document that can serve as a tool to improve existing plans from a climate perspective:
It is based on the Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability Assessment which identifies the most relevant climate threats and vulnerabilities of the city.
It uses the results of the Baseline Emissions Inventory to identify the best courses of action and opportunities to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction objectives of local authorities.
It also includes an Energy Access Assessment that articulates a framework to improve safe, sustainable, affordable and reliable access to energy.
The SEACAP defines concrete measures for climate adaptation and mitigation and access to sustainable energy, with definition of deadlines and assignment of responsibilities, establishing medium and long-term strategies.
To this end, the SEACAP defines the goals and strategies for adaptation, mitigation and access to energy in Maputo until 2030, improving urban planning with resilient and sustainable infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% per person. Meanwhile, by that date, the SEACAP projects that all people in the Metropolitan Area of Maputo will have access to modern and sustainable energy services, reducing the use of biomass and therefore protecting natural resources.
The strategies contained in the SEACAP define, for the Maputo Metropolitan Area, concrete actions in the interest of reforestation, maintenance and construction of drainage ditches, and implementation of awareness campaigns for the population living in informal settlements, which are more vulnerable to climate threats. At the same time, measures are included to improve the public transport service and the management and recycling of solid waste. Finally, it also includes strategies to achieve a sustainable electrification rate of 100% by 2030 using clean stoves and fuels. Towards this purpose, municipal and metropolitan actions were prioritised, including the expansion of the electricity network and the reduction of the use of biomass for cooking.
The plan has been finalised and the municipalities have developed a firm commitment to carry out the actions defined by the SEACAP, as was evident in September 2023 when the plan was officially launched.
The journey from planning to implementation has begun. The next step for this CoM SSA project is to expand the field of action to unlock and promote climate finance at the local level and therefore be able to continue to put into practice concrete measures for the joint response to the climate and development challenges that one of the most vulnerable populations on the planet is already facing.