Niamey, Niger, 27 February 2023 (ECA) - Africa needs to expedite climate action by tapping new sustainable technologies to cope with climate change impacts that are exacerbating social instability and food security, particularly in the Sahel region.
Opening the 2nd Session of the Fourth Africa Climate Talks meeting with the theme ‘Enhancing climate resilience for a better human security in the Sahel Region, Minister for the Environment and for Combating Desertification, in Niger, Garama Saratou Rabiou Inoussa highlighted that impacts of climate change were greater in the Sahel region than elsewhere.
“It is urgent to act and ensure that we are encouraging and valuing scientific solutions in dealing with the impacts of climate change,” Ms. Inoussa said, calling for the mobilization of support for the implementation of various initiatives launched in Africa to tackle climate change. She cited the implementation of the Great Green Wall as one of the initiatives that would reduce the impacts of climate change, particularly in the Sahel.
Ms. Inoussa said the establishment of a climate fund for Sahel was an appropriate mechanism to unlock funding for climate action in the region. She urged participants to capitalize on the 5th Africa Regional Science Technology and Innovation Forum (STI) convened in Niamey to gain different insights to enrich the development of the Niamey Declaration, which will be an outcome of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development Goals that opens this week.
Speaking at the same meeting, Vice Chancellor, of the Abdou Moumouni University and Director of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Lands (WASCAL), Mr. Adamou Rabani said the impacts of climate change were devastating in Africa and that the Sahel was worse off. The incidents of droughts, heatwaves, floods and internal strife brought untold misery to the Sahel region.
However, the region has enormous potential to counter the impacts of climate change. He said Niger, for example, has the highest potential for solar energy to boost electricity in the country where many have no access to energy. Therefore mobilizing renewables was one way of reducing the impacts of climate change and ensuring energy access as well as food security.
Director General, African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (AMCAD),André Kamga Foamouhoue, said the Sahel region needs to act quickly in addressing the challenges brought by climate change by drawing lessons from persistent droughts and high temperatures to establish and operate early warning systems.
“We need to invest in strong multidisciplinary data, information and knowledge capabilities for science-based decisions and policies,” Foamouhoue,urged, noting this would involve all public and private sector organizations working together at regional and continental levels.
The Sahel exemplifies the tragedy of human-induced impacts of climate change, said UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator in Niger, Louise Aubin, arguing that the “continued use of hydrocarbons by developed countries at the expense of African people undermines the ability of African countries to meet the SDGs and create the Africa we want.”
Anna Tjärvar, Counsellor in the Embassy of Sweden in Niger, said the geopolitical, financial, climate and biodiversity crises reduced prosperity and progress throughout the world by exacerbating poverty, food insecurity and access to affordable energy. The Sahel region was not spared.
A 2016 World Bank study estimates that the GDP of the Sahel region could drop to low as 11.7% by 2050 because of climate-related water scarcity. However, Sahel countries have a comparative advantage of many untapped mineral resources some of which are needed for a variety of green technologies that are in high demand globally.
Ms. Tjärvar called for the building of institutional capacities to increase financing for climate action and managing climate impacts to fees to energy access and clean cooking in the Sahel region.
Meanwhile, speaking at a side event on reflections on the outcomes of COP27, the Executive Director of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda, said Africa needs a comprehensive climate response that identifies linkages between climate change and underlying human and political dynamics.
Mr. Mithika called for a road map on what action it should take to spearhead the African voice in the COP negotiations and, in particular, have African Heads of State and Ministers send a strong message to their global counterparts not to use current crises to delay climate funding and to cut their carbon emissions.
“The COP27 was not only an African COP but African people’s COP, which brought into fore African issues of underdevelopment due to changing climate and some of the issues of just transition,” Mr. Mithika said. He added that “The issue of energy and just transition was a victory for Africa...on the Loss and Damage we secured a major deal but that needs major unpacking to understand whether it was a deal or another diversion.”
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