Implications for Africa

Africa, more than any other region in the word, will be without a doubt, the most harshly affected by the negative effects of climate change. As a result, the stakes are high in the struggle to preserve the continent's climate. The number of challenges faced by the continent - a population boom estimated to reach 9 billion in 2050, runaway urbanization, food insecurity, unemployment, etc. - in spite of the evident economic growth observed over the past 15 years, however, add to the severity of the situation.

The numerous and devastating effects of climate change, such as drought, desertification, flooding and storms, put additional pressure on the already fragile food production system in Africa, one of the continent's major challenges.

According to the United Nations, if nothing is done to change the climate situation, Africa will not be able to meet 13 percent of its food needs by 2050, threatening the livelihoods of 65 percent of the African labour force working in agriculture. The seriousness of the situation is evident when considering that in Africa, 94 percent of agriculture depends on rainfall. As a result, any changes or dramatic decreases to rainfall patterns, will have devastating effects on the continent's food supply. The report, Africa's Adaptation Gap, (the gap in climate change adaptation in Africa) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicates that a warming of about 2° Celsius would result in a 10 percent decline in total agricultural output in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050 - a decline that could reach 15 to 20 percent if warming continues until then.

Agriculture is the sector most hit by climate change, particularly in Africa. This sector needs to be taken into account carefully. This is why we are developing solutions to face climate change."

Abou Sabaa, AfDB Vice-President (Human Development, Water, Agriculture, Governance and Natural Resources Management)

Threat to development

Agriculture alone, is not the only sector threatened. An entire ecosystem, populations, biodiversity, as well as economic and geostrategic equilibriums, will also be threatened. According to other estimates, the negative effects of climate change already affect Africa's GDP by about 1.4 percent, while the costs of adaptation to climate change are expected to reach 3 percent of GDP per year in 2030 and even 7 percent of GDP per year by 2100 according to UNEP in a world hotter by 4°C. Those displaced as a result of climate change are becoming more numerous. There were 8.2 million displaced people in Africa in 2012, four times more than during the previous four years, according to Global Estimates 2012, a joint report by the International Displacement Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council published in 2013.

Africa is responsible for only 4 percent of the global emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. But if nothing is done to defend the interests of the continent, it risks paying dearly as a result.

"Adaptation is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.d" (IPCC WGII, Glossary, 2014)

"Mitigation is a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases." (IPCC WGII, Glossary, 2014)

Defending African interests: Influencing the global debate

Given the negative consequences of climate change to the continent, according to the second working group of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last assessment about Africa in 2014 it is crucial for Africa to influence international discussions and agreements on climate change in order to effectively combat the adverse effects through innovative solutions.

By promoting a transition to inclusive and green growth, AfDB's current Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022), through equity and external resources, strongly supports African countries in such efforts. From 2011 to 2014, the AfDB, through its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP)mobilized USD 7 billion for the implementation of 80 adaptation and 87 mitigation projects.Since 2013, the Bank has mobilized 60 percent additional funding in the fight against climate change according to the last joint Multilateral Development Bank report. through available financing instruments, such as the African Climate Change Fund (ACCF), established in April 2014. (See the first annual report of the ACCF, published May 8, 2015).

As a result, the AfDB will participate in COP21 in Paris in December 2015 with two partners, the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

"Africa is our workplace and our home... It's the millions of lives and livelihoods at stake."

Solomon Asamoah, AfDB Vice-President

Jan. 2015