Skip to main content

Making Peace with Nature “a Matter of Collective Survival,” says UNEP Regional Climate Change Coordinator

By February 23, 2022February 26th, 2022No Comments
Lake Victoria reels from climate change- The Independent

The COP26 has come and gone, but the issue of climate change persists. And so, UNEP Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator. Dr. Richard Munang has made the case for man to make peace with nature as a matter of collective survival.

In an exclusive interview with Timescape Magazine, Dr. Munang notes that the Paris Agreement did achieve an impressive level of mobilization for climate action and insists that Glasgow should escalate an ambition that “unlocks critical socioeconomic opportunities and especially for the most vulnerable to justly transition economies to the low emissions pathway.”

Following are excerpts of that conversation…

UNEP Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator, Dr. Richard Munang

The world is looking back to the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow that took place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, 2021, and the big question remains mistrust between developing and developed countries could again lead to the failure to implement its decisions. Where does this mistrust lie? Where does it come from?

The UNSG’s foundational message as we headed to COP26, was consistent – that “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st Century”. This making peace with nature is not a matter of “trust” or “mistrust”, but rather a matter of collective survival. As a global community, we either all survive the climate change apocalypse, or we all continue to suffer from its perils and eventually perish. The science is clear on this predicament. In early August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published their 6th Assessment Report. Aptly called “a code-red for humanity”, the core finding of this analysis shows that the world is likely to breach the safe 1.5℃ warming threshold in just 2 decades. In close succession, the latest UNFCCC National Determined Contribution (NDCs) assessment report sent additional alarm by noting that while the globe needs to reduce emissions by 45% in 2030 to minimize escalation of climate risks, the net effect of all NDC commitments, including from 86 updated commitments only manage a lowly 12% reduction. These realities imply an escalation of climate risks globally, whose costs are already at breaking point. In 2020 alone, climate change-induced disasters cost the global economy up to $210 billion. The latest headlines have painted the picture of these losses – from uncontrollable wildfires that even the richest countries in the world are unable to control, to deadly flooding in Europe that completely washed away buildings and cars, to the deadly hurricane in Louisiana in the U.S., to the record high temperatures in U.S. Pacific Northwest, that is ordinarily known for its cool climate, to the loss of ice in the Arctic almost the size of the state of Florida in just one month, the writing is on the wall.

For Africa which is already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe, in addition to other effects, including a 20% decline in precipitation, a 20% increase in storm intensity, an 8% increase in arid and semi-arid lands, and up to 50% drop in rainfed agriculture potential, the dire socioeconomic consequences that were projected to occur by 2030, 2050, 2100; be it the GDP drop of up to 15% that was originally forecast to happen in 2030, & by 50 – 85% by 2050, the 14% higher sea-level rise, the 40% decline in yields in key staples that were projected to occur by 2050; and shrinkage of incomes by a whopping 75% that was projected to occur by 2100, will move much closer to the present. And with this, escalation of socioeconomic misery that is already at breaking point is guaranteed. Be it the 257million people experiencing hunger; the over 12million young people who need jobs every year amidst shrinking economies, the up to 60million children that are malnourished, and costing the continent between 1.9% and 16% of its GDP; among many.

The point is, therefore – the urgency to increase climate action ambition is not a matter of trust, but collective survival.

There is concern that the Paris Climate Summit was a failure. Is this the right assessment and do you think Glasgow could have got it right?

The level of mobilization for climate action that has been achieved through the Paris Agreement is impressive, to say the least. In Africa for example, up to 98% of countries have ratified their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), making Africa the continent with the highest compliance rate. As countries move to submit second-round NDCs, already 23 African countries have submitted revised NDCs with 8 being highlighted for submitting stronger targets. Globally, we already have 86 updated or new NDCs submitted by 113 Parties, and these cover about 59% of Parties to the Paris Agreement and account for about 49% of global GHG emissions. This is significant progress that cannot be wished away. But as an African proverb reminds us, “no matter how full the river, it still wants to grow”, the success achieved to date, needs to make way to more success and that is the perspective of COP26. It is about:

– escalating ambition of what parties are already doing, towards achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement in line with Article 2 – which is, to limit the temperature increase to below 2C and towards the ideal 1.5C scenario that is the best insurance against the escalation of climate change risks.

– It is about ensuring this escalation of ambition unlocks critical socioeconomic opportunities and especially for the most vulnerable to justly transition economies to the low emissions pathway.

– It is about making the COVID-19 green pandemic recovery, a reality for all. This is the trajectory of increased ambition that the globe needs to see in COP26 and beyond. 

Climate change is causing the shrinking of Lake Chad (C) The Guardian

What were Africa’s talking points in Glasgow?

One of the most talked-about items on the agenda at COP26 was the need to secure global net-zero emissions by mid-century. What we need to ask ourselves is – what does this global priority mean for Africa, a region which is a minimal emitter – accounting for just about 2-3% of emissions, but which is disproportionately vulnerable because of a low socioeconomic base? The answer then lies in what is called a “just transition”. Which implies that as Africa contributes its fair share to global emissions targets, and drives its adaptation priorities, how can we ensure the cumulative impact becomes more food secure homes, more jobs & income opportunities for our young people, more competitive & inclusive economies that create earning opportunities for all people – in simple terms, enhanced socioeconomic growth for Africa.

This is the net effect we need to see. Just to give an example to underscore the urgency of this priority, climate change brings about global impacts as I discussed earlier. While the developed west experiences category 5 cyclones quite regularly these days, including the recent extreme events in Europe & what we saw in Louisiana in the US more recently, they do not experience the level of damage as we see in Africa as was the case during cyclone Idai & Kenneth. A higher socioeconomic base enables populations to be able to afford alternatives to mitigate their losses and risk such as insurance. For example, it is reported that in Louisiana one of the risk-prone areas in America that experiences hurricanes, home & business owners filed up to $10billion in insurance claims for damage caused by hurricanes and tropical storms in 2020. In contrast, cyclones Idai and Kenneth – that hit southern Africa and caused a trail of losses and fatalities, caused damages exceeding $3billion. There was no talk of insurance among the most vulnerable. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that caused abnormal rains – that was 300% – 400% above normal in East Africa and catalysed the worst locust outbreak in 70 years, causing up to $8billion in food lost, there is no talk of insurance compensation among the most vulnerable smallholder farmers.

The point is therefore this – that without the ability to afford alternatives, communities are constrained in their ability to respond effectively to escalating climate change risks. Africa’s talking points should therefore center on how its quest for adaptation and contribution to global emissions reduction, can unlock tangible socioeconomic & enterprise opportunities so that there is more money in more pockets.

The latest IPCC report on climate change has been described as “grim.” How grim is it?

As I mentioned earlier in the first question, the report underscored that the safe emissions limits will be crossed in just 2 decades, meaning an escalation of the dire risks Africa already faces, and a coming much closer to the present of the long-term impacts projected for Africa. 

Climate change also hurts animal health (C) Smithsonian Magazine

 What does it mean for a continent like Africa that contributes very little to climate change?

We must make actualizing a just transition the urgent priority of our times. And as I said earlier, this simply means, that as Africa contributes its fair share to global emissions targets in line with its NDC commitments, and drives its adaptation priorities, how can we ensure the cumulative impact becomes more food secure homes, more jobs & income opportunities for our young people, more competitive & inclusive economies that create earning opportunities for all people – in simple terms, enhanced socioeconomic growth for Africa.

And for this, we must appreciate the fact that Africa needs to adopt the logic of “going to war with the army you have”. Even as the region continues to bet on support from international multi-lateral and bilateral collaborations, we also must now start to urgently ask ourselves how we can mobilize local investments for climate action. How we can make each of the 1.3 billion people in Africa, investors in climate action solutions because none of us is immune to its devastations.

Hence the question to answer is – how can we get people across Africa to invest in climate action implementation from an enterprise lens leveraging on what is already accessible to them? This calls for enablers for the region to build upwards leveraging on what it already has as follows:

First is narrative. Climate action in Africa must be premised as an investment opportunity capable of financial & economic dividend, not the traditional approach of showing only social & environmental benefits. The climate action narrative across Africa must urgently graduate from projecting liability to projecting opportunities. For example, a majority, up to 70% of NDC priorities across African countries highlight clean energy as a leading mitigation action area and sustainable agriculture as an adaptation priority. How these can unlock much-needed food security, income, jobs, and competitive economic growth opportunities remains a silent area. However, lessons from our work have shown that decentralizing simple climate action solutions of solar driers to agro-actors to enable them to dehydrate perishables and increase shelf-life can not only mitigate over 200,000tones of CO2 compared to an alternative fossil fuel value addition solution but cut postharvest losses (PHLs) and increase earnings up to 30times. The scalability of this approach is multiplied when we consider the $4-$48billion in annual post-harvest losses that Africa faces each year, which can be recouped and translated into income opportunities, jobs, food-secure homes, revenues for the government, etc. It is multiplied when we consider the organic foods industry which has a growing market segment of consumers ready to pay up to 3 times the price of conventional foods, for food that is certified organic, healthy, and environmentally compliant.

Climate change impacts ocean temperatures tremendously due to global warming (C) YouTube

Second is establishing climate action policy implementation investment tools. Africa’s problem is not in policy formulation but implementation. Just to give examples, up to 98% of countries in Africa have ratified their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), making Africa the continent with the highest compliance rate. As countries move to submit second-round NDCs, already 19 African countries have submitted revised NDCs with 8 being highlighted for submitting stronger targets. But implementation arrangements are not in sync. For example, even with an impressive NDCs ratification rate, it is estimated that over 70% of countries have not translated their NDCs into implementation investments that denote the return on investment that can accrue to investors who take up implementation actions in the different prioritized areas. This is five years late considering that most countries adopted their NDCs soon after the coming into force of the Paris Agreement in 2016. This is a big gap as no investor will be ready to go into areas where a clear financial & economic return on investment is not elucidated. Africa, therefore, needs to prioritize these investment tools.   

Third is to target the informal sector with solutions. Over 80% of work in Africa is driven through the informal sector, including for young people where up to 80% of young people get informal employment. Going forward, this sector has also been described as the “present and future” of work in Africa. Delivering climate action solutions that target to address the challenges and tap opportunities that the informal sector presents provide a growing market niche for uptake of climate action from a socioeconomic lens. As an example, informal food traders supply up to 90% of food consumed in Africa’s cities. At the same time, they experience challenges in handling perishables that end up unsold at the end of the day. At the height of the Covid-19 containment measures, losses in perishables increased by up to 50%. However, decentralizing solar dryers to enable these traders to dehydrate their perishables and increase shelf-life has been shown capable of increasing earnings up to 30times. This then means that developing climate action solutions that target to solve productivity challenges of the informal sector demonstrates the tangible value of climate actions and these can then be demanded uptake by the informal sector. And the NDCs implementation investment tools need to clearly show areas that informal sector actors can be engaged in to drive NDCs.  

Climate change, marked by global warming impacts human health by way of floods and other climatic hards (C) Stanford University

Fourth, is youth skills retooling. Over 60% of Africa’s population is young, and thus is Africa’s powerhouse. We cannot make progress by neglecting this powerhouse and so how these youth can be tapped to become drivers of economic competitiveness while implementing climate action is critical. Skills retooling – which is improving, refining, and adapting young people’s skills regardless of their backgrounds, to align with tapping economic opportunities in Africa NDCs implementation, is critical. Through an incubation approach, we call Innovative Volunteerism, we are structurally guiding and inspiring young people of different backgrounds to turn their passion into profits and retool their skills in developing and decentralizing climate action solutions that address on-demand areas among communities. The language that attracts them is the income, enterprise opportunities that they can get, and skills retooling is equipping them to tap such opportunities through non-capital-intensive actions.

For example, the application of solar dryers, a climate action solution that can mitigate over 200,000 tons of CO2 is picking up among informal food traders because it has been proven capable of affordably increasing the shelf-life of perishables and by this enable them to recoup losses and earn up to 30times more. 

Waste recovery to fuel briquettes is another area that is also non-capital-intensive area. The fuel briquettes have found a market niche among charcoal users in Africa not because they prevent deforestation and the attendant land-based emissions, but because they are up to 2times cheaper than charcoal, and they are non-smoky to reduce indoor pollution and the accompanying health risks associated with it. Youth are engaging in producing briquettes to tap the $20billion charcoal market & the 20% market growth rate. 

Waste recovery to biofertilizer is also another non-capital-intensive area. Young people are engaging in it not because it is critical to restoring ecosystems, but because of its inlock income opportunities. For example, a youth-driven enterprise turning agricultural waste into biofertilizer is providing accessible organic fertilizer solutions to substitute the costlier chemical fertilizers and enhance the ecological base of soils, restore degraded lands, and mitigate against land-based emissions that account for over 50% of Africa’s emissions, and simultaneously enable the youth to register over 560% in profits.

So, with such socioeconomic incentives, we can get young people willing to retool their skills to establish a climate action-derived enterprise that delivers solutions to serve the informal sector as their market, and by this, can guarantee their livelihoods while simultaneously driving the climate action.

Fifth is targeted policy incentives, especially fiscal incentives & non-policy incentives. Favourable fiscal policies play a significant role in shifting market behaviour and investments from one area to another and the same applies to climate action uptake from market dimensions. Accordingly, targeted fiscal incentives will go a long way in shifting both the consumer market as well as entrepreneurs in the informal sector towards climate action solutions such as solar dryers and the agro sector specifically in consuming organic foods to create markets in these catalytic areas of Africa’s strength. In addition to exempting VAT on products to excite consumer markets, offering tax holidays for informal sector entrepreneurs who establish enterprises in the catalytic areas to enable them to minimize their tax burden during the formative years of their initiatives will go a long way to attracting enterprise growth that is the foundation of productive competitive economies globally. But such policy incentives will accomplish very little if they fall on passionless, purposeless individuals and this is where non-policy incentives that are usually called soft aspects, come in. This is primarily cultivating a right mindset among the constituency of implementers, and mostly the young people in Africa, and igniting this population calls for non-policy incentives such as skills retooling that I explained earlier; incubation facilities that can nurture young people to discover their passions and turn them into enterprising solutions that touch many lives; self-discipline; education curriculum reform to ensure what is taught in our schools goes beyond theoretical drilling to also include equipping learners with passion, selflessness, and skills to turn existing challenges in our economies into enterprise opportunities that work for the many. This is how we will correct the mismatch between what is taught in our formal education and the real challenges of African economies.

 The report pointedly notes that there is a paucity of data when it comes to climate change monitoring in Africa. How do you think this lack of research can hurt the continent’s ability to adapt?

The biggest gap for Africa is not so much a lack of research, but a failure to complement global research with local knowledge. While globally, spending on research and development and the number of scientists has been rising in the past five years, and these cover global level topics that also touch on Africa, where we have institutes of African studies even in western universities, no country in Africa is spending 1% of its GDP on research and development. The biggest bottleneck then becomes that while global level research on climate issues already covers Africa – such as the IPCC report for instance, or even the UNEP Adaptation & emissions gap reports, the gap of synthesizing this global research to Africa’s context by ensuring it is combined with local knowledge of what has been proven to work across the continent to then inform optimal incentives remains a big missing link. For example, we have learned from global level research that climate change already threatens to lower yields of key staples across Africa by as much as 40%. But at the same time, we have local knowledge that indigenous solutions such as the Zai, have been proven capable of restoring hundreds of thousands of crusted lands and increasing yields by up to 500%. The point, therefore, is that these two levels of knowledge need to be reconciled and combined to inform optimal targeted incentives that will draw in more investments into implementing proven solutions that work best in local contexts.

The extension of deserts is also a direct consequence of how climate change impacts the environment (C) Greentumble

Should the continent bother about commitments at reducing its carbon footprint, given the fact they currently contribute so little to global climate emissions?

I covered this extensively in an earlier question and the answer lies in what I called a just transition. It is not so much a matter of whether to honour its emissions reduction commitments or not, but rather how these cuts can unlock much-needed socioeconomic opportunities to justly transition communities to low emissions pathways. The region is itself interested in contributing its fair share to global emissions reductions. In the revised NDCs, already 23 countries have submitted commitments that cover mitigation emissions reductions as well, with 11 countries having submitted more ambitious emissions reduction targets than the first round. Among these 11, Namibia for example has set a target of emissions cut to the tune of 91% conditional & 14% unconditional. Ethiopia has set 68.8% conditional & 14% unconditional; Nigeria has set 47% conditional & 20% unconditional; Zimbabwe has set emissions reduction target of 40%, Kenya has set a target of 32% etc. So, the question is, how can these emissions reductions contribute to enhanced socioeconomic opportunities in Africa – be it more food secure homes, more income opportunities for young people, and enhanced economic competitiveness. That is where the focus should be.        

 Some African leaders suggest that if the continent is to develop economically, it must do what the West did to grow: fell trees, industrialize, and grow the Agricultural sector. How can African countries achieve all these while at the same time keeping to the promises of their National Determined Contributions?

Industrialization is often imagined as an influx of high polluting, heavy industry. But in this era of globally interlinked economies, Africa cannot replicate what was done in the west and expect to achieve economic competitiveness. The hundreds of years since the industrial revolution, in which Africa was absent, means the west has perfected its ability to compete in high carbon economies. In addition, the shift of global standards towards leaner, more efficient systems that progress towards zero emissions, means adopting the old high carbon pathways will rob the region of its opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the low emissions pathway, and finally isolate the region’s economies as the globe is already transitioning to low carbon pathways. Targeted strategic actions are what Africa needs to enhance its economic competitiveness while meeting its emissions reductions commitments and these are as follows: 

First, leverage low transition costs as a source of global competitiveness. Africa’s economies are not yet locked up in high emissions development models. This represents an opportunity to take leadership in the low emissions pathway with minimal transition costs, and leapfrog into low emissions pathways, as the region did with leapfrog landlines onto mobile telephony. It is estimated that a move to low-carbon, greener economies have the potential to create 60 million jobs by 2030, and Africa needs to urgently tap these socioeconomic opportunities leveraging its minimal transition costs. As an example, in energy, it is projected that energy de-carbonization globally in line with an average 20C world scenario will result in net energy savings of USD71trillion by 2050. Africa should not be left out of this benefit. Now up to 580million Africans lack access to electricity. In addition, unpredictable and frequent power outages cost firms in low- and middle-income countries – the majority being in Africa – up to $300 billion each year. To bridge this gap, using fossil-based high emitting measures such as generator-based power costs three to six times what grid consumers pay across the globe, to deny enterprises in the region the ability to compete. Considering that up to 84% of energy-poor in Africa are in rural areas, bridging the gap most effectively calls for use of off-grid solutions that are accessible and efficient in electrifying rural Africa. It is estimated that bridging Africa’s electricity gap by investing in clean energy, including decentralized, off-grid systems is estimated could result in as many as 11.8 million jobs by 2050 while abating emissions.  In addition, efforts should leverage the most accessible renewable energy resources in which Africa holds the highest comparative advantage globally. Accordingly, with the richest solar resources in the world, coupled with the lowest cost of $1.30 per watt compared to the global average of $1.80 per watt, Africa has not tapped this comparative advantage as it holds less than 1% of the global total installed capacity.

To be sustainable, we cannot look at jobs during the construction phase of these energy initiatives alone, but rather the jobs that will be generated out of the utilization of such energy investments. This then means that energy investments should be targeted at delivering usable, stable, relevant power for value addition enterprise actions, especially in the continent’s informal sector that employs up to 80% of our population including in the inclusive agro-sector. Just as a small-scale example, solar-powered micro-irrigation is increasing farm-level incomes by up to ten times, improving yields by up to 300 percent, and reducing water usage by up to 90 percent.

Decentralizing solar solutions – including as simple as solar dryers to power agro-value addition means turning Africa’s high postharvest losses of $48billion, into much-needed income and job opportunities. at a small scale, solar dryers decentralized to informal food traders to enable them to increase shelf life if their perishables have been proven capable of increasing their earning by up to 30times.  

This is a timely comparative advantage for the region to use to bridge the energy divide in a low emissions pathway and power productive enterprises to enable the growth of cottage industries in inclusive areas such as agriculture to expand incomes.

Second is clean cooking. The number of people without access to clean cooking in Africa has been rising from about 750 million ten years ago to 890million two years ago – the highest deficiency globally. In some of the most deficient countries, only 5% or less of the population has access to clean cooking. As a result, over 490,000 premature deaths occur each year in Africa because of indoor air pollution arising from the use of unclean cooking facilities. Biomass accounts for up to 50% of Africa’s total primary energy supply and is a key source of the 56% of land-based emissions in Africa through deforestation for fuelwood. At the same time, over 80% of households in sub-Saharan Africa rely on wood-based energy indicating significant market demand for biomass-based fuel. Creating alternative, viable, more competitive clean cooking solutions directly means recouping $10 – $20billion annually expended on charcoal & wood fuel while saving forests and enhancing health by minimizing indoor pollution. These are simple, accessible solutions like waste recovery to fuel briquettes, which combined with using clean-burning cookstoves, have been shown to save an average household in Africa nearly 3 times more compared to using normal charcoal. This is an opportunity for establishing a whole cottage industry of clean cooking to tap a ready local market.

Dr. Munang believes if appropriate action is taken, the effects of climate change can be minimised

Third is ICT. It is estimated that by 2030 – just 9 years to come, some 230million jobs across Africa will need some level of digital skills. This means emissions related to large-scale ICT infrastructure such as data centres will increase insignificance. It is estimated that globally, the energy consumption of data centres is set to account for 3.2% of global emissions by 2025, and this will increase to 14% by 2040 – about the same level of emissions as the US today. This is an opportunity for ICT development in Africa to chat a low carbon pathway, on two levels – directly and indirectly. Directly, the region will need to prioritize energy efficiency measures in all data centers – including turning off unused servers, prioritizing newer equipment with better energy efficiency specifications, using power on demand among key direct measures.  Indirect measures will apply more from the application of ICT. Africa will need to apply ICT as strategic tools for dematerializing and reducing the carbon footprint of processes in key sectors that engage a majority – such as agriculture which already employs over 60%. Examples include for instance digital marketing which has the potential to cut emissions associated with traditional paper processes as well as transport-related emissions by reducing the need to travel for markets, and with this, the added advantage of real-time market information and reduced costs. How this digitization can be enhanced more in the informal sector will be continuing to impact both climate compliance in the region as well as unlock economic opportunities. For example, we have seen in our work in Cameroon, that providing digital market solutions to cassava farmers and value adders, to enable them to access markets efficiently and affordably can jointly with solar dryer powered value addition, increase incomes by up to 150%, with zero emissions added.

 What could be the cost for Africa should Green House Emissions continue to be emitted?

With the IPCC 6th Assessment report noting that the globe will breach the safe 1.5C warning threshold in 20years, I explained this earlier this means losses projected for Africa in the future will only move closer to the present. Consequently, the GDP drop of up to 15% will occur earlier than 2030, a further decline of 50 – 85% earlier than 2050, and shrinkage of incomes by a whopping 75% earlier than 2100. It means the current climate change effects – including the 20% decline in precipitation, a 20% increase in storm intensity, an 8% increase in arid and semi-arid lands, and up to 50% drop in rainfed agriculture potential, the dire socioeconomic consequences be it the 257million people experiencing hunger; the over 12million young people who need jobs every year amidst shrinking economies, the up to 60million children that are malnourished and costing the continent between 1.9% and 16% of its GDP; among many, will continue to escalate. 

You came up with the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security (EBAFOSA). How has this been playing out across Africa?

EBAFOSA after its creation in July 2015 was adopted by the Africa Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) through a high-level ministerial decision formalizing this inclusive framework to be the convening framework where diverse stakeholders across different sectors – both environment & non-typical, non-environment sectors can convene to complement efforts in line with section 5 of the Paris Agreement, and SDG17, to establish enablers for implementing climate action commitments from a lens of accelerating socio-economic transformation. These enablers are as follows and are being executed across the continent with notable impacts:

First, is divesting from considering climate action commitments in silos as either “mitigation” or “adaptation” to complement the implementation of these two in what we call “mitigation powering adaptation”. Africa leads global NDCs ratification with 98%. With the submission of revised NDCs, 23 countries have submitted with 11 countries being lauded for having more ambitious second-round commitments. Most of the region’s NDCs – over 70% prioritize sustainable agriculture as adaptation commitments, and clean energy investments as mitigation commitments. But the big question is how the implementation of these commitments can be leveraged as an accelerator of inclusive socio-economic development. Agriculture being the most inclusive sector of Africa that employs over 64%, and which is a source of raw materials for different other key sectors in Africa like tourism & hospitality among others, as well as providing business for other service industries like logistics, is the engine sector that Africa urgently needs to maximize on through value addition. Complementing clean energy and sustainable agriculture to enable value addition is therefore the strategic lens through which up to 70% of Africa’s NDC commitments need to be implemented.

EBAFOSA is leading in this paradigm. Through the EBAFOSA framework, we have leveraged “mitigation powering adaptation” where investments in sustainable agriculture are complemented by mitigation actions – especially in clean energy, to justly transition communities to the low emissions pathway. In Uganda, simple climate action solutions of solar dryers have been decentralized to benefit over 2000 households with value addition in the Buganda Kingdom in less than 1 year. During the COVID-19 period, while others were counting losses arising from the closure of markets, communities accessed climate action solutions of solar dryers decentralized through EBAFOSA and ensure reduction of pumpkin losses by 28%, enhanced earnings from dried high-quality cassava by $50 per farmer group, while creating income for the youth who decentralized these dryers. The implication was that not only were ecological resources expended in cultivation saved but incomes were created to enhance livelihoods.

Second is unlocking niche markets through leverage climate action. There is a growing market segment of consumers ready to pay up to 3 times the price of conventional foods, for food that is certified organic, healthy, and environmentally compliant. This is fuelled by increased public knowledge of the link between what we eat, and our health, making consumers more sophisticated on their food choices to prefer validated natural non-chemicalized foods. This is a niche for sustainable agricultural produce – what we call Ecosystems Based Adaptation approaches (EBA) to producing food that EBAFOSA champions.

EBAFOSA has provided a convening framework where national standards bureaus, have been guided to integrate EBA and clean energy solutions as affordable, effective tools to achieve compliance. This creates a pull factor for the upscaled application of EBA – which is an adaptation, and in complementarity with clean energy – which is mitigation to further extend the socioeconomic benefits of more food-secure homes & incomes created in a healthy environment. 

Third is Leveraging Local communal institutions as conduits to bring EBA for food security to Scale. While smallholder farmers who are part of Africa’s vast informal sector that engages up to 80% of the population are champions in fostering the application of EBA they have local communal institutions that they belong to.

EBAFOSA is convening communal cooperatives called Village Savings and Loan Association to have their members already using EBA, to “cooperate around accessing value-added solutions of solar dryers”. Through this access, they cut their PHLs to increase their revenues and savings and create a cycle of “savings & investment” in upscaling climate actions to bridge the critical financing gap.

Fourth is leveraging local governance structures. Across Africa, local governance structures trusted by communities offer an effective conduit for upscaling EBA.

Through EBAFOSA local governance structures of the Buganda kingdom in Uganda and Nasarawa in Nigeria have been leveraged as structures for mobilizing local communities to take up EBA. Being close to the community, these local governance structures offer the shortest route by which climate science proof of concept can quickly transition to become policy and then get implemented. As an example, in the Buganda Kingdom through practical demonstration from our work, the local governance structure has taken up the EBA & clean energy solution in enhancing the productivity of the cassava value chains and this has informed policy on job creation from cassava value chains as well as engagement of communal cooperatives through which members invest more in these climate action solutions.

Fifth is skills retooling. You cannot address any challenge while ignoring your powerhouse. African youth are Africa’s powerhouse and how they can be tapped to drive EBA solutions represents a formidable strategy. Through an incubation approach, we have developed called Innovative Volunteerism; willing youth are convened under EBAFOSA and are structurally guided and inspired to retool their skills and upscale EBA solutions as they turn their passion into profits. While land may be inaccessible to these youth, through EBAFOSA, they are being guided to intervene along the value chain. Through this, they are fabricating and decentralizing solar dryers to power value addition and limit the waste of ecosystems goods and services lost as PHLs. We are seeing them recovering agricultural waste, turning it into bio-fertilizers. These young people are also sharing their experiences and lessons online to influence more youth to take up innovative volunteerism as a tool to bring climate action solutions of EBA & clean energy covered in 70% of NDCs, to scale.

Devastations caused by Tsunamis can reduced if global actors do the right thing (C) CNN

Six is data for policy. Africa’s climate implementation gap is further perpetuated by a lack of targeted data of what works practically with key implementers in the ground so we can get more targeted incentives to stimulate more investments in areas that are already working. EBAFOSA is ensuring that data emerging from the application of EBA & clean energy solutions to unlock tangible socioeconomic benefits are used to inform more targeted incentives that focus on enabling proven successes. As an example, data on the efficacy of the EBA approach on increasing yields and solar dryers in preventing aflatoxins among informal food producers were used to recalibrate national food standards codes in Uganda & Nigeria. The integration of these two climate action solutions into standards codes created an incentive for their upscaling because any enterprise willing to be certified in food safety and organics must apply EBA & solar dryers as affordable tools for achieving compliance. And with this, a market incentive was created for upscaling of EBA & clean energy, which are climate commitments that dominate Africa’s NDCs. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x