From 7 November until 18 November, the 22nd edition of the Conference of the Parties on Climate (COP22) in Marrakech. Focusing on measures implementing the Paris Agreement, another aspect of this conference will be the subject of great debate: Africa. Indeed, more than twenty African leaders are expected and they will discuss decisions involving a very vulnerable continent.
The second largest continent in the world after Asia, Africa is home to 54 countries and 1.1 billion people. Half of all Africans are under the age of 18, and according to the World Economic Forum, the continent has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. Its average annual growth rate has been 5% over the last decade. And it’s estimated that by 2030, 50 percent of Africans will be urban. These figures reflect the challenges facing Africa. Especially those related to climate change.
Indeed, 7 of the 10 countries most at risk from climate change are African: Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Today, Africa is responsible for only 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. Countries like the US and China account for more than 40% of the total global warming emissions. China is first on the list, followed closely by the US.
The continent will therefore have to deal in the near future with the catastrophic consequences of climate change, which are already present: floods, drought, impact on water quality, demographic pressure, rapid and dense urbanization… But by chance of the calendar in Marrakech, the priorities of the conference are: adaptation, agriculture and Africa. The famous triple AAA.
Adapting means establishing strategies at the private (business), public (state) and civil society levels. This is an opportunity for African heads of state to initiate a profound and lasting change on the continent and anticipate a scenario that seems a bit bleak. Africa must create a movement, a union and even a revolution to avoid going the way of the Western countries.
Agriculture. Currently, about 240 million Africans are suffering from hunger. Stopping the spiral of undernourished people on the African continent will require protecting Africa’s drought-imperiled farmland. Irrigate better so to produce better. But also developing less polluting sectors and moving towards a general agro-ecology. Respectful agriculture. The food crisis has already begun in countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia. The bleeding must now be stopped.
Africa, the Land of All Possibilities? The list of all sectors affected by climate change could be expanded and the sense of urgency increased. But today, Africa is at a turning point. It faces a major challenge and must make choices. Choosing renewable energy and abandoning fossil fuels. It’s a long-term task for African governments, entrepreneurs, and individuals. The continent has the potential to do so. Now it is time to act…