Friday, July 4, 2014

Africa should work with nature and not against it in addressing the impacts of climate change

Busani Bafana

Climate change is impacting on agriculture and food security in Africa
Climate change is a wakeup call for Africa to use its own resources to build resilience in its agriculture and food systems, says Dr. Richard Munang, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)'s African Regional Climate change Coordinator.

"Africa must exploit its potential in addressing climate change," Dr. Munang, who has researched and published on climate change policy, said. "Africa must work with nature and not against nature by tapping into generations-old farming and conservation approaches infusing them with what science has to offer thereby ensuring food security but also environmental protection."

Munang, who joined UNEP in 2009 as Policy and Programme Manager responsible for Climate Change Adaptation and Development, currently oversees the Africa wide programme to find solutions and build the resilience of countries to climate change.  Munang who has a PhD in Environmental Change & Policy from the University of Nottingham, has researched on how climate change affects agro-ecosystems, how adaptation strategies and policy can be formulated to reduce impacts.

Richard Munang of UNEP
Findings in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in April 2014, show that the world needs to cut its emissions by up to 70 percent compared to the 201 levels by 2050 if global warming is to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius. The recommended cuts are, however, more ambitious than the current commitments by many governments, especially developed countries.

In its 2013 report, "Africa Adaptation Gap Report" UNEP says Africa has committed to spending up to 15 billion dollars to adapt to climate annually as a result of the historical emissions.

"The prediction of the recent IPCC has solidified the bleak picture ahead of Africa if nothing is done," Munang said. "It is a wakeup call from the perspective that agriculture sector needs to be built but in a way that is continues to feeds its people, provide jobs and also make the continent one with resilient food systems."

UNEP recognises that productive and resilience food systems can ensure Africa's ability to address food insecurity challenges under a changing climate. It is working with African government to address food insecurity in the light of climate change.

"We have adopted two approaches of harnessing ecosystems and helping reduce food waste," he said, adding that, "Most of these ecosystems are currently being destroyed today and we have advocated for their better management.  The productivity of these ecosystems should also be enhanced as we talk about graduating from the MDG by end of 2015 to post development goals."

Another approach adopted by UNEP has been to tackle food wastage. The Zero Hunger Challenge promoted by UN Secretary General prioritizes sustainable production and consumption in which food is not wasted.

Munang, who also coordinates UNEP's Ecosystem Based Adaptation (Eba) for Food Security, believes the use of ecosystems in tackling food security need to be integrated into national policies. He says capacity building, creating enabling policy frameworks to promote ecosystem-based approaches and communicating Africa's success stories are critical elements in promoting adaptation.

"In adapting Africa must seize the opportunities that come with climate change," said Munang, a recipient of the UNEP Baobab Staff Awards recognising exceptional performance. "We cannot repeat the mistakes made by other countries to grow the economies at the expense of contributing to a warming climate that is affecting everyone today. We can engage in transformational adaptation by building the resilience of our communities."


1 comment:

  1. I believe this is the best and simplest message for african farmers, 'working with and not against nature'. It is a message that resonates with traditional knowledge of farming. However, the push for developed countries to cut their emmissions should not be ignored because what happens in the atmosphere affects everyone.