Africa: Building Resilience – Uniting Against Climate Change for Africa’s Food Future
Africa is at a critical moment in its history, facing the dual challenge of climate change and food security. As global temperatures rise and weather conditions become increasingly unpredictable, the continent’s agricultural systems are under threat, as they are forced to bear the burden of droughts, floods, and heatwaves.
Once seemingly confined to the pages of scientific journals, the phenomenon of climate change is now inscribed in every bite we take. Food – the sustenance of life – hangs in a delicate balance that demands our attention, compassion, and collective action.
Ignoring the climate crisis: a winning bet or a catastrophe for Africa’s future?
Failing to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and evading the imperative of immediate action is a risky bet that Africa simply cannot afford. Climate change is a human-made creation that has exacerbated the risks associated with conducting business. The agricultural sector, a cornerstone of many African economies, is highly vulnerable to disruptions caused by climate change. Inaction on climate will inevitably propel Africa towards a catastrophic future characterized by widespread food insecurity, economic instability, and escalating conflicts.
On the other hand, this moment offers us a unique opportunity, a call to collectively recognize the stakes, unite in determination, and pave a sustainable path towards resilience and prosperity. The urgency of climate adaptation and mitigation demands an integrated approach that combines technology, science, policy, and investments.
Technological innovations have the power to revolutionize agriculture, strengthening it and endowing it with low emissions. Drought-resistant crop varieties, innovative digital technologies, and climate-smart agricultural techniques can all mitigate the effects of changing weather conditions and improve productivity.
The Great Green Wall initiative, aimed at combating desertification in the Sahel region, is a compelling example of this united front. This collaborative effort involves over 20 African countries, demonstrating the power of a shared vision and action. By planting a mosaic of trees and vegetation and promoting agroforestry, the initiative seeks to halt the advance of the desert, improve soil fertility, and create livelihoods for local communities. Such initiatives highlight the potential for collective resilience-building in the face of climate adversity and the restoration of degraded landscapes.
Collaboration in strategy development and cross-sectoral dialogue are equally crucial. Governments across the continent must modernize their policies and plans on national adaptation to encourage sustainable land use, promote agroforestry, safeguard biodiversity, and incentivize the use of sustainable renewable energy to power agri-food value chains. We must continuously source our policies from local communities, farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders through inclusive dialogue. Only through inclusive dialogue can solutions be tailored to the unique challenges facing different regions of Africa.
Strategies and plans alone are not enough and will not lead to the change we desire. Adequate concessional financial resources are needed to implement these policies at the continental level. Africa should also foster and develop all environmentally friendly financing products and business models that will contribute to transforming our food systems. Additionally, improving knowledge management and exchange, innovation, and digital technologies are key ingredients for job creation along the agri-food value chains.
In September, leaders, scientists, and innovators from across Africa and beyond will convene for the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2023 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, ahead of COP 28 in Dubai. The role of youth and women in climate action and the transition to sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems is at the heart of this year’s AGRF dialogues.
Constituting over half of the agricultural workforce, particularly in small-scale farming, women are also among the most vulnerable to climate change and poverty due to numerous constraints on their access to education, finance, and other crucial resources.
Furthermore, it is well-known that millions of young Africans enter the labor market each year, with only a small percentage able to secure decent employment. This year’s summit will not only provide a platform for women and youth to showcase their innovations but also define the concrete actions required to overcome the obstacles they face and harness their full potential to revolutionize food systems across the continent.
African solutions to the climate challenge at AGRF 2023
What does climate action hold as COP 28 approaches? On the path to ensuring our food future, the African Climate Summit in Nairobi and the upcoming African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2023 in Tanzania will be key milestones. Major stakeholders will come together to define the climate actions needed to enhance the resilience of our food systems and agriculture, especially those adopting climate-smart solutions.
The momentum created at this forum will pave the way for resilient food systems in Africa in preparation for the COP 28 climate summit, which is of critical importance. As the world gears up for COP 28, we must all understand that tackling climate change is not a solitary endeavor. It is a multi-dimensional challenge that calls for collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity to reshape our food systems, address emerging challenges, and secure a prosperous future for future generations.
The journey ahead may be demanding, but the rewards are priceless. Together, we can change the course of things and cultivate a resilient food future for Africa. In our hands lie the seeds of hope, the commitment to resilience, and the potential for sustainable harvests. Today, more than ever, the call for united action resonates in the fields, cities, and communities of Africa. Together, we can foster a productive, nutritious, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food future for Africa.