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Expert Webinar Series - Assessing Climate-Related Security and Development Risks in Africa
16 September 2020

Cairo, Egypt - Despite Africa’s limited contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions (merely 3.8 percent), climate change and its associated threats are jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa, with severe repercussions for the continent’s ability to achieve sustainable development and peace. The widespread devastation caused by the recurrent heavy rains and flash floods in Sudan and South Sudan these past few months is a stark example of the damaging effects related to climate change.

Unfortunately, Africa’s vulnerability to the devastating effects of climate change is likely to increase in the future due to its high climate change exposure, relatively low preparedness of governments and community resilience, as well as the considerable financing gap between facing such impacts and achieving its sustainable development pathways .

Against this background, and acting in its capacity as the Secretariat of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA)--in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office, Adelphi--hosted the first webinar session of the Berlin Climate and Security Conference 2020 (Part II), titled:

Assessing Climate-Related Security and Development Risks in Africa

The webinar session highlighted the multidimensional and transnational nature of climate-related security and development risks in Africa. It also discussed the imperative for breaking down silos between relevant national and regional actors in addressing these risks, including through national planning, programming and international support.

The webinar brought together government representatives from Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burkina Faso, regional organizations, namely the ECOWAS, ECCAS, IGAD and Lake Chad Basin Commission, representatives from across departments at the AU, UN agencies, bilateral partners, humanitarian and local organizations, research and training centers.

In her opening remarks, Salma Kadry, Researcher on Sustainable Peace and Development, CCCPA, highlighted the negative impacts of climate change on the African continent: “The Sahel region has faced recurrent climate-induced droughts in the last two decades. As a result, 32 million people suffer from food insecurity and over 5 million people have been forcibly displaced.”  

Ambassador Mohamed Gad, Director of Environment & Sustainable Development Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, shed light on the unequal impact of the global climate crisis on Africa, noting that while it is among the most exposed continents to climate change and its associated threats, “the gross contribution of its 54 countries is only 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.” He also emphasized that climate change is primarily a development challenge; one that is hindering the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.  

In her remarks, Sagal Abshir, Researcher and Analyst on the Horn of Africa, and member of the Climate Security Expert Network (CSEN), reiterated the importance of focusing on resilience efforts that place livelihood sustainability at its core: "Governmental investments in resilience efforts help reduce people’s vulnerabilities to livelihood shocks, which can lower the risk of violent conflict by lessening the chance of people joining armed groups."

Dr. Florian Krampe, Senior Researcher, Climate Change and Risk Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), emphasized that the concept of climate change as a “threat multiplier” alludes to interventionist and security-based responses. Accordingly, he stated the "need to change the narrative from climate change as a threat-multiplier to an inclusive climate-related development and security risks understanding that puts a people-centered approach at its center."

On his part, Dr. Samuel Godfrey, Regional Adviser on Water, Sanitation, Climate, Energy & Sustainability for East and Southern Africa, UNICEF, underlined the imperative of integrating the needs of refugees and IDPs into peace-security-climate-development interventions: "We need to place refugees and IDPs at the heart of interventions that link peace-security-climate-development interventions, as this region is home to the largest number of refugees and IDPs."

The webinar session included policy recommendations and action points on (i) integrating climate-related security and development risks in climate adaptation, development and peacebuilding planning and programming, (ii) translating risk-informed planning into implementation, and (iii) assessing and mobilizing the means of implementation needed to respond to these risks.

This event was made possible in part by the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office, Adelphi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Government of Japan, the Government of Sweden, the United Nations Development Programme and the African Development Bank.

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