Climate catastrophe response falls short of “challenge magnitude”: Africa

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Climate catastrophe response falls short of "challenge magnitude"

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

African countries are at the forefront of the climate problem, but more must be done. Climate change exacerbates existing hazards and adds new ones, making it “a menace to peace”. Peacebuilding and climate action must complement one another, says Assistant Secretary-General for Africa. The effects of climate change and the conflicts they cause lay a high cost on already stretched national finances. Concerns about the climate in one area harm others, including those with extensive rainforest cover. The foreign minister of Gabon emphasised that future battles would be waged over access to food and water.

On Wednesday, a senior UN official said that African countries are at the forefront of the climate problem, but much more must be done to stem the tide of rising emissions and slow global warming.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, stated at a discussion on how to address better the effects of climate change on peace and security in Africa that “our reaction today does not reflect the gravity of the challenge we are confronting.”

Conflict risk

Although there is no direct correlation between climate change and war, she continued, “climate change exacerbates current hazards and adds new ones,” making the problem “a menace to peace.”

As resource rivalry increases due to desertification and land degradation, millions of people’s livelihoods and food security are negatively impacted.

Ms Pobee discussed how a severe drought in the broader Horn of Africa forced families to relocate far from their homes, how battles over resources grew in the Sahel, and how violent extremists took advantage of circumstances everywhere.

‘Multiple fronts’ action

She argued that “ambitious climate action” and swifter implementation of the Paris AgreementOpens in a new window were necessary to benefit the African continent.

She expressed excitement for “real pledges” at the COP27 UN climate summit, which will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, next month.

If we don’t fulfil our climate targets, we can’t expect to have permanent peace, Ms Pobee remarked.

Three essentials

She listed three priorities for the future, starting with improving risk analysis capabilities and incorporating a climate lens into conflict prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding initiatives.

Since “climate change knows no borders,” analysis and participation must become more regionally focused on cross-border resource sharing; she noted that current peacebuilding initiatives are sometimes solely based in single countries.

Second, efforts to bring peace and security must put people first and harness the knowledge of those already experiencing climate change’s effects to create mitigation and adaptation policies.

She emphasised that women are “crucial drivers of change,” and youth are “pushing creative climate and peacebuilding action,” according to key stakeholders.

Third, Ms Pobee contends that peacebuilding and climate action must complement one another because “coherent policies are beneficial for the climate and peace.”

The UN representative added that delivering a commitment to global cooperation is a big task. Leadership from Africa is crucial.

On the periphery

Former Chair of the African Group of Climate Change Negotiators, Tanguy Gahouma, mentioned the predominance of UN troops operating in high-risk climate zones while discussing the threats that climate change poses for the African States.

Furthermore, he argued that although Africa’s “rich” natural resources and young population can boost the continent’s economy, States still hold a short position in international trade and finance.

An “unseen casualty”

As crucial as first responders are to addressing climate concerns, Patrick Youssef, Regional Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross for Africa, emphasised that humanitarians cannot be expected to be peacemakers.

Mr Youssef proposed applying a conflict lens to interactions in climate-affected contexts while acknowledging that environmental harm continues to be a “silent casualty” of war.

Identifying challenges

Michal Moussa Adamo, the foreign minister of Gabon, who was in charge of the meeting, noted challenges in obtaining funding “for the people.”

He confirmed that the effects of climate change and the conflicts they frequently cause lay a high cost on already stretched national finances.

The foreign minister emphasised that concerns about the climate in one area harm others, including those with extensive rainforest cover. That future battles would not be waged over oil and gold but rather over access to food and water.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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