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HomeEnvironment‘AFRICA LOSES 5-15% IN GDP EACH YEAR DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE’ –...

‘AFRICA LOSES 5-15% IN GDP EACH YEAR DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE’ – UNEP

The best strategy to adapt to a climate emergency is to empower people through investing in simple clean energy solutions, says UNEP's deputy regional director for Africa.

As the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (Cop27) in Sharm El-Sheikh approaches, the environmental situation across the continent grows more perilous each day.

A ravaging drought in the Horn of Africa has put more than 22m people at risk of starvation and unprecedented floods in Nigeria have uprooted 1.4m people – just two of the latest ways in which climate change is contributing to national disasters across the continent.

Richard Munang, deputy regional director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Africa Office, says that Africa is at a critical juncture and solutions must be found.

“As we speak today the globe is warming by 1.1 degrees, but Africa is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world,” he tells African Business.

“It means we are going to see more droughts, floods and other extreme weather events ahead. And although these challenges are manifesting now as emergencies, we need to look at long-term solutions to ensure that we can address climate change, pollution, waste and biodiversity loss in a synergistic way.”

Building resilience

Munang says that the best way to build resilience against climate shocks is through “social economic empowerment”.

Previously a research fellow at Trinity College, University of Dublin, and a lecturer at Nottingham University in the UK, he believes that when people who are living in climate-risk areas are wealthier, they are much better placed to respond to extreme weather patterns.

“It is hard to stop disasters from happening, but you can definitely manage disasters,” he said. “The destruction that happens is when people can’t afford insurance because they don’t have money in their pockets. The best strategy to adapt to an emergency is to empower them – and you empower them through investing in simple solutions in clean energy that make their lives better.”

In areas of drought, Munang says that capital should be funnelled into solutions such as solar-powered dryers to stop meat from going rotten.

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