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Sustaining Africa’s Development by Leveraging on Climate Change
Analysis by Busani Bafana
By leveraging knowledge on climate change, like adopting improved agriculture technologies and using water and energy more effectively, Africa can accelerate its march to sustainable development.
Policy and development practitioners say Africa is at a development cross roads and argue that the continent — increasingly an attractive destination for economic and agriculture investment — should use the window of opportunity presented by a low carbon economy to implement new knowledge and information to transform the challenges posed by climate change into opportunities for social development.
“Climate change is not just a challenge for Africa but also an opportunity to trigger innovation and the adoption of better technologies that save on water and energy,” Fatima Denton, director of the special initiatives division at theUnited Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told IPS.
“At the core of the climate change debate is human security and we can achieve sustainability by using climate data and information services and feeding that knowledge into critical sectors and influence policy making.”
Africa, while enjoying a mining-driven economic boom, should look at revitalising the agriculture sector to drive economic development and growth under the framework of the new sustainable development goals, she said.
Denton said that for too long the climate change narrative in Africa has been about agriculture as a vulnerable sector. But this sector, she said, can be a game changer for the African continent through sustainable agriculture. In Africa, agriculture employs more than 70 percent of population and remains a major contributor to the GDP of many countries.
Climate-smart agriculture is being touted as one of the mechanisms for climate-proofing Africa’s agriculture. CGIAR— a global consortium of 15 agricultural research centres — has dedicated approximately half its one-billion-dollar annual budget towards researching how to support smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through climate-smart agriculture.