Global Center on Adaptation releases new research on the benefits of climate adaptation for Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) today released the findings of its “State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa Report 2021 – How Adaptation Can Make Africa Safer, Greener and More Prosperous in a Warming World” (STA21) during a virtual event at the University of Nairobi hosted by the Government of Kenya under the leadership of Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya.

The report presents a comprehensive overview of the present and projected climate risks for Africa together with a blueprint for climate adaptation which will be addressed through the four pillars of GCA’s Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). It showcases the opportunity climate adaptation offers to solve previously intractable problems and put Africa on a more resilient pathway towards “green growth”.

The report states that even if the Paris Climate Agreement goals are achieved, the economic costs of climate change in Africa are projected to be large. It is likely that Africa will experience higher relative impacts (as a percentage of GDP) than most other world regions, even though it is less responsible (whether historically or in the present day) for global greenhouse gas emissions than other major regions of the world. If the Paris Climate Agreement goals are missed, the economic costs will be very significant in Africa, and potentially catastrophic in some sub-regions.

GCA’s analysis of the data demonstrates that only adaptation can reduce the economic costs of climate change in Africa over the next 20 years and that Africa needs to scale up adaptation now. The level of climate change in the next 20 years for Africa is already locked in, and these impacts can only be reduced by adaptation. Climate change will affect public finances: it is now considered a financial and a macro-economic risk.

Without adaptation action, projections estimate that climate change will lead to an equivalent of 2 percent to 4 percent annual loss in GDP in the continent by 2040, with the poor, women, and excluded populations bearing the brunt of the impact. Yet studies show that the benefits of adaptation measures are almost always more than twice the costs, and often are more than five times higher. In addition, moving quickly to adapt is especially beneficial, with a benefit-cost ratio for early action of at least 12 to 1.

STA21 revealed that the cost of taking effective adaptation action in the agricultural sector (particularly in priority areas like research and extension, water management, infrastructure, land restoration, and climate information services) is estimated at US $15 billion per year, less than a tenth of the estimated US $201 billion annual cost of inaction, which includes paying for disaster relief and recovery after floods. With agriculture dominating economic life in many African countries, accounting for between 30 to 40 percent of GDP, and a leading source of jobs for over two-thirds of Africa’s population, the impact of climate change on agriculture has far reaching consequences for African economies as a whole without accelerated adaptation action. AAAP aims to address the climate challenges in this key sector through its Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security which aims to scale up access to climate-smart digital technologies and associated data-driven agricultural and financial services for at least 30 million farmers in Africa by 2025.

At the same time, Africa has the highest rates of urbanization in the world. About half of Africans now live in cities, and the urban population is expected to nearly triple by 2050, driven by high population growth rates and increasing migration from rural areas to cities. STA21 outlines how, as cities expand, they can undertake a range of adaptation actions that require little in the way of financial resources but generate immediate and significant benefits or lay the groundwork for enhanced adaptation measures as part of post-COVID recovery plans. Such actions include: strengthening early warning systems, providing affordable safe housing, creating urban parks and better drainage systems to soak up stormwater and reduce urban heat, promoting innovative urban agriculture (such as vertical farms on the walls of homes), strengthening and decarbonizing power grids, and generating energy from wastes. The AAAP Infrastructure Resilience Accelerator will ensure by 2025 that climate risks and resilience are integrated into at least 50% (by value) of new infrastructure investments in Africa across key infrastructure sectors, including water, transport, energy, ICT, and waste management to help close the infrastructure gap and achieve sustainable development in the face of climate change.

With the youngest population globally located in Africa, STA21 also outlines the importance of engaging young people on the importance of adaptation action to ensure the development gains of recent years and their future welfare are not threatened by the impacts of climate change. STA21 outlines how Africa’s massive endowment of nature can be harnessed as both an engine for jobs and a pathway for cost-effective adaptation, allowing the continent to embark on a more sustainable development pathway. Africa also has the potential to provide greater employment opportunities for youth by taking a growth path focused on labor-intensive modern industries in eco-tourism services, climate-smart agriculture, the ocean economy and green building and infrastructure. The AAAP pillar Empowering Youth through Jobs and Entrepreneurship is promoting sustainable job creation through entrepreneurship in climate adaptation and resilience in Africa by unlocking $3 billion in credit for adaptation action.

Nevertheless the amount of money available for adaptation action is $265 billion less than the investment need of $331 billion for the continent by 2030. STA21 outlines the urgent need, therefore, to increase support from developed nations, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, development banks, philanthropies, foundations, non-profits, and other sources, as well as integrating adaptation into national budgets. STA21 also outlines the  opportunities for deploying innovative financing models, mainstreaming resilience into investment decision-making and building the enabling environment for adaptation investment. AAAP pillar Innovative Financial Initiatives for Africa aims to increase financial flows for Adaptation and Resilience (A&R) to the continent with a total increase of adaptation finance on the continent to over $5 billion per annum by 2025.

Notes to Editors:

About the Global Center on Adaptation

The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) is an international organization which works as a solutions broker to accelerate action and support for adaptation solutions, from the international to the local, in partnership with the public and private sector, to ensure we learn from each other and work together for a climate resilient future. Founded in 2018, the GCA is hosted by the Netherlands, working from its headquarters in Rotterdam with a knowledge and research hub based in Groningen. The GCA has a worldwide network of regional offices in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Dhaka, Bangladesh and Beijing, China. Through this evolving network of offices and global and regional GCA teams, the organization engages in high-level policy activities, new research contributions, communications, and technical assistance to governments and the private sector.

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About the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program

As the global solutions broker on adaptation and resilience, the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) has joined forces with the African Development Bank to create the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) focusing on bringing four critical areas for adaptation action to scale in partnership with African countries and partners. The four critical areas of Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security; African Infrastructure Resilience Accelerator; Empowering Youth for Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Climate Adaptation and Resilience and Innovative Financial Initiatives for Africa will help address the nexus of climate change, COVID-19, and the economy and will support African countries in designing and implementing transformational adaptation of their economies and post-COVID recovery development paths. AAAP aims to mobilize $25 billion to support Africa’s adaptation plans over five years ($5 billion per year). The AfDB has already committed half of the total, $12.5 billion by 2025. The program has been endorsed by President Tshisekedi, Chair of the African Union and President Ali Bongo of Gabon, the African Union Champion for Adaptation.

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About State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa Report 2021

The GCA’s 2021 State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa report presents the most comprehensive overview of the present and future prospects of the African continent in the light of climate change. It is also a blueprint for how individuals and institutions in the African and international policy space can design, finance, and implement adaptation plans to best protect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of African people. Published ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, the report is an evidence-based advocacy tool to put adaptation and resilience in Africa higher on the agenda nationally and internationally using the report’s actionable policy recommendations. As adaptation is scaled up in response to the challenge of climate change, the report is expected to influence the design of projects and programs, including those supported by the African Adaptation Acceleration Program.

For additional enquiries and interview requests please contact:
Alexandra Gee
Head of Communications, Global Center on Adaptation

Alexandra Gee
Global Center on Adaptation