How will Africa look like in 1,000 years if nothing is done to fight climate change?

Summary

Mail and Guardian Africa, South African weekly newspaper and Africa’s first online newspaper has created a map, entitled “Very terrifying map of Africa: How desert, and best friend water, could be our worst enemies,” to help people understand the face of the African continent over a 1,000-year time frame. Inspired by several United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) documents published in recent months, the newspaper depicted the possible future face of Africa in 1,000 years’ time.

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Africa is expected to face many challenges in the upcoming years.

The African continent is the most vulnerable to climate change and lacks the resources to fight it. The increasing number of countries facing land degradation, water stress and scarcity, desertification and rising sea levels is a major environmental issue in the region. Africa is expected to face many challenges in the upcoming years. It is the continent with the most rapid temperature deviations from ‘normal’ conditions, which is why Mail and Guardian Africa is sounding the alarm.

Underwater cities and massive desertification

‘At least 25% of Africa’s population lives within 100km of a sea coast. Dar es Salaam, Mombasa, Lagos, Abidjan, Nouakchott should be afraid,’ reports the newspaper. A terrible issue when you consider that continental Africa is composed of 48 countries, including 33 with coastlines. A long list of countries has been affected. Low-lying islands in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and Cape Verde could all be submerged, and a vast portion of Madagascar’s coastline could also disappear

In response to this emergency, UNEP and African leaders called for a global objective for climate change adaptation during the last session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), held from March 2 to 6, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt. Leaders from 54 African nations based their discussions on Africa’s Adaptation Gap, which builds on UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014. The report – whose map inspired Mail and Guardian Africa – shows that, if the goal is to maintain global warming below 2°C, the world is not currently heading in the right direction. Climate change adaptation costs are expected to rise by up to US$50 billion per year by 2050, ‘even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century’ (UNEP).

Closing the funding gap

The report explores the extent to which African nations can contribute to closing the adaptation gap, namely by identifying the resources that will be needed in the decade to come. ‘The evidence suggests that African countries – such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa – are already committing some resources of their own to adaptation efforts. Country-case studies in the report suggest that by 2029/2030, under moderately optimistic growth scenarios, Ghana could for example – based on hypothetical scenarios – commit US$233 million to adaptation financing, Ethiopia US$248 million, South Africa US$961 million and Togo US$18.2 million,’ states the report.

The ‘need to improve the management of Africa’s abundant natural resources and the integration of the inclusive green economy in development planning,’

Published at the end of AMCEN, the Cairo Declaration also reaffirmed their resolution to reach a binding climate change agreement at the Paris talks later this year – one that reflects the continent’s priorities and aspirations. The Declaration spotlights the ‘need to improve the management of Africa’s abundant natural resources and the integration of the inclusive green economy in development planning,’ explains AMCEN.

That is why Africa’s chance to overcome poverty and achieve a sustainable future will greatly depend on the outcome of the international climate change conference (COP 21) which will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, 2015.

Photos © Namib desert / intactnature.com

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