Africa should set an example for the rest of the world and show the continent can adapt to changing climatic conditions by crafting adaptation strategies that help its people deal effectively with development challenges brought about by global warming.
This was the conclusion reached by the African Climate Policy Centre-organised panel discussion at the ongoing UN climate talks.
The discussion moderated by African Union Commission director for Agriculture and Rural Economy, Abebe Haile-Gebriel, argued it was critical for vulnerable populations, struggling to cope with their daily lives, to be taught how to adapt to changing weather patterns and how to insulate themselves from climate extremes.
Tanzania chief negotiator at the COP 17 talks, Richard Myungi, said climate change had a multiplier effect on problems faced by Africa.
“It is therefore important to explore innovative methods of raising financial resources for adaptation from other sources.”
Climate Change Adaptation in Africa programme leader Fatima Denton also said adaptation should not be seen as a separate initiative, but as an important process of social transformation.
“Many people see adaptation as an outcome, but the quality of the process is also important in determining what the outcome will be,” she said. She identified the three key areas for adaptation as energy, water and agriculture.
Denton added that generating and disseminating knowledge about climate change is an important element of adaptation.
“Vulnerable people struggling on a daily basis with questions about how to adapt to extreme weather patterns, how to feed themselves, need to be part of the conversation,” she said.
She emphasised the important role played by stakeholders in bringing about social change, and said they should be supported and fully embedded in the adaptation process.
Panellist Saleemul Huq of the International Institute of Environment and Development, said adaptation to effects of climate change was important to Africa and other developing countries.
“Adaptation is a new business and no one has done it before. Africa should take the lead in this area and in the future, it will sell this expertise to the rest of the world,” he said.