By Beryl Kessio
By Beryl Kessio
Rabat – Many eyes will soon be on Morocco as it hosts a United Nations conference on climate change.
COP22 will take place in Marrakech from November 7 to 18, drawing thousands of government officials, representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and media personnel.
The COP (Conference of the Parties), the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), meets annually to focus on the development, implementation and review of strategies that combat climate change.
Despite Africa’s position as the continent contributing the least to greenhouse gas emissions, the perilous effects of climate change have and will continue to hit it the hardest, according to environmental scientists. The continent’s estimated annual GDP loss as a result of a climate change is predicted to range from 1.5% to 3% by 2030. Adjusting to climate change will not only be an immense economic burden on the continent, it will threaten the existence of hundreds of millions of people.
“Africa is likely to be the continent most vulnerable to climate change. Among the risks the continent faces are reductions in food security and agricultural productivity, particularly regarding subsistence agriculture, increased water stress and, as a result of these and the potential for increased exposure to disease and other health risks, increased risks to human health,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.
“Under the assumption that access to adequate financing is not provided, Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected changes because widespread poverty limits adaptation capabilities,” the report concludes.
Although Africa disproportionately absorbs the blows of climate change, this has not translated into more African researchers engaging in global forums to combat the issue. At a July 2015 conference that drew over 2,000 researchers to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, only 10 percent of those participants were from Africa.
Because of its place as the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent, many have called for Africa to have a bigger seat at the table when it comes to partaking in the dialogue on climate change. Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar recently advocated for the unification of African nations at the COP22 meeting in order for Africa’s collective voice to be heard.
“If Africa is to succeed in the fight against climate change, we must unite in this fight because it is the only way we will make progress,” Mezouar said.
An alliance called the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) will do just that at the November conference. The AGN represents each of Africa’s 54 independent nations at UNFCCC talks. The chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group at UN climate change negotiations, Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, looks forward to advocating for policies that support environmental and developmental initiatives in Africa.
“COP22 provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen support on renewables to the LDCs, as part of a global programme of support. The energy of Paris must be channelled into real solutions to both climate change and development at COP22 in Marrakech,” Mpanu-Mpanu said.