1611 COP22: Africa could be the world’s food store

© Reuters

Before COP22 in Marrakech, about thirty African countries had united to defend the adaptation of their agriculture to climate change and to place the African continent at the heart of the negotiations. This ambition is supported by the AAA (Adaptation of African Agriculture) initiative, a project launched by Morocco in April 2016. A disturbing observation from the president of the African negotiators, Seyni Nafo, shocks us: "While it is responsible for only 4% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases, the continent is the main victim of global warming. Two-thirds of arable land will be lost by 2025, even if the rise in temperature is limited to 2 degrees ". Agriculture is a key sector of the African economy. It accounts for between 25% and 35% of direct employment, generates 70% of revenues and accounts for one quarter of the total GDP. What if arable land continues to disappear while the population doubles to 2 billion by 2050?


This foundational work of the African group has been used to identify some 50 projects ranging from the development of agroforestry (715 million hectares) to land irrigation which currently affects 2% of the land (42% in Asia), through the promotion of agricultural insurance. The financing of 25 billion Euros per year until 2030 still needs to be found ... but, says Senegalese Yacine Diama Fal (formerly of the African Development Bank): "Of the $100 billion promised by developed countries to developing countries only 400 million are being released for Africa ... "This is precisely what the AAA initiative calls for: that the continent should receive its fair share and that there should be a better balance between adaptation projects that aim at reducing polluting emissions and those that will enable African farmers to adapt to climate change now. According to Nobel Peace Prize winner and soil specialist Rattan Lal: "Africa could be the breadbasket of the world and yet millions of people are still starving ..."


Two alarmist reports have recently reinforced these thoughts: 2016 could beat a new heat record with an average temperature 1.2° higher than it was in the pre-industrial era. In the arctic and subarctic regions, the temperature exceeded the norm by 3°. A World Bank report published on 15th November states that natural disasters cause 26 million people each year to fall into poverty and generate annual losses of 484 billion euros in material damage and impacts on people’s well-being. The institution calls for the rapid adoption of effective public policies to limit these risks. So, Hurricane Trump or not, what chances of us in Switzerland voting "yes" to the initiative to abandon nuclear power? (See LT 14 Nov.). John Kerry, the US representative in Marrakech, said that "the United States will not be able to go back". In a letter, more than 360 companies, mostly American, DuPont, Gap, Hewlett Packard Kellog, Hilton, Nike, Mars, wrote to the president-elect to ask him to respect the climate agreement.


Christine von Garnier Nov. 2016  

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