UNEP Releases Africa's Adaptation Gap Report
November 20, 2013  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

On November 19th, 2013, the United Nations Environment Programme released a report entitled Africa’s Adaptation Gap. Building off of the recent Global Emissions Gap Report 2013, Africa’s Adaptation Gap goes into detail about the African-specific consequences of a global failure to keep warming below 2 degrees centigrade. The report argues that the outlook for Africa, even in a scenario where global warming is kept under 2°C, is challenging. As the least developed inhabited continent, much of Africa’s population still relies on small-scale subsistence farming, which makes it particularly vulnerable to climate changes such as increased inclement weather and shifting hydrological patterns. African states will need strong policy that cuts across issue areas if they are to successfully adapt to the changes caused by global warming.

Some of the main points of the report are as follows:

  • Africa is already facing adaptation costs in the range of US $-15 billion/year by 2020
  • Annual adaptation costs for Africa could reach $350 billion/year by 2070 if the global temperature is not stabilized
  • If the temperature is stabilized, Africa’s adaptation efforts will still cost ~$200 billion/year by the 2070s
  • Africa cannot finance climate adaptation on its own, and significant funding is necessary from donors or through carbon market mechanisms

The report spells out some significant challenges for the African continent in the coming century, but it is not without hope. Upon release, the report was endorsed by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (which is hosted by UNEP). This is significant because it means that environment ministers from African governments have accepted the report’s findings and, hopefully, will be able to influence national and regional policy accordingly.

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About the Author :

Michael Denney is a PhD student in the Global Governance and Human Security program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a Research Associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

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