May 15, 2024
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
UTC timezone

Overall concept

African countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are amidst those around the world facing many shared challenges which require sustainable solutions. West Africa has some of the highest urbanization rates in the world, particularly in coastal areas. Currently, one African in three lives in an urban area, and projections indicate that by 2035, one African in two will live in an urban area (source: United Nations). As a result, an increasing number of young men migrate, leaving women on the farm to face all the disadvantages and challenges of climate change. Destructive impacts of climate change like heat waves, droughts, floods and increasingly severe storms are the primary culprits behind decreased farming output and rising hunger in the continent. Rural people are facing serious long-term degradation of natural resources. Desertification, deforestation, high levels of crop and livestock diseases and pests, and unreliable and erratic rainfall make both agriculture and livestock risky enterprises. Agricultural and livestock productivity is low, leading to chronic poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. Added to high demographic pressure, the occurrence of high-impact meteorological events in a context of climate change and variability, will cause considerable social, economic and environmental damage. In addition, low levels of preparedness and a lack of clearly defined response measures exacerbate the negative impacts associated with extreme weather and climate events. Most of these frequent and severe natural disasters are weather-related. Of these, droughts, epidemics and floods are responsible for 99% of all fatalities. Heavy rains, floods and landslides are becoming increasingly common along the Guinean coast. The impacts are often amplified by anthropogenic pressure, with populations settling in informal, non-acidified areas, which are often low-lying areas or former rivers that have dried up and flood rapidly in the event of heavy rains. Moreover, a recent increase in extreme rainfall and ensuing fluvial flood events have caused fatalities and they are the costliest natural disasters in most West African countries. Hence, the ongoing regional climate change in the Sahel is influencing environmental processes and human well-being in a multitude of ways depending on the landscape, societal, economic, and political structure, institutional framework, environmental enabling policies, actors’ knowledge, and ability to respond or adapt to changing and challenging historicallygrown conditions. To strengthen climate resilience in West Africa, better climate knowledge and services, including better early warning procedures, are required at regional and local levels both for Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change.

Following the examples of the recent European Climate Adaptation Conference and Climate Neutral Forum, it is proposed to organize: 

  • In 2023 (Sept./Lomé and Oct./Abidjan) and 2024 (Feb./Dakar and March/Kumasi), a forum through a series of 4 in-depth webinars based on West-African hubs with African and European representatives on the area of Climate Services for Risk Reduction in West Africa and considering the three KIC (Knowledge, Innovation, and Capacity Development) angles. 
  • In end of 2024, a stocktaking conference based on West-African and European hubs to present results of the forum of webinars. 

In this context, a regular cycle of four webinars and a stocktaking meeting are foreseen at the regional level. To this aim, it is proposed to co-design such events with West African partners from three complementary angles (quoted KIC below): 

  • Knowledge of the regional climate system at relevant scales for those working in the field within different sectors; 
  • Innovation of climate services, meeting the actual needs of sectors exposed to current and future climate change and aligned with the AU-EU innovation agenda; 
  • Capacity building, in particular for new African generations within the public and private sectors of the countries concerned. 

The overall goals are to: 

  • strengthen climate resilience in Africa in order to raise awareness about climate knowledge, identify key services for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction; 
  • examine potential areas for cooperation in research on climate risk management, resilience and adaptation in West Africa and defragment and thus, defragment the programme landscape in favour of common goals and common impact of funding; 
  • describe pathways and priorities for research, innovation and capacity development in the area of Climate Services for Risk Reduction for longer-term EU (DE-FR)-West Africa cooperation which could be addressed in a joint call; 
  • identify actionable and complementary steps to boost KIC via trilateral or multilateral joint actions. 

The objectives of these multilateral hybrid webinars are to: 

  • Address particularly pressing issues in the area of Climate Services for Risk Reduction in West Africa focusing on Research, Innovation & Capacity Building, on coastal, urban and rural areas. 
  • Identify priorities for joint vision and multilateral actions (South-South & North-South Cooperation). 
  • Feed a Stocktaking Conference in end of 2024, including short-term actionable steps.
  • Contribute to African Union – European Union Innovation Agenda and climate change and sustainability education CCSE Partnership.