Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the India-based think tank, in association with Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA-Kenya), released the inaugural edition of the State of Africa’s Environment 2023 report here yesterday at a media briefing attended by about 50 journalists from Kenya and some other countries from Africa.
The report has been put together by India-based science, development and environment fortnightly Down To Earth, with contributions from a large number of African journalists, researchers and environmental experts. Mamo Bor Mamo, Director General, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya released the report along with Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE.
Explaining the rationale behind the report, Narain said: “We can read and get the immediate story today, but often we do not get the big picture. The report will help us get that big picture. It will enable us to understand the different aspects of environment by putting together a comprehensive picture that makes the links clearer between environment and development. Environment and development are two sides of the same coin.”
Speaking at the inaugural, Mamo Bor Mamo said: “Issues raised in this report are important and pertinent to our environment in Africa. We have a collective responsibility to manage our environment well. The report will give us direction on the position we will take during COP28.”
Said Richard Mahapatra, Managing Editor, Down To Earth and head of the Editorial Board behind the report: “A team of over 100 researchers and journalists from across the continent have brought in country-wise assessments, which have been analysed to get a continental perspective. The report covers climate change, wildlife and biodiversity, agriculture and land degradation, water and hygiene situations and emerging waste management issues.”
Some key highlights from the report
- The inaugural edition of the State of Africa’s Environment 2023 report emphasises on the “centrality of environmental well-being in the overall sustainable development of the continent”.
- Africa’s prosperity and economy is deeply linked to its enormously rich natural resources endowment, or its natural capital. Africa’s natural capital is estimated at US $6.2 trillion in 2018, thus making the continent richest in term of resources. This is nearly three times the economy of the entire continent.
- If natural capital degrades, development in future will not be sustainable – more people will have to fight for limited resources.
- Per capita natural capital is declining in Africa: from US $4,374 in 1995 to US $2,877 in 2018. Various estimates suggest that African countries could see a 10 per cent drop in GDP by 2030 and by 2050, and some 1.2 billion Africans could face higher water pollution; 1.5 billion people could face increased food insecurity, while millions would be exposed to coastal erosion risks.
- Climate change has been more rapid in Africa than the rest of the world. Says Narain: “This is a disproportionate impact given that Africa hardly contributes to global warming.”
- Over the past 15 years, several studies have warned of climate change and environmental stressors intensifying and aggravating regional, ethnic and resources-driven conflicts. However, African countries, in terms of committing to reduce emission and on steps to fight the global crisis are ahead of most of the countries in the world.
- The world’s second largest and second most populous continent hosts a quarter of the planet’s animal and plant species. But the species extinction rate in the continent is higher than the rest of the world. Here as well, African countries have some of the pioneering conservation models that put community at the centre. If Africa protects its biodiversity, the world gains from it. Protected areas in Africa if sustainably used can eradicate poverty and bring peace.
- Africa imported about 85 per cent of its food from outside the continent. This is when it has 65 per cent of the world’s arable lands that are yet to be cultivated. Desertification affects 45 per cent of the continent. Nevertheless, the continent’s joint efforts to restore degradation and build up natural capital are examples of modern time planetary efforts to save it.
- Air pollution kills 1.1 million people annually in the continent. Developed economies treat the continent as their dump yard for used vehicles adding to the woes of air pollution. Some countries are already taking policy initiatives that have potential for curbing this menace.