While climate change and pollution are core issues across the planet, they are especially critical in Africa. According to statistics published by the United Nations’ Environment Assembly, across low-income countries in Africa more than 25 percent of all deaths are attributable to environmental causes, such as infections, parasitic illnesses, and nutritional deficiencies. And with respect to climate change, extreme droughts, floods and storms continue to batter the African continent; which is even more devastating considering that 70 percent of the population grows their own food to some extent.
While the situation is certainly dire and the damage is alarming and catastrophic, action can — and frankly, must — be taken now to interrupt the pattern, and stop climate change and pollution devastation in Africa and across the planet According to seasoned entrepreneur Sanjeev Mansotra who is based in Dubai, UAE, here are three core strategies that lead to this essential, life-saving goal:
In theory, climate financing is an effective and sustainable way to support mitigation and adaptation actions that target climate change in Africa (and elsewhere) through local, national, and transnational financing. However, in practice the climate financing system is undermined by a range of core challenges, such as a lack of clear policies and regulatory frameworks regarding climate change, the limited allocation and profile of climate funding in national budgets, low awareness of climate financing opportunities especially in the private sector, and the fundamentally erroneous belief that climate change is exclusively an environmental rather than a developmental issue.
Adds Sanjeev Mansotra: “Streamlining and standardizing climate funding would make the system more accessible to stakeholders and investors, and also help increase awareness — which is particularly important, given how beneficial that climate financing has the potential to be throughout Africa and, indeed, around the planet”.
Africa is the planet’s most rapidly-urbanizing region, which presents an opportunity — and some would say, an obligation — for leaders in the public, private, not-for-profit and NGO space to work together and develop planned urbanization strategies that lead to greener cities. Examples in this area include utilizing renewable energy sources and recycling programs, and helping cities get the financing they need to support large-scale public infrastructure projects like efficient public transportation systems, and affordable housing projects that allow workers to live within walking or biking distance from workplace hubs.
Adds Sanjeev Mansotra: “A core component of building greener cities is sharing knowledge, expertise, and best practices between cities — both within Africa and across the planet — that are building and evolving more environmentally-sustainable urban areas. Given the fact that climate change and pollution do not recognize borders on a map, working in silos rather than in collaboration is simply not an option.”
By far, the single biggest reason why developing countries in Africa — and elsewhere around the planet for that matter — should support widespread solar energy installations, is because the most vital raw material is available in abundance and does not need to be purchased: sunlight. What’s more, installing large-scale solar energy plants is both faster and cheaper than coal energy plants, and microgrids can be deployed to enable remote regions to access renewable energy.
Across Africa’s developing regions, solar energy is a critical investment on the journey towards energy independence, reducing pollution, and stopping the extreme and volatile weather shifts that are triggered by climate change. Furthermore, investing solar energy enables regions to provide essential power to citizens and businesses, while they build larger and longer-term renewable energy projects such as hydroelectric power plants.
Africa is poised to enjoy unprecedented economic growth as the 21st century unfolds. However, for this to be a celebrated success story instead of a cautionary tale, it is vital to ensure that addressing climate change and pollution are core parts of the narrative.
Sanjeev Mansotra concludes: “Nobody is suggesting that the road ahead for Africa’s developing regions will be easy. But there is no doubt that with the right vision, strategy, resources and commitment — especially in the political sphere — the future can and will be a triumph instead of a tragedy. When this happens, Africa wins, and indeed, the planet wins.”