ADAPTATION AND RESILIENCE
Climate change adaptation is a process that aims to reduce a population/region’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. This concept is therefore closely linked to the notion of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is a function of 3 components: exposure to climate hazards, susceptibility and adaptive capacity.
– Exposure to climate hazards is essentially a function of geography. Coastal communities are more exposes to rising sea levels (e.g. Gabon), while those living in semi-arid areas are more exposed to drought (e.g. Kenya).
– Susceptibility is a function of a region’s economic and social characteristics: the presence of industry, agricultural activity, dwellings, etc. in the exposed area. As such, a residential area where flooding can occur is considered susceptible and, if the dwellings are precariously built, then their susceptibility level is even higher.
– Adaptative capacity is defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) as “the potential or capability of a system to adapt to (to alter to better suit) climatic stimuli or their effects or impacts.”
In other words, adaptive capacity depends on many human, institutional, technical, economic and social factors. It refers to all existing mechanisms that enable reducing the impact of climate hazards on society, be those economic, such as the existence of an insurance system that compensates for revenue and capital losses following a hazard (flood/drought), technical, such as the existence of an irrigation, seawall or elevated road system, or social, through the customs and traditions of a society or group of individuals.
Resilience is closely related to adaptability as it refers to the capacity of a system, community or society to withstand and absorb the upheavals associated with the impacts of climate change.
Benin is a country that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the Collines region, 80% of household revenues come from farming, but the region has also been hard hit by climate change, which manifests itself as rising average temperatures and a proliferation of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and gale-force winds. To make matters worse, it must deal with other anthropic factors such as deforestation, as well as the development of extensive and intensive agriculture through farming practices that are not very eco-friendly.
Africa4Climate worked with the Collines region to help it better adapt to the effects of climate change. A wide-scale soil restoration and resilience project was created which encouraged farmers to diversify their crops and to favour species that are more heat-resistant and that consume less water.
As the African continent is facing worsening demographic and regional development problems, populations and regions must be central to development strategies. Regional development policies are essential to reaching major regional objectives: economic development, infrastructure development, social development, sustainable development, adapted housing policies, as well as heritage site and biodiversity protection and enrichment.
These local strategies must be developed and implemented with the participation of regional economic and social stakeholders, who are best positioned to identify and activate local resources. As many regions must deal with climate change, they are bumping up against new obstacles. Regional development must thus enable communities to better adapt to the effects of climate change, while producing low-carbon energy strategies. Africa4Climate supported the implementation of sustainable regional development strategies which favoured regional resilience and the reconversion of economic activities with a view to creating a low-carbon economy and to curbing global warning.
The aim of climate change mitigation is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere by reducing so-called anthropic emissions, i.e. related to human activity (energy, industry, transportation, agriculture, construction), whose rise in the atmosphere is destabilizing the natural greenhouse gas effect.
Mitigation deals with the causes of climate change and is concerned with its global long-term effects. The idea is to not only reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions but also to protect and improve greenhouse gas wells and reservoirs which are our forests, soils and oceans. In order to limit global warming to 2°C compared to pre-industrial age temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 40-70% from 2010 to 2050 and be virtually nil by 2100.
Mitigation is mainly a priority for the energy, transportation and industry sectors. Indeed, emissions from the energy sector are and will remain the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. Improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy sources, and changing behaviours are thus critical to developing a mitigation strategy that will reduce energy consumption.
However, additional adaptation strategies are also needed. It goes without saying that even if we quickly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, climatic changes such as rising temperatures, rising ocean levels and unpredictable rainfalls are now already inevitable.
The African continent has the lowest waste product collection rate in the world: less than 50%, on average. While vegetables and other organic products make up most of its waste products, their composition is changing, and plastic waste products have been on the rise. The proliferation of waste products has become a major problem in African cities, leading to serious environmental and sanitation problems (greenhouse gas emissions, soil and water table contamination, the spread of disease, etc.). Waste management has thus become a priority in Africa. Waste management also poses a development opportunity that can help generate invaluable resources, produce energy and create jobs for more sustainable cities.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Education is often the key to changing the mindsets needed to make long-term structural and behavioral shifts and is central to combating climate change. Indeed, it is now critical that children–who will make up tomorrow’s active generations and leaders–are sensitized to and educated on saving the environment, choosing a low-carbon lifestyle and economic development path, and understanding the impacts of climate change which they will inevitable face, in order to develop effective response and adaptation strategies. Raising children’s awareness and knowledge is also the best way to reach their parents.
The education sector has become a central focus of Kampala’s energy-climate strategy. Indeed, the city has focused on raising awareness in students in the hopes of changing people’s long-term behaviours and mindsets. To this end, public schools who underwent a technological change providing for an energy shift, such as having more energy-efficient ovens installed, also received support in sensitizing children to issues related to energy, climate and the environment.
The city also organized peer exchanges for students through the Makerere University Climate Change Association (MUCCA), whose volunteer students worked to develop academic tools and moderated student awareness sessions held at schools on climate change issues.
And this type of education isn’t just for young people, but is an ongoing process meant for a lifetime. For example, Africa4Climate worked on capacity building with the active executives of institutions supported by the project through training sessions moderated by experts and study tours. Technical executives from the City of Kampala went on a study tour in South Africa with the City of Pretoria and in France with the City of Lyon.
Created in 2004, the Collines County Inter-Municipality Group (GIC) includes the 6 municipalities of Collines located in central Benin (Bantè, Dassa-Zoumé, Glazoué, Ouessè, Savalou and Savè). Its mission is to promote the economic development of the region and its stakeholders by building cooperation between the municipalities and coordinating inter-municipal projects. As an inter-municipal association, the GIC’s mandate also extends to providing and managing such public services as access to water, energy and regional planning.
Capacity building is a process through which people, organizations and societies build and maintain their capacity to define and achieve their development objectives. It aims to continually and sustainably increase performance, while adapting to increasingly demanding and changing environments. Capacity building encompasses 3 interdependent levels: the competence of individuals, the workings of their organizations and the characteristics of their environment. It is an endogenous process that builds from existing national capacities. Capacity development is also intrinsically linked to strengthening local governance. Africa4Climate is first and foremost a capacity building project.
As part of its efforts, Africa4Climate cross-integrated the participation of civil society. Indeed, an informed and mobilized civil society is essential to supporting public stakeholders in the struggle against climate change. Civil society must be a key stakeholder in order to inform and support the change process at all levels of society. Working with civil society offers privileged access to the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Civil society partnerships established prior to the start of the project were an essential element of the implementation framework, as these promoted the adoption and sustainability of the project.