11 December 2018
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African Development Bank (Abidjan)

Technology's Crucial Role in Managing African Climate Shocks

The role of technology and climate information in helping Africa mitigate and adapt to climate change now and in the future cannot be underestimated. From creating more sustainable technologies to building resilience to climate change to estimating the amount of water needed for sustainable agriculture, the applications of technology and climate information are endless. In all these approaches, the use of climate information to mitigate disaster and reduce risk is particularly critical.

Today, during Technology and Climate Climate Information Day at the African Development Bank Pavilion at COP24, experts from a range of organizations discussed several approaches, with an emphasis on how to combat the effects of climate change and its impacts - including droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.

In Digital Decarbonization: Harnessing Digital Technologies for New Climate Action, the Bank highlighted the proliferation of technology hubs and their rapid expansion in Africa, assessing new strategies and proposing financing mechanisms to scale up the application of digital technologies and the transition to a green economy.

"Although Africa has been catching up with the digital revolution, this type of rapidly developing technology needs collaboration in order for countries to use it to their advantage; no single country can do it on its own," explained Sei-Joong Kwon, Director-General of the Climate Change Bureau in South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "The successes of digital solutions around the world for low-carbon green growth, as well as for better monitoring and climate resilience need further replication and adoption, both in Africa and beyond."

It was established that while digitalisation does not solve the problem single-handedly, it is critical in directing the innovation necessary to slow down the effects of climate change, in partnership with more effective policy interventions and new business models tailored for African economies.

In Climate Information for Contingency Planning and Action to Support Disaster Resilience, the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) hosted a discussion on how to strengthen the resilience of sub-Saharan African regions, countries and communities to the impacts of climate-related disasters.

The Satellite and Weather Information for Disaster Resilience in Africa (SAWIDRA) project is one such initiative to reduce risk and build resilience. It aims to improve the core capacities of the specialised national and regional climate centres to meet the needs of Disaster Risk Management agencies so that they can effectively use weather and climate information to deliver real-time early warning systems.

Other sessions were hosted to discuss Technologies and practices for climate change adaptation in water and agriculture sectors and to Promote Disaster Risk Management and Financing in Africa, with a key focus on the role of weather and climate information services.

Justus J Kabyemera, the Coordinator of the Climate and Development Special Fund of the AfDB, said:"It is clear that many African countries rely on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other natural resources. Increasing incidents of extreme climate shocks such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones, are culminating in direct and indirect financial losses to African countries. African countries must mainstream comprehensive disaster risk management strategies and technologies within development processes."

Also discussed was a new programme on the application of sovereign risk approaches (ADRiFi) to enhance planning and responses to disasters in African countries. The programme will run for five years, providing comprehensive and sustainable solutions for risk transfer within the broader context of disaster risk management.

While sharing experiences from the Global Framework for Climate Servies (GFCS), Filipe Lucio reminded the audience that besides technology, a coordinated approach to the climate services 'value chain' is needed:

"We need to have a coherent and transparent approach when we try to address the problem of managing climate risk. When you go to most African countries there are often many different programmes and plans which are not coordinated or aligned; this results in a duplication of initiatives and an ineffective application of resources.

The climate services value chain starts with data collection and analysis, then moves to risk analysis, prediction and finally the communication of information. We need national plans addressing every element of the value chain so we can identify the gaps, priorities and needs for each country. By so doing we can assign responsibilities to different entities so we can keep them accountable and encourage the right kinds of collaboration. This is an urgent requirement for the continent."

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