Experts and policymakers on Friday urged African countries to better understand and analyze climate risks as a crucial imputes to forge adaptation and climate resilience schemes against the ever-intensifying climate change in Africa and beyond.
They made the urgent call during a high-level planning workshop organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on building climate-resilient, with particular emphasis on the reconstruction and development of cyclone-affected southern African countries that are Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Filipe Lucio, Director of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), who in particular noted southern African countries to be constantly on the front lines of intensifying climate change, said “there is a need for nations in the region to understand risk better for adaptation and climate resilience.”
According to Lucio, without better understanding risks governments “will not be able to mainstream climate resilience and adaptation to save lives and infrastructure when disaster strikes.”
“Understanding of hazards, frequency, intensity and potential impacts is crucial for preparedness and long term development plans,” the GFCS director said.
The GFCS was established following the Third World Climate Conference held in Geneva in 2009 after world leaders unanimously recognized the need to accelerate and strengthen global, regional and national cooperation and collaboration to ensure countries have access to the best science capabilities available to develop user-friendly, relevant and timely climate services.
“Climate services provide climate information to help governments, individuals and organizations to make climate-smart decisions,” he told experts and policymakers attending the high-level planning workshop, as he emphasized the crucial importance of dialogues, cooperation and collaboration amongst all stakeholders.
He further underscored the need for African stakeholders in the climate field “to try and understand why in some cases people refuse to evacuate after impending disaster forecasts to see how they can improve on the provision of weather and climate services to the public.”
“Looking at Cyclone Idai, it is important to find out if the people understood the warnings,” Lucio said, adding “people should have adequate information about the risk, vulnerability effects of disaster.”
Lucio further noted the vital need to strengthen investments in boosting African countries’ capacities in dealing with extreme events, as well as to enhance their adaptive capacities and resilience.
“They need risk and hazard information otherwise their development plans will be wiped out by extreme weather,” he said, as he argued that various aspects of climate services remained isolated, fragmented and piece mail in nature.
Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, also echoed the GFCS director’s comments, as he emphasized the need “to act now and build capacity to urgently build the resilience of economies.”
“Given the reality of ever-worsening weather and climate-related disasters in the region, action is needed to ensure citizens as well as infrastructure are protected from climate change-induced impacts,” Shiri said.
“We need to urgently build the resilience of our economies, our infrastructures, our ecosystems and our communities to withstand the impacts of climate change,” the Zimbabwe minister added.
The ongoing high-level planning workshop, among other things, deliberates options for “Building Back Better,” paying special attention to the need to improve resilience through improved weather and climate forecasting, as well as the integration of climate information into infrastructure, ecosystems and settlement plans, according to the ECA.
The gathering brought together more than 100 experts and policymakers, mainly officials from the three cyclone affected southern African countries that are Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, regional economic communities, regional and international partners, as well as various UN agencies. Enditem