Humanity is facing a climate emergency that is hitting Africa harder than anywhere else, even though the continent contributes just 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The war in Ukraine is causing food and fuel prices to rise dramatically, making it harder than ever for African countries to feed their citizens with food imports. But the crisis could also offer an opportunity for Africa to radically transform its food systems, said experts at the GLF Africa 2022 Digital Conference.
The continent has a multitude of solutions to take back its food sovereignty, but these solutions need to be scaled up. Over 200 speakers issued a rallying call for investments into climate and biodiversity, equitable access to land, and shorter, greener value chains. Not only can this transformation build the resilience of communities and ecosystems, but it can also mitigate the effects of climate change.
“Never before have we been facing as many global crises simultaneously as we are today. Today, we not only need to take action against one of the worst global food crises ever, but we also need to make our food systems resilient to future crises. Let us consider this as an opportunity,” said Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Germany is currently holding the G7 Presidency.
“The African youth generation has awakened, and we are committed to doing all we can to build a prosperous Africa. For that, we need African leaders to actively promote investment in the agricultural sector. After all, agriculture is the coolest job in the world. African agribusiness will be worth $1 trillion by 2030, and everyone does need to eat,” said Ineza Grace, coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition.
Hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum in partnership with BMZ and various partners, the fully-online event on 15 September 2022 brought together over 8,300 registered participants from 122 countries, including entrepreneurs, scientists, youth activists, restoration practitioners and the highest levels of government. It reached over 26 million people through social media.
Featuring 31 sessions, the release of five white papers, launches, virtual tour, job fair and creative exhibitions and performances, the conference provided critical insights on how to build a resilient food future in Africa ahead of the UN COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Key recommendations from experts across Africa included:
- Africa is endowed with rich and diverse ecosystems that provide essential services to secure the continent’s food, water, energy health, and secure livelihood needs. In rural areas of the continent, more than 62% of the population depends directly on these services. As such, biodiversity and its value must be integrated into economic and financial decision making.
- To ensure that land is managed sustainably, local people must be granted equitable access to land and natural resources, regardless of gender and age.
- Young people have a crucial role to play in building the continent’s food future, but most of Africa’s agricultural development programs lack policies that explicitly target them.
- Smallholder farmers contribute at least 70% of Africa’s food supply, but they face multiple obstacles, including poor access to markets, policy inaction, and technology deficits that limit productivity and profitability. Sustainable finance and development pathways can make a difference by improving land use for African food systems and creating green jobs and value chains for commodities like cocoa, soy, palm oil, fruit, and vegetables, with positive knock-on effects on climate change, biodiversity, water use, rural poverty, and gender inequality.
- Africa currently receives only 3% of global climate finance even though it is one of the continents most affected by climate change. The financing gap for agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be over USD 100 billion a year, and Africa will need over USD 3 trillion in climate financing by 2030 to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- The conference featured a plenary hosted by the GEF-funded Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program (FOLUR), which aims to transform the environmental footprint of agriculture through 27 country projects targeting production landscapes for eight major commodities, including cocoa, coffee, corn, livestock, palm oil, rice, soy and wheat. The plenary featured recently launched FOLUR country projects in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s two largest cocoa exporters, and presented lessons and perspectives on ways to achieve green and zero-deforestation commodity value chains.
Virtual tours Kenya and Cameroon – https://youtu.be/_KAYmyI3J2U
Opening Plenary: Painting a resilient and equitable food future –https://youtu.be/NGx_W4ZciFg
Land, Food and Climate: African solutions for food and climate resilience – https://youtu.be/NGx_W4ZciFg