‘Africa losing 15pc GDP due to climate change’


THE executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), Vera Songwe, on Wednesday said addressing climate change is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Africa is currently losing 15 percent of its GDP to the effects of climate change.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 6th session of the ongoing Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), Songwe said climate change has a direct impact on the achievement of SDGs.

“What we have estimated with the World Bank and the International Monetary fund is that Africa is currently losing 15 percent of its GDP to the effects of climate change.

“That is the pressure that we have in front of us as we talk about climate change. We need to say how can we make sure we don’t lose 15 percent of the GDP because that percentage could be used to close the US$3 trillion financing gap to fulfil the SDGs,” Songwe said.

She added that if climate challenges are not addressed, achieving the SDG goals will be impossible.

“Climate change is linked with the SDGs we are trying to attain by 2030. We can put kids in school and educate them but if we don’t deal with the effects of climate change, the kids will have nothing to do when they finish school or they will be so hungry and sick because they don’t have access to clean water,” Songwe added.

The Uneca executive secretary called on southern Africa to take urgent action with the support of the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) agencies, as it is the most affected by the effects of climate change.

“In this country that we are in today, the effects of climate change are visible. In 2018, Zimbabwe grew by 6,8 percent and when we look at the numbers for 2019, we see that there was a growth of -7,5 percent. Why are we going from 6,8 percent to -7,5 percent? It is because we are having droughts induced by climate change and other economic challenges.

“A key example is how the drought has contributed towards economic decline is that Kariba Dam which used to give 1 000 megawatts of energy is now producing only 100 megawatts.

“Energy is the one thing that investors look for when they come into a country and if we cannot provide then we lose out on it and the transformation agenda will not work,” Songwe said.
Songwe added that due to climate change Mozambique’s GDP has dropped from six percent to 2,5 percent and this year it is expected to drop further because of climate change-related challenges.

“It is very important to acknowledge that climate change has linkages in all the things that we do and deal with it with the urgency it requires.

“It is not only southern Africa which is being affected. In East Africa, Uganda is the largest exporter of cocoa nuts in the world. Due to the effects of climate change production has been declining and without sound policies in the next 10 years Uganda will not be able to produce anything meaningful.

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“So even as we talk about transformation, health, agriculture, education, technology we need to look at climate change and how it affects all of these” Songwe said.
Songwe said African leaders should innovate, design and implement sound policies aimed at addressing climate change.

“One alarming concern is that we need to take away from this beautiful town of Victoria Falls and as we experience the Falls is that due to climate change, we stand a risk of not being able to profit or benefit and add value in this continent from such wonders,” Songwe said.

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