Atmospheric resources are essential for the maintenance of life and human well-being, and they provide multiple opportunities for development. Atmospheric resources are transboundary resources and are affected by global, regional and national practices. The unsustainable management of these resources – at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels – have implications for development and livelihoods in Africa. This is most acutely felt in activities directly dependent on natural resources and processes such as agriculture. Thus partnerships at multiple scales are critical to addressing the challenges and maximizing opportunities.

Policy interventions are necessary to remove barriers to investments in renewable energy resources and mitigation of impacts of climate change, extreme weather events and air pollution. Policy objectives should promote investments in businesses and projects which contribute to sustainable development whilst conserving the value and quality of atmospheric resources. African governments are called upon to bridge the gap between the existing information and policy actions. Policies should be translated into laws and regulations as a strategy to ensure implementation and smooth governance of the use of atmospheric assets.

Poor access to modern environmentally sound technologies, lack of capacity to develop or acquire technology, and restrictions imposed by developed countries, contribute significantly to denying African people the opportunity to use atmospheric resources. Barriers that contribute to low use of modern technologies in exploiting renewable energy resources include lack of information, high capital cost of renewable energy supply systems, the intermittent nature of renewable energy resources, site-specific constraints, and poor access to modern technologies.

Harmonizing policy interventions across sectors is critical given the close relationship between energy, consumption and production patterns, environmental management and climate change. This involves building cooperation between different stakeholders. The value of such an approach is discussed in Chapter 8: Interlinkages: The Environment and Policy Web. Planning and setting clear targets is important, especially regarding a shift to renewable energy. Formulating and enforcing standards in relation to equipment as well as pollution is crucial. The implementation of MEAs through policies and programmes designed to meet their objectives and targets can be an important complement to national activities. These MEAs include UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Montreal Convention.

Developing capacity for early warning systems is crucial given the wide-ranging impacts of climate variability. This must be coupled with effective response systems.

The key to successful policy interventions is political will, as expressed in the following quote:

“The reductions in poverty in both countries [India and China] are primarily the result not of the policies of the global great and good, or of the charity of rich countries, but of better domestic government – including the provision of basic education and health care and, crucially, the freeing up of markets. In both countries, even better government would reduce poverty further. For instance, corruption remains rife in both countries, and has a particularly severe impact on the poor by depriving them of needed services and raising their cost of access to markets and to finance” (Economist 2004).