- Stories that shine a light on how healthy ecosystems have the power to transform the planet and its people. The overarching theme at this year’s United Nations Environment Assembly: Delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Climate for Change in Sudan Thu, Mar 17, 2016
UNEP's projects help to halt the vicious cycle of climate change, resource scarcity and conflict
Until the late 20th century, a typical landscape in the Sahel - a transitional zone in Africa that lies between the Sahara desert and the savannahs - would include baobab and acacia trees and a sparse grass cover.
Today, climate change and the resulting desertification are changing this picture. Rainfall in Sudan has become more erratic, increasing the stress on pastoralist and farming communities - particularly in West Sudan and Kordofan. This has damaged water supplies and aggravated conflict over dwindling natural resources.
In Darfur, armed conflict and rapid population growth in the past few decades have added to the region's environmental and economic woes. Displacement has created dense urban populations with distorted economies. The urbanization rate of Darfur has shot from about 20 per cent before 2003 to 50 per cent today, creating an insatiable demand for firewood and charcoal.
This increase in energy demand is now a major driver of environmental degradation in Sudan, particularly the loss of forest cover, leaving communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These are expected to be particularly acute for Sudan as rising temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, increasingly severe droughts and even scarcer water resources take their toll on the country.
Several projects implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Darfur and other parts of Sudan aim to halt the vicious cycle of climate change, resource scarcity and conflict by helping communities sustainably manage and restore their ecosystems, which provide fuel, water and protection from the growing heat.
In May, countries will meet in Nairobi for UNEA 2 – the world's de facto "Parliament for the Environment" – to discuss major issues affecting people in Sudan today, such as sand and dust storms, sustainable use of forests and the linkages between environment and conflict. Finding ways to ensure the health of ecosystems, which underpin all human development, will be key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UNEP's Darfur Alternative Energy Project is promoting a combination of improved fuel efficiency, greater use of alternative energy and well-managed woodlots to prevent further depletion of forest resources. Efforts are also being made, in cooperation with the Forest National Corporation (FNC), to restore the degraded forests by tree-planting and investing in seedling nurseries.
Following the historic Paris Agreement on climate adopted in December 2015, UNEP partnered with the UK Government, through the Department for International Development (DFID), on a new £10 million, four-year programme called Adapt for Environment and Climate Resilience in Sudan (ADAPT!), which aims to enhance climate resilience and environmental management in Sudan.
UNEP has also contributed to UN efforts to develop a recovery strategy for Darfur, which includes integrated water resource management, environmental technology transfer, community environmental management and support to environment ministries.
Involving communities in the management of the environment and natural resources is crucial to the long-term sustainability of UNEP's projects in Sudan and to the peacebuilding process in the region. For example, local communities and citizen groups have been actively participating in the re-greening of Darfur cities.
Ibrahim Adam Mohamed Sidiq, a resident of El Fasher, North Darfur who was involved in a tree garden project, said: "You could basically say I was born in the middle of mango and guava fields. I wanted to bring this back to my new home and community in El Fasher".
In May, hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society will gather in Nairobi for UNEA-2 at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi.
The assembly will be one of the first major meetings since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The resolutions passed at UNEA-2 will set the stage for early action on implementing the 2030 Agenda, and drive the world towards a better, more just future.
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