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Climate Change
Climate Change
UNEP is focusing on both mitigation and adaptation and the objective is to strengthen the ability of countries in integrating climate change responses into national development processes. More

Disasters and Conflicts
Disasters and conflicts in Africa
The objective is to minimize environmental threats to human well-being arising from the environmental causes and consequences of conflicts and disasters More

Ecosystem Management
Ensuring the holistic management of land, water and living resources to promote conservation and sustainable use. More

Environmental Governance
Strengthening Global, Regional, national and local Environmental governance to address agreed environmental priorities. More

Chemicals and Waste
Minimising impacts of Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste on the environment and people More

Resource Efficiency
Promoting Resource efficiency and Reducing adverse impacts of consumption and production. More

Environment Under Review
The Environment Under Review sub programme aims to contribute to sustainable development and improved well-being through empowering stakeholders at global, regional and national levels. It aims to do this by providing open web platforms, services and access to timely, substantiated knowledge about the environment and emerging issues and by strengthening capacities to make use of substantiated knowledge in decision-making.

Regional News

 
Costs of Climate Change Adaptation Expected to Rise Far Beyond Africa's Coping Capacity Even if Warming Kept Below 2°C
Cairo, 4 March 2015 - Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from "normal" conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

Released at the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Africa's Adaptation Gap builds on UNEP's Emissions Gap Report 2014, which showed that the world is not currently headed in the right direction for holding global warming below 2°C. This latest Africa Adaptation Gap report also builds on UNEP's Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014, which found that adaptation costs in all developing countries together could climb as high as US$250-500 billion per year by 2050.

Produced in collaboration with Climate Analytics and the African Climate Finance Hub, the report says deep global emissions reductions are the best way to head off Africa's crippling adaptation costs. It also finds that the continent's domestic resources are insufficient to respond to projected impacts, but would be important to complement international funding for African countries - including meeting the Cancun climate finance commitments by 2020.

"The accelerating rate of climate change poses great adaptation challenges, of which we have been well forewarned," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "The best insurance against the many potential negative impacts of climate change is ambitious global mitigation action in the long-run, combined with large-scale and rapidly increasing funding for adaptation. Investing in resilience and adaptation as an integral part of national development planning can develop resilience to future climate change impacts."

Africa's looming climate crisis

Africa is the continent where a rapidly changing climate is expected to deviate earlier than across any other continent from "normal" changes, making adaptation a matter of urgency, the report says.

Warming projections under medium scenarios indicate that extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C by the last two decades of this century relative to the late 20th century mean annual temperature. Under a high warming pathway, temperatures could exceed 2°C by mid-century across much of Africa and reach between 3°C and 6°C by the end of the century. This would have a severe impact on agricultural production, food security, human health and water availability.

In a 4˚C world, projections for Africa suggest sea levels could rise faster than the global average and reach 80cm above current levels by 2100 along the Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines, with particularly high numbers of people at risk to flooding in the coastal cities of Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco.

"This is not just a question of money; millions of people and their livelihoods are at stake," said Binilith Mahenge, President of AMCEN and Tanzania's Minister of State for Environment. "Africa's population will be at an increasing risk of undernourishment due to increasing food demand and the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture on the continent. Global warming of 2˚C would put over 50 per cent of the African continent's population at risk of undernourishment. Yet, the IPCC showed that without additional mitigation we are heading to 4˚C of warming."

"Rising to the challenge and addressing the systemic harm that climate change may cause in Africa, thus undermining the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, warrants leaving no stone unturned in exploring opportunities for supporting adaptation actions and measures in Africa," he added.

Closing the funding gap

The report explores the extent to which African nations can contribute to closing the adaptation gap - especially in the area of identifying the resources that will be needed.

The evidence suggests that African countries - such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa - are already committing some resources of their own to adaptation efforts. Country-case studies in the report suggest that by 2029/2030, under moderately optimistic growth scenarios, Ghana could for example - based on hypothetical scenarios - commit US$233 million to adaptation financing, Ethiopia US$248 million, South Africa US$961 million and Togo US$18.2 million. However, international funding will be required to bridge the growing adaptation gap even if African nations commit to ways to increase domestic sources. Current levels of international finance, through bilateral and multilateral sources, are not sufficient.

"Because of the magnitude of the challenge, further examination of the potential and the feasibility of mobilizing untapped international, regional and domestic sources should be explored further," said Mr Steiner.

Scaling up international climate finance under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may lead to sufficient funding for adaptation, but even in that case, implementation can only reach its full potential if complemented by comprehensive and effective national and regional policy planning, capacity-building and governance.

The promotion of an effective enabling framework for private sector participation in adaptation activities would also be a key contributor to closing the funding gap, the report finds.

The Africa Adaptation Gap 2 (2015) report can be downloaded here

The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2014 can be downloaded here

The UNEP Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014 can be downloaded here

The Africa's Adaptation Gap 1 (2013) can be downloaded here


Celebrating 30 Years, High Level Segment of 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment Opens in Cairo
Cairo, 4 March 2015 - The high-level segment of the 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) opened in Cairo, Wednesday, with delegations from 54 African nations in attendance as well as over 300 participants from around the continent representing policy makers, experts, civil society, businesses and major groups. Also attending the meeting are partner organizations, UN agencies and representatives from the donor community.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah El Sisi, received an AMCEN ministerial delegation and UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, hours ahead of the Opening of the Conference. Egypt presides over the 15th Session of AMCEN for a period of two years, while UNEP acts as the Secretariat of AMCEN.

The meeting comes at a crucial moment as the coming months will determine how Africa's development and climate change priorities are articulated and reflected in the context of global negotiations, including the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21 and the post-2015 development agenda.

This is the first time the meeting is held in Cairo - the birth place of AMCEN - in thirty years since the inception of the Conference in 1985.

New AMCEN President, Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of the Environment of Egypt, said, "Egypt is proud to host the 15th Session of the AMCEN in Cairo at this important moment in time. The continent stands to determine its development priorities in the context of global negotiations. It is crucial for us to clearly define common priorities and the means to achieve our objectives at the regional and national levels."

New UNEP studies, launched at the event, show that climate adaptation costs for Africa could soar to reach US $50 billion annually by mid-century. The continent is looking at a combination of internal mechanisms supported by international cooperation to meet the cost and implement sound adaptation policies at the national and regional levels.

At the same time, Africa could reap billions of dollars and lower its carbon footprint through the transition to green economy. Case studies from 10 African countries will be presented, including Egypt, which the UN says could save over US $2.4 billion annually, cut CO2 emissions by 13 per cent, water consumption by 40 per cent and create 8 million new Jobs if it adopts such a transition across diverse sectors.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, said, "On its 30th Anniversary, I extend my warmest congratulations to AMCEN and to Africa's leadership for having ably steered environmental governance across the continent for the last three decades; inspiring action, pioneering reform and charting a durable path towards sustainability and better lives and livelihoods for all."

"But there is still work to be done. We need to create the policies and mechanisms that will integrate natural capital valuation and ecosystem approaches in all aspects of decision making across diverse sectors, if we are to harness the full potential of Africa's rich natural endowments and to employ the competitive advantage offered as an engine for inclusive and equitable economic growth," he added.

One of the main objectives of the 15th Session of the AMCEN meeting is to provide a platform for African ministers of the environment to deliberate on how to harness Africa's natural capital to help the region achieve sustainable development, create jobs for the increasing number of young people and contribute to the eradication of poverty.

The meeting will also offer an opportunity to deliberate on substantive follow up actions related to the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which took place in June 2014 in Nairobi.

Deliberations will take place on priorities including: the post 2015 development agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals; the illegal trade in wildlife and timber; and a roadmap that define what is at stake for Africa in preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be held in Paris, later this year, and which aim at forging an ambitious international agreement on climate change.

- See more at: http://unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26788&ArticleID=34787&l=en#sthash.pDW8Vj0O.dpuf

Cairo, 4 March 2015 - The high-level segment of the 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) opened in Cairo, Wednesday, with delegations from 54 African nations in attendance as well as over 300 participants from around the continent representing policy makers, experts, civil society, businesses and major groups. Also attending the meeting are partner organizations, UN agencies and representatives from the donor community.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah El Sisi, received an AMCEN ministerial delegation and UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, hours ahead of the Opening of the Conference. Egypt presides over the 15th Session of AMCEN for a period of two years, while UNEP acts as the Secretariat of AMCEN.

The meeting comes at a crucial moment as the coming months will determine how Africa's development and climate change priorities are articulated and reflected in the context of global negotiations, including the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21 and the post-2015 development agenda.

This is the first time the meeting is held in Cairo - the birth place of AMCEN - in thirty years since the inception of the Conference in 1985.

New AMCEN President, Dr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister of the Environment of Egypt, said, "Egypt is proud to host the 15th Session of the AMCEN in Cairo at this important moment in time. The continent stands to determine its development priorities in the context of global negotiations. It is crucial for us to clearly define common priorities and the means to achieve our objectives at the regional and national levels."

New UNEP studies, launched at the event, show that climate adaptation costs for Africa could soar to reach US $50 billion annually by mid-century. The continent is looking at a combination of internal mechanisms supported by international cooperation to meet the cost and implement sound adaptation policies at the national and regional levels.

At the same time, Africa could reap billions of dollars and lower its carbon footprint through the transition to green economy. Case studies from 10 African countries will be presented, including Egypt, which the UN says could save over US $2.4 billion annually, cut CO2 emissions by 13 per cent, water consumption by 40 per cent and create 8 million new Jobs if it adopts such a transition across diverse sectors.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, said, "On its 30th Anniversary, I extend my warmest congratulations to AMCEN and to Africa's leadership for having ably steered environmental governance across the continent for the last three decades; inspiring action, pioneering reform and charting a durable path towards sustainability and better lives and livelihoods for all."

"But there is still work to be done. We need to create the policies and mechanisms that will integrate natural capital valuation and ecosystem approaches in all aspects of decision making across diverse sectors, if we are to harness the full potential of Africa's rich natural endowments and to employ the competitive advantage offered as an engine for inclusive and equitable economic growth," he added.

One of the main objectives of the 15th Session of the AMCEN meeting is to provide a platform for African ministers of the environment to deliberate on how to harness Africa's natural capital to help the region achieve sustainable development, create jobs for the increasing number of young people and contribute to the eradication of poverty.

The meeting will also offer an opportunity to deliberate on substantive follow up actions related to the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which took place in June 2014 in Nairobi.

Deliberations will take place on priorities including: the post 2015 development agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals; the illegal trade in wildlife and timber; and a roadmap that define what is at stake for Africa in preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be held in Paris, later this year, and which aim at forging an ambitious international agreement on climate change.


New Atlas Shows Africa’s Mountains Underpin the Continent’s Development
Cairo/Nairobi, 04 March 2015 –The huge development challenges facing Africa’s mountain ecosystems have for the first time been presented in clear and visual messages in a new atlas compiled by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Africa Mountains Atlas uses hundreds of ‘before and after’ images, detailed new maps and other satellite data from 53 countries to show the problems facing Africa’s mountain areas, such as landslides in Mount Elgon and Rwenzori, volcanic eruptions, and receding glaciers. It also includes examples of innovative and successful initiatives that are effectively harnessing the ecosystem services provided by the mountains. Some of the most compelling images in the Atlas, which was launched today at the 15th Regular session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) in Cairo, Egypt, include the dramatic reduction in mountain glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Ruwenzori, as well as the proximity of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Nyiragongo Mountain - one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Research undertaken for the Atlas reveals approximately 27 per cent of Africa’s mountainous areas to be susceptible to destructive earthquakes, defined as Level VIII or greater on the Modified Mercalli scale. The East African Rift system, which extends from the Afar triple junction 3,000 km south to Lake Malawi, is the largest active rift in the world. The average population density in mountain areas is more than triple that in the lowlands. In Rwanda - one of Africa’s most mountainous countries - the available arable land per family is 0.6 hectares (ha), with 25 percent of families possessing less than 0.2 ha. In addition to mountain ecosystem challenges, the Atlas maps out new solutions and success stories from across the continent. It contains detailed mapping of how strategic interventions and innovations are improving the food security and livelihoods of mountain communities in different parts of Africa. The Atlas also highlights how traditional knowledge is being used to adapt to the impacts of climate change on Mount Kenya, on the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, and on the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, among others. The Atlas, which aims to provide information support to AMCEN’s strategic agenda on mountains, shows how climate change induced water stress in the mountain areas will compound the challenges of water scarcity in Africa with negative implications for development. Prepared in cooperation with the African Union, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Government of Norway, Austrian Development Cooperation, United States Geological Survey, University of Bern and Albertine Rift Conservation Society, the 291-page Atlas consolidates information about the role of mountain ecosystems in Africa’s economies and development, health, food security, and transboundary cooperation in one comprehensive and accessible volume. The Africa Mountains Atlas features some 65 maps and 73 satellite images as well as some 50 graphics and hundreds of compelling photographs. The ‘before and after’ images, some of which span a three decade period, offer striking snapshots of local ecosystem transformation in several mountain ecosystems across the continent. Water The Atlas draws attention to Africa’s “water towers”, which are sources of water for some of Africa’s major cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Marrakech, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and for many of Africa’s transboundary rivers and contribute immensely to the total stream flow of African major rivers. An estimated 97 per cent of Cape Town’s water supply relies on surface water from mountain catchment areas. Cape Town wraps around Table Mountain National Park, the largest urban park in South Africa and a popular destination for tourists. Population growth has placed a strain on water resources, and future climate change could have an impact on stream flow, evapotranspiration rates and rainfall patterns. Already the city has had to expand its reach to the Boland Mountain as a water source, using water from the Berg, Theewaters, Voelvlei and Steenbras dams to satisfy its water needs. According to the analysis in the Africa Mountains Atlas, many of Africa’s water towers - from the Middle Atlas Range in Morocco through to the Lesotho Highlands in Southern Africa - are under extreme pressure as a result of deforestation, open cast mining and encroachment. Mountain Forests Africa’s mountain forests (tropical and subtropical) account for approximately 6 per cent of all its forests but provide a significant proportion of its above-ground biomass carbon and total biomass carbon. Tropical mountain forests in Africa have the second highest total biomass carbon density per hectare of all types of African forests, with only tropical rain forests exceeding them. A successful carbon sequestration project is ongoing in the Huambo Province of the Ethiopian Highlands. Reforestation has resulted in the issuance of at least 73,000 carbon credits. Other Main Findings The Africa Mountains Atlas presents challenges and opportunities for Africa as the continent strives to enhance the livelihoods of mountain communities and the services derived from mountain ecosystems. According to the authors there are 468 National Parks in Africa; of these, 125 or about 27 per cent, are found in mountains. Notable highland areas with a high density of vascular species include: • The Albertine Rift region with 2,000 to 3,000 species, of which 1,175 are endemic plant and animal species. • The eastern coast of Madagascar with 4,000 to 5,000 per 10,000 km2, is one of the densest biodiversity zones. • Africa’s mountains are home to some of the most biodiverse tropical montane forests in the world. Of the 44 sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger, five are in Africa’s mountains A significant proportion of Africa’s mountain people are vulnerable to food insecurity. There is a need for more financing mechanisms to help preserve mountain resources that support human livelihoods. Changes in climate, such as increased temperature and rainfall patterns, are affecting Africa’s mountain ecosystems. Kilimanjaro National Park is protected to support research, recreation and education. In Africa, this is the most popular site to study the loss of snow cover. Loss of glacier cover on Mount Kilimanjaro since 1880, from over 40 square Kilometres to the present size of 1.8 square Kilometres, can be attributed to the reduction in precipitation and air humidity moisture; global climate change only influences the loss indirectly, if at all. Changes in solar radiation continue to contribute to both ice thinning and the lateral retreat of Kilimanjaro’s ice cliffs, as it did in the last decades of the 19th century. Warmer near-surface conditions and rising temperatures in the lower latitudes are also driving glacier decline on Kilimanjaro. Notes to Editors The Africa Mountains Atlas features over 64 maps and 73 satellite images as well as some 50 graphics and hundreds of compelling photos. The Africa Mountain Atlas makes a major contribution to the state of knowledge about Mountain ecosystems in Africa by highlighting the opportunities and challenges for sustainable development of mountain areas. All the materials in the Atlas are non-copyrighted and available for free use as long as the Atlas is acknowledged as the source. All images from the atlas including individual satellite images and other graphics can be downloaded from www.na.unep.net/atlas For More Information Please Contact: Shereen Zorba, Head, News and Media United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Cel:+254 788 526000; Cel:+254 713601259 Tel: +254-20 762 5022; E-mail: Shereen.zorba@unep.org Or Angele Luh, UNEP Regional Information Officer, on Tel: + 254 20 7624292; fax: + 254 20 7623928; Mobile: + 254 731 666 140; E-mail: Angele.Luh@unep.org

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