African Scientists Convene To Structure African Narrative On Climate

AGNES (African Group of Negotiators Expert Support) in collaboration with the Kenya Meteorological Department, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MEF), and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) held a forum in Nairobi to discuss key issues facing the continent regarding climate change.

As the talks progressed, African experts identified priority areas vital to the African narrative on climate change. Suggestions made on these priority areas will be included in the Seventh Assessment Report (AR7).

African scientists have recognized that climate change is not only a global problem but is also critically affecting Africa, causing food insecurity, health issues, and the loss of wildlife and livestock. These outcomes have made it urgent for African voices to seek greater audibility in raising concerns and finding solutions.

The Principal Secretary of the State Department of Environment and Climate Change in Kenya, ENG. Festus Ng’eno, emphasized that it is high time for African scientists and experts to fully represent Africa at discussion tables. The situation is quickly deteriorating, yet solutions are not yet implemented.

“The products in the 6th assessment cycle show an improvement in the representation of African issues. However, there is still major room for improvement. It is alarming that only 11% of the authors of the assessment report are from Africa, despite Africa being one of the world’s most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate change. It is crucial to ensure that African voices are well-represented when finding solutions. The inclusion of the role of indigenous and local knowledge systems, as well as adequate gender representation, is also crucial,” said PS Festus.

Principal Secretary State Department of Environment and Climate Change, Kenya, Eng. Festus Ng’eno

This rare convention on the matter in Africa aims to stimulate and catalyze research activities that will address the research gaps identified to scale up the African narrative.

According to Climate Change Scientist and IPCC Focal Point for Kenya, Patricia Nying’uro, this convention will assist in sending out the notion that African-led solutions are needed for African problems.

“We’re taking the initiative to influence the narrative as we go into the 7th assessment cycle of the IPCC. We understand the problems we face best and we can incorporate years of lived indigenous knowledge into solution development,” added Ms. Patricia.

African scholars now have an opportunity to be involved in a major way, attempting to address the identified barriers, including limited publication by African scholars/scientists on African climate-related issues, the weak link between the IPCC National Focal Points and universities and/or research organizations, and the unincentivized work of scientists from the countries that is a major deterrent to their output.

In response to this matter, Team Lead African Group of Negotiators Experts Support, Dr. George Wamukoya, reiterated the urgency needed to fill the existing gaps in knowledge and anticipate the direction of science and research in the field of climate change and reflect this in published papers.

He stresses that this issue will improve the representation of African issues in the IPCC assessments.

“The question is, how does Africa plan to contribute towards addressing these knowledge gaps? It is my hope that this convening will get the most strategic solutions to ensure that representation is timely, accurate, and inclusive,” said Dr. George Wamukoya.

Some of the solutions that the meeting aims to bring on board include having a common African position on the gaps identified, creating an awareness and outreach program to enhance National Focal Points’ link with policymakers, universities/research institutions, and putting in place a support system for African scientists to publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Professor Chukwuemeka J. Diji, African Climate Research Fellow, praised the convention, stating that it is very important and expedient.

The AR6 report shows that Africa’s ability to adapt is being pushed to its limits, calling for urgent action to create awareness and knowledge to reverse the situation and the dangerous direction.

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