Experts say Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions most affected by global warming. The World Bank estimates that the developing world will suffer about 80 percent of the damage of climate change despite accounting for only around one third of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
At the seventh World Forum on Sustainable Development organised by the government of Burkina Faso together with the United Nations and the African Union several African heads of state will meet key policy makers to discuss the opportunities climate change could offer for sustainable development.
“Luckily AFrica has only a very small part in (global) pollution. The continent emits less than 4 percent of greenhouse gasses,” Burkina’s Environment Minister Salifou Sawadogo, a member of the forum’s organising committee, told AFP.
However, Africa needs “to make it clear to countries that have achieved their economic development to the detriment of the environment that they have to take responsibility and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help the continent most vulnerable to climate change,” he said.
Africa is already facing the consequences of climate change: a drop in rainfall has led to a historic five year drought across east Africa which aid agencies said could see more than 23 million people face hunger and destitution.
“African countries have already made efforts and have drawn up plans on how to adapt to climate change,” Moumini Savadogo, a spokesman for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (UICN), said. What they are missing is resources, according to Savadogo.
“This forum will be an opportunity for Africans to agree to ask the support of industrialized countries to carry out those plans,” he explained.
For the first time at the UN’s summit in Copenhagen this December Africa will present a common position. The continent is sending a panel of leaders from African countries headed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Early September Meles warned that the African representatives would walk out of the Copenhagen summit if their demands for compensation payments were not met. In the three-day forum in Ouagadougou, which starts Friday, hundreds of scientists, economists and other experts will gather to debate the meeting’s central question: Climate change: what opportunities for sustainable development?
The meetings will be divided up in several sessions focusing on different themes such as migration due to climate change, the political, social and economic impact of such migrations, health and globalisation and demographic growth and access to resources.
The African environment ministers present at the summit will also meet with their counterparts from the Arab League countries to set up a global platform that they will present at the Copenhagen summit.