By Kemo Cham in Nairobi
A new report examining the state of Africa’s environment has been launched in Nairobi, Kenya, amid calls for proactive action to protect the continent from further environmental devastation.
The State of the Environment (SOE)) of Africa, launched on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, reveals how the continent’s progress is being held back by a confluence of factors that include poor leadership, bad governance and unethical practices by big business interests.
The Indian research and advocacy organization, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), produced the report which gives a snapshot of the state of the environment and how it is affecting livelihoods of the continent’s population. It details the environmental situation in the context of climate change, energy access, air pollution, biodiversity, land and agriculture, mobility, water and waste management, among other development issues on the continent.
According to the report, Africa continues to bear the brunt of the repercussions of climate change even though African countries contribute less to the triggers of the phenomenon.
The report also examines Africa’s potential to feed itself and the role poor governance policies play in frustrating efforts towards food security. Despite having 65 percent of arable land, for instance, Africa still imports foods, the authors of the report note.
SOE Africa is a collaborative work between CSE and Africa-based journalists, under the auspices of the Kenya-based Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA).
The document was launched at a press briefing at Nairobi’s Ngong Hills Hotel, attended by about 30 science journalists from across the continent.
The authors and other environmental experts hail the report as a blueprint to solve many, if not all, of Africa’s development issues.
CSE’s Director General, veteran environmental activist Sunita Narain, presided over the event that was graced by the head of Kenya’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
Ms Narain said the report has the potential to stir discussions toward an inclusive and prosperous future for Africa and the rest of the world, through advancing climate action and green growth, among others.
“It is a report which puts together the state of the environment. It is a report that helps to build that larger picture of what is happening,” she said.
Narain lamented the role of powerful economies in creating a global crisis like climate change while failing to take responsibility for their actions.
“There is no doubt that climate change is an existential threat today. The African continent is the least responsible for emissions that have forced temperatures to rise… But it is also true that the African continent, along with countries like India, are going to be worst affected,” she said.
Mamo Bor Mamo, Director General of the National Environmental Management Authority of Kenya, said the document is important for Africa’s development aspirations, noting that it would add value to the discussions.
Mr Mamo also said the report being launched on the backdrop of CoP28, the annual United Nations conference on climate change, has the potential to strengthen Africa’s position at the global event slated for next month in Dubai, UAE.
“The issues raised here are very pertinent. Those are key environmental issues in our country and on the continent,” he said.
The SOE was published through CSE’s fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth.
The organization says it intends to publish the report annually.