Chapter 4.2

Protecting natural resources

Click here to download the full draft (as at January 2017, PDF, 1.3 MB).

Where are we now? Where do we want to go?

Africa is the continent most at threat from climate change. Seven of the world's ten countries that are at greatest risk are in Africa. In the last 25 years, the number of weather-related disasters such as floods or droughts has doubled. This has once again been dramatically illustrated in large parts of eastern and southern Africa by the El Niño phenomenon. Climate change puts essential sources of livelihood such as farmland, water supply, ecosystems and supply infrastructure at risk. Africa already has the highest drought-induced mortality rates of any region in the world. Climate change thus also increases the risk of conflict over natural resources (such as land or water) and, as a consequence, places migratory pressure on the continent.

The United Nations Environment Programme has calculated that natural resources account for up to 50 per cent of gross domestic product in many African countries. Moreover, the maritime regions that lie off many African countries are affected by overfishing. Population growth will greatly increase pressure on Africa’s ecosystems in the next few decades.

At the same time, African states are actually subsidising the over-exploitation of resources in their countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, subsidies for fossil fuels alone amount to 21 billion US dollars (Africa Progress Report, 2015) per year. Reducing subsidies and introducing environmental taxes and pollution charges would enable African countries to not only create favourable overall conditions for a robust and viable economy but also generate additional funds for development.

Africa's biodiversity and ecosystems are precious assets that need to be protected, both to increase resilience to climate change and to boost economic activity and employment. Existing forest areas must be preserved as carbon sinks and for ensuring rainfall distribution, which is vital to the agricultural sector and for energy generation. Using environmentally sound technologies would make African products more competitive and also be an important factor in environmental and climate protection.

Our goal is a green, resilient and sustainable Africa whose "unique natural endowments, (...) environment and ecosystems, including its wildlife and wild lands are healthy, valued and protected, with climate resilient economies and communities". (Agenda 2063)

For this to happen, Africa itself must take responsibility for the protection and sustainable use of the natural resources that form the very basis of its future economic activity and prosperity.

What needs to happen?


  • Adapt agriculture better to climate change, for instance through
    - better erosion control and conservation agriculture
    - changes in crop rotations and more efficient water use
    - diversification of agricultural production
    - restoration of soil fertility
  • Create more natural and marine protected areas and manage these more effectively
  • Conclude an anti-poaching agreement


  • Support African partner countries in fulfilling their national obligations under the Paris climate agreement, for example:
    - Provide individual advice in designing and implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures
    - Lend support in mobilising own funding and targeted financial support
    - Mobilise private investment, for instance to promote climate-friendly agriculture, forestry, afforestation, industry, energy generation and energy efficiency


  • Specifically promote technology transfer and environmentally friendly investments
  • Swiftly implement international agreements to reduce carbon emissions
  • Support African countries in establishing true-cost pricing in the consumption of goods and resources (e.g. by establishing ecological tax systems and eliminating harmful subsidies)
  • Make available additional capital for climate risk insurance
  • Further expand the African Risk Capacity drought insurance scheme (develop new insurance products and take on new members)
  • Expand initiatives for reforestation (e.g. in the Sahara region) and the protection of tropical forests

continue to Chapter 4.3

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