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To be resilient to climate change, Africa must adapt

Better integration of science and policy in Africa is crucial for effective adaptation to climate change, concluded an international workshop.

This policy brief ― 'Climate change in Africa: Linking science and policy for adaptation' ― from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the International Institute for Environment and Development draws together the conclusions from a 2006 workshop attended by representatives of the UK government, international nongovernmental organisations and research communities.

The aims of the workshop were to assess the state of knowledge on climate change in Africa, to identify constraints faced by African research organisations in dealing with climate change and to review examples of existing development programmes to reduce vulnerability to current climatic and non-climatic stresses.

Key priorities identified for future research are to refine shorter timescale climate models so they are consistent with development priorities, and to tailor them to the needs of resource managers. Further, research should be expanded into the local and context-specific nature of climate change vulnerability and adaptation.

The authors draw attention to a number of constraints, including a lack of research capacity among African organisations and individuals, the need to integrate climate information into development policies, and the need to sustain capacity building as a long-term process involving both researchers and policymakers.

Key suggestions for policymakers include promoting equal North-South partnerships and national governance, and reducing reliance on rain-fed agriculture by strengthening education and healthcare to enhance long-term resilience. Risk reduction strategies, such as livelihood diversification and disaster management, foster adaptation. The workshop also agreed that climate change should feature in new development investments.

Link to the full policy brief from the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research [103kB]