Amid global climate and hunger crises, Africa is building a brighter food future

15 Sep 2022

Bonn, Germany (15 September 2022) – Humanity is  facing a climate emergency that is hitting Africa harder than anywhere else, even though the continent contributes just 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The war in Ukraine is causing food and fuel prices to rise dramatically, making it harder than ever for African countries to feed their citizens with food imports. But the crisis could also offer an opportunity for Africa to radically transform its food systems, said experts at the GLF Africa 2022 Digital Conference.

The continent has a multitude of solutions to take back its food sovereignty, but these solutions need to be scaled up. Over 200 speakers issued a rallying call for investments into climate and biodiversity, equitable access to land, and shorter, greener value chains. Not only can this transformation build the resilience of communities and ecosystems, but it can also mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Never before have we been facing as many global crises simultaneously as we are today. Today, we not only need to take action against one of the worst global food crises ever, but we also need to make our food systems resilient to future crises. Let us consider this as an opportunity,” said Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Germany is currently holding the G7 Presidency.

“The African youth generation has awakened, and we are committed to doing all we can to build a prosperous Africa. For that, we need African leaders to actively promote investment in the agricultural sector. After all, agriculture is the coolest job in the world. African agribusiness will be worth $1 trillion by 2030, and everyone does need to eat,” said Ineza Grace, coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition.

Hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum in partnership with BMZ and various partners, the fully-online event on 15 September 2022 brought together over 8,300 registered participants from 122 countries, including entrepreneurs, scientists, youth activists, restoration practitioners and the highest levels of government. It reached over 26 million people through social media.

Featuring 31 sessions, the release of five white papers, launches, virtual tour, job fair and creative exhibitions and performances, the conference provided critical insights on how to build a resilient food future in Africa ahead of the UN COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Key recommendations from experts across Africa included:

  • Africa is endowed with rich and diverse ecosystems that provide essential services to secure the continent’s food, water, energy health, and secure livelihood needs. In rural areas of the continent, more than 62% of the population depends directly on these services. As such, biodiversity and its value must be integrated into economic and financial decision making.
  • To ensure that land is managed sustainably, local people must be granted equitable access to land and natural resources, regardless of gender and age.
  • Young people have a crucial role to play in building the continent’s food future, but most of Africa’s agricultural development programs lack policies that explicitly target them.
  • Smallholder farmers contribute at least 70% of Africa’s food supply, but they face multiple obstacles, including poor access to markets, policy inaction, and technology deficits that limit productivity and profitability. Sustainable finance and development pathways can make a difference by improving land use for African food systems and creating green jobs and value chains for commodities like cocoa, soy, palm oil, fruit, and vegetables, with positive knock-on effects on climate change, biodiversity, water use, rural poverty, and gender inequality. 
  • Africa currently receives only 3% of global climate finance even though it is one of the continents most affected by climate change. The financing gap for agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be over USD 100 billion a year, and Africa will need over USD 3 trillion in climate financing by 2030 to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

The conference featured a plenary hosted by the GEF-funded Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program (FOLUR), which aims to transform the environmental footprint of agriculture through 27 country projects targeting production landscapes for eight major commodities, including cocoa, coffee, corn, livestock, palm oil, rice, soy and wheat. The plenary featured recently launched FOLUR country projects in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s two largest cocoa exporters, and presented lessons and perspectives on ways to achieve green and zero-deforestation commodity value chains.

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NOTES TO EDITORS 

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About the GLF 

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on integrated land use, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. The Forum takes a holistic approach to create sustainable landscapes that are productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient, and considers five cohesive themes of food and livelihoods, landscape restoration, rights, finance and measuring progress. It is led by the Center for International Forestry Research-World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF), in collaboration with its co-founders UNEP and the World Bank, and its charter member. This digital conference has been made possible through the generous support of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection of Germany (BMUV), the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program (FOLUR), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Robert Bosch Foundation.

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QUOTES FROM THE CONFERENCE

Never before have we been facing as many global crises simultaneously as we are today. Today, we not only need to take action against one of the worst global food crises ever, but we also need to make our food systems resilient to future crises. Let us consider this as an opportunity”

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

The African youth generation has awakened, and we are committed to doing all we can to build a prosperous Africa. For that, we need African leaders to actively promote investment in the agricultural sector. After all, agriculture is the coolest job in the world. African agribusiness will be worth $1 trillion by 2030, and everyone does need to eat.

Ineza Grace, coordinator of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition

It’s not because external actors ask for this. It’s because we believe in it. If we are reactive, we may continue to experience more of the same. But if we become proactive, we may well become leaders of new food systems.

Carlos Lopes, Honorary Professor, Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town

We must manage the use of wild species for food looking at the whole range of possible options from pure conservation to sustainable use to domestication. We can’t simply tell people depending on wildmeat as their main source of protein simply to stop eating meat without giving them affordable and healthy alternatives.

Robert Nasi, Director General, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

There is a narrative that we can start changing. Africa is not a country: it is a continent. Africa is not ‘defined by poverty’ – Africa is rich. Africa is full of stories; Africa is full of diversity; it’s full of young hearts, it’s full of culture, it’s full of innovation; it’s full of new ideas. If we would like to see solutions that are nature-based, if we’d like to see innovative contributions to both the science space and the conservation space, then Africa is the best place to look at. And we constantly need to remember and ask the rest of the world not to define Africa from a poverty perspective, because that is not what we are. Africa is rich in biodiversity, from the oceans to the land to our people as well.

Jamila Jana, Marine Biologist, Stellenbosch University

"Protecting the continent’s climate is key to addressing poverty and food crises." "Small scale farmers produce the food, but they go to bed hungry." "We need a future holistic approach to managing the future crises that threaten humanity."

Alvaro Lario, African Solutions for Food and Climate; future President of the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD)

“When we think of adaptation, our first thought might be around reducing food risks or preventing water shortages, but what we learn is that strengthening health systems can reduce the impact of infectious disease, heat stress and other climate-related risks, as well as trauma associated with extreme heat.”
“There are limits to adaptation. Adaptation cannot prevent all losses and damages, and even with effective adaptation, limits will be reached with higher levels of warming.”

Youba Sokona, Vice-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

“In my culture, trees are sacred. That is something we can build on to conserve biodiversity. Our cultures have the solutions.”

Ayo Fortunate, Turr Tribe, Karamoja region

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