The World Bank aims to drive more funding into efforts to help African countries withstand climate change impacts and boost their clean energy production through a $16 billion plan revealed on Tuesday.
The “Africa Climate Business Plan” lays out investments to make the continent’s people, land, water and cities more resilient to droughts, floods, storms and rising seas, increase access to green energy, and strengthen early warning systems.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said sub-Saharan Africa is “highly vulnerable to climate shocks”, which could have deep effects on everything from child stunting to malaria and food price increases.
“This plan identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard-won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change,” he added in a statement.
The plan outlines measures for “fast-tracking” adaptation to climate change, costing almost $10.7 billion from 2016 to 2020.
They include helping some 10 million farmers adopt resource-efficient techniques and hardier crop varieties, improving water management in the Niger, Lake Chad and Zambezi basins, reducing coastal erosion, strengthening flood protection, and restoring degraded land and forests.
The African region requires $5 billion to $10 billion per year to prepare for global warming of 2 degrees Celsius, the plan said, an amount that could rise to $20 billion to $50 billion by mid-century.
But experts say pledges from some 170 countries to curb their planet-warming emissions would still permit global average temperatures to increase between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees from pre-industrial times, suggesting adaptation costs will be higher.
Levels of funding for adaptation in Africa today amount to an annual $3 billion at most, “which is negligible considering the needs”, the World Bank plan said.
Ahead of U.N. climate talks in Paris from Monday, tasked with agreeing a new global deal to curb global warming, the bank said its plan’s emphasis on climate adaptation fitted priorities expressed by African states in their national action plans submitted as a basis for the deal.
Nearly two-thirds of African country plans estimate their finance needs for adaptation, a much higher figure than for the rest of the world, the bank noted.
Funding for climate action is likely to be a sticking point at the U.N. negotiations. Developed countries are reluctant to commit to increasing the $100 billion a year they have promised to mobilise for poorer nations worldwide by 2020, when a new agreement would take effect.
On energy, the World Bank plan aims to invest in boosting solar, hydro and geothermal generation capacity, and to provide 5 million off-grid consumers with access to modern energy services by 2023, when the funding would have produced results.
The cost of that part of the plan is estimated at $5.4 billion.
The bank said it expected to contribute around $5.7 billion to achieving the $16.1 billion plan, as part of an effort to increase the share of its own financing dedicated to climate action by one-third by 2020.
In addition, around $2.2 billion is foreseen from a range of international climate funds, $2 billion from donor governments and others in the development community, $3.5 billion from the private sector, and $0.7 billion from African domestic sources.
An additional $2 billion would need to be found to deliver on the plan, the bank said.
“While adapting to climate change and mobilising the necessary resources remain an enormous challenge, the plan represents a critical opportunity to support a priority set of climate-resilient initiatives in Africa,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa.
The plan also identifies longer-term outcomes that could be achieved by 2026, at an estimated cost of $21.3 billion.
Tourism is developing unsustainably in many poorer nations and so is failing to deliver major economic gains, according to researchers speaking at a conference.
The sector is often lauded as a valuable source of income for developing countries with beautiful environments. But it is not creating better infrastructure such as roads and clean water, as its representatives often claim, the audience heard last week at the annual international conference of the United Kingdom’s Royal Geographical Society.
Vishal Singh, a researcher at the Centre for Ecology, Development and Research in India, told the event that “not enough is invested in local development” through tourism companies.
Singh gave the example of a lake near Sukhatal, a tourist attraction in the Himalayas. The lake has halved in size in nine years due to pumping and irrigation, but no local tourism revenue has ever been put into its conservation, he said.
According to sustainability NGO the Worldwatch Institute, tourism is a crucial source of foreign currency for the world’s 40 poorest countries. But research presented at the conference showed that tourism also directly harms the environment while generating ever-higher carbon emissions through international travel.
The conference, which ran from 1 to 4 September, heard that carbon dioxide emissions from tourists’ travel are expected to quadruple by 2100, making a significant contribution to climate change, which disproportionately affects developing countries.
Tourism contributes five per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, UN agency the World Tourism Organization reports.
This goal of a “clean sector” is not being achieved, said Paul Peeters, who researches sustainable tourism at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. He is urging the travel industry to make tourism more sustainable by reducing air and car travel and becoming less wasteful.
He told the conference the tourism sector was under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact from agriculture and electricity companies, which also have to cut emissions in countries with strict legislation.
But to Melanie Stroebel, who researches environmental governance at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, it is important to discover exactly which firms in the tourist sector are causing environmental harm so they can be held accountable. However, because of powerful interests, “a radical change in the tourism business context seems unlikely”, she said.
Stroebel also argued that proposed sustainability measures such as reducing air travel could harm developing countries. Stroebel said that tourism supports local retailers and creates jobs, mostly in the hotel and restaurant sector.
“There are economic benefits involved,” she told the event.
In the Maldives, for example, tourism generates 42 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product), business forum the World Travel & Tourism Council reports.
But Peeters told SciDev.Net that tourism is a poor way to drive economic growth because it mainly offers basic jobs such as working in hotels or restaurants.