African Climate Risks Conference 2019 - Conference Report

Submitted by Beth Mackay | published 12th Nov 2019 | last updated 14th Nov 2019
African Climate Risks Conference 2019

Dismantling barriers to urgent climate change adaptation actions

Held under the theme ‘Dismantling barriers to urgent climate change adaptation actions’ the first African Climate Risks Conference (ACRC) provided an open platform for sharing the latest climate research in Africa among researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and development partners. Recognizing that adapting to climate variability and change is key for the African continent, the conference aimed to facilitate a synergistic approach to climate adaptation from a diverse range of actors across sectors, as well as to enable a better understanding of the drivers of risk and vulnerability.

The ACRC featured a variety of sessions, all aimed at holistically addressing the opportunities and challenges related to climate change adaptation action in Africa. It promoted the uptake of new data, tools, and knowledge, and facilitated network creation and research collaborations. The conference was structured across eight themes:

  • latest research on climate science of Africa;
  • latest research on the science and projections of future climate change in Africa;
  • climate change risk analysis;
  • delivering resilience in the face of climate change uncertainty;
  • co-production of knowledge;
  • information distillation and communication;
  • mobilizing investment in climate and weather services; and
  • the water-energy-food-health nexus.

During the conference, participants discussed inter alia: the status of climate research in Africa and the success stories of bringing this research into use while also investigating the challenges to have climate information integrated into decision and policy making for a resilient Africa; the future of climate research on the continent; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Reports on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and on Climate Change and Land; climate services initiatives in Africa; urban challenges related to climate change adaptation; multi-level governance in enabling climate-resilient development; multidisciplinary approaches to climate change risk analysis; and links between climate adaptation and the agriculture and water sectors. Participants also:

  • showcased the latest climate-related research on the continent;
  • discussed uncertainty and ways to respond to it;
  • addressed climate change risk analysis;
  • exchanged ideas on mobilizing investment for climate and weather services; and
  • discussed the water-energy-food-health nexus.

The conference further allowed the dissemination of up-to-date results and the sharing of research insights, linking researchers and enabling multi-disciplinary approaches that may prove crucial in finding ways to address the imminent challenges posed by climate change. 

Key Messages

The closing plenary of ACRC 2019 began with the chair Ernest Afiesimama, (World Meteorological Organization (WMO)) underscoring the importance of linking researchers and a diversity of all actors in order to move climate information forward. Chris Jack provided a highlight of the conference outcomes noting;

  • significant progress in high resolution modeling across multiple time scales
  • strong adoption of co-production approaches while acknowledging the challenges
  • deeper interrogation of challenges like capacity development and using climate information
  • progress in linking risk management resilience and climate information

He also highlighted the emerging challenges and opportunities such as;

  • increasing recognition on the impacts of recent extremes, which provides an opportunity of relating climate change to what people are experiencing and providing evidence that it is related to climate change
  • high resolution modelling
  • scaling up – is a challenge but also an opportunity
  • shifting research funding and academic landscape – funding landscapes around universities are changing and its an opportunity to re-boot the system

Rosalind West in closing mentioned some points on the way forward such as seeing how the level of ambition can be raised at the Conference of the Parties, the issues that have been mentioned at ACRC will help to inform DFID’s new climate programme (CLARE), and finally that “climate science is not just for climate scientists it is for everyone.” Joseph Mukabana (regional director, WMO) noted “we need to enhance climate research to support economic development and need to upscale science for policy.”

Robi Reda (Director, Southsouthnorth) closed the ACRC by thanking all partners and organisation involved which helped to make the conference possible, going away with renewed hope that progress had been made in dismantling barriers to climate adaptation action for Africa.

The African Climate Risks Conference 2019

The ACRC convened from 7-9 October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was hosted by the Future Climate for Africa programme in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the UN Economic Commission for Africa - African Climate Policy Center (UNECA-ACPC), and the University of Addis Ababa. The Department for International Development (DFID), UK, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, funded the conference. The meeting attracted more than 350 participants. This report provides an overview of discussions held in plenary and in selected dialogue sessions.

Further resources