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New IPCC report emphasises the need to scale up adaptation in Africa and beyond


Roy Bouwer


March 7, 2022


Climate change is already being felt across the world, with urgent adaptation action needed to avert the worst impacts. This according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group II (WGII). In the 6th Assessment report (AR6), the IPCC authors highlight the interconnectivity between society, nature and climate change as vital to moving from risk to climate resilient development. 

The report finds that the most vulnerable populations and ecosystems are already being adversely affected by the losses and damages caused by man-made climate change. The severity of the impacts of climate change are expected to increase as hazards increase and risks become more complex beyond 1.5℃ of global warming.

Figure SPM.1 from the WGII-AR6 Summary for Policy Makers illustrating the interactions among the coupled systems climate, ecosystems (including their biodiversity) and human society.

In order to combat the threats posed by climate change, adaptation is needed to reduce the risks posed to humans and nature. While the report finds that there has been progress in planning and implementing adaptation, there is still a significant gap in addressing long-term risks for the most vulnerable. To upscale and accelate adaptation various factors (such as political buy-in, effective policies and plan, improved knowledge, access to climate finance and inclusive governance) are essential to the sustainability and effectiveness of adaptation interventions. 

The report highlights the importance of climate resilient development through collective action to tackle climate risks, inequality and climate justice. Currently development agendas have failed to build climate resilience, and the opportunities to achieve climate resilient development will significantly decline without concerted efforts to reduce global emissions. Two key areas to support climate resilient development include climate smart urban development and safeguarding nature and ecosystems. 


What is expected for Africa


Despite Africa’s minimal contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts across the continent have been significant. Between 1.5℃ and 2℃ of global warming, climate risks will pose significant challenges to food security, economic growth, poverty eradication, biodiversity and human health. Africa faces various challenges associated with high employment in climate-sensitive sectors, large numbers of poor and female-headed rural households and growing informal settlements in urban areas all creating multidimensional risks. The report finds that adaptation is beneficial in reducing present climate risks, however the future effectiveness remains uncertain, making the need for climate resilient development crucial for the continent. 

Despite the urgency for climate resilient development, Africa lacks access to relevant climate information and faces significant inequalities in funding and research leadership opportunities. In addition to this the report finds that Africa faces a substantial funding gap for adaptation, which will likely grow as the global climate warms. Thus it’s important to strengthen climate finance flows to African countries. Africa requires effective governance and robust legislation to support long-term decision making to enable climate resilient development. 

For more see: Africa Fact Sheet 



FCFA’s contribution to the IPCC 6th Assessment report


The Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme’s aims were well aligned to address some of the key challenges and findings emerging from the AR6 report.  The programme aimed to support climate resilience in Africa, through bringing climate change considerations into medium- to long-term decision-making. The programme made significant progress in improving the underlying scientific understanding of Africa’s climate while testing novel approaches to engagement to co-produce climate information and solutions within Africa. The calibre of FCFA’s researchers and work is evident within the Working Group I and Working Group II AR6 reports. 

The Working Group I report released in August 2021, focused on The Physical Basis for climate change. This report featured 25 FCFA-affiliated researchers, 16 of which were based within African universities. These authors had varying roles, with 15 taking leading roles (either lead authors or lead coordinating authors), with 2 lead authors being FCFA Early Career Researchers. Beyond the authors team, FCFA research was also cited throughout the report. 51 FCFA papers were listed as references a total of 84 times across the report. 

In the Working Group II report focused on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, released in February 2022, FCFA researchers and research were visible. 24 FCFA-affiliated researchers made up part of the 270 authors on the report, 15 of which were based within African institutions. A total of 29 FCFA outputs were listed as references 37 times in the report. Notably the report highlights the value of co-production in overcoming barriers to the use and uptake of climate information with reference to the FCFA and Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Co-production manual.

Infographic illustrating key numbers from FCFA's contribution to the 6th Assessment reports of the IPCC.

While FCFA’s work has complimented and fed into the IPCC AR6 findings, it is important to scale-up and replicate the programme’s efforts. The Adaptation Research Alliance(ARA) seeks to build off the FCFA legacy and promote action-orientated research to support effective adaptation. Programmes like ARA are increasingly important in supporting climate resilient development and driving the necessary climate action advocated in the IPCC AR6 report.