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State of Africa’s Environment 2023

  • Published
    25th Oct, 2023

Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the India-based think tank, in association with Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA-Kenya), released the inaugural edition of the State of Africa’s Environment 2023 report.

Key highlights of the report:

  • Centrality of environmental well-being: The inaugural edition of the State of Africa’s Environment 2023 report emphasizes on the “centrality of environmental well-being in the overall sustainable development of the continent”.
  • Resource Richness: Africa’s prosperity and economy is deeply linked to its enormously rich natural resources endowment, or its natural capital. Africa’s natural capital is estimated at US $6.2 trillion in 2018, thus making the continent richest in term of resources. This is nearly three times the economy of the entire continent.
  • Resource Conflict: If natural capital degrades, development in future will not be sustainable – more people will have to fight for limited resources.
  • Per Capita Resource: Per capita natural capital is declining in Africa: from US $4,374 in 1995 to US $2,877 in 2018. Various estimates suggest that African countries could see a 10 per cent drop in GDP by 2030 and by 2050, and some 1.2 billion Africans could face higher water pollution; 1.5 billion people could face increased food insecurity, while millions would be exposed to coastal erosion risks.
  • Climate change has been more rapid in Africa than the rest of the world.
    • Over the past 15 years, several studies have warned of climate change and environmental stressors intensifying and aggravating regional, ethnic and resources-driven conflicts. However, African countries, in terms of committing to reduce emission and on steps to fight the global crisis are ahead of most of the countries in the world.
  • Africa’s Biodiversity: The world’s second largest and second most populous continent hosts a quarter of the planet’s animal and plant species.
    • But the species extinction rate in the continent is higher than the rest of the world. 
    • Here as well, African countries have some of the pioneering conservation models that put community at the centre.
    • If Africa protects its biodiversity, the world gains from it. Protected areas in Africa if sustainably used can eradicate poverty and bring peace.
  • Africa’s Food Security: Africa imported about 85 per cent of its food from outside the continent. This is when it has 65 per cent of the world’s arable lands that are yet to be cultivated. Desertification affects 45 per cent of the continent. Nevertheless, the continent’s joint efforts to restore degradation and build up natural capital are examples of modern time planetary efforts to save it.
  • Air Pollution: Air pollution kills 1.1 million people annually in the continent. Developed economies treat the continent as their dump yard for used vehicles adding to the woes of air pollution. Some countries are already taking policy initiatives that have potential for curbing this menace.
  • Clean Cooking Fuel in Africa: Every year, some 130 million Africans have to be provided clean cooking fuels to meet the universal access target in 2030.
    • This is the biggest development challenge as some 0.7 million people died in 2019 due to lack of clean cooking fuels. 
    • But Africa is leaping to the renewable energy world.
    • It has a renewable energy potential of 9,000 GWwith about 60 per cent of it concentrated in the Sub-Saharan region.
  • Healthy life expectancy in Africa has increasedto 56 years in 2019 from 46 years in 2000.
    • In Africa, 47 countries have already eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease.
    • There are signs of progress in the continent meeting its health goals but challenges remain.
    • Due to climate change, in eastern and southern Africa, an additional 75.9 million people will be at risk from 10-12 months’ exposure to malaria by 2080.
  • Water Resource in Africa: How Africa manages its water resources will define how water-secure the world would be. Africa’s aquifers hold 0.66 million KM3of water. This is more than 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resources stored in dams and rivers.
  • Waste Management in Africa: Waste generation in Sub-Saharan Africa will increase 300 per cent by the year 2050.
    • Sub-Saharan Africa manages to collect only 55 per cent of the waste it generates. Of this, only 19 per cent is managed in controlled facilities. 

Way Forward:

Africa is one of the continents which is having highest natural resource richness not only in terms of wildlife and minerals, but it also has one of the largest reserves of future clean energy reserves like cobalt, lithium, etc. Thus, the development path of the continent has to be environment centric so that the resource extraction has minimum impact on the Africa’s environment and help develop achieve economic prosperity in a balanced manner achieving various goals of Sustainable development.

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