In climate battle, China reaches out to Africa

By Joyce Chimbi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/14 18:38:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


The south-south scientific cooperation involving reputed scientists and institutions in China and Africa continues to deepen with discussions and commitments revolving around three key goals - climate change, ecological management and livelihood. A holistic approach to climate change tops the agenda.

China has dominated economic cooperation across Africa, offering the continent more donor options while also providing loans and technical support toward improving infrastructure and connectivity.

It is therefore this growing cooperation on climate change and particularly on the linkages between climate change, ecosystem management and human livelihood that is opening a new and long-term chapter in relations between the East Asian nation and Africa.

During a conference in Nairobi in September last year that brought together at least 70 leading scientists and more than 40 institutions from both China and Africa, it was reiterated that climate change is not only an environmental issue but a top development agenda.

Most African nations have an agrarian economy. In Kenya, where the south-south scientific conference was held, an estimated 5 million households out of 8 million depend directly on agriculture.

It is not enough therefore that Africa industrializes its massive agricultural sector which remains largely under-utilized and consequently under-performing. It is important that the continent partners with like-minded development partners like China to combat the impact of climate change.

South-south scientists continue to expound on what the three key goals mean stating that there is an urgent need to improve knowledge and awareness levels regarding how climate change, the management of ecosystem and livelihoods interact toward improving the quality of life and boosting GDPs.

Second, there is an equally great need to improve capacities at both national and regional levels to develop programs on climate change, ecosystem and livelihoods that are aligned to the sustainable development goals, which are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and promote peace and prosperity.

Third, to develop policy interventions that can significantly provide solutions to the challenges faced with regards to environment and development.

That China and Africa are exploring strategic partnerships that involve agriculture and climate change speaks volume for the future of China and Africa. It is bound to be sustainable and long-term as it addresses areas that are the backbone of a majority of African nations.

Through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), there are commitments to enhancing tie-ups on satellite weather monitoring which is the application of science and technology in predicting the state of the atmosphere.

There is further consultation toward utilizing new energy sources with China already committing to building 100 clean energy power stations across Africa. These power plants will significantly diversify sources of energy across Africa by increasing the use of solar power, hydro power and bio-gas. Diversification is crucial toward energy security and to boost socio-economic development.

FOCAC has been moving from strength to strength since it was established in 2012 by aligning its agenda to issues that are of utmost priority to the development of Africa by embracing a holistic approach to economic development.

Both China and Africa share broad common interests with Beijing increasingly acknowledging that climate change has increased the socio-economic challenges that the continent continues to face. This has placed excessive pressure on African nations to achieve sustainable development.

China is making tangible efforts to build the capacities of developing countries to effectively and efficiently adapt to climate change.

China's South-South Cooperation Fund is supporting Africa's efforts to combat climate change, desertification and drought with Beijing committing $500 million to these efforts.

Through China, Africa stands a chance to find sustainable, innovative and integrative solutions to support the work of policymakers and to strengthen scientific policies in response to the drastic and erratic weather changes which have threatened to cripple the agricultural sector.

This is largely due to the fact that such cooperation will build on existing institutions, networks and human resources because there are many ongoing programs and consultative forums between Africa and China.

One of the most important aspects of China-Africa cooperation is that it provides immense opportunities to analyze issues from a south perspective. This is crucial because both parties come to the table in solidarity and to gain mutual benefits, without obligations.

FOCAC has anchored cooperation on climate change within the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, enabling African nations involved to align climate change talks with their national and regional development goals.

The author is a Kenya-based journalist.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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