Global Environmental Change & Governance Workshop – Africa

The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that Africa is exceptionally vulnerable to climate change and variability; and, that this is because of ‘multiple stresses’ that exacerbate the continent’s vulnerability to climatic risk. Governance bottlenecks are among these ‘stresses’; they are likely worsening, even possibly driving, Africa’s vulnerability to climate change. Nevertheless, there is a great deal about climate change in the African continent that we do not know and this is especially the case on the interface between governance dynamics and vulnerability to impacts of climate change in the region. The complex relationships among the different typologies, agents, scales and/or attributes of governance and vulnerability to climate change remain understudied.

START, in collaboration with the Institute for Environmental and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana, and the Earth Systems Governance (ESG) Project convened a two-day scoping workshop on governance dimensions of GEC in Africa. The event brought together 18 experts representing a diverse set of disciplines, experiences and countries to look into knowledge, capacity and networking needs related to governance dimensions of climate change in Africa using the ESG conceptual framework.

Participants collaboratively identified key issues related to the nexus between governance and global environmental change (including climate change) in Africa as well as the knowledge/research, capacity and networking needs related to this important nexus. Overall, the workshop underscored the centrality of efficient, transparent and equitable governance across scales, sectors and government goals for addressing the adverse impacts of GEC in Africa. A workshop outcome involved a draft strategy paper on knowledge, capacity and networking needs in earth system governance in Africa. The draft will be further developed with the goal in view of having it published as a peer reviewed journal article.

The workshop also started off an Africa chapter of ESG, to be facilitated by START, IESS and the ESG project to create a platform for and sustain collaboration among African academics working on governance dimensions of GEC.

The following are among major outcomes of the workshop:

  • Because traditional authority is revered in Africa (including on critical environmental and natural resource issues such as water, land and biodiversity, their allocation and related conflict resolution) − there is a critical need to examine its role in promoting (and/or undermining) efforts geared towards enhancing adaptive capacities and fostering.
  • There is a need to improve the efficacy of many national and local governments in the programmatic aspects of adaptation, including in the development, management, financing, and execution of relevant programs and projects. Some national/local governments are, however, better than others. Given the expansive nature of the continent, there is a great need for comparative research on the relationship between attributes of good governance and vulnerability and resilience at local, municipal and national levels. Interventions at sub-national scales could benefit from such comparative studies and assessments.
  • There is a need for better understanding of the extent to which democratic (or non-democratic processes) affect vulnerability to GEC in the region – for example, how does political suppression influence vulnerability to GEC?
  • Institutions must themselves to be adaptive to GEC. There is a need to examine the degree to which African institutions at all scales of governance, including local and city governments, are adaptive to the changing climate.
  • Allocation of, and access to, environmental resources should be founded on the basis of well-enunciated rights and obligations; appropriate systems of management are key for ensuring the ‘functional’ aspects of allocation and access.
Click here for Workshop Program Booklet Click here for the Workshop Report

Workshop Presentations

Climate Change and Good Governance Workshop: Africa – Workshop objectives and expectations
Senay Habtezion, START
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Earth System Governance: A Research Program
Prof. Frank Biermann, VU University Amsterdam, Lund University, SWEDEN
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Earth System Governance Analytical Framework and Implementation
Ruben Zondervan, Earth System Governance Project, Lund University, SWEDEN
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Africa, Climate Change and “Good Governance”: Key Research Capacity and Networking Needs
Prof. M.T. Okorodudu-Fubara, University of Obafemi, NIGERIA
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Promoting interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in climate change and governance research in Africa
Prof. Chris Gordon, University of Ghana, GHANA
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For further information, please contact Senay Habtezion: