Africa is More Than Just a Safari
September 8, 2023
As global temperatures steadily rise and extreme weather events increase in frequency, the influence of climate change on African ecosystems is destabilizing countries and entire regions across the continent. Despite only contributing 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually, Africa suffers disproportionately from their impacts. Nations across the continent are paying a heavy price for the world’s top polluters and the consequences could be catastrophic.
Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse and unique ecosystems, including savannas, deserts, coastal areas and 131 million hectares of wetlands. The region also holds a significant portion of the world’s remaining forests, including the Congo Basin. This 240-million-hectare rainforest supports the lives of 80 million people and offsets 4% of global carbon emissions yearly.
Given this range of ecosystems it is not surprising the African continent is home to 20% of our planet’s land and bird species, as well as 25% of all mammal species. At least one-sixth of the world’s plant species are endemic. All of this rich biodiversity benefits not only local populations but the entire world. African animals are part of our global culture, they populate our movies, films, advertising campaigns and cartoons.
Biodiversity loss due to temperatures rising, rainfall shifts, and changing weather patterns threatens the African species that we all know and love; from lions to dung beetles. And since so many of these species are only found on the African continent, preserving biodiversity here is not only important for Africa, but it’s important for the entire planet.
The road ahead is challenging, especially because Africa needs $1.3 trillion for climate action over the next two decades. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on debt levels and growth adds complexity to these efforts. But there is some good news. Around 393 million hectares of drylands need restoration under the Great Green Wall initiative to combat desertification and its commitment to restore 100 million hectares by 2030 is already surpassing expectations.