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CSE and MESHA-Kenya Unveil the “State of Africa’s Environment 2023” Report

Ojugbele Omotunde

Kenya’s India-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), in collaboration with MESHA-Kenya, unveiled the inaugural edition of the “State of Africa’s Environment 2023” report in front of approximately 50 journalists from Kenya and other African nations.

Launched on Wednesday with contributions from various African journalists, scholars, and environmental experts, the report was compiled by the India-based science, development, and environment monthly publication, Down To Earth.

Together with Sunita Narain, Director General of CSE, Mamo Bor Mamo, Director General of Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), released the report.

Narain provided the following rationale for the report: “We can read and comprehend the immediate stories today, but often we fail to see the bigger picture. This report will help us see the bigger picture by providing a comprehensive overview that highlights the connections between the environment and development, making it easier for us to understand the various facets of the environment. Development and the environment are intricately linked.”

Mamo Bor Mamo, speaking at the launch, emphasized the report’s relevance to Africa’s environment. He stated, “Taking good care of our environment is a collective responsibility, and this report will guide us in shaping our stance at COP28.”
The report’s editor-in-chief and managing editor, Richard Mahapatra, mentioned that a group of over 100 experts and journalists from across the continent had contributed country-specific assessments, which were examined from a continental perspective. The report addresses emerging challenges related to waste management, water and sanitation, agriculture and land degradation, and climate change.
Key highlights from the report include:

Emphasis on the “central role of environmental well-being in the overall sustainable development of the continent” in the first edition of the “State of Africa’s Environment 2023” report.

Africa’s abundant natural resources, worth an estimated $6.2 trillion in 2018, are closely tied to the continent’s wealth and economy, surpassing its entire GDP by nearly three times.

The declining per capita natural capital in Africa, from $4,374 in 1995 to $2,877 in 2018, may lead to a 10% projected GDP decrease by 2030 and 2050, with potential repercussions for water pollution, food security, and coastline erosion.

Africa experiences a faster rate of climate change compared to the rest of the world, despite its minimal contribution to global warming.

The report highlights the potential for increased conflicts due to climate change and environmental pressures, with African nations showing more commitment to emissions reduction compared to most other nations.

Despite hosting a significant portion of the world’s plant and animal species, Africa faces a higher rate of species extinction; however, its conservation models prioritize people and can alleviate poverty.

The continent, with 65% of the world’s undeveloped arable land, imports approximately 85% of its food, highlighting the need to reverse land degradation and increase natural capital.

Air pollution claims the lives of 1.1 million people annually in Africa, exacerbated by the importation of used vehicles from developed nations, prompting policy changes.

Africa’s average life expectancy has increased from 64 years in 2000 to 56 years, with progress in combating neglected tropical illnesses but continued challenges due to climate change.

Managing Africa’s water resources, which exceed 100 times the annual replenishable freshwater held in dams and rivers, will impact global water security.

Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to generate 300% more waste by 2050, with only 55% collected, and just 19% managed in controlled facilities.

Despite having a renewable energy potential of 9,000 GW, Africa faces a significant challenge in providing clean cooking fuels to 130 million people annually, with 60% concentrated in the Sub-Saharan region.

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