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Climate change has become one of the buzz words of the 21st century – we all know the term, we hear it every day, yet what does it actually mean for the youth of Africa? According to a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), twenty five million more children will be malnourished in 2050 due to the effects of climate change. This study, the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on agriculture to date, compares the number of malnourished children in 2050 with and without climate change. This will primarily be due to the destructive effect on agriculture of rising temperatures and changes in weather patterns – resulting in depleted crops and ultimately less food for Africa’s poverty-stricken population.

"This outcome could be averted with seven billion U.S. dollars per year of additional investments in agricultural productivity to help farmers to adapt to the effects of climate change. Investments are needed in agricultural research, improved irrigation, and rural roads to increase market access for poor farmers. Access to safe drinking water and education for girls is also essential," said Gerald Nelson, IFPRI senior research fellow and report lead author.

The study, "Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation," was prepared by IFPRI for inclusion in two separate reports from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. Without new technology and adaptations to practices by farmers, climate change will reduce irrigated wheat yields in 2050 by around 30 percent in developing countries compared to a no-climate change scenario. Irrigated rice yields will fall by 15 percent.

There has been a wave of awareness across the continent regarding the dangers of climate change and its effect on children, and the need to address it. For example, a small community in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that decided to replant its degraded forest is ensuring education for hundreds of children and providing basic health care services – in part thanks to carbon revenue that their reforestation project is expected to generate.

Ibi village, located on the Batéké Plateau approximately 150 kilometers from the capital Kinshasa, is now finding itself in the spotlight as it boasts the DRC’s first Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project approved and registered under the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to fighting climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, the Ibi Batéké Carbon Sink Plantation Project is helping surrounding communities improve the livelihoods of its people through job creation and provision of health and education while promoting other environmental benefits such as the regeneration of patches of savannah and sheltering wildlife.

The project is seen as a successful model for the rest of the country and indeed the continent. Through the planting of different types of acacia, eucalyptus and pine trees, the project is directly absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Part of the reforestation will be used as a sustainable source of charcoal for urban areas, such as Kinshasa, which will reduce the pressure of deforestation on native forests. By dealing preemptively with the effects of climate change including a focus on employment and better health care, this project is aligned with the World Bank's newly approved strategy for Africa.

South Africa recently published its first children’s book about climate change. "I can't stand the idea of lecturing at children. I just wanted to chat in a constructive way. There's plenty that kids can do to help, all on their own. Parents have just handed the problem on to the next generation. We won't see most of the damage - our children and grandchildren will," says Ginny Stone, author of the first South African children's book about climate change, ''Sibo Makes A Difference.''


The International EcoSchools Programme, an initiative of the Foundation for Environmental Education started in 1994, was launched in South Africa in 2003. EcoSchools gives recognition to schools that can show how they have improved the quality of environmental learning and sustainable management in their schools and communities. About 9 000 schools have earned green Eco-School flags in 50 countries around the world. Over 30 000 schools are registered with the programme, globally with approximately 9 million students and 628 000 teachers involved! Currently, there are around 1,200 registered EcoSchools in South Africa and this is growing fast. The EcoSchools themes followed in South Africa are Local and Global Issues, Nature and Biodiversity, Community and Heritage, Resource Use, and Healthy Living. Each of these integrates easily into the South African national curriculum. The EcoSchools Programme in South Africa is implemented by WESSA and supported by WWF-SA.

A future testament to the commitment of Africa to addressing the issue of climate change on the continent is the 17th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change which will be held on the African continent for the first time during November and December this year. The host city, Durban, on South Africa’s East Coast, is one of the country’s tourist hubs and strongly dedicated to greening issues. In fact, the city’s bold response to the challenges of climate change and (delete this word)have positioned the city as a global leader in the field of climate protection planning and established it as the ‘Climate Capital’ of South Africa.

The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) will be hosting a side event at the conference. The AYICC is an umbrella youth network that was conceived in 2006 in Nairobi Kenya, during the 2nd International Conference of Youth held before the UNFCCC, COP 12. This initiative has continued to connect, share knowledge, ideas, experiences, skills and strategies on youth action around the continent on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It has been identified by African youth as providing an effective platform in order to address regional challenges at international gatherings, such as the UNFCCC COP process among others. For more information, visit:


For more information on COP 17: