T he Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) documents evidence for wide ranging impacts from climate change on freshwater resources, food, fibre, forest products, coastal systems, low lying areas, industry, settlements, society and human health. The impacts will vary regionally, with more adverse impacts expected in low latitude and Polar Regions. It is likely that climate change can slow progress toward sustainable development and impede achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through direct adverse impacts and erosion of the capacity to adapt. Poor communities are especially vulnerable due to limited adaptive capacities and high dependence on climate sensitive resources, with the result that climate change will likely delay poverty reduction efforts.

Africa is identified by the IPCC as one of the region’s most vulnerable to climate variability and climate change due to multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity. Projected impacts in Africa include increased water stress that would negatively impact livelihoods and access to water; reduced agricultural yields, growing season length, and reduced area

suitable for crop agriculture, which would adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition; decreased freshwater fisheries; and impacts of sea level rise on large populations in coastal areas. Particularly vulnerable are semi-arid and arid areas of Africa.

International dialogues in various forums such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the G-8, the African Union and others highlight the growing recognition that climate change poses substantial risks to the environment, human wellbeing and future development. Both mitigation and adaptation actions are needed to reduce climate change risks to livelihoods, water security, food security, ecosystem goods and services, human wellbeing, development prospects and poverty reduction. It is now commonly recommended that, to be effective, mitigation and adaptation actions must be integrated with broader development and poverty reduction strategies and plans. Integration is needed to provide for more sustainable development that is based on environmentally sound principles and that avoids maladaptations in infrastructure, agricultural, industrial and social investments.

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