According to the introduction of the working paper Inspiring Climate Change Action in African Cities produced by the FRACTAL project, the need for climate change adaptation has been widely recognised among developing countries since the early 1990s. The 2015 Paris Agreement provided renewed impetus for addressing the issue; many countries included adaptation and mitigation commitments in their national climate plans.
Despite significant advances in adaptation, and the increasing awareness of the importance of adaptation, knowledge remains in some respects incomplete. The scope of understanding is fragmented as the result of limited awareness of what and how adaptation projects and policies are being carried out, and because of the scant monitoring of the outcomes of these undertakings.
Humanity, the natural world, and the built environment across the globe are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change. Developing nations are believed to be particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, in part because of the dependence of livelihoods on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries and forestry – and in part from the fragility of infrastructure in developing nations, where houses, buildings, municipal services and transportation networks often have limited capacity to cope with severe impacts that already have begun to occur.
‘Inspiring Climate Action in African Cities’ serves to highlight adaptation projects that have taken place in Africa – specifically in the urban and peri-urban settings that increasingly define the continent – and to highlight the Sustainable Development Goals that these efforts address. This working paper deliberately focuses on the African continent’s urban adaptation – a subject in need of global attention, particularly in the context of climate change. The African continent will lead the world’s population growth over the next 50 years, and ‘the people of Africa will increasingly be city dwellers… This means that Africa will have some of the largest mega-cities in the world’ (African Development Bank, 2014). While no continent is immune to the impact of climate change, the African continent, in general, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, face a particularly broad array of issues.
Vulnerabilities include: increased water stress, higher risk of coastal inundation, changes in river hydrology,
increased exposure to infectious disease, and alterations to the magnitude and frequency of extreme events. ‘Africa is already a continent under pressure from climate stresses and is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change’ (UNFCCC, 2007).
The projects in the working paper are intended to provide practical options to inspire national and municipal governments, city planners, NGOs, private companies, international institutions, and communities to take action to implement further adaptation projects on the continent. Readers of all backgrounds and from locations within and beyond Africa can and should learn from these case studies.