A report of the UN calls for urgent climate action in the Sahel

People collecting firewood in Sierra Leone People collecting firewood in Sierra Leone Annie Spratt via Unsplash

16 November 2022 

Without urgent investment, countries in the Sahel risk decades of armed conflict and displacement, the UN warns

On 16 November, the United Nations (UN) issued a report warning about the risk of worsening conflict and displacement in the Sahel without urgent investment in climate mitigation and adaptation. The report, “Moving from Reaction to Action: Anticipating Vulnerability Hotspots in the Sahel”, explains how the Sahel, a vast semi-arid region in Africa, faces rising human security challenges due to climate change, environmental degradation, weak governance capacity, conflict, and displacement, and calls for urgent action to prevent decades of armed conflict in the region.

The report focuses in particular on ten countries that are covered by the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its support plan in West and Central Africa, namely Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. Communities in all countries across the Sahel rely heavily on farming and pastoralism and are thus highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Temperatures in the Sahel are expected to rise 2.5ºC by 2080, but if urgent action in climate mitigation and adaptation is furtherly delayed, they could increase by 4.3ºC. For this reason, 

Andrew Harper, Special Advisor for Climate Action within the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), calls for a massive boost in climate action to change the region’s trajectory. Harper also noted that extreme weather events in the Sahel are worsening armed conflict and displacement: data from the UNHCR shows that nearly 2.7 million people have been internally displaced, while almost one million refugee claimants have been forced to flee their countries.   

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by Laura Maschio 



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