Senegal workshop offers climate resilience insights for francophone nations
Climate change is a major concern in West Africa, where both drought and floods are causing hardship and damage that need urgent attention.
Finding remedies for these pressures, and making plans for an uncertain future, was the focus of a recent Global Environment Facility regional workshop in Senegal for French-speaking countries on the climate change frontline.
The workshop’s location gave delegates from across 16 countries in West Africa, along with Haiti representing French-speaking Caribbean countries, a chance to share their experiences and also observe how a low-income country facing sizable climate risks is working to build a safer future.
In Senegal, rising sea levels pose a major threat to lives and livelihoods. Coastal retreat, mostly attributed to climate change, has destroyed houses, hotels, and fishing infrastructure, and led to the disappearance of beaches and the loss of agricultural land.
Madeleine Diouf Sarr, head of the climate change division at Senegal’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group in global climate change negotiations, said the four-day Dakar workshop was critical to help vulnerable countries access needed climate finance and also identify ways to accelerate climate adaptation work.
“We have seen a real commitment from the countries to understand how it works, to better see how the governments can remove barriers, and to address the difficulties that countries have in the execution of climate adaptation projects,” she said, stressing the need to keep vulnerable countries’ climate vulnerability in focus.
“The LDCs represent 1 billion people, who are victims of climate change. They are the countries that emit the least greenhouse gases, and yet suffer the most from the consequences of climate change.”
The Senegal workshop focused on opportunities for French-speaking nations to deploy financing from the LDCF, which is the only international fund dedicated to supporting climate adaptation in Least Developed Countries. During the 2022 to 2026 period, each Least Developed Country can access up to $20 million in grant financing from the LDCF – double the amount available in the previous four-year funding period.
Earlier this year, the GEF held another regional workshop on climate adaptation in Mozambique, bringing together Least Developed Countries across Southern Africa. Additional sessions are planned in other regions to enable countries to develop strong pipelines of high-impact climate adaptation projects that align with national development priorities. The next two are planned for Ethiopia and Cambodia in September.
“The focus of these workshops is to increase outreach and capacity support for both Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States by tapping the best sources of adaptation innovation - that is, the countries themselves,” said Chizuru Aoki, who leads the GEF’s climate change adaptation work as well as its engagement with international conventions. “The sharing of localized experiences in how to deal with climate change offers the best path forward to bolster national climate resilience. The GEF encourages vulnerable countries to seek assistance through its two funds especially designed to meet their climate adaptation needs.”
One of the highlights of the Senegal workshop was a field visit to a women-led Farmer Field School in the village of Pandiénou, located in the western Thiès region. Participants learned from female farmers how they are using nature-based adaptation solutions, including eco-friendly pesticides derived from neem trees and organic fertilizers such as manure with peanut husks.
The GEF-funded project, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), applies the Farmer Field School approach which encourages the sharing of local knowledge about the best agricultural methods to enhance adaptation. This chance to see climate adaptation in action prompted discussions among workshop participants on the potential for nature-based solutions and innovative agriculture practices to bolster climate resilience in their own countries.
Baba Drame, Director of Environment and Classified Establishments within the Senegalese Ministry, said that a major benefit of the Dakar workshop was the way it had strengthened “South-South” learning between the participants on how to enhance adaptation planning. “The most effective knowledge is the kind exchanged between those facing climate challenges based on practice and experience,” he said.
The need to learn from others about what works and in various geographies and conditions is increasingly important as countries seek to make plans and investments for an uncertain future. As Alioune Ndoye, Senegal’s Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Ecological Transition told the session: “It is clear that the choices we make today on various aspects related to adaptation will be decisive for our future.”