Vehicles on a highway

A crowded road in Nairobi, Kenya: Development in Africa can proceed at the same time as limiting air pollution and its negative impact on health, agriculture and the environment. Photo: Lawrence Nzuve / SEI.

Africa has the second fastest growing economy in the world, and more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa. Sustaining this growth without a large increase in problems associated with air pollution and climate emissions will depend heavily on whether policy makers in the region adopt and implement cost-effective solutions to air pollution and climate change. Africa is considered particularly vulnerable to climate change due to high levels of poverty, vulnerable water resources and dependency on rain-fed agricultural production.

In 2019, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and United Nations Environment Programme launched its scientific assessment on climate and clean air for Africa which aims to:

  • Determine how development in Africa can proceed at the same time as limiting air pollution and its negative impact on health, agriculture and the environment, and
  •  Understand the potential to mitigate climate change in the near term, and its implications for adaptation to climate change in Africa.

SEI was involved in producing previous assessments in Latin America and the Caribbean  and Asia Pacific and through its York and Africa centres, is one of the coordinating institutions for the Africa Assessment. Others are the African Union (AU) , United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

The overall objective of the Africa Assessment is to establish a scientifically robust and policy-relevant framework to identify and assess priority measures that maximize the multiple-benefits for air quality and climate. The entry point to the assessment will be ‘development pathways for Africa and their air quality and climate consequences’. The assessment will support the further development of a community of practice in the countries of the region, increasing the capability of practitioners to further develop national action in the context of development priorities.

The Africa Assessment will empower local partners and implementers to define a frame for the continent-wide assessment that is most politically relevant to the region. It will provide a list of priority measures and recommendations and the multiple-benefits of their implementation, and follow on activities.

The key outcomes of the assessment are to:

  • Identify the mitigation measures most relevant for Africa that will minimize air pollution and climate change and help to achieve other development priorities in Africa;
  • Understand the consequences of regional warming and air pollution on Africa and its people, and the implications of different mitigation scenarios for these climate and air quality consequences;
  • Engage with the national and regional science and policy communities in Africa to understand their needs and objectives and increase their knowledge and capacity to address these issues;
  • Further stimulate the implementation of measures in Africa that will reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution (including transboundary transport), support other development priorities (enshrined in the SDGs, for example) and limit climate change;
  • Understand the governance implications that will affect implementation of the proposed measures and the support of an institutional landscape to foster their implementation;
  • Stimulate close collaboration between the scientific and policy communities and build upon existing networks to promote better understanding of mitigation potential, impacts, implementation obstacles, and opportunities for progress;  and
  • Develop a communication strategy to ensure that awareness of the results and the capacity enhancement in the assessment process is promoted so that air pollution and climate change issues can be addressed more effectively in the future.

Africa integrated assessment on air pollution and climate change short documentary

This Africa integrated assessment on air pollution and climate change short documentary explains the aim of the project and gives key messages