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August 03, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Fifth Edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - A round-up of the news and stories from across the continent that captivated our hearts and minds this past week.

We hope you enjoy these stories. We look forward to your feedback.

 Happy reading!

1. A Global Goal for Nature: As the international community is getting ready to agree on a 10-year framework for biodiversity management, a number of organizations - including WWF - have come together over the last six months to develop a global apex goal for Nature aimed at restoring nature for human prosperity and equity, avoiding the climate and ecological crises, and providing a healthy planet for future generation.  Key targets of the apex goal include Zero Net Loss of Nature from 2020; Net Positive by 2030 & Full Recovery by 2050. Many African countries are also in the midst of setting priorities for a post-2020 biodiversity framework. Some of them include a ‘Green Stimulus Framework ’, built around natural capital accounting and investment in the restoration of ecological infrastructure, and finding Nature-Based Solutions to the myriad development challenges Africa faces. But how much will it cost to save the planet? A new report authored by more than 100 economists and environmentalists for the advocacy group Campaign for Nature, claims to be the first analysis ever to measure the economic benefits and costs of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and seas which they estimate at $140 billion annually. The analysis is a very robust addition to a growing body of evidence that reveals the benefits of nature conservation.

2. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing on the rise in Africa: According to report by the IFC and the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Fund managers on the continent are allocating more time and effort to ESG issues and there is a growing awareness that such investment can play an essential part in tackling the social and economic challenges in the region and that the resulting economic growth will benefit investors over the long term. The "Future of Nature and Business report released this past week by the World Economic Forum (as part of the New Nature Economy series)  sets out how 15 transitions across food, land and ocean use; infrastructure and the built environment; and extractives and energy could generate up to US$10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030!.  With companies and investors becoming increasingly concerned about the significant financial risks stemming from the loss of nature, WWF and UNEPFI are teaming up with the governments of the UK, Switzerland, and others to develop a Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures that will provide corporates in all sectors with best-practice advice for measuring the financial risks they are facing as a result of the over-exploitation of natural resources events. In a similar development, WWF & global asset manager Ninety One have developed The Climate and Nature Sovereign Index  - a tool that allows financial institutions to assess climate and nature risks in real-time alongside other economic and financial factors. By integrating risks — such as those emanating from climate change and nature loss — financial institutions can reallocate capital towards mitigating them.

3. Sub-Saharan Africa identified as Hotspot for Extreme Heat stress and Sea level rise:  Recent Climate projections show that heatwaves in Africa will continue to become hotter and more dangerous, even if global warming is kept below 1.5C. Combined with population changes, 20-50 times as many people could be exposed to dangerous heat in African cities by the end of the century (Carbon Brief ).

The consequences of a warming planet are very evident, with another new study showing that more than 225m people in various hotspots, including South East Africa, are at risk from coastal flooding by the end of the century! .More action is needed now more than ever. Furthermore, the latest Global Methane Budget shows that rising emissions from “both the agriculture and waste sector and the fossil fuel sector are likely the dominant cause of this global increase of methane. The need to address waste and pollution is supported by a new first of its kind report published by UNICEF, that revealed that 1 in 3 children worldwide have been exposed to lead poisoning. US National Public Radio referred to this as a silent epidemic.
The report features five case studies from Africa including Senegal, where researchers linked the deaths of children from processing lead waste to supply a lead battery recycling plant in a poor suburb of Dakar; while in  Zambia's most toxic town the terrible legacy of lead poisoning still remains.  Implementing and enforcing environmental, health, and safety standards for manufacturing and recycling of lead-acid batteries and e-waste, and enforcing environmental and air-quality regulations for smelting operations.

4. Migratory freshwater fish species have declined on a global scale by 76%! This is according to the first comprehensive global report on the status of freshwater migratory fish by WWF, IUCN, TNC, ZSL, and the World Fish Migration Foundation (WFMF). The highest drops were experienced in Europe. The report, however, also notes deficient data for Africa. Africa boasts around 1.3 million square kilometers of freshwater resources and at least 3000 species of freshwater fish due in large part to high fish diversity in the Congo and in the African Great Lakes. For example, the Alestiidae of the Lake Chad Basin, and cichlids of the East African Great Lakes are reported to be migratory. Further work and research on the status and trends of migratory fish in Africa and the rest of the world, especially given their economic, environmental, cultural, and recreational importance. The authors recommend taking actions to help restore migratory freshwater fish populations, including the restoration of free-flowing rivers by removing dams and other obstructions. The collaborators also hope that these findings will encourage countries to prioritize freshwater protections and effective management strategies. 

5. The Rise of Africa’s Gemstones Flowing to Asia highlights the need for better Governance - A new report is drawing attention to the significant and multifaceted role African traders play in linking African source markets to Asian producers. A conservative estimate of the global annual market for rough colored gemstones – the term used to describe uncut, unpolished stones that flow between Africa and Asia – is between US$17 billion and US$23 billion with more than 50 source countries and over a hundred gemstone varieties. (see map). However official trade records fail to reflect the immense scale of the trade. The informal nature of the colored-gemstone trade, combined with the inherent difficulty in valuing rough stones at the site of extraction has provided ample opportunity for criminal and corrupt actors to exploit and profit from it.  Natural resources in Africa have had a checkered history and have fueled full-scale intra-state wars in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and even Nigeria. Good governance through legitimacy, accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness is critical for all Africans to fully reap the benefits from natural resources (Global Initiative).

6. Africa’s Digital Demographic Dividend & the CyberPoverty Line. Internet use across Africa has skyrocketed from 2.1% in 2005 to 24%— the highest growth rate globally. However, this has also come with potential threats. The harvesting and offshore storage of the personal and biometric data of millions of Africans by tech companies, has fed into a growing sense of disquiet and an emerging narrative about ‘digital colonialism’.  The ITU Global CyberSecurity Index supports this assertion and reveals that, with the exception of Kenya, Mauritius and Rwanda, and possibly South Africa, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa display weak levels of cybersecurity.
The potential cyber threat posed to African countries is made worse by strained national budgets. This means many countries are living below the Cyber Security Poverty Line - which equates to a scarcity of allocated resources relative to the scale of threats faced which underscores the need for robust, internationally standardized cybersecurity measures (Humanitarian Law and Policy).   

 7. Integrating Africa’s Businesses into global supply chains could boost income by over $290 billion: According to a new World Bank report, the AfTCA pact will yield $450 billion and speed up wage growth for women and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. At least $292 billion of this will result from lowering trade costs for businesses and facilitating African businesses to integrate into global supply chains. This is extremely important in light of the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked on the African economy. Some promising examples already happening include E-commerce platforms such as Uganda’s SafeBoda which is giving market vendors access to the app, and allowing them to sell goods while sustaining the livelihoods of 18,000 ‘bodaboda’ riders whose incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jumia Food Uganda which has partnered with UNDP to introduce contactless delivery and cashless payments in response to the pandemic. Over 3,000 market vendors from seven markets are now connected and selling their produce on the Jumia platform. More than 60% of them are women, people with disabilities, and the youth. (UNCTAD )

8. To Save the Planet, Go Local. - Local communities are bringing hope in the Sahara Desert: Water has long been at the centre of conflict in the northern regions of Mali, in West Africa. This vast water-scarce area spans 827,000 square kilometres (320,000 square miles) between the Sahara in the north and the Sahel in the south – in total, about two-thirds of the national territory. “One can travel tens or even hundreds of kilometers without seeing a single water facility. And when there is water, it is not of good quality, As the Sahara Desert advances south, finding water is becoming increasingly urgent to ease the strain on local community tensions. Here In Mali, local people and NGOs are digging a network of micro-wells in an effort to reduce tensions, provide for local communities, and keep up with shifting populations from internal displacement. (BBC).

9. The Rise of Collaborative Mapping:
As satellite technologies improve and become accessible for a much wider range of people, collaborative projects for mapping have also increased. One of them is MissingMaps, which maps the most vulnerable places in the developing world, in order that international and local NGOs and individuals can use the maps and data to better respond to crises affecting the areas. Missing maps has been used extensively in Africa for Malaria mapping in Burundi, Guinea, Zambia. YouthMappers was established in recent years to help close the gap for the 2 billion people worldwide still estimated to live in areas without detailed maps. Let Girls Map is helping build inclusive communities for female student mappers and supporting efforts focused on women’s and girls’ issues and MapSwipe allows volunteers to swipe through images, identifying those containing key infrastructure to help humanitarian organizations focus their efforts.  Mapping tools are also enabling a pathway toward greater inclusivity in projects in Africa and around the world, with the number of people that can use them growing as the tools become easier to use. Last but not least a new Hand-in-Hand Geospatial Platform launched by FAO aims to create "matchmaking" between donors and recipients to support tailor-made, targeted efforts to assist vulnerable people in the world's Least Developed Countries in Africa affected by food crises. The initiative will seek to use the most sophisticated tools available, including digital technology and advanced geo-spatial modeling and analysis, to identify the best opportunities to improve the livelihoods of rural populations. (Find out more here). 

10. Graphic of the week: Africa has nearly 2,000 Key Biodiversity Areas and supports the world’s most diverse and abundant large mammal populations. Wildlife-based tourism, generates over US$29 billion annually and employs 3.6 million people. The collapse of tourism due to COVID19 has created a perfect storm of reduced funding, restrictions on the operations of African conservation agencies, and elevated human threats to nature. A new paper published this past week in Nature calls for, among other things, the need to address the systemic flaws in the structure and function of conservation, and alignment between the conservation and development agendas! 
The schematic below shows the potential cascading impacts of COVID-19 on conservation in Africa. Arrows indicate the directionality of potential impacts among different elements in Africa’s conservation framework. (Nature). 

                                                               Quotes Of The Week.

"When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war.’’   
John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.



Copyright ©2020 WWF Weekly Digest

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