Partnerships to deliver food security in Africa – Challenges series 2016


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      In the third of our series of blogs ahead of the 2016 Challenges Paper – released on January 4th 2016 – Richard Munang and Robert Mgendi from the Africa Regional Climate Change Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) share their perspectives on the challenges for sustainable development in 2016 and beyond. Delivering food security in Africa will not depend upon declarations of good intent but the willingness to innovate, to drive change, develop and scale up appropriate technologies, transform institutions and make Africa the continent of everyone’s dreams: full of prosperity and inclusive growth for hundreds of millions of people. Dr Richard Munang speaking on Africa Food Security and jobs under climate change The 70th UN General Assembly, which adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), signaled a common global intent to transition to economic, social and environmental progress in the next 15 years. Achieving the SDGs effectively in a fast, efficient, impactful and lasting way will require innovative action from all.

      Workable approaches

      Growth in agriculture is at least two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than in other sector – in fact a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty. Considering that agriculture employs 60% of the labor force in Africa it is crucial in advancing inclusive growth. Climate change threatens the agricultural sector’s productivity, as the UNEP Africa Adaptation Gap Report shows. But through 'Ecosystem Based Adaptation' (EBA) agriculture - solutions abound. Linking these ecological approaches to supply and demand side value chains and value added services can potentially spur additional income and business opportunities along the entire agri-value chain. In the process, it would create more income and as many as 17 million sustainable jobs every year for young people. This vital truth, implied in the SDGs, builds on pivotal continental blueprints including the Maputo and Malabo declarations, the AMCEN Cairo Declaration and the African Union Agenda 2063. An overriding theme in these blueprints is the need for modernisation and optimisation of Africa’s agriculture while at the same time ensuring the productivity of the very ecosystems that underpin agricultural productivity are safeguarded for future generations.

      Glaring gaps

      Regardless of how promising these blueprints are, past precedence shows that achieving them is not a given. For instance, only 13 countries have met or surpassed the Maputo declaration target of spending 10% of GDP on agriculture even after a decade. The situation is similar with the MDGs, where sub-Saharan Africa was reported as lagging in all the goals, and facing challenges in implementation. This seems to show that aside from attractive development blueprints, their achievement is not predestined. It requires partnerships to blend the strengths of governments, the private sector and non-profits among others as implied in goal 17 of the SDGs. To date, gaps in fostering these partnerships have led to the perpetuation of the 'policy – action gap' that has long stymied development in Africa. There are gaps in financing, in commercialisation, in technology transfer and techniques among other factors. It is in addressing these glaring gaps and optimising the entire agro-value chain holistically that the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) has been established.

      Fostering partnerships, bridging glaring gaps for implementation

      EBAFOSA was formed following the 2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference, which was convened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Centre for Technology Studies amongst other partners. 1,200 delegates from all across Africa unanimously adopted the “Nairobi Action Agenda” and the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) as the continental policy platform to foster and nurture partnerships through branch formation in each country. EBAFOSA is the first inclusive pan-African policy framework and implementation platform, a solutions space that brings together key stakeholders and actors along the entire EBA driven agriculture value chain, from government & the public sector, the private sector, academia & research, NGOs, CSOs, international organisations and individuals at country and continental level to forge partnerships aimed at upscaling EBA driven agriculture and its value chains into policy & implementation.

      Delivering on SDGs

      Goal 2 of the SDGs can be directly fulfilled in EBAFOSA as it seeks to upscale EBA driven agriculture which has proven to ensure food & nutritional security by cutting post harvest losses that cost the continent up to $4 billion annually, enough food to make an additional 48 million people food secure without increasing production - as well as create additional income and job opportunities. The EBAFOSA platform is indeed a timely intervention to ensure delivery of the SDGs in Africa. By focusing on building relevant partnerships across solution providers - be they local or international - and leveraging healthy ecosystems as central to achieving food security and sustainable inclusive growth, EBAFOSA is positioned as a platform that could potentially see Africa meaningfully achieve SDGs 2, 8, 13, 15 and 17. It is hence a crucial vehicle in Africa’s post-2015 and post COP21 journey. The last 30 years have been phenomenal in human history for poverty reduction and there is no doubt that Africa is set to converge with global trends. But it should also be known that this is not preordained. In EBAFOSA lies an opportunity, and if tapped it can determine whether the 21st century truly belongs to Africa. Dr. Richard Munang is an Africa Climate Change & Development Policy Expert. He tweets as @RichardMunang. Mr. Robert Mgendi is an Adaptation Policy Expert. The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of ECDPM or UNEP. 
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