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October 13, 2020 

Dear Colleagues, 

Welcome to the Fifteenth Edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - a round-up of the news, stories, and publications that captivated our hearts and minds this past week. This digest is “made in Africa and globally curious”.   

Happy reading and we look forward to your feedback.

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1. The UN World Food Programme wins the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. The agency was recognized ‘’for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict” This is timely, as the Global Hunger Index launched this week identifies alarming hunger in 7 countries in Africa: Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and  South Sudan. Several of these countries are experiencing unrest or violent conflict, which affects the availability of data as well as the food and nutrition situation in the country (Global Hunger Index). A special essay accompanying the report calls for action to reshape our food systems as fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly in order to address the current crises, prevent other health and food crises from occurring, and chart a path to Zero Hunger by 2030. (Chatham House). This message is in line with the new WWF  "Planet-Based Diets Platform"  which demonstrates that planet-based diets (high in human health benefits and low in environmental impact) not only reduce environmental damage and harm to our health, they can also be restorative — a true “win-win”.  One of the key features of the platform is the Plant-Based Diet Impact and Action Calculator that allows anyone to see what changes are needed to help reduce the impact on the environment. Below is a simulation of how the impact calculator functions.
      

2. African Development Bank wins Global Award for COVID-19 bond issue. The African Development Bank was selected in a poll of bond market players as the best issuer in 2020 of a COVID-19 bond for its $3 billion dollar-denominated Fight COVID-19 social bond. The Fight COVID-19 bond, floated on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and significantly oversubscribed, was
the world’s largest social bond at the time of issuance. The bond has since been listed on the London Stock Exchange and was admitted on the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Platform. Bond proceeds, with a three-year maturity, will go to alleviating the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and Africa’s economies. (Africa Development Bank Group). 

3. A Green and Just Recovery for Africa;  Africa, like the rest of the world has been hit hard by the COVID 19 pandemic. The IMF predicts that GDP in Africa could drop by between 1.7 and 3.4% overall. This drop is driven by several factors including the decrease in economic activity by major trading partners, most notably China; the general global price drop in commodities (especially oil and metal ores), the reduction in tourism inflows; the greater risk aversion by investors (Foreign Direct Investment flows are predicted to drop by between 25% and 40% over 2020); and an estimated drop in overseas migrant remittances by as much as 23%. In this new policy brief,
WWF argues that the anticipated recovery can serve as a launch-pad to building a future that is green and equitable, that drives resilience and health in the face of future pandemic threats, and is both nature-positive and climate-neutral. You can read or download the brief here: (WWF). 

4. Ethiopia and Kenya are among the Top 10 Countries aiming to Kickstart their Economies by Repairing Nature. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, these
top 10 countries which include Ethiopia and Kenya are already designing packages that include actions for forests, wetlands, soils, and green cities.  (UNEP). On the other hand, Ethiopia is aiming to plant 5 billion seedlings this year, part of an effort to double its forest cover by 2030. And Nairobi, Kenya has cleaned up its parks and waterways, helping many to earn income and get off the streets.  1,200 tons of garbage has been removed and fish are returning to Nairobi River.

5. The 2020 Africa SDG Index and Dashboard Launched. The Index and dashboard provide an assessment of where African countries stand with respect to the SDGs and their progress toward the goals, with the additional lens of “leave no one behind.” Serious challenges exist and the majority of countries are currently performing very poorly. As in last year’s report, no country scored green for 13 of the 17 goals. The Leave No One Behind (LNOB) results show that all African countries are currently struggling to tackle all kinds of inequalities. Overall, North Africa is the best-performing region on average, while Central Africa is the worst-performing. Tunisia has replaced Mauritius as the top-ranking country. The 2020 report also includes a preliminary analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs in Africa. (Africa SDG Index ).


 

6.  Nairobi National Park More than Doubles its Land Size to 78,000 acres. Known as the “The World’s only Wildlife Capital”,  Nairobi National Park's wide open grass plains and backdrop of the city scrapers, scattered acacia bush play host to a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and a diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. (source:  www.kws.go.ke). This is great news as a new study published in Nature last week reveals that the expansion of protected areas by national governments since 2010 has had limited success in increasing the coverage across Key Biodiversity Areas, Wilderness Areas, and ecosystem services. Africa, as a whole, has made significant strides over the past ten years towards increasing the amount of protected terrestrial areas. At least 1,967 sites in Africa have been identified as Key Biodiversity Areas and  Of these sites, 38% fall under some form of protection. 


                   

            Image (Map) Source: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN. March 2020. Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), March 2020 version, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN.

The Study calls for area-based conservation to contribute more effectively to meeting global biodiversity goals—ranging from preventing extinctions to retaining the most-intact ecosystems—and better collaboration with the many Indigenous peoples, community groups, and private initiatives that are central to the successful conservation of biodiversity. (Nature ).


7. TOTAL Launches its New Biodiversity Ambition & Commitments; to coincide with the preparation of the United Nation’s Plan for Biodiversity, which aims to protect global biodiversity. The company commitment includes recognition of the universal value of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites, including not conducting oil or gas exploration or extraction operations in these areas ; (Total)  This is an interesting development given that Total is funding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline that many conservation organizations have raised concerns about due to its potential adverse impacts on biodiversity. Image source: Yale Environment 360 /TOTAL.

                         
 

8. Cheetah Numbers in South Africa Have Almost Doubled in Less than Nine Years: Cheetahs have vanished from 90% of their historical range in Africa. South Africa is now home to around 1,300 of the world’s roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. South Africa’s cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today due to the Cheetah Metapopulation project (initiated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust) which works by nurturing several populations of the cat in mostly private game reserves, and swapping cheetahs between these sites to boost the gene pool. Swapping animals between participating reserves, and helps private and state wildlife custodians manage overpopulation and underpopulation on their land and also identify new areas of suitable cheetah habitat. Most importantly, swapping animals reduces the risk of inbreeding among closely related animals. In contrast, in Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. and In Namibia, an estimated 3,000 cheetah in 1975; have reduced to only 1,400 today. (Mongabay)

9. Mapping Chocolate Production from Bean to Bar: The Cocoa Bean, which is chocolate’s key ingredient is mainly grown in West Africa and its cultivation has led to the destruction of vast swaths of primary forest. With increased scrutiny on the role of child labor and deforestation, many chocolate producing companies including Olam, Mondelez, and others are now using technology to map and disclose their products’ origins. (Financial Times). 

                           

Similar progress is being made with Palm oil which is also linked to rampant deforestation in Africa. According to the Financial Times, Confectionery company Mars said it had achieved complete visibility of its palm oil supply chain after slashing the number of mills it used to less than 100 from 1,500 previously. It hopes to halve the number to 50 by 2022. Similarly, Mondelez, has said that from 2021 it would require traceable, monitored palm oil across its supply-chain and that by the first quarter of next year 80 percent of its palm oil supplies would be sustainably sourced. ( Financial Times )

10. GRAPHIC OF THE WEEK

At The 17th Ordinary session of The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)  Ministers recognized the value of the circular economy and its potential to improve the way in which goods and services are produced and consumed, reduce waste, create jobs, and contribute to sustainable development. They also agreed to raise the political visibility and awareness of the circular economy. The Ministers committed to replicate, scale-up, and use circular economy approaches as part of Africa’s transformation efforts as contained in Africa Agenda 2063. (UNEP). To accelerate the transformation towards a climate- and nature-positive economy, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has established The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance. The Alliance activities are guided by a 10-point Action Plan, co-created by a multi-stakeholder coalition with the goal to place nature back at the centre of our economy. (World Economic Forum). 

                                   

 

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