Climate change adaptation needs human focus

Delegates from the universities of Cambridge and California San Diego met with politicians at the Global Water Initiative conference to develop an action plan for adaptation to the impacts of regional climate change on African water supplies.

Keynote speaker at last month's conference Sherry Ayittey, Ghana's Environment minister, said that for Africa, climate change and water availability, water quality, limitation of water hazards and wetlands preservation are not long-term scientific or technical issues, but a pressing basic human right. Mrs Ayittey said: "In this
inter-connected world the developed world needs to embrace the problems of the developing world."

Among the priorities identified was the need to swiftly deploy today's technology to enable data sharing between Africa and the West.

In particular, to facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge among African scientists. The proposed development of locally tailored internet products for farmers and decision makers could see the first application of Web 2.0 in Africa.
Lord Julian Hunt, Associate Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies (CCES) at Cambridge University's Judge Business School, commented: "Africa's situation is set to worsen as global average temperatures rise. The adaptation needs a human focus as the environment, population and climate changes. To adapt quickly, farmers and communities must track their local climate and communicate
this to the scientific community, governments and regional agencies."

The conference highlighted the pressing need for new regional climate initiatives to facilitate policies at different levels of decision making in Africa. Through the proposed collection and distribution of local scientific data, it was agreed that policy making at the local, regional and national level could be influenced, making it better informed and more responsive to the impact of climate variability on water resources across Africa as a result.

For more information on the Global Water Initiative visit: www.futureofenergy.org.uk/index.php?page=cambridge-ucsd-globalwater-initiative

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