WEBINAR REPORT: Climate Change and Problems of Scale, 31 May 2021

Posted on June 23, 2021

On 31 May 2021, the Engaging the Environmental Publics seminar series hosted the very first webinar for 2021 focusing on Climate Change and Problems of Scale. The Centre for the Advancement of scholarship virtually hosted two experts to unpack the effects of climate change in different geographical and social scales in Africa.


Suresh Babu, a Senior Research Fellow and   Head of Capacity Strengthening at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), who has worked for more than 30 years in Sub-Saharan Africa spoke about addressing climate change through agriculture. He first demonstrated evidence of climate change affecting agriculture; as a result, ecosystems change due to land use change in agriculture, amid a growing need for agro-businesses. Next Professor Babu emphasised on problems of scale related to inter alia, increasing food miles, conventional food production, deforestation, methane from animal agriculture and rice production, and post harvest losses. He then provided a suite of solutions in the Agricultural sector. These included identifying sink opportunities in climate smart agriculture such as land use management, fertiliser use management, soil protection and conservation, and overall foods systems transformation. Because challenges of climate change are often scalar in nature, Professor Babu underscored the importance of adopting climate smart agriculture (CSA) from national and institutional scale down to the individual farmer at local scale. Using experiences from four geographical locations, Bangladesh, Ghana, India, and Vietnam, his overall take home message was ACTION! And, indeed Action is needed—more research, legal framework reviews, and just acknowledging that policy is dynamic and must be reviewed from time to time to remain adaptable to the changing ecological, sociology and economic needs of today’s World.


Tracy Sonny is an Environmental Social Expert from Botswana Climate Network with 12 years experience in the energy, gender and climate change sector. Ms Tracy Sonny’s presentation began with an overview of ‘Extractivism and Arica’ highlighting key figures on Africa’s resource base.  She indicated that Africa is the home of 30% of the world’s reserves, 8% being natural gas, 12% oil, 40% gold, 90% chromium and platinum, and around 65% arable land. Yet, poor resource governance and the insatiable need of the extractive industry have caused severe resource depletion with huge environmental and social transformations. According to Ms Tracy climate change is one of the major environmental transformations, which, in turn, further impacts on water resource, food security, human health, settlements and infrastructure, including socio-economic transformations related to violence, displacement and gross human rights violations. She also discussed the differentiated impacts of climate change particularly as they relate to gender disparities at local scale. For example, she points that there are higher levels of vulnerability amongst women. Ms Tracy Sonny argues that this is because men and women have different access to assets and resources required to respond to climate change. For instance, land ownership remains mostly patriarchal in most parts of Africa. Women also remain less educated and are limitedly included in decision-making processed. Tracy demonstrated how gender differentiated impacts of climate change cut across the agriculture, water health and energy sectors.  She further went ahead to provide some interventions that include, gender balance indecision making, gender responsive implementation and gender responsive financing.  Her closing remarks focused on just transition leaving us with a pertinent question, “ Is Africa Ready?’

- Author Dr Tafadzwa Mushonga
Published by Kirsty Nepomuceno

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