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Sustainable development in Africa: is the climate right?

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J. Williams
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This paper proposes that much better management of climate variability is essential if sustainable development is to be achieved in Africa. While the world has shown growing commitment to reduce poverty in Africa, through initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, African Union reforms and NEPAD, the Millennium Project, the G8 and Africa Commission, climate information is often overlooked as a very important element for achieving the MDGs and other development targets.This paper questions how much attention is paid to climate change, how well knowledge is used, and how much priority the topic is given in attempting to promote international development. The author proposes that individuals need to have better access to climate change information, in order to encourage proactive risk management based on best available information together with incorporation of new skills in seasonal prediction. Furthermore, individuals, groups, and governments need to address climate change today, to create resiliance, and give the world a better chance for dealing with climate change issues in future.The author concludes that strong leadership in addressing climate variability in important economic and social sectors is urgently required throughout Africa. The millions of people whose livelihoods are dominated by climate variability must be enabled to cope better, with more opportunity and less risk. Existing practices must be supplemented with new techniques like seasonal prediction, monitoring and risk management, to ensure a whole range of better decisions, appropriate to the current climatic reality. Non-specialists must be enable to access and use climate information effectively, in their daily tasks. The IRI is mandated with ensuring as much of this as possible through partnerships with African organisations.