Seminar on Climate Change and Development, Implications to Ethiopia’s path to Prosperity.
College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Hawassa University, has organized a research seminar entitled "Climate Change and Development: Implications for Ethiopia's Path to Prosperity" given by Dr. Tafesse Matewos, Associate Professor of Environment and Development Studies.
Dr. Zeleke Arficho, dean of the college, presented the rich research and publication experiences of Dr. Taffese to the audience whereby it was clear that he has studied a lot on diverse topics related among which is climate change and its multifaceted effects on the environment and socioeconomic conditions of different social groups in southern Ethiopia.
In his seminar, Dr. Taffese pointed out the fact that anthropogenic factors take the lion's share in global climate change according to ICCP climate change report. He also demonstrated how much the global climate has been dramatically changing ever since the mid-19th century following the second industrial revolution. He explained the interface of climate change and development as they are closely related. Dr. Tafesse discussed in details how the objectives of development measured by the: Availability of basic life-sustaining goods and services, Quality Education, Job creation, Increased income and improved life standards, Strong cultural and human values, and Building individual and national self-esteem, among others are directly impacted by climate change. He declared that climate change affects sustainance, self-esteem and freedom of individuals and societies. He also discussed why sub-Saharan Africa is more vulnerable to the effects of global warming pointing out important realities such as the fragile environment, climate sensitive livelihoods, low adaptive capacity and poverty trap.
Concerning ways to overcome these challenges, Dr. Taffese stated that the world needs well designed climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. When explaining the impact of climate change in Ethiopian context, Dr. Tafesse said that the worst impact is on the smallholder farmers who predominantly depend on most natural resources including rain-fed agriculture. He also explained how the 5 Ps in SDG are all affected by climate change. In addition, he appraised the efforts of ESA in establishing a panel of experts to study and analyze the impact of climate change on Ethiopian economy. Though the temperature rise over Ethiopia is shown to be insignificant in the studies, he argued that it's practically going to affect wind direction thereby negatively impacting the rain-fed agricultural livelihood that prevails in the country. Climate change-induced drought has a trend of occurring especially in areas with smaller rainfall and precipitation which has a direct impact on national GDP.
He also touched on the development plans of Ethiopia from 2021- 2030. He appraised the country's Vision 2030, "Making Ethiopia an African Beacon of Prosperity" where prosperity is meant to ensure material needs, human dignity, equality and freedom. Most of the ambitious visions to overcome poverty and become a middle income nation are directly impacted by climate change since 78% of the population live in rural areas where agricultural economy dominates others, so climate change is among the primary challenges to achieve the national aspirations of vision 2030.
He raised many points among which were:
- Building adaptive capacity,
- Reducing dependence on rain-fed agriculture, and
- Harnessing the potentials of Green Legacy Initiatives.
As academicians, we need to take things critically as they are related to the reality on the ground rather than involving in the politicized criticism of important initiatives. The Green Legacy Initiative, for instance, is one of the most important endeavors to tackle serious challenges posed by climate change on Ethiopian current and future development goals as we are already vulnerable because of multiple factors. It directly impacts the lives of 70+ million small holder farmers of the country whose livelihood typically depends on nature and the climate.
Participants also raised several questions and remarks on the presentation by pointing out the strengths and shortfalls of the entire discussion. There was a scholarly debate on how much holistic approach we have as a nation and how far our national efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change on the overall development goals may go apart from the global experiences. There were also remarks to rethink many things aligned to our capacity and potential to grow in the face of several intertwined factors including climate change.
While concluding the discussion, Dr. Taffese pointed out that the tornadoes, the rise of sea level, concurrent droughts, floods and more natural disasters affect the globe in different times, all directly related to climate change. Besides, climate does not have boarder, neither is its impact limited to a particular area except that poorer nations are severely impacted unproportionally compared to the amount of green house gases they emit to the atmosphere.
Finally, he underscored that it is not easy to achieve the aspirations of prosperity, but a lot needs to be done to mitigate the impact of climate change on our overall national development. Above all, the option is to focus and invest on climate resilient green economy where Ethiopia needs to critically address problems related to agricultural productivity including cultural transformation, agricultural technology and industrialization on the other hand. Moreover, he declared that as university community, we have to start working on small-scale irrigation and recycling our waste and use the water for a model green campus initiative and expand that with time. Doing further research will also follow and awareness creation via environmental clubs can be ways we can contribute. Writing policy briefs indicating loopholes in the present strategies as well as looking for climate change funds to do more are also feasible ways to contribute to a better future.