Africa global warming. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Africa global warming. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Nairobi — Governments and business must help countries in Africa deal with the fallout of climate change, the head of the World Bank said as  the organisation pledged billions for green investment in the continent.

Kristalina Georgieva said it was vital that nations least responsible for global warming are assisted in adapting to the extreme weather and food insecurity their citizens face.

“Africa contributes 4%  of CO² emissions globally but already more than 65%  of the population there is impacted by climate change, by drought, by flooding, by storms,” she said.

Speaking on the eve of the One Planet Summit in Nairobi, Georgieva said green development in Africa was an economic open goal for companies willing to invest in renewable energy, farming technology, and conservation.

“Especially in Africa, we would like to see action on adaptation feature prominently,” she said. “We are determined to demonstrate that climate action is also good for the economy and good for people.”

The World Bank on Wednesday announced it was providing $22.5bn for sustainable development programmes in Africa between 2021-2025. The UN estimates that by mid-century the continent will be home to more than 2.2-billion people.

This soaring population is likely to put further pressure on regions already susceptible to drought and could overburden the creaking infrastructure of many of the continent’s urban hubs.

A report from risk consultants Verisk Maplecroft in 2018 said that two-thirds of cities in Africa face extreme risk of climate change threats.

“If cities don’t develop taking into account what climate will be 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the road it can be quite catastrophic for the populations,” said Georgieva.

Experts from more than 170 nations are in the Kenyan capital this week for the UN Environment Assembly, which aims to push countries to commit to slashing consumption and waste.

The One Planet Summit will see heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta lend political weight to proceedings.

A constant refrain in environment circles is how to get the private sector to buy in to greening the global economy.

Georgieva said governments could proliferate policies that make it easier for companies to invest in renewables, waste management and habitat protection — and reap economic rewards by doing so.

For example, across Africa — a continent not short of the sun — solar makes up just 1.5%  of energy production.

“We are just building defences against climate change and doing it by recognising the incredible value of our oceans, our forests, our land, and the species on which the harmony of our planet depends,” she said.

“I see tremendous economic potential in that. Environmental consciousness is at the same time economic consciousness because if we ruin our ecosystems then there is a huge economic price to pay.”