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FILM: Adaptation Voices – Dr Youba Sokona, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Dr Youba Sokona has had a long and distinguished career as a climate scientist and he is currently the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has more than 35 years of experience addressing energy, environment and sustainable development issues in Africa and is widely in demand as a senior advisor and mentor on these issues.

In a video interview with CDKN on African countries’ potential to adapt to climate change, Dr Sokona reflects on the situation in his home country of Mali. He describes how once the mountains were topped with snow, but the snow has disappeared over the decades.

“For many people in Africa who are over 40 years old, they really don’t need science to tell them that climate has changed…because they have seen it, they are living it, they deal with it, and they try the best they can to adapt,” he says.

He recounts how scientists, too, have recorded changes in temperature and rainfall across the African continent in recent decades, and he reviews projected changes to temperature and rainfall in the decades ahead.

However, the future is bright for the continent – he concludes – given the increasing political, public and scientific interest in climate change: “The continent is well known as a vulnerability hotspot for the impact of climate variability and climate change. At the same time, the future of the continent is open to absorb any new ideas, any innovation, because there is no lock-in effect [of polluting technologies], and the agricultural system can be completely redesigned and redefined to be a more sustainable system – by bringing together some of the critical elements such as water availability and moving from rain fed agriculture to irrigation system. There is a great political consciousness, political will, to deal with those issues.”

Notwithstanding past deficits in African climate information and monitoring, “having the political leaders more interested, having the knowledge sector and then the academia working more and more on the science of climate, that gives hope that the actions from the local to the national to the regional level will be better informed. Science will enhance the resilience of the continent.”

Watch the full video interview with Dr Youba Sokona:

This is one of six short video interviews that CDKN undertook with African adaptation experts to explore how the continent can accelerate adaptation. Find out more about the film series ‘Adaptation Voices’.

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