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Africa's dual challenge: Climate change crisis and conflict in the Sahel

King's Building, Strand Campus, London

14 Feb desert

Speakers: ALC Peace and Security Fellows

  • Ivy Wahito Nyawira (Kenyan)
  • Essa Njie (Gambian)
  • Ibrahim Machina Mohammed (Nigerian)
  • Chimwemwe Fabiano Anne (Malawian)
  • Tabitha Mwangi Wangui (Kenyan)
  • Margaret LoWilla Nyoka (South Sudanese)
  • Ikran Mohamed Abdullahi (Kenyan)

Abstract: The security challenges facing the African continent do not exclude the current climate change crisis. The relationship between climate change and conflict in Africa remain intrinsically linked. The combined effect of this dual challenge on people's lived realities must be part of the debates on peace, leadership, and development.

The potential for climate change to aggravate existing socio-economic and geopolitical fragilities that have longstanding, political roots, is real. The urgency is felt now more than ever and Africans must take the lead in finding ways to respond to these emerging and ongoing challenges.

The conflict in the Sahel region is an example of a context in which both rapid climate change and continuous emerging violence is threatening the stability of the region. Is there space for improved security in the region given that climate change will likely worsen in time and further affect livelihoods and potentially remain a threat to peace?

Lunch will be served at this event. 

*If you are external to King's and would like to attend this event, please contact the event organiser directly.

Panel 1

Climate change: A global challenge – an African problem
Africa is easily the lowest emitter of greenhouse gases of any continent and it produces fewer emissions than the United States alone. South Africa is the only African country to rank among the top 20 global emitters. Because it is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Africa is usually presented as a victim of extreme weather and other environmental conditions brought on by rising global temperatures. Environmental activism has often been framed as Europe influencing the world – not the other way around. 

In such a context, Africa is often 'summoned' to discuss these issues. But where is Africa’s voice in this debate? With so many young African activists leading the debate on such issues, is there leadership away from ‘state leaders’? What innovative mechanisms are emerging from the continent to tackle climate change? What are the complexities of the challenges faced by the continent and how to make climate change a priority?

Panel 2

Western Sahel: Political, social and environmental urgencies in the G5
In recent years, the Sahel (Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania are known as the G5 Sahel) has drawn international attention due to famines, religious terrorism and trafficking of drugs, arms and people. More than military action is needed to address a worsening humanitarian crisis, development challenges and climate change.

The Sahel is experiencing extreme temperatures, fluctuating rainfall, and droughts, all of which can degrade land, change grazing patterns, and reduce water supply for both animals and people. This, in turn, jeopardises food security and can have a negative impact on security and migration. The breakdown of economies such as that of Niger, ongoing violence in Mali, and resource scarcity in the Lake Chad area are causing increased instability in the region.

State-level intervention is failing to meet the needs of the people and the increasingly diverse ethnic groups in the region create a hotspot for hostility. Furthermore, France’s peacebuilding interventions and influence in the region has elicited mixed reactions. What does the future hold for the region? And how are leaders responding to the crisis?

About the event

This seminar is a core part of the ALC Fellowship programme. It is high-level role-play sessions where Fellows debate and act out the roles of key personalities involved in the management of significant security situations in Africa and its interactions with the world. The sessions provide an opportunity for the Fellows to display their analysis of current affairs from a variety of perspectives as well as their capacity to critically engage with the public on the most pertinent issues that are affecting Africa today.

The debates are an excellent tool to help us understand the problems that our continent faces from all perspectives: those that we are comfortable with and even those that we are less comfortable with. The event will also give us a glimpse at the wonderful work being done by the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London and the University of Nairobi on preparing young Africans for their leadership roles today.

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