Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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10.4.4. Future Needs

Issues related to Africa's capacity to understand projected impacts include:

  • Data Needs: The potential exists to develop environmental information systems on the basis of satellite data products and geographic information systems at small management units such as river basins, with socioeconomic and biophysical attributes as required in analyses of impacts and management. Current impact assessment models are limited by input data, limiting their use to fairly general questions. Examples exist where detailed spatial databases have been built and are being used to run integrated agrohydrological models, such as in South Africa (Schulze, 1997; Schulze and Perks, 2000). Monitoring of environmental processes as well as increased weather observation are required. Coordinated collection of integrated data sets for subregions or in connection with an extreme event such as a drought or a flood is highly desirable and would contribute to understanding of adaptation and response strategies and regional integrated modeling.
  • Human Capacity: There is great need for increased African capacity to study the more fundamental science issues of global change and its impacts. There is great capacity at the applied management level in Africa, and this must be strengthened by a strong science capacity. The increasing number of international environmental treaties and agreements will require an even greater capacity for analysis and delivery of timely reports. There also is great need to apply science findings in policy analysis and international negotiations.
  • Integrated Analysis: It is becoming increasingly clear that most environmental problems such as climate change require integration of many disciplines and methods of analysis. There also is a shift in interest and focus from global scales to regional and local scales. Models that help to integrate science findings with management and policy issues are needed. These models, called integrated assessment models, are required at regional and subregional levels and should include all important linkages between the socioecological and economic sectors. Given the unique combinations of factors in subregions of Africa (climate, economics, infrastructure), it will be necessary in future assessments to develop and apply regional assessment models that reflect key factors for each subregion, and these models will need to be built around issues of sustainable development rather than emissions reduction. Linking climate change (and other environmental issues) to sustainable development is not going to be easy, but it should spawn a rich body of research to define methods and approaches that will work.
  • Literature Written in French: It is recognized that there is a rich body of literature that is written in French, and although efforts were made to capture these studies, it simply was not possible to conduct an exhaustive synthesis of that body of work. This represents a major challenge for Africa-wide assessments.
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