Weah: ‘Climate Change Is A Threat to Africa’s Security’

President Weah and other heads of states at COP15 on Desertification

President George Manneh Weah has reminded world leaders of the need to formulate new policies and approaches to combat desertification and drought on the African continent.

President Weah at a summit on the 15th conference of the parties of the United Nations Convention to combat desertification noted that it was important for the world to come together and mitigate the negative impacts of desertification and drought, which are having an increasingly negative impact on the socio-economic conditions of  various countries, especially in Africa.

"This could not be more appropriate to draw our collective attention to the urgent necessity to preserve, protect, and manage land more efficiently.  Land is a major natural resource that is too often taken for granted, and it is important that we become aware that, if it is neglected, or used unwisely, it can become a wasting and depletable asset," the Liberia leader said in a remark on May 9 at the conference, which was for heads of government. 

“Unless we act urgently and decisively together to deal effectively with this problem, drought and desertification brought about by climate change have the potential to create major insecurity on our continent,” Pres. Weah said. The African Continent, in particular, awaits concrete, meaningful, and action-oriented decisions from this Conference. “The next two weeks will involve intense deliberations and negotiations, but I am confident that Abidjan COP-15 will produce sustainable solutions that will set a new world direction in saving the Earth from further land degradation and desertification, thereby giving hope to the most vulnerable nations and their citizens.”

The COP-15 theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’, is a call to action to ensure land, the lifeline on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations.  ​ it is being held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022.

COP15 explores the links between land and other key sustainability issues. COP 15 is a key moment in the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought. It is built on the findings of the second edition of the Global Land Outlook and offers a concrete response to the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss as we step into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. ​

The Conference  is expected to galvanize sustainable solutions for land restoration and drought resilience, with a strong focus on future-proofing land use.

According to President Weah, the connection in the theme between  is profound, as humans not only derive sustenance from land, but also have a duty to ensure that it will continue to support the lives and livelihoods of future generations.

He added that the global stock of healthy land is being increasingly degraded through the combined effects of desertification and drought -- as such it is very  important that world leaders at the conference used the opportunity to formulate new policies and approaches to mitigate the negative impact of degraded land and combating desertification.

“Africa happens to be one of the most vulnerable regions in the world that are heavily impacted by climate change, which tends to impede the growth and development of our dear continent,” Pres. Weah said. “The problem of climate change is not Africa's making, yet we continue to experience the worst consequences of it. Drought and floods are beginning to occur with increasing frequency on the continent, and in many countries which have never experienced them before.”

“This has not only led to the deaths of thousands of our citizens, and the displacement of millions of our people, but has also caused a direct reduction in food security and an increase in cross-border migration of populations,” he added. 

The Liberian leader argued that Africa and the world will succeed in the fight against   land degradation as well as ecosystem restoration to avoid drought, finance is key. 

President Weah noted that as part of his version to help the world address the imbalance in climate change finance, he had proposed at COP26 the establishment of an African Carbon Trade Mechanism for the continent -- so that Africa’s economic growth and development can benefit from its forest resources ---  in a manner that is equitable and commensurate with its positive contributions to the fight to reduce global warming. 

“As I stated at COP26 in Glasgow, there is an inherent imbalance in the current architecture of climate financing.  We who are the richest in terms of forest resources and biodiversity are also the poorest in terms of socio-economic development,” President Weah said.

“We who are the lowest emitters of harmful greenhouse gases, and who bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, benefit the least from the solutions and financing for tackling climate change,” he added.  “And we who maintain and protect the largest remaining tracts of forest reserves, receive the lowest payments for these ecosystem services.”