Climate change in Africa

Seminar date: 
09 October 2008
Speaker(s): Dr Jon Lovett

Jon C. Lovett is Director of the Centre for Ecology, Law and Policy at the University of York, UK and Professor of Sustainable Development in a North South Perspective at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

He was on the Programme Advisory Committee for the Natural Resources Systems Programme of the UK Department for International Development from 1999 to 2006 and Senior Advisor to the Lower Kihansi Hydropower Environmental Monitoring and Catchment Management Projects, Tanzania (1996-2002). From 1996 to 1997 he was on the joint Economic and Social Science Research Council and Natural Environment Research Council committee on environmental economics and was responsible for preparing a policy report reviewing the provision of advanced courses in environmental economics, environmental evaluation and risk assessment. He is associate editor of the African Journal of Ecology.

He has worked on a wide range of projects in developing countries for more than twelve years and has published extensively on natural resource management. His current research focuses on the broader implications of climate change, including the impact of the shift to biofuels, and the institutional economics of the decentralized community management of forests. He has worked on numerous externally funded projects with support from the EU, research councils, government development agencies, NGOs and industry.

Discussant: Han van Dijk

Africa is projected to become one of the continents most affected by climate change with models predicting some dramatic events, for example the disappearance of Zaire's forests. However, climate change is nothing new for Africa. The current climate is highly variable and past climates have undergone major shifts. Historically, social change has been associated with climate change and traditional community-based land-use systems reflect the unpredictability of the natural environment. Traditional patterns of property rights could help minimize risk and vulnerability but the trend is instead towards the privatization of land. The seminar will present some models showing how climate change might affect Africa and will then review the effect of past climate change on African societies. Finally it will consider possible ways of preparing for the predicted changes.