December 1, 2022

World Bank says Cameroon can reduce poverty rate five-fold with climate-action investments

Abdoulaye Seck
Abdoulaye Seck

Cameroon could reduce its poverty rate five-fold by 2050 from 15% to 3% if it undertakes robust reforms to induce climate-action investments, says the World Bank’s newly released Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR)In addition, robust investments of $58 billion in adaptation and mitigation measures over the next 10 years could bring an additional GDP growth of 1% in 2050.

A business-as-usual approach is not an option. The report estimates that the country’s economy could lose up to 10% of GDP by 2050 if urgent climate adaptation measures are not taken. The CCDR provides specific policy recommendations for making development and adaptation gains in four priority areas: Agriculture, forestry, and land use; cities; human capital; and infrastructure. It identifies governance as a crosscutting reform area.

“We know that the first victims of climate change are the most vulnerable who see their livelihoods severely impacted and their homes affected.” said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon. “An additional 1.3 million people could fall into poverty particularly in rural areas if no urgent action is taken to promote rapid, resilient, and inclusive growth.”

Cameroon’s rich ecosystems have not translated into economic wealth and are being threatened by climate change and unsustainable practices, says the report. More than 1.5 million hectares of forests have been lost between 2001 and 2020. Changes in temperature, rain, and droughts are putting the population at greater risks of increased poverty and famine. Under current climate conditions, about two million people live in drought-affected areas. In the Far North region,food security, land degradation and droughts are exacerbating conflicts over dwindling natural resources.

Although Cameroon faces severe climate challenges, the country has opportunities to adapt, build resilience and move toward a low carbon future. This would require a strategic approach to use the country’s potential for renewable energy and its rich natural capital endowment, making these resources central to the country’s development model.

“With $58 billion needed in adaptation and mitigation interventions, the private sector will have a central role to play to help Cameroon mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said Sylvain Kakou, IFC’s Country Manager for Cameroon. “Private investment in agriculture, renewable energy and environment can make a difference in the fight against climate change while supporting growth, poverty reduction, and job creation in Cameroon.”

Cameroon has made progress in developing climate policy in line with its National Development Strategy (SDN30), including a set of reforms to create an enabling environment for economic growth, improved governance and institutions, and decentralization. The Central African country is also committed to 35% of greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030. A next promising step would be to adopt a law requiring public institutions to integrate climate change into their policy and planning instruments, and budget process. Today, most sectors lack legislation supporting the country’s adaptation and decarbonization goals.

*The World Bank Group’s Country Climate and Development Reports (CCDRs) are new core diagnostic reports that integrate climate change and development considerations. They will help countries prioritize the most impactful actions that can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and boost adaptation, while delivering on broader development goals. CCDRs build on data and rigorous research and identify main pathways to reduce GHG emissions and climate vulnerabilities, including the costs and challenges as well as benefits and opportunities from doing so. The reports suggest concrete priority actions to support the low-carbon, resilient transition. As public documents, CCDRs aim to inform governments, citizens, the private sector and development partners, and enable engagements with the development and climate agenda. CCDRs will feed into other core Bank Group diagnostics, country engagements and operations, and help attract funding and direct financing for high-impact climate action.

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