Climate change poses a threat to Senegal’s socio-economic development . Several studies carried out in Senegal have provided information on the consequences of climate change; impacts observed include: a decreasing trend in rainfall, an increase in average temperatures, a rise in sea level, and disturbances in the availability of cultivable areas and hydraulic resources .
Projected future climate changes include: an increase of 1.1-3.1°C in mean annual temperature by 2060 (from the observed 1970-99 mean); greater climate variability, including in the frequency and proportion of rainfall coming in intense and extreme rainfall events; sea level rise of up to 1m by 2100; and changes in annual precipitation ranging from a 38% decrease to a 21% increase from the 1970-99 average, with the majority of models predicting a decrease . Regions in the north of Senegal are most likely to be affected by the increased risk of extreme drought, with the region of Saint Louis showing the most intense risk. Whilst an increased risk of extreme wet events is greater for the areas located to the north and east of Senegal (Matam, Tambacounda, Louga) .
Climate change risks, including desertification, are predicted to have adverse effects on food security, access to drinking water, public health and livelihoods . Once amongst the most productive fishing waters in the world, the Senegalese coastal ecosystems are in decline due to climate change and suboptimal fishing practices. In addition, regular floods heavily impact the national budget and promote the emergence of water related diseases. Between 1980 and 2009, flooding affected more than 900,000 people and caused over US$142 million worth of damages .
The agricultural sector employs the majority of Senegal’s workforce and represents about 20% of the country’s GDP . The sector consists primarily of rainfed agriculture, which is especially vulnerable to increases in temperature, changes in timing and amount of rainfall, and increases in the frequency of dry spells and droughts . An overall decrease in the amount of rainfall, combined with increasing variability and intensity, is expected to reduce agricultural yields by 30% .
Sea level rise threatens human settlements and economic activities in coastal areas of Senegal. Rising sea levels will likely increase coastal erosion, which in turn may result in greater destruction of infrastructure, businesses, natural resources, and ecosystems. In addition, economic activities along the coast, such as agriculture, industrial production, mining, and tourism, can be adversely affected by sea level rise .
Senegal accounts for only 0.05% of cumulative global GHG emissions. Despite this, Senegal’s GHG emissions are rising, with the agriculture and energy sectors standing out as the main emitters of GHGs at the national level.
The agriculture sector, in 2010, represented almost half of Senegal's emissions. Emissions from the agriculture sector are expected to increase gradually and steadily, until 2030, with enteric fermentation remaining the major source of emissions within the sector.
Due to an increasing demand for energy, the energy sector will experience exponential growth and in 2022, is expected to represent more than 50% of the country's global emissions. This situation can be explained, in particular, by the start of oil and gas development planned from 2022 . However, due to the adverse effects of the pandemic, expectations are that large-scale oil and gas developments will now take place during 2023. Projects in the development phase in Senegal include the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) LNG gas project and the Sangomar project .
Key policies and governance approach
Senegal established its National Climate Change Committee (COMNACC) in 2011, which became a central platform for inter-ministerial cooperation on climate change. The COMNACC is the formal link between global and national climate politics and plays a key role in overseeing all activities related to the UNFCCC. It also plays a key role in disseminating climate information and assisting with the development of national and subnational climate change projects. In addition, Regional Climate Change Committees (COMRECCs) were also established as part of the same ministerial decree that created the COMNACC. Their aim is to promote synergies between the local and national levels. In 2015, the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) announced the establishment of the National Climate Fund .
Led by the MEDD, in 2006, Senegal submitted its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to the UNFCCC. The NAPA identified priority adaptation measures for the country’s most vulnerable sectors, which were identified as water resources, agriculture, and coastal zones . In 2015, Senegal embarked on the process of developing its National Adaptation Plan (NAP), adopting a sectoral and participatory approach that identified priority sectors based on the analysis of the NAPA. The process of developing sectoral NAPs is currently underway at the national level, in coordination with various partners .
Senegal’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) contributes to the Emerging Senegal Plan. The NDC, submitted in 2020, takes over the achievement of the INDC (2015) and contains both mitigation and adaptation measures in priority sectors . Senegal’s NDC sets unconditional emission reduction targets of 5% and 7% respectively by 2025 and 2030, compared to a Business-as-Usual (BAU) scenario. Targets may be increased to 23% and 29% respectively by 2025 and 2030, conditional to adequate financial and technical assistance (financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building) which can be achieved only through the support of the international community , .
Successes and Remaining Challenges
The Government of Senegal has made efforts to put in place a governance framework to support action on climate change, including through its NAPA, the initiation of the NAP process, the NDC and formation of the COMNACC . However, there has been a low level of integration of NDC and NAP priorities in sectoral plans, including in the planning and budgeting process of the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors involved in climate action , , . Although the process of developing sectoral NAPs is underway, it is unclear when this process will be finalised . Moreover, there is a lack of coordination and capacity in intersectoral planning and implementation of climate actions, which decelerates the advancement of adaptation and mitigation objectives .
Another challenge is the availability of data and information to actors, especially at the family farming level, on issues like climate risks and access to adaptation and mitigation measures . In addition, budget gaps remain, alongside insufficient information to guide reallocation of budgets to address adaptation. Economic impact assessments are required to build political traction for implementing proactive responses and climate risk management. Few economic assessments in Senegal showcase the economic impacts of climate change with and without adaptation and there is limited institutional and technical capacity to interpret the impacts of climate change on various sectors . There is therefore, a need to strengthen the information system measures for the effective monitoring and evaluation of transformative climate mitigation and adaptation actions .
Senegal has an active civil society sector and a number of strong NGOs that enhance its capacity to engage civil society, the private sector, and governments in developing and disseminating information on climate change and the need to adapt . Establishing a dialogue with local communities and the private sector will catalyze more effective implementation of on-the-ground action planned in the NDC and sectorial NAPs. The private sector can also play a role in promoting risk reduction measures by creating funding mechanisms for sustainable mitigation/adaptation actions .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Following the submission of its NDC to the UNFCCC, Senegal partnered with FAO and UNDP to accelerate climate solutions in agriculture and land use through the ‘Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through NDCs and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA)’ programme, funded by the German International Climate Initiative (IKI) . The country plans to achieve its climate objectives in terms of land use and agriculture through the transformation of agri-food systems. The systemic approach adopted by the SCALA programme with all stakeholders constitutes an innovative approach to overcome obstacles and help define actionable priorities. Through fostering stakeholder commitments, to build institutional, financial and technical capacities and foster transformation actions such as agroecology, improving crop varieties, agroforestry and the importance of operationalizing the concept of agripreneur, the SCALA programme will further support the Government of Senegal in accessing sustainable solutions, by considering cross-cutting issues and promoting synergies between ongoing initiatives .
In addition, the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) have agreed to invest $143 million for the new Africa Integrated Climate Risk Management Programme , which will operate in seven countries including Senegal. This is part of the African-led Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative which aims to restore degraded landscapes in the Sahel, one of the world’s poorest regions. Through this programme, IFAD will work with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group to address climate-related agriculture risks at every stage. About 5.4 million small-scale farmers and rural people in the seven African countries are expected to become better adapted to climate change and increase their resilience to climate events. This programme aims to restore ecosystems, increase food security, create jobs and promote peacebuilding in the Great Green Wall areas. It is expected to result in the reduction or avoidance of approximately 21.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the life of the programme .
- Agriculture has the highest sectoral contribution to Senegal’s GHG inventory. At the same time, Senegal has emphasized that agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors (all highly dependent on natural resources and land use- soil, water, biodiversity) are strongly threatened by climate change.
- NDC and NAP priorities focusing on the above sectors should be better integrated into Senegal’s budget and planning.
- Regarding adaptation priorities, the country should focus on the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations.
- Investments in climate information and early warning systems will limit impacts on farmers before a crisis occurs; climate-resilient farming techniques and better adaption measures will assist farmers to adapt during a crisis; and loss and damage will be reduced with access to agricultural insurance .
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