Climate-Favorable Policy Reforms could Improve Cameroon’s Economy

By Mary Hearty

If Cameroon embarks on reforming policies to influence climate-action investments like renewable energy and rich natural capital endowment, the country could reduce its poverty rate five-fold by 2050 from 15% to three percent according to 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 gross domestic product (GDP) growth of one percent in 2050.

The report stated that a business-as-usual approach is not an option as the country’s economy could lose up to 10% of GDP by 2050 if urgent climate adaptation measures are not taken.

“We know that the first victims of climate change are the most vulnerable who see their livelihoods severely impacted and their homes affected,” Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon said. “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.”

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.

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 risk 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 greenhouse gas emissions reduction of up to 35% by 2030.

The 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. Currently, most sectors lack legislation supporting the country’s adaptation and de-carbonization goals.

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