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Climate change, vulnerability and security in the Sahel – 3 Scenarios


Published on 13 December 2022

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Climate change plays an important role in the future of the Sahel. Temperatures, particularly in the northern-central Sahel, could rise 1.5 times faster than the global average. Climate shocks and extreme events such as droughts and heavy rains are projected to become more frequent and severe. These changes are accompanied by other challenges: accelerated population growth, low economic productivity and production diversity, political conflicts and crises, inter-communal violence and violent extremism.

Download the full scenario paper (English and French)

However, the severity of climate impacts on livelihoods, food security, mobility and conflict in the Sahel will depend largely on the future evolution of socio-economic and political conditions in the region. These will ultimately determine the vulnerability and resilience of Sahelian communities to climate impacts.

The evolution of these conditions is uncertain, but we can consider different scenarios to help Sahelian communities and decision-makers prepare for the possible challenges (and opportunities) ahead. Looking ahead to 2050, this paper presents three scenarios for the part of the Sahel comprising Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Each scenario is characterised by a different level of vulnerability and resilience to the future effects of climate change, depending on the social, political and economic parameters that characterise it. Thus, each scenario presents different challenges and opportunities for the security and development of the region. The main purpose of the scenarios is to describe and assess these challenges in order to facilitate anticipatory action.

The scenarios presented in this video and paper were developed jointly with 19 experts from the region, working in the fields of climate change adaptation, natural resource management, conflict prevention and other relevant sectors, in order to obtain a multidisciplinary perspective on the main challenges and solutions. The methodological approach is described in the annex.

The scenarios presented here are not exhaustive. Rather, they are intended to provide an overview of different possible futures, to provide a basis for adaptation strategies, and to raise awareness among decision-makers and stakeholders in the EU and the Sahel more generally. In particular, the scenarios can be used as tools to identify relevant policy options in the face of uncertain climatic, social, political and economic conditions in the Sahel.

Produced by: Joshua Knowles

Directed by: Laís Clemente Pereira and Pia van Ackern, adelphi