The Africa Center Newsroom

What do the UN Climate talks mean for food and farming?

The world’s leading scientists have already established that climate change is happening now, and that there are many tools and approaches to help farmers adapt, become more food-secure, and even shrink their climate-footprint by reducing greenhouse emissions. For the next two weeks, world leaders are meeting in Lima, Peru, to negotiate a new global climate change deal that will be adopted at next year’s UN Climate conference in Paris.

Kathleen Galvin, Director of The Africa Center, has been elected for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado Board of Trustees. The announcement was made in The Nature Conservancy in Colorado press release on October 20, 2014:

Nairobi, Kenya: This year we celebrate the first Tusker Day on September 22nd which happens to be Elephant Appreciation Day in honor of Satao, Africa's largest elephant bull, slain by poachers on May 30th 2014. Satao belonged to an elite group of elephants called Tuskers because his tusks were so big they almost touched the ground. Tuskers and elephants are facing imminent extinction in 15 years unless we act. We hope that this day will create more awareness on the plight of Tusker elephants.

Wildlife lobbies have disputed the doomsday scenario fronted by the Ministry of Environment in opposing declaration of poaching as a national disaster. In a report presented to a parliamentary committee last week, the ministry's top brass said the move will bring Kenya's tourism industry tumbling down; however, several activists and conservationists are currently lobbying the committee on Environment and Natural Resources to reject the report. The report also claims Vision 2030 will be rendered useless if tourism fails.

During the recent World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden’s King Carl Gustav presented the city’s prestigious Water Prize to John Briscoe, a former water manager at the World Bank. After many years spent in the international water bureaucracy, Briscoe says he is “controversial and proud of it”. Indeed, the jury’s choice raises contentious questions about dams and their alternatives.

Team members of The Africa Center, Kathleen Galvin and Robin Reid, report on the increase in community-based conservancies in Kenya and how these transformations are benefiting wildlife, livestock, and human well-being.

Robin Reid of Colorado State University has received the 2014 Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award for her career of significant contributions to advancing international education at public and land-grant institutions. Reid was one of three recipients of the Malone Award, which is sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

The founder of Tree Talk and the NGO Mvule Trust, Catharine Watson has made notable contributions to forest conservation awareness. Tree Talk, a social forestry effort, has resulted in the planting of more than 7 million trees in northern Uganda, which has drastically reduced pressure on the natural forest. Her NGO venture, the Mvule Trust, has helped provide opportunities and increased enrollment for females in the National Forestry College who are interested in forest conservation.  75% of recent scholarship recipients were female and female enrollment has increased from 15% to 40% of the student body.  

South Africa is home to more than 25,000 rhinos, roughly 80 percent of the world's rhinoceros population. However, demand for rhino horn in Asian markets has resulted in a dramatic increase in poaching. In 2013, 1,000 rhinos were animals killed for their horns, a death toll that is 50 percent higher than the previous year despite a more concerted international fight against poaching and an international trade ban that has been in place for decades.

The Kenyan government may be pushed into reconsidering its current ban on genetically modified (GM) foods, as the technology appears to be winning support from some farmers struggling to deal with climate stresses.  In Kenya's driest counties, there is increasing demand for GM crops because of their potential to improve food security and increase yields.  However, some local farmers remain apprehensive; they argue that research regarding the degree to which GM crops increase yields remains unsupported, and they pose serious environmental risks.