2014 IIED lecture: Let's rewrite the narrative on Africa and climate change

News, 7 October 2014
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is delighted to announce that the 2014 Barbara Ward Lecture will be delivered by renowned climate change specialist Dr. Fatima Denton. Denton is expected to call on the world to rewrite the narrative on Africa and climate change.

The British Library will host the 2014 Barbara Ward Lecture, with guest speaker Dr Fatima Denton (Photo: Wikipedia Commons licence)

Denton is director of the special initiatives division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). She is also a passionate advocate of sustainable economic and agricultural development for Africa.

IIED's Barbara Ward lectures celebrate the institute's founder and honour outstanding women in development. This year's lecture takes place at the British Library on 20 November.

Denton is an internationally known expert in the field of climate change adaptation, sustainable agriculture and policy development. She is also a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Changing the story on Africa and climate change

Denton will call on the world to "rewrite the narrative" on Africa and climate change. During the lecture, she will say Africa has been underselling its potential to manage climate change impacts and that, as a result, it is short changing itself out of key business opportunities.

She is expected to call upon African countries to start using climate-change mitigation as a pathway for development. This would help African countries achieve energy security, stimulate industrial potential and transform its fragile and underperforming agricultural sector.

Her presentation is likely to highlight the wide range of adaption initiatives that are already demonstrating technological innovation and strengthening Africa's capacity to turn its climate challenges into development opportunities.

Denton is also co-ordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre. She is expected to announce later this week that the centre is launching a US$1 million capacity-building programme to support the training of young African scientists in all areas of climate change and development.

Earlier this year she co-authored the IPCC report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. This landmark report confirmed how ill-prepared many countries are for climate change impacts on agriculture, ecosystems, water supplies, and livelihoods.

More about Fatima Denton

As head of Special Intiatives at UNECA, Denton coordinates climate information for Africa and focuses on getting that information to decision-makers. UNECA is one of the United Nations' five regional commisions. Its mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its 54 African member states. Denton is also a trustee of IIED.

Before joining UNECA, Denton directed research on adaptation strategies at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). She directed a portfolio of more than 45 projects across 33 countries. Prior to that she worked as senior energy planner with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Denmark, where she was a member of its Scientific Technical Advisory Panel. Her published work covers energy poverty, gender and energy, and climate change adaptation.

Watch a video of Fatima Denton discussing Africa's agriculture and climate change challenges at the 2014 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, and being interviewed about development practice.

About the Barbara Ward Lecture series

Barbara Ward was a renowned speaker whose lectures influenced audiences around the world. In honour of her pioneering work in sustainable development and the inspiration she provided, IIED organises lectures by the current generation of outstanding women in development. Read more here.

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