Envisioning a better future for The Gambia

The Gambian environment minister outlines a better future for his country, where climate action and sustainable development go hand in hand.

Lamin B. Dibba's picture
Guest blog by
20 July 2021

Lamin B. Dibba is the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources in The Gambia

People walking on agricultural land

Agricultural land that is part of a project to restore and rehabilitate land to build climate resilience (Photo: UNEP & Climate Adaptation via FlickrCC BY-NC 2.0)

About a decade ago, The Gambia experienced a devastating drought. Prolonged dry spells lasted for years, rainfall was late, erratic and uneven, and households suffered crop failure, livestock losses, food insecurity and high food prices. More than one million of our 1.7 million population needed assistance. No household was untouched.

Today, the impacts of climate change continue to hit us on multiple fronts. Sea level rise affects our groundwater, coastline and rice fields through coastal erosion and salt intrusion, while more intense windstorms devastate our communities. This aggravates development challenges, hindering our efforts to reduce poverty and hunger.

As environment minister, I have made it my mission to ensure that the hardships of our past do not define our future. That is why I am proud to present The Gambia 2050 Climate Vision.

A vision for the future

Our vision

By 2050, The Gambia aspires to be a climate-resilient, middle-income country through green economic growth supporting sustainable, low-emissions development, contributing its fair share to global efforts to address climate change.

Our mission

  1. We will endeavour to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with enhanced adaptive capacities and resilience, and play our part to address climate change through vigorous public agency, backed by the full engagement of our citizens from all walks of life.
  2. We recognise that while The Gambia’s contribution to climate change has always been marginal, our country faces extraordinary challenges due to the impacts of climate change. We are therefore committed to act with the necessary sense of urgency.
  3. We commit to transforming The Gambia into a country with an environmentally conscious and educated population for the sustainable development and management of our natural resources, cities and habitats.

This includes transport and other infrastructure, tourism, sustainable agriculture and forestation, all of which leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less pollution and clean air and water, all contributing towards high standards of living.

Developed through an inclusive and participatory year-long process involving more than 100 stakeholders, our 2050 Climate Vision is a product of the ambitions and needs of Gambians from all walks of life.

National stakeholders from government, the private sector, civil society, academia, regional administrations, local communities and other parts of society were actively involved in the process, contributing ideas and inputs into our long-term climate vision. This created a rich national dialogue and consortiums on development models and the country’s future trajectory, helping to build national buy-in for our vision and its implementation.

This whole-of-society approach – aligned with both our domestic objectives and the Least Developed Country (LDC) Group 2050 Vision and offer – aimed to integrate adaptation, mitigation and resilience into national objectives to build just and inclusive pathways for a climate-resilient future.

To achieve our vision, we have organised our policy commitments and actions into four priority areas:

  • Climate-resilient food and landscapes: agriculture, food security, forestry, natural resources (including water, biodiversity and wildlife)
  • Low emissions and resilient economy: energy, transport, infrastructure, tourism, financial services
  • Climate-resilient people: health, education, equitable social development, human settlements, and
  • Managing our coasts in a changing environment: climate-aware integrated coastal zone management.

From vision to action

Developing and adopting our 2050 Climate Vision is just one step in the long road to addressing the impacts of climate change in The Gambia. Building on existing climate-related policy framework and programmes, we are also developing a long-term strategy for low-carbon, climate-resilient development.

The Paris Agreement invites all countries to develop long-term strategies; and developed, developing, high and low carbon-emitting countries alike have started working on theirs. With a 30-year horizon, these strategies reach beyond the ten-year span of our nationally determined contributions.

A powerful signal of a country’s direction of travel, they help government ministries, private sector actors and local communities make and coordinate their climate action decisions and efforts.

As part of our long-term strategy, The Gambia will focus on delivering as a frontrunner country for the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR), shifting away from business-as-usual approaches to a more effective, ambitious climate response that ensures support reaches the most vulnerable countries and communities.

To implement both our vision and our long-term strategy, we will develop delivery mechanisms to reduce poverty and build long-term resilience to climate and other risks. We are also committed to ensuring our climate finance architecture helps get 70% of funds to local levels.

Better decisions, a better future

Like other countries, we need solidarity and support from the international community to move forward with our ambitious climate action plans and protect both people and planet from the worst effects of climate change.

We therefore call for long-term commitments to support our vision. Building resilience to climate change requires patient investment that values and strengthens in-country capabilities. To ensure no one is left behind, we must also coordinate coherent action on a large scale, with fairness and justice at its heart.

This process will be neither easy nor quick, but the future begins with our decisions today. The Gambia is prepared to make those hard decisions to secure a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

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