Climate finance highlight: The importance of climate change literacy in Africa


In the 21st century, climate change stands as one of the greatest challenges to mankind and to our home, planet Earth. Climate change literacy refers to “the understanding and knowledge about all the elements of climate change: its causes, its consequences and its solutions” (Johnston, 2020 as cited in Alenda-Demoutiez, 2021).

The concept of climate change literacy is a process, that is, it occurs in steps. It begins from awareness, then the understanding of how human actions contribute to climate change, appreciation of the negative repercussions and the efficacy of the climate change  if we act against it. For this reason, literacy in this matter requires that individuals have a full grasp of climate change in order to first promote knowledge and create a desire for action among people (Alenda-Demoutiez, 2021).

Climate change literacy is of utmost importance. A basic reason supporting this claim is that climate change stands as a serious threat especially to Africa’s ecosystems and species. It is a huge potential threat because of the severe ramifications it has on the environment in terms of extreme weather conditions (i.e. rising sea levels, drought, flooding, famine, loss of biodiversity [plant and animal species]).

Also, without climate change literacy people are not able to adapt to negative economic and environmental impacts of the changes that are already happening (Bafana, 2022; Helbling, 2021). The African continent already experiences, disproportionately, the effects of the phenomenon.

The continent bears the brunt of such climate change effects though the continent only produces 3 percent of global emissions compared to China’s  23 percent, the United States’ 19 percent and the European Union’s 13 percent.

Another reason that backs the need for climate literacy is the existing paradox the continent experiences. While emissions  are comparatively low, the situation is not the same  in reference to experiencing consequences of climate change in the short term and medium term.

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