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Friday, September 29, 2023

Africa is at tipping point for climate adaptation action – Global leaders

Two months to the 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, African and other global leaders have rallied in Rotterdam, to highlight the urgency of climate adaptation funding for the continent.

Africa Climate Adaptation Summit
Global leaders at the Africa Climate Adaptation Summit in Rotterdam

The meetings – co-convened by the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwumi Adesina, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) Professor Patrick Verkooijen, and African Union Commission Chair Mousa Faki Mahamat – was unanimous about the need for concrete action and finance.

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and GCA Co-Chair said: “The world has a fever. It burns hotter and higher with every day that passes… Statistics tell us that Africa is where the fever is at its most intense and people at the most vulnerable.”

GCA Co-Chair and Honorary Chairman of Royal DSM Feike Sijbesma spoke about the importance of support from the global private sector. He said 80% of the funding for adaptation needs to come from the private sector in both the developed north and the developing south.

GCA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Verkooijen emphasised the disastrous impacts of climate change hitting all parts of the world. He said it is in Africa, however, that climate shocks will hit the hardest. He said Africa was resolute about its economic advancement and would not stop.

“Adaptation in Africa is like climbing a mountain. With all of you here today, we have the dream team that will climb the mountain together,” he said.

Verkooijen added: “The next summit after today is Sharm El-Sheikh, the Africa COP. But success in Egypt will hinge on whether Africa’s needs are met or not. Africa has the commitment and the plan. That plan is the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAA-P). It is Africa-developed and Africa-owned. It was launched by Africa’s leaders, who are here today. It is the vehicle for delivering the Africa Adaptation Initiative.”

Established in 2020 by the GCA and the African Development Bank, the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme lies at the centre of climate action on the African continent. Participants acknowledged Verkooijen’s and Adesina’s joint efforts as the driving forces behind the programme.

African Union Chairperson, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, who is Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic of the Congo, conveyed a unified message: the international community must deliver on its pledge to double adaptation finance and to scale adaptation action for Africa.

President Sall expressed disappointment at the absence of industrialised country leaders at the summit. The African Union Chair said if African leaders could be in Rotterdam in person to discuss such a crucial issue as climate adaptation in Africa, the very least they expected was that their European counterparts – whose countries are among the world’s biggest polluters – would also have been present at the summit.

This sentiment was shared by Presidents Akufo-Addo and Tshisekedi, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, among others.

Mohammed said: “A bird only flies with two wings, and the representation at this table is lopsided.”

The UN deputy chief added that it was not Africa’s fault that it is in its current position, given that it contributes very little to global carbon emissions. She pondered on what the situation would have been if the roles had been reversed. Mohammed said the COP26 Glasgow pact was at risk of failing if the developed world did not make good on its promises of delivering $100 billion a year for climate action in developing countries.

In his intervention, Adesina reminded participants that the African continent was warming faster than any other region of the world, as predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that the critical global warming levels will be reached much earlier in Africa.

The African Development Bank chief explained that, in the face of the deluge, Africa does not have the resources to tackle climate change. He said the continent receives only 3% of global climate financing. He noted that if this trend continued, Africa’s climate financing gap could reach between $100 billion to $127 billion per year through 2030.

Adesina said: “The current climate financing architecture is not meeting the needs of Africa. New estimates by the African Economic Outlook of the African Development Bank show that Africa will need between $1.3 and $1.6 trillion from 2020 to 2030, or $118 billion to $145 billion annually to implement its commitments to the Paris Agreement and its nationally determined contributions.”

The African Development Bank chief said the African Adaptation Acceleration Programme’s upstream facility at the GCA had already helped to generate $3 billion of mainstreamed climate adaptation investments by the African Development Bank, from agriculture to energy, transport, water, and sanitation.

Adesina spoke of the African Development Bank’s African Development Fund (ADF), its concessionary lending arm as one of the ways to address the climate financing gap. He said the 16th replenishment of the fund, currently underway, presented a unique opportunity for full financing of the $12.5 billion in financing for the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme.

The African Development Bank chief explained that the African Development Fund had introduced a Climate Action Window that would hopefully mobilise $4 billion to $13 billion for climate adaptation for the Fund’s member countries.

“This will be used to support 20 million farmers with access to climate resilient agricultural technologies, access of 20 million farmers and pastoralists to weather-indexed crop insurance, reviving 1 million hectares of degraded land, and provision of renewable energy for about 9.5 million people.”

Adesina said commitments by developed countries to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance for developing countries was long overdue.

“Africa cannot wait,” he emphasised. “This is the time to support the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. This is the time to support the ADF 16th replenishment. This is the time to support the Climate Action Window of ADF-16.”

World Trade Organisation Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also lent her voice to the clarion call for additional resources for Africa adaptation funding. Speaking about the role of trade in climate adaptation, she said trade policies should be integrated into global climate action as an amplifying force for financing and other climate-related support provided to vulnerable economies.

The summit’s five-point Communique highlighted that Africa was at a tipping point. It emphasised that success at COP27 would depend on whether the needs of Africa, the world’s most climate-vulnerable continent, are met with finance flowing into such key country-led adaptation programs as the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme.

GCA Co-Chair Feike Sijbesma said in closing: “Investments in global climate adaptation cooperation are a big opportunity for countries like the Netherlands to share some of our best innovations with those who need them the most. The AAAP will be a crucial vehicle for triggering far greater business investment across Africa into green and resilient solutions. This is a collective effort, we need every sector, every contribution possible to see off the climate crisis in Africa, and the private sector, in particular, has a massive role to play.”

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