The 17th African Economic Conference ended on Sunday, December 11, 2022, in Balaclava, Mauritius, with a charge to the development community and governments to take decisive actions to address climate change.
The African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Community for Africa, and United Nations Development Programme, the conference hosts, called on participants to walk the talk by producing concrete solutions for climate-smart development on the continent.
Participants asserted that achieving net zero emissions – the crux of the three-day conference – can be accomplished if all stakeholders are robustly engaged, including providing the right environment for public-private partnerships.
“Africa is the region that is most vulnerable in the face of climate change,” said Mauritius’ Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Renganaden Padayachy. The scourge of climate change poses a threat to lives, he cautioned.
“And if we limit climate change, we will change lives,” he said at the closing of the three-day conference, which had an in-person attendance of over 350 delegates, with thousands more participating online. AEC 2022 provided a timely forum to discuss innovative solutions to support climate-smart development in Africa.
African Development Bank Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, Prof. Kevin Urama, stressed that Africa’s future would come from the innovation of young Africans.
Speaking directly to Africa’s youth, Urama said: “Your innovation, your knowledge, your power, use that so that we can do climate-smart development on the continent.”
He noted that the conference produced rich lessons, including challenges, solutions, and what the private sector and government can do to leverage available skills and technology.
In a speech on her behalf, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, called for accelerated action.
“We must be particularly mindful of the economic, societal, environmental, political, and security costs of green transitions. We must fully understand the trade-offs and opportunity costs on communities and families and avoid pathways that undermine development prospects and deepen inequalities,” Eziakonwa said.
She observed that climate finance is urgent and urged African governments to resolve the uncertainty around it. “Reaching net zero emissions must also mean reaching zero poverty,” Eziakonwa reiterated.
Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr. Hanan Morsy, observed that addressing climate change should not be a choice but an imperative for Africa to achieve climate-smart development.
“As such, what we have developed and discussed here regarding climate-smart development is not just an event. This is a process,” she said and urged African countries to heed the analyses and recommendations presented at the conference.
The conference brought together policymakers, climate experts, representatives of the private sector, academics and youth to develop an action plan to guide Africa as it navigates the threat of climate change.
AEC 2022 was jointly organised by the African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme, in collaboration with the government of Mauritius. This year’s conference had “Supporting Climate-smart Development in Africa” as its theme.