United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) held a meeting of its Climate Task Force in Tangier on June 21, preceding the MedCOP 2023 event held under the Patronage of King Mohammed IV on June 22 and 23, 2023.
The objective of the meeting was to strengthen synergies among the different colleges constituting the Task Force in order to collectively reflect on a common position of regional and local governments in Africa for COP28. This meeting also aimed to refocus the operational framework of the Climate Task Force to be able to provide concrete responses to emerging issues in the field of climate.
In their opening speeches, both Mr. Mohammed Sefiani, Co-president of the Climate Task Force, Vice-President of the Mediterranean House of Climate and Mayor of the city of Chefchaouen, and Mrs. Firdaous Oussidhoum, Special Advisor to the Secretary General of UCLG World, underlined the vital role and importance of collaborative action for the involvement of regional and local governments in the fight against climate change.
Mr. Sefiani highlighted the transformative power of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force in boosting climate initiatives across Africa. For her part, Ms. Oussidhoum, underlined the importance of the commitment of regional and local governments in addressing climate challenges. She praised the efforts made by UCLG Africa to promote the involvement of African local and regional authorities in climate action and their inclusion in the global conversation regarding the challenges and efforts to combat climate change, adding that that is why UCLG Africa represents the voice of local authorities worldwide at the United Nations Transitional Committee for Loss and Damages.
Towards COP28, a Stocktake of Southern countries is being established as part of the partnership for climate change mitigation. UCLG World has delegated UCLG Africa to represent global local authorities in the working group tasked with defining the working modalities of the Loss and Damage Fund, which was decided upon during COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
In his remarks, Mr. Zachariah M. Njeru, Minister of Lands, Public Works, Housing, and Urban Development of the Republic of Kenya, highlighted the importance of the Task Force in establishing connections among all parties in the fight against climate change. The Minister referred to recent discussions at COP26 and COP27, emphasising key outcomes such as the Glasgow Pact, the Sharm el-Sheikh Global Goal on Adaptation, and the need to improve means of implementation and equity in accessing climate finance.
Mr. Njeru noted that there is an ongoing global debate to operationalize these key instruments for effective adaptation and resilient development trajectories. The Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa has the opportunity to participate in this debate by bringing the perspective of African territories. The Government of Kenya supports this essential contribution, which connects the dots between decisions made at the global, regional, or national level and their implementation on the ground.
Furthermore, the Minister pointed out that the Government of Kenya relies on UCLG Africa and its Climate Task Force for the implementation of the “Building Climate Resilience for the Urban Poor” (BCRUP) initiative.
Mr. Mohammed Atani, representing the Secretariat of the African Conference of Ministers of the Environment (AMCEN) and Head of the UNEP Office for West Africa in Abidjan, first welcomed the inclusion of UCLG Africa in the platform for implementing the decisions of AMCEN during its last session held in September 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, for cities and local governments.
Mr. Atani pointed out that during the next meeting of AMCEN, which will take place from August 15 to 18, 2023, in Addis Ababa at the headquarters of the African Union, it is expected that UCLG Africa will present the achievements of the organisation since Dakar in waste management and its inclusion in the implementation platform.
Mr. David Ombissi, Programme Officer at UNEP, Regional Office for Africa, provided details on the upcoming CMAE meeting in August 2023 in Addis Ababa, specifically regarding the need to strengthen collaboration between the different parties. The meeting will take place from August 14 to 18, 2023, with two segments: the expert segment on August 14 and 15, 2023, and the ministerial segment on August 17 and 18, 2023.
This 19th session will prepare for the African Climate Week in September 2023 in Nairobi and COP28 in Dubai. Mr. Ombissi also mentioned the ongoing process of establishing a chemical management instrument in September and the upcoming UNEP assembly. UCLG Africa will be required to prepare a report on the missions entrusted to it in Dakar.
Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Scretary General of UCLG Africa, stressed the urgency for Africa to tackle the challenge of adaptation to climate change which is par excellence the priority for climate action in Africa. The Secretary General of UCLG Africa insisted on the need for climate justice towards developing countries and towards Africa in particular which has participated only marginally in the ongoing climate change, for which the continent is nevertheless paying a very high price.
“Climate justice should start with balancing efforts in global climate action between the mitigation of global warming and the adaptation to climate change. Climate justice is also to be sought in the facilitation of regional and local governments’ access to climate finance. Local authorities are in fact on the front line when it comes to adaptation to climate change,” he said.
Mr. Elong Mbassi recalled that one of the reasons why adaptation to climate change has remained the poor relation of climate finance is the absence of metrics to measure the impact and progress made in terms of adaptation actions. This is a project to be opened urgently in which the members of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa should take an important part, he added.
“People are expecting inputs from us concerning on the implementation of the decisions of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN),” indicated Mr. Elong Mbassi, adding that “we are expected, local and regional authorities, to work hand in hand with civil societies, to provide proof that climate action will have an impact when it is done above all at the local level under the impetus of mayors and leaders of local authorities”.
He continued: “It is the culmination of years of advocacy efforts for multi-level and multi-actor action. This plea also addresses the need for climate justice, in particular to compensate for the ecosystem services that our countries provide to humanity. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the organization from 12 to 16 October 2023 in Brazzaville of the Summit of the Three Hydraulic and Forest Basins of the Amazon, the Congo, and the Mekong rivers which represent 80% of the world’s biodiversity and which have an essential in role in terms of carbon sequestration, without which the temperature of the planet would be outside acceptable limits.
“However, this ecosystem service is not appreciated at its fair value. This is why, at the invitation of President Sassou Nguesso of Congo, a meeting of Heads of State of the countries of the Three Basins took place, to which was also associated a Forum of the local and regional governments of the Three Basins.”
During the discussions that followed the introductory speeches, Mrs. Chantal Colle, Director of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), expressed her frustration with the outcomes of COP27, where Africa’s voice was not sufficiently amplified.
“The injustice done to Africa in the realm of climate must be loudly proclaimed. The climate urgency is not primarily caused by Africa, as the continent lags economically compared to other regions and does not contribute significantly to pollution. Additionally, the continent can benefit from technological advancements to embrace low-carbon solutions,” she noted.
Mr. Mohamed Nbou, Climate Advisor at the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa and in charge of the Climate Task Force, recalled the history of the establishment of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force and the conclusions of its meeting held in 2019 in Katowice, Poland, during which the members of the Climate Task Force were split into eight areas of work in which they were able to bring an added value due to their particular skills.