AfDB Joins its Development Partners to Mark the 40th Earth Day

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Date: 22/04/2010

The African Development Bank (AfDB) will join other development partners to celebrate Earth Day which is scheduled for April 22. Earth Day was introduced in 1970 when the AfDB was in its early years. That year’s Earth Day coincided with the Bank’s 7th annual board of governors meeting that was held in Fort Lamy known today as Ndjamena, Chad. In a climate fragile state like Chad that is dealing with desert encroachment, drought and the persistent shrinking of Lake Chad, the only message Abdelwahab Labidi, elected in N’djamena as the AfDB’s second President, could offer his hosts was the need for them to change their attitudes, including their farming, cattle rearing and cooking methods in order to protect their environment.

Forty years after, the continent, like the rest of the world, is dealing with greater climate challenges. Like many global leaders, the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, considers climate change as one of the greatest challenges of our time. To deal with this challenge, the AfDB has set up a special unit in charge of climate-related issues. He has had legal operational frameworks approved by the AfDB, created special climate change funds, and partnered with other MDBs to mobilize global climate resources.

The Bank represents the African voice that succeeded in proclaiming, loud and clear, that climate change reflected, to a large extent, the unsustainable growth path followed in the past by the developed economies themselves and, of course, some developing economies. This implies a more global and more scientific acceptance that an incessant and non-judicious use of the world’s natural resources had increased global pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Luckily, the evidence has also led to an international consensus regarding the need for extensive green economic growth and the search for sustainable climate protecting growth models.

The financial and economic crises present opportunities to re-examine the continent’s development trajectory, approaches and strategies. Earth Day 2010 can therefore be observed from a more positive perspective. This is the message of the AfDB working in concert with its development partners. As the Bank President and a strong AfDB delegation head to the World Bank’s spring meetings this week, they are carrying along the continent’s perspectives and vision on climate change issues.

The Earth Day 2010 therefore provides an opportunity to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is currently galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for the Bank to deepen its commitment to Africa’s climate related issues.

Created by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day is observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries.