Bringing about a common African platform

Share |

IMG 5341 2

Two of the MDG goals -- economic growth and poverty reduction – recall two critical situations: the financial crisis and the environmental situation.  

The Third Ministerial Conference on Financing for Development is therefore addressing these twin issues: adapting to climate change and making the resources available to do so effectively.  African economies rely heavily on agriculture.  The continent contributes very little to global greenhouse gas emissions, but is by the same token highly vulnerable to climate change.  Therefore, while mitigation and adaptation to climate change are both survival issues, developing countries in Africa are more immediately concerned with adapting to climate change. As the world heats up, water resources dry up.  Climate change portends less food, fewer forests, and fewer grazing lands, less energy, less biodiversity.  Droughts are likely as are conflicts over water and land resources. Epidemiological consequences are also foreseeable: water-borne diseases like malaria, cholera, yellow fever, to name only a few are likely to spread.  Women will be affected inordinately by climate change.  The primary pillars of families, they are the ones who ensure subsistence, draw and carry water, collect firewood, work in the fields.  Women will be on the front lines of this struggle.  Not only sustainable but equitable development will be harder to achieve in Africa under these conditions.

Climate change directly affects economic growth.  It can thwart the MDGs and reverse progress in Africa to date.  In other words, climate change is not just an environmental issue: climate change is a development issue.  Substantial investment and financial flows will be needed to address these issues, well beyond the current funding of between $250-400 million/year through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change via the Global Environment Facility  

The African Development Bank the UN Commission for Africa, DFID and the Economic Community of Africa have organized the Third African ministers Conference on Financing for Development, hosted by the Government of Rwanda.  Most climate change meetings typically focus on the science of the problem; this meeting is bringing together Ministers of Finance and Ministers of the Environment from all over Africa to focus on innovative solutions and forge a common African platform so that the continent speaks in one voice at the upcoming meetings regarding this critical issue.

Opportunities-Carbon Markets

Opportunities exist for the African continent to get more value from the potential that terrestrial carbon holds.  The carbon markets generate about $100 billion in resources but Africa’s participation in this market is limited. Were Africa to get just 5% of the carbon market, this would be $5 billion/year.  To increase the share of these monies coming to Africa, the rules guiding carbon markets and the Clean Development Mechanisms need to change.  This requires a common platform to strengthen Africa’s participation in the carbon markets and DCMs.  

What is the African Development Bank doing?
The African Development Bank recognizes that adaptation is most likely to succeed if it is embedded in broader-based development efforts.  In early 2008, the AfDB adopted the clean energy investment framework whose broad objectives are to provide reliable, affordable energy supplies and increase African self-sufficiency.  

The Climate Risk Management and Adaptation Strategy has been adopted. Climate risk due diligence is being implemented in operations, including climate proofing projects to make them climate resilient. These climate risk analyses will be regular parts of environmental assessments and sector studies.  Recent programs and projects related to hydropower, co-generation and wind will earn carbon credits for member countries.  For example, the AfDB hosts the Congo Basin Forest Fund that enables countries in the basin to sustain their forests and earn carbon credits through access to clean energy.  

The AfDB, in partnership with the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa, oversees the Climate Information for African Development (ClimDev-Africa) program that provides much better climate information; at the same time, institutional capacities in Africa to use the information are being strengthened.  

The African Development Bank, together with its partners, has planned this meeting to ensure that ministers of finance and ministers of the environment embrace a common African platform, plan of action and programs of work for the final year of negotiations in Copenhagen..  In simple terms, the future of sustainable development rides on this.