African Development Bank to leverage climate finance for urban resilience in Africa

15/11/2016
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Mahamat Assouyouti (AfDB), HE N’cho Vincent (Governor, Abidjan), Saliha Dobardzic (GEF), Alex Mulisa (Fonerwa, Rwanda), Kurt Lonsway (AfDB), Meggan Spires (ICLEI), James Kinyangi (ClimDev, AfDB), Robert Kehew (UN-Habitat)

The UN climate talks entered their second week in Marrakech, with Ministers and delegates discussing the progress made since Paris. The African Development Bank and its partners are hosting the Africa Pavilion, which provides a space to address issues affecting the continent. Events kicked Monday with a discussion of urban resilience.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on Monday, November 14 reiterated their commitment to support African cities, which are being impacted by the effects of climate change, and to build resilience. The two institutions delivered this message at a joint event on "Leveraging climate finance for urban resilience in Africa" at COP22 in Marrakech. The two organisations pledged to redouble their efforts towards meeting the cost of climate change adaptation, which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) projects to be in the range of US $28-67 billion per year by 2030.

The event took place at the Africa Pavilion - an area dedicated entirely to the continent where climate change issues specific to Africa will be showcased. The AfDB, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union and NEPAD are hosting the Africa Pavilion at COP22. The Pavilion provides the space for the Bank and its partners to showcase innovative initiatives and actions aimed at achieving the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement. The Pavilion also serves as the hub of African networking, through debate, information exchange, exhibitions and formal and informal meetings. .

Amadou Hott, AfDB Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, said, "The AfDB is committed to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement and support African countries to access funding from all partners including the GEF to meet their ambitions set in the National Determined Contributions (NDCs)."

He stressed that the Paris Agreement recognizes the major role that urban centres have to play in tackling change, adding that cities are now home to over half of the global population. Hott emphasised that, in Africa, urbanisation would increase exponentially over the coming decades, a development that has profound implications in the face of climate change, creating vulnerabilities to external shocks, including economic and climatic. He stressed that cities will need more capacity to absorb and recover from climatic shocks and stresses, but lamented that the expansion of cities is at the expense of forests and other natural environments or ecosystems, and comes with increase in pollution, and related diseases. He listed the Bank's "High Five" priorities for Africa: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

"To deliver on these priorities, the AfDB is working with the global climate funds including the GEF to assist African countries effectively adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. The Bank has mobilised funds from GEF's Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) resources to address these increasing climatic threats, but this is only a small percentage of what is required. I am convinced that the GEF and AfDB partnership will deliver a new perspective of urban resilience in Africa."

"The GEF commits to work more closely with African countries through the AfDB, our partner," said Naoko Ishii, CEO of the GEF. According to Ishii, cities are important as they are a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. She pointed out that 80% of GDP is generated in cities, so it is important to assess how cities can best fight against climate change.

GEF also supports the Sustainable City Programme, which the AfDB is implementing in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, said Ishii. Cities can be designed to be more compact, to reduce the impact of flooding for instance, she said, adding that cities' infrastructure can also be retrofitted to increase their resilience.

"What can institutions like the GEF and other international development institutions do? We can help by supporting policy and institutional reforms in cities, including building knowledge platforms of best practices, and enabling international cooperation," Ishii observed. The GEF can also provide guarantees or other instruments designed to de-risk investment, and thereby help improve access to capital markets, and catalyse private investment for African cities.

Moderated by Kurt Lonsway, AfDB Manager, Environment and Climate Change Division, the panel discussion session featured panelists addressing key questions related to urban adaptation and resilience, including securing financing and creating synergies between urban development objectives, innovative finance, partnerships and initiatives.

The highlight of the Africa Pavilion will be Africa Day, the day when the continent will be in the spotlight at the COP22 meetings. Africa Day, which takes place on Wednesday, November 16, will be attended by Heads of State, African and global leaders, and a broad range of stakeholders and partners to give political momentum to Africa's needs to implement its commitments.