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Achieving food security and more resilient agriculture requires both adaptation to climate change and lower emission intensities per output. This rationale, brought to the forefront by the African Development Bank (AfDB), during Africa Day, requires a major shift towards more efficient use of land, water, soil nutrients and genetic resources, together with considerable changes in governance, legislation, policies and financial mechanisms.
The event, under the theme of Climate Change and Agricultural Development in Africa took place on the 19th November 2013, in Warsaw, Poland, during the UN climate talks. Organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union Commission (AUC), Africa Day was an opportunity to bring together Africans present in Warsaw and also development partners and negotiators from other regions. The objective was to discuss a sector that is so vital for Africa, but one that has been worst hit by the impacts of climate change, namely agriculture.
There is a pressing need to “unify and uplift people of African descent,” said Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture (REA) of the African Union Commission. She underscored the movement of Pan-Africanism, and addressed the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that notes the adverse effects of climate change on African agriculture. She further stated that Africa is not the main polluter and called for polluting countries to continue committing to their pledges, so that the trajectory is not undermined.
According to Emmanuel Dlamini, President of the African Group of Negotiators, the full significance for the theme chosen for the Day lies in the fact that most of African agriculture is rain-fed, while droughts and floods have become more frequent, more intense and more unpredictable as a result of climate change – rendering life of millions of people very miserable.
Pathways to be followed
Anthony Nyong, AfDB manager for Environmental safeguards and compliance, said that agriculture should not be seen as a social service, but addressed in its business dimension. He added that less than 10% of finance go to adaptation strategies. Nyong also underscored that climate-smart agriculture and low-carbon development are the pathways that should be followed.
“With USD 1.7 billion in 2012 dedicated to finance mitigation to climate change, the AfDB is the premier investor financing low-carbon development on continent. The institution dedicated one out of 3 dollars of its total lending for climate finance,” said Kurt Lonsway, Environment and climate change manager.
The AfDB will be contributing over USD 1 billion of its own resources over the next three years for agriculture infrastructure. The institution’s new Trade Finance Program will provide funding to commodity aggregators involved in the purchase and export marketing of soft commodities and in the supply and distribution of critical agricultural inputs. Furthermore, the trade finance lines of credit to local African banks will also provide support to SMEs in agriculture. These two facilities will commit approximately USD 200 million to agriculture-related products and services over the next 4 years.
The discussions during this key event highlighted Africa’s contributions towards coping strategies in the face of climate change. The debate provided a strong message about the need to make good with promises on financial contributions towards adaptation and technology transfer. It was also an opportunity for Africa’s political leadership to take gauge of the level of negotiations on each of the sticking points as work intensifies on the final documents of COP19.