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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the World Bank on Wednesday, June 4, 2008, in Dakar, Senegal, jointly organized a fourth regional consultation on their respective strategies on climate change following consultations which took place on May 9, 2008, in Tunis, Tunisia ; May 26, 2008, in Pretoria, South Africa ; and May 31, 2008, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Dakar consultations, which were the fourth and last in a series, were aimed at brainstorming among key actors and seeking ways of strengthening collaboration with African institutions and development partners in order to efficiently implement the strategies.
Speaking during the opening session, Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, called on Africans to adapt to climate change by preparing for future challenges. He added that "it was necessary to admit that sub-regional countries were facing difficulties to deal with unforeseeable and adverse effects of climate change." He called for an "inclusion of all parameters – current and future – into national development policies." He said the overall issue from Dakar to Djibouti where the creation of a greenbelt has been planned, or from Casablanca to Cape Town, is to provide an African response to climate change.
Also speaking during the occasion, the Bank Group’s resident representative in Senegal, Mohamed H’Midouche, highlighted the impact of climate change and the extreme weather conditions such as floods, droughts and storms that retard economic growth in some African countries, adding that those greatly affected by climate change were the poor given that their meager resources are the most affected and they are the least equipped to deal with climate change risks. He pointed out that severe droughts, torrential rains, floods and cyclones were signs which clearly proved that climate change was a reality and it will not be reversed over the next decades. He urged development institutions to take concrete measures to ensure that the operations they are financing produce the desired results.
The World Bank Director of Operations in Senegal, Madani Tall, for his part, said that the AfDB-World Bank consultation proved that climate change had a real impact on the continent which, according to experts, is the region hardest hit by greenhouse gas emissions.
He pointed out that Senegal, whose economy also depended on a large agricultural sector and coastal urban development, constituted a good example of an African country that was vulnerable to climate change. He urged the country to take up the challenge of maintaining and developing its soil, managing its coastal regions as well as protecting its environment and ensuring sustainable development.
The joint consultation enabled Bank Group infrastructure specialist, John Sande Kanyarubona, and Principal Environmentalist, Hany Shalaby, to present the institution’s strategy on climate change. The World Bank’s strategy was presented by its Africa Region Natural Resources and Environment Division Chief, Marjorie-Anne Broomhead, as well as Lead Specialist and World Bank strategy coordinator, Aziz Bouzaher.
Besides the three challenges – energy security and access, cushioning the adverse effects of climate change as well as climate change risk management and adaptation -, participants indicated that reducing greenhouse gas emissions was not a priority given that relatively to other regions of the world, Africa had a low rate of greenhouse gas emissions. They however agreed that energy security and long term climate risk management and adaptation constituted strategic priorities which needed to be implemented in their respective countries.
Participants also hailed the joint consultations and called on both institutions to harmonize their strategies in order to make them complementary; to reflect national and sub-regional strategies in their climate change strategies; to actively promote the « Knowledge Bank » aspect, develop and consider local knowledge, research and development, set up an early alert as well as rain and climate information system as provided for in the ClimDevAfrica programme jointly undertaken by the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank Group; and to set up an innovative financial mechanism for African countries.
The event brought together many government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the twelve West African countries as well as bilateral and multilateral development partners.