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Climate change puts decades of development at risk in Africa: Continent needs market and financial mechanisms fit for purpose

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Climate change threatens to undo decades of earnest effort to develop Africa unless sufficient investment can be mobilized to spur sustainable development and make the continent more resilient.

This was the message delivered at the 6th Africa Carbon Forum held July 2-4 to about 400 participants who gathered to share and learn the latest about market and financial opportunities associated with the international response to climate change.

The forum was opened by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Namibia, Uaheka Herunga, who stressed that the question now is not whether carbon markets will continue, but how they can be improved, and whether new mechanisms should be developed. In the context of the 2015 Paris agreement, the Minister urged participants to “send a strong message to governments around the world that the carbon market can make an important contribution to the objective of managing the challenge posed by climate change.”

“Climate change will force a steep ramping up of investment in Africa from both public and private sources to move the continent along a clean, secure, low-carbon path to development,” said Hugh Sealy, Chair of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). “It’s crucial that the market and funding mechanisms on offer are right for Africa, and likewise that African governments provide a welcoming, reliable environment for investment.”

Countries are committed to crafting a comprehensive climate change agreement by the end of 2015 in Paris, to take effect in 2020. A big part of any agreement will have to address ways to mobilize the estimated USD 100 billion annually needed to mitigate climate change and adapt to its inevitable effects.

“The private sector and governments in Africa need to speak up now, loud and clear, to make sure an effective, ambitious agreement is reached in Paris, and to make sure that the market and funding instruments now taking shape are fit for Africa’s purpose,” said Dr. Sealy.

“The ACF provided a platform to assess both the challenges and the opportunities for mobilizing climate finance on the continent. We know that private sector investment in climate action is vital for transformational impact; and this is why the AfDB with its development partners is strongly committed to promoting investment along with improving the enabling environment for enhanced private sector engagement on the continent,” said Kurt Lonsway, Manager of the AfDB Environment and Climate Change Division. The AfDB has been a co-organizer of the ACF since the creation of the forum.

In addition to the CDM, participants in this year’s event considered a range of ways that countries and multilateral development banks intend to target their climate change investments, such as through approved Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions and through funds like the World Bank’s Carbon Initiative for Development, which uses the CDM’s monitoring, reporting and verification features to ensure results from energy-access projects in least developed countries.

The Africa Carbon Forum, which was preceded by a two-day training session of African CDM designated national authorities, was organized under the umbrella of the Nairobi Framework. Launched in 2006 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Nairobi Framework aims to assist developing countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa, to improve their level of participation in the CDM.

The Framework partners are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) along with the UNEP Risø Centre, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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