Journée de l’Afrique

Le front uni de l’Afrique à COP17 attire le respect autour de ses craintes sur le changement climatique

Africa emerged from the climate change conference, or COP 17, in Durban with a strong united front when it comes to tackling climate change on the continent, and in particular for fighting for its fair share of climate change adaptation and mitigation funds.

L’Afrique revendique un meilleur accès aux ressources climatiques

Les leaders africains ont revendiqué à Durban un meilleur accès de l’Afrique au financement climatique. Ils ont fortement rappelé que l’Afrique est déterminée à s’engager résolument dans la voie du développement propre. Pour cela, elle a besoin d’un accès égalitaire au financement climatique, en établissant un lien fort entre développement, adaptation et atténuation.

Opening session

  • On 8 December, the AfDB, the AU and UNECA celebrated Africa Day in the African Pavilion.
  • Participants at Africa Day were welcomed by Dr Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission.
  • Afterwards, Mr Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia gave the opening address.
  • Following the opening session, Lord Stern, Professor of Economics and Government at the LSE gave a keynote speech. 

Key Takeaways from the opening session

  • Africa has become a leader and pioneer on climate change for the rest of the world.
  • Africa gets actively involved in policies and actions on climate change issues - despite the fact that Africa is responsible for less than four percent of global carbon emissions.
  • It was emphasised throughout the high level discussion that the talks and actions taken should reflect the legitimacy of COP 17 and the conclusions reached. This being a natural follow-through from the statement made that the Durban talks should develop on the foundations set at Cancun in 2010.
  • The development from previous talks up to and including CO P17 that Africa’s contribution was taken more seriously now by the rest of the world – a great advance since the talks in 2004. This new perception has resulted in a number of roundtables, conferences and discussions on how Africa could contribute to addressing climate change via key thematic issues.
  • Issues identified as meriting attention by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia,  Mr Meles Zenawi, included:
    • The need for new technology
    • Protection of the Congo Basin, it being pivotal to Africa’s ecological survival
    • Preservation of Lake Jud.
  • As far as the international community is concerned, they are now paying great attention to Africa, which is speaking with one voice - thanks to the concerted efforts of the AU.

Key Takeaways from Lord Stern

  • Lord Stern emphasized several important issues in relation to Africa’s struggle against the adverse effects of climate change:
    • The need for private entrepreneurial assistance in the financing and implementation of projects
    • The need to create and implement innovative policies and projects
    • The need for increased national, regional and global investment
    • Active growth in green energy in the various areas of commerce and industry.
  • Lord Stern also emphasised the fact that adaptation, development and mitigation policies should not be viewed separately, but should be viewed as part of the same whole – a powerful singular and combined strategy to combat climate change.
  • It was highlighted that there will have to be a central focus on development and the economy, mobilising action in every sector and readapting policies on carbon pricing.
  • Other points needing action were:
    • The need for strengthening of all governmental and non-governmental networks in order to streamline the implementation of policy
    • Improving the viability of capital markets’ capacities to be able to handle risk more efficiently
    • The need for good national policy and good national leaders in the region, who can inspire investor confidence via good example
    • The right form of financing that is quick and easy to access.
  • Finally, there was an overarching emphasis on the need for political will on Africa’s part, to spearhead development, not only for Africa, but also to give a lead by example to the rest of the world.

High level panel discussion

  • The following panelists participated in the discussion:
    • Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank
    • Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo
    • Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
    • Tiemoko Sangare, Minister of Environment, Mali
    • Trevor Manuel, Co-chair of the TC/Green Climate Fund
    • Jean Ping, Chairman, AU Commission
    • Adboulie Janneh, UN Under Secretary-General & Executive Secretary of ECA.
    • Lord Stern, Professor of Economics and Government, LSE 

Key takeaways from the session

  • The most important outcome of the session - the agreement that in order for Africa to move forward and succeed, Africa needs to have a common negotiating position - was summed up by Jean Ping as “One Africa, one message”.
  • Lord Stern highlighted that this is a time of opportunity for Africa. Africa has many natural resources (land, water, wind, geothermal, etc) that can be capitalised on and, as prices are moving in favour of clean energy, it would make sense to capitalise on these. Africa also has coal and oil, an endowment that the continent cannot totally reject, but these resources should be made less polluting by developing clean coal technology.
  • The importance of the Kyoto Protocol was emphasized with particular emphasis on the Green Climate Fund.  Trevor Manuel stated that raising USD 100 billion is feasible, although challenging.
  • Urgent action is needed. Africa needs the political will, specifically for the leaders to make decisions - decisions regarding policies. These policies need to cover a range of problems in an innovative and constructive way. Examples include financial transactions tax as well as aviation and maritime tax. Also, businesses need clarity in terms of these policies. According to Lord Stern, if the policies are clear, private sector funds will flow.
  • Development, adaptation, and mitigation cannot be addressed individually but must be integrated in terms of climate change and sustainable development.

Land, water, and forests: The foundation for climate resilient development in Africa

  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) hosted a high level event titled “Land, Water, and Forests: The Foundation for Climate Resilient Development in Africa”.
  • The session was moderated by Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.
  • The following panelists participated in the event:
    • Dr Jean Ping, Chair, AU Commission
    • Dr Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank
    • Mr Mahamat Bechir Okormi
    • Mr Henri Djombo
    • Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, President, Republic of Gabon
    • Mr Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye, Prime Minister, representing  Abdoulaye Wade,  President, Republic of Senegal
    • Mrs Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, The World Bank

Key takeaways from the session

  • Plans are one thing but implementing them is another. Implementation is crucial if Africa is serious about fighting climate change - despite difficulties in sourcing funds.
  • Institutions such as the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, the AfDB and many others have worked to make funds available for major projects (e.g. Lake Chad, Great Green Wall, and Congo Basin Forest Ecosystems).
  • The Senegalese government has played a huge role in ensuring the success of the Great Green Wall – an AU project in the southern Sahara.
    • The AU is approving these projects and encouraging more of these.
    • The Senegalese government appreciates the efforts made by the GEF in funding the project.
    • The success of the projects reflects the political commitment and hard work from governments.
  • At the upcoming Rio conference, it is important for Africa to push its agenda to the top priorities of the conference.
  • The Kyoto Protocol should be used as the reference by Africa on the development path.
  • Climate justice and climate ethics must be promoted.
  • Countries should collaborate and develop common policies for sustainable development and where it should take place.
  • Economic growth versus environmental friendliness is still a challenge and this calls for collaboration by different institutions.
  • Forests have been previously misrepresented in Climate Change negotiations, but Africa is working hard to put forests among the top priorities, since they perform many important tasks for the poor and for the world at large.
  • The World Bank has invested millions into these projects and is still willing to fund more of similar projects.
  • Climate Smart Agriculture should be viewed as a crucial component in this development.
  • Overall, Africa is responding well to the challenge posed by climate change.
  • This is also a call to investors that Africa is the place to invest in and the future is looking good for Africa.
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