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Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Some 30 African heads of state and global leaders rose in a historic and united show of solidarity for Africa’s climate adaptation action, a continent that contributes only 5 per cent to global emissions.
The leaders are committed to prioritize actions that help African countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and “build forward better.”
Africa, with 1.3 billion people, now faces the dual onslaught of climate change – currently estimated at between $7 billion and $15 billion each year – and Covid-19, which has claimed 114,000 lives. The African Development Bank (AFDB) expects that the impact of climate change on the continent could rise to $50 billion each year by 2040, with a further 3 per cent decline in GDP by 2050.
At a virtual leaders’ dialogue convened by the AfDB, the Global Centre on Adaptation and the Africa Adaptation Initiative, more than 30 heads of state and global leaders rallied behind the bold new Africa Adaptation Acceleration program (AAAP).
The program’s objective is to mobilize $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation actions across Africa.
President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and African Union chairperson, invited his fellow leaders to: “revisit our climate ambitions and accelerate the implementation of our actions planned under our national priorities.”
He said, “to do this we will need to focus on actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change, these include nature-based solutions, energy transition, enhanced transparency framework, technology transfer and climate finance.”
The Africa adaptation acceleration program is built to address the impacts of Covid-19, climate change, and the continent’s worst recession in 25 years. This is why today’s unprecedented show of support for the financing of African adaptation is so significant.
According to Ban Ki-Moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, “The Covid-19 pandemic is eroding recent progress in building climate resilience and leaving countries and communities more vulnerable to future shocks.”
Ki-Moon warned that “Africa must make up for lost ground and lost time. Climate change did not stop because of Covid-19, and neither should the urgent task of preparing humanity to live with the multiple effects of a warming planet.”
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, and chair of the African Union-led Africa Adaptation initiative, spoke of Gabon’s record in emission reductions. He said his country is one of the few countries in the world that is carbon positive.
“We have to insist that equal attention be paid to climate adaptation and mitigation in climate finance. Africa calls on the developed nations to shoulder the historic responsibility and to join the program to accelerate the adaptation in Africa,” President Bongo said.
AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said: “With our partners, we intend to mobilize $25 billion in financing for the success of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. It is time for developed countries to meet their promise of providing $100 billion annually for climate finance. And a greater share of this should go to climate adaptation.
Adesina said, so far, more than $20 trillion have gone into Covid-19 stimulus packages in developed countries. The International Monetary Fund’s plan to issue $650 billion of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to boost global reserves and liquidity will be enormously helpful to support green growth and climate financing for economic recovery. I applaud the leadership of the US government and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, especially, on this big push,” he added.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “African nations are showing leadership…The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, and many other ambitious African initiatives, must be empowered to fully deliver on their goals.”
Guterres added: “Universal access to energy in Africa, a priority in the coming years, could be provided primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet these dual objectives by COP 26. It is achievable, it is necessary, it is overdue, and it is smart.”
Speaking on behalf of US President Joe Biden, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, the United States remains a committed development partner for Africa and a huge supporter of the AfDB.
President Biden noted that Africa contributed the least to climate change but is suffering the worst of its effects, congratulating the AfDB and Global Center for Adaptation for developing the AfAAP.
The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, as launched by the AfDB and the Global Center on Adaptation, revolves around several transformative initiatives such as: Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security which aims to scale up access to climate-smart digital technologies for at least 30 million farmers in Africa; African Infrastructure Resilience Accelerator which will scale up investment for climate-resilient urban and rural infrastructure in key sectors: water, transport, energy, waste management for a circular economy; Empowering Youth for Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Climate Resilience which will provide one million youths with skills for climate adaptation and support 10,000 small and medium size youth-led businesses to create green jobs; Innovative Financial Initiatives for Africa which will help close adaptation finance gaps, enhance access to existing finance and mobilize new public and private sector investment.