By Haruna Gimba
In a historic and united show of solidarity for a continent that contributes only 5% to global emissions, more than 30 heads of state and global leaders committed to prioritize actions that help African countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and “build forward better.”
Africa 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% decline each year in GDP by 2050.
Speaking Tuesday, during a virtual Leaders’ Dialogue convened by the AfDB, the Global Center 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.
The program’s objective is to mobilize $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation actions across Africa.
President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo 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.
“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 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, Ban Ki-moon said the COVID-19 pandemic is eroding recent progress in building climate resilience and leaving countries and communities more vulnerable to future shocks.
“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 that Gabon 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 Dr 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.
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 that 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 Joseph R. Biden, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States remains a committed development partner for Africa and a huge supporter of the African Development Bank.
“Africa contributed the least to climate change but is suffering the worst of its effects. I congratulate the African Development Bank and the Global Center for Adaptation for developing the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. We support the program to help ensure that together, we can avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, as launched by the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation, revolves around several transformative initiatives.
International Monetary Fund (IMF), Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said facing the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, countries in Africa are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Speaking on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Chief Executive of the French Development Agency, Remy Rioux said Africa is providing solutions to climate change, including the Great Green Wall and the Desert to Power initiative of the African Development Bank to build the world’s largest solar zone in the Sahel of Africa.
He said France fully supports the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.