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COP28: African civil society unveils five priorities to fight against climate change in Africa

Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of the Coalition, welcomed the finance/civil-society/private-sector nexus in the fight against climate change in Africa.

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COP28: African civil society unveils five priorities to fight against climate change in Africa

At the United Nations’ climate conference COP 28 an African civil society coalition has unveiled its five absolute priorities to fight climate change: adaptation, loss and damage, food systems; land use; and the protection and restoration of forests.

The priorities were announced by Secou Sarr, Executive Secretary of ENDA-Tiers Monde, representing a collective of African non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at a side event held on Tuesday 5 December, at the ongoing United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai.

These NGOs gathered around a common platform launched at COP28 – the “African Development Bank Group-Civil Society Coalition on Climate and Energy”. Standing together, the groups intend to have greater influence on debate at COP28.

Africa is the continent that suffers the most from the effects of climate change but receives the least climate finance. African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina made the case to coalition members for the continent to be able to benefit from its natural resources.

“African economies should not be measured by GDP; we should assess Africa’s wealth on the basis of its natural capital”, he said. “Its immense mineral, forestry and renewable energy resources should all be taken into account.”

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina addresses representatives of African civil society organizations at COP28 in Dubai. Wednesday, December 5, 2023.”The Congo Basin, the largest carbon storehouse in the world, is not taken into account in the GDP assessments of the countries of the region,” Adesina concluded.

“The coalition supports the call by African leaders to channel special drawing rights for climate finance to Africa, particularly through the African Development Bank. It invites the global community, governments and development partners to “implement best practices, innovations and technologies in an inclusive manner that involves farmers and local communities, especially women and young people, in an approach that combines scientific and traditional knowledge without harming biodiversity or compromising the resilience of society.”

The coalition calls on parties to ensure “that adaptation and resilience-building are at the heart of climate-vulnerable African economies.”

At the opening of discussions with civil society, Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture and Human and Social Development, underscored that the Coalition was “very important” for Africa. “As soon as he took office, President Adesina created the Civil Society Division, demonstrating the importance of communities’ agendas and priorities to the Bank,” Dunford noted.

Dunford said that the Bank dedicated 64% of its funding to climate adaptation in Africa and that it has just opened a Climate Action Window, to provide specific resources and technical assistance to the continent’s least developed countries. The African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional window, will support this new window, which will mobilize at least $42 billion.

Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of the Coalition, welcomed the finance/civil-society/private-sector nexus in the fight against climate change in Africa.

“Doubling adaptation funding will not be enough for the continent, because governments have already spent a lot of money,” he said, calling on civil society and the private sector, especially the banks, to work together for the benefit of the continent.

Echoing this, Pauline Nantongo Kalunda, Executive Director of ECOTRUST, the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda, gave an example of this win-win partnership, describing how joint action by civil society and the private sector had enabled 15,000 small farmers to develop tree planting to promote carbon storage.

Even so, she called for the removal of barriers to communities’ access to climate finance. “It has been said that the private sector has $200 billion for the climate, but that never happens on the ground because there are many barriers. We need to identify these and overcome them to facilitate access.”

Mithika Mwenda, Chair of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance – a powerful network of more than 1,000 African organizations working in the climate arena – emphasized the catalysing role of civil society, while praising the partnership with the Bank, which had made possible “significant commitments”.

The Burkinabe Environment Minister, Roger Baro, told the audience that, “Climate change is a breeding ground for terrorism,” while reminding it that his country was showing resilience despite security and humanitarian challenges. Government, the private sector and civil society form a “tandem” in the fight against climate change in this country of the Sahel, said Baro, citing the consultation frameworks set up by his government to work with these different entities.

“We have annual reforestation campaigns and the private sector (banks and insurance companies, among others) has spaces that it replants and maintains the young trees,” the minister said. He also stressed that his government was working with the private sector on public-private partnerships not only to build roads and dams, but also to catalyse international green finance.

Karen Wanjiru Kimani, “the youngest environmental activist in Africa,” made an appeal for young people not to be neglected on environment issues. She explained how schoolchildren were forming clubs to plant trees to fight drought. She called on governments and the private sector to work together for the climate.

Attendees paid a heartfelt tribute to Yacouba Sawadogo(link is external), a Burkinese small farmer who devoted his life to the fight against desertification. Sawadogo was awarded the ‘Right Livelihood Award(link is external)’, the ‘alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2018. He passed away on December 3.

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