African CSOs demand transformative climate finance commitments at Paris Summit

Civil society organisations from across Africa are calling on French President Emmanuel Macron to champion a transformative, climate-friendly policy agenda for people and the planet during the ‘‘Summit for a New Global Financial Pact’’ in Paris. The two-day international conference that starts on Thursday, June 22, 2023, is being spearheaded by President Macron.

In a letter signed by 63 organisations, the CSOs have underscored the urgency for comprehensive and robust commitments by world leaders to boost climate finance and resilience in Africa.

As stated in the letter, the group of African CSOs are calling for ‘‘rapid and significant scaling up of debt-free, grant-based finance for African institutions, including the African Adaptation Initiative and community-led efforts to effectively respond to the rising impacts of climate change.’’

The Paris summit is expected to push fiscal processes and institutions to support heavily indebted countries, mobilise innovative climate finance, and promote private sector investments in developing countries.

In their letter, the CSOs identify four critical areas for attention during the summit, namely:

  • Reset and enhance climate finance options
  • Boost debt-free adaptation finance
  • Strengthen African-led adaptation measures
  • Finance climate education, capacity building, and skills transfer.

Mohamed Adow, Director of climate think tank Power Shift Africa: “Africa has been bearing the brunt of the climate crisis since before the world started discussing what to do about it. And yet African voices have been too frequently ignored and our needs left unmet. That will no longer stand, which is why African civil society groups are coming together to speak with one voice and demand to be heard.

“There is plenty of money available in the global financial system; rich countries have been spending billions on helping Ukraine and responding to COVID-19. It’s time the financial resources were found to pay the climate debt owed by the rich polluting nations and to help Africa adapt and thrive in a climate which has been distorted by the actions of others.”

Courtney Morgan, Campaigner at African Climate Reality Project: ‘‘We cannot talk about climate justice without recognising the need for climate finance. Due to historical emissions, and the unequal impacts of climate change felt by vulnerable communities, particularly in the Global South, we affirm the need for climate finance that is fair and centered on justice. Climate finance is necessary for mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and to achieve a just outcome for people who did nothing to cause this crisis. A principled and human rights-based approach must underpin climate finance deals. This requires an urgent shift in the international financial system.’’

Ndivile Mokoena, Project Coordinator, GenderCC Southern Africa: “Climate adaptation has been side-lined in global climate discussions for long. The urgency and importance of climate adaptation in Africa is strongly linked to the continent disproportionate devastation, despite its less than 3 per cent contribution to global emissions. Climate models predict that the impacts in Africa will only become more frequent and severe, with vulnerable and frontline communities being most at risk. Therefore, we call for urgent action in financial support from global north nations.”

Chibeze Ezekiel, Executive Coordinator for Strategic Youth Network for Development & ACCESS Coalition: ‘‘I fully endorse the call for a new Global Finance Pact which needs to show precise and deliberate provision for the growth and sustainable development of Africa through climate-friendly measures and adequate climate financing.’’

The experts demand stronger commitments to climate finance as the surest way to create a more resilient and sustainable future for Africa’s vulnerable populations.

The Letter:

Subject: Demanding a Transformational Global Finance Pact and Enhanced Climate Finance Commitments for Africa’s Resilience

Dear President Emmanuel Macron,

As we approach the upcoming Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, we have come together as African civil society organisations to issue a call to world leaders and leading international financial institutions to demand transformative climate finance commitments for the resilience of African nations at the Paris Summit. The summit comes at a time when African CSOs are calling for concerted efforts in building Africa’s resilience in the face of the ongoing climate emergency. As the impacts of climate change intensify, Africa’s ability to adapt and build resilience for its people through sustainable solutions and adequate support is a key priority. However, even where strong adaptation efforts exist, African countries, under all warming scenarios, face irreversible losses and damage due to climate impacts, which must be addressed. By taking proactive steps, we can mitigate the adverse effects and ensure a resilient future for Africa and its people.

Africa, with its rich biodiversity and diverse ecosystems, is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Any conversation about the climate crisis in Africa is incomplete if it doesn’t consider how it disproportionately harms disadvantaged communities in Africa who are least responsible for the climate crisis, and yet most vulnerable to its impacts. Extreme weather events, water scarcity, rising sea levels, heightened conflict, climate induced refugees, and food insecurity due to the disruption of agricultural patterns pose significant challenges and risks to the continent.

To address these challenges and build resilience, we would like to emphasise the following key points:

Reset and Enhance Climate Finance Options:

Scaled-up, grant based or concessionale, and accessible climate finance is crucial for Africa’s resilience-building efforts. We must ensure that climate financing mechanisms are accessible to African nations, including through the new financial arrangements and funds agreed upon at COP27. The climate finance Africa receives must truly be additional money and not create new unsustainable debts, as the continent responds to the climate crisis.

In line with the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) principle, Global North countries have a responsibility to repay colonial and climate debt for centuries of historical damage and extractivism across the continent. An array of financing options exist that are more favourable to Africa and must be considered, including debt write-offs and grant based or highly concessional financing. These options, in comparison to more loans and further debt, would enable countries to focus their resources on priority needs. Additionally, the full operationalisation and capitalisation of the recently established Loss and Damage Fund will provide crucial support to African countries in managing and recovering from climate-related losses and damages.

Boost Adaptation Finance:

For far too long, climate adaptation has been sidelined to mitigation issues in multilateral climate agendas, resulting in a large finance gap and efforts that have largely been reactive, incremental, and piecemeal. Ahead of the Global Stocktake at COP28 in Dubai, the Global Goal on Adaptation, which has seen limited progress and support, requires far more political momentum and traction towards agreement on global science-based targets for enhancing adaptation and resilience.

With climate impacts in Africa expected to increase in frequency and intensity, addressing the adaptation financing gap to the continent demands immediate attention. The African continent is currently facing substantial and escalating costs due to adverse climate impacts from a crisis it did not cause. Recent extreme weather events – Cyclone Freddy that tore across Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar to flash floods in countries such as the CongoEastern UgandaRwanda, and Nigeria – have resulted in immense economic burdens, with recovery costs exceeding millions of dollars. Losses and damage from climate impacts, combined with debt burdens, undermine African countries and communities capacity to adapt and respond effectively to extreme weather events.

Where adaptation solutions do exist, a major stumbling block to scaling them up is the significant gap in adaptation finance. Although various multilateral regional and bilateral sources, such as the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund offer some adaptation funding, it falls short of the required levels. For instance, adaptation cost estimates for Africa increase from $25-50 billion per year under a 1.5℃ scenario to $16-60 billion per year under a 2℃ scenario. However, the amount of international finance mobilised for Africa’s adaptation is billions of dollars less than the adaptation cost estimates. The gap in adaptation financing, without even factoring in losses and damage, is even more concerning when compared to the fact that $2 trillion flows from the Global South to the Global North per annum.

The summary notes of the fifth workshop under the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation point out that incentives for adaptation investments could be created. Similar to those identified in point one of this letter, these could include tax waivers, grant and highly concessional loans, green credits, and even including externalities in project costs. Therefore, we call for the rapid and significant scaling up of debt-free, grant-based finance for African institutions, including the African Adaptation Initiative, and community-led efforts to effectively respond to the rising impacts of climate change in Africa.

Strengthen Adaptation Measures:

As mentioned on several occasions in this letter, higher priority and finance support must be directed toward climate adaptation. Importantly, the majority of adaptation financing must be channelled to efforts that are locally-led, people centred, and sustain livelihoods. As noted in the IPBES-IPCC report, the benefits of many small, local biodiversity measures may only make a minimal contribution to global mitigation or biodiversity protection, but they have great benefits for local quality of life. Their benefits also accumulate at the global level, while fulfilling multiple biodiversity and climate objectives.

Across Africa, community led adaptive solutions like agroecologyfood sovereigntyforest restoration, the Zaï technique, and more already exist, particularly at the grassroots and community level. Often these locally led initiatives, with their roots in traditional knowledge systems and practices, are considered more successful than top-down government interventions. For instance, agroecology, with its link to Indigenous knowledge and food sovereignty movements, has numerous social, environmental, and economic co-benefits. These range from placing power and control back in the hands of small scale farmers to protecting biodiversity, boosting soil fertility, strengthening the resilience of farms to extreme weather events, and increasing local food sovereignty. 

It is crucial to support innovative and community-led adaptation projects that enhance Africa’s resilience to climate change, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Investing in transformative community-led measures is the first step to scaling up Africa’s climate adaptation and resilience. Rethinking and reconfiguring the global financial system and economics is vital to support a fundamental and widespread shift to agroecology and food sovereignty.

Finance climate education, capacity building, and skills transfer:

Building Africa’s resilience also depends on investments into climate education, capacity building, and skills transfer. By investing into climate education programs that integrate traditional knowledge systems and practices, we can build a more informed and engaged citizenry that understands the causes and impacts of climate change, and are better equipped to mitigate and adapt to its effects. Further benefits of investments into climate education and traditional knowledge include addressing disparities in climate literacy that exist between the Global North and South, preserving Indigenous knowledge systems across generations, and fostering innovation, new opportunities, and entrepreneurship in the climate sector, especially for the continent’s youthful population.

By empowering local communities, governments, and organisations with knowledge and skills, we can enable them to effectively respond to climate challenges. Capacity building efforts should focus on agroecology (including organic farming), clean cooking, sustainable water management, renewable energy, a wide range of practical skills from Indigenous knowledge systems, and other climate-resilient practices.

Supporting climate education and capacity building programmes that integrate African Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems is equally crucial. Many of these knowledge systems are intrinsically connected to locally led and people-centred measures such as agroecology and the Zai technique. The roots of Africa’s resilience to climate impacts lies in its people’s innate wisdom, in traditional knowledge systems and practices and with communities that have lived on the land for centuries.

In conclusion, we implore you to champion a climate-friendly policy agenda at the Summit for a new Global Finance Pact and advocate for stronger commitments to climate finance, especially for adaptation and loss and damage. By prioritising the concerns raised in this letter, we can create a resilient and sustainable future for Africa and the vulnerable communities it comprises. We trust that your leadership and dedication will drive transformative change for the betterment of our planet and its people.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial matter. We look forward to seeing concrete actions and outcomes emerge from the Summit that reflect our collective commitment to a climate-friendly and resilient future.

Yours sincerely

(FROM: EnviroNews)

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