Climate adaptation can push Africa into green economic growth
Mobilizing additional funding for climate adaptation projects in Africa can speed up the continent’s fight against disasters and, at the same time, help the continent to leapfrog into a green economy.
This was the main message of over 20 African leaders that participated in a virtual summit on Covid-climate emergency that preludes on the global agenda of the climate summit COP26 in Glasgow later this year.
The summit took place on 5 April and was organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Global Centre on adaptation (GCA).
Speed up adaptation
Several African presidents mentioned the double threat of Covid-19 and climate change that the continent is currently facing. They fully supported the ambition of the African Union to speed up the implementation of big climate adaptation projects, such as the iconic Desert-to-power solar project, the pan-African Great Green Wall initiative, as well as flagship programmes of the African Adaptation Initiative on digitalization of agriculture and young entrepreneurs.
Yet, the African economy is severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 African economies saw a fall of 1,4 percent in their GDP, mainly because of hampering exports of food and natural resources. Less tax revenues create cash-shortages and will eventually force governments to cut their spendings.
Economic impact of Covid-19
During the virtual dialogues, many African leaders warned that this economic downfall may also impact the continent’s ambition on climate adaptation. According to president Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank (AfBD), his bank has committed itself to increase the climate adaptation financing to 25 billion US dollar between 2020 and 2025.
The AfDB will put half of this amount on the table from its own resources. The other half has to come from other public and private sources. Adesina noted that the Covid pandemic will make this funding more difficult and he called upon the global community to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Africa.
‘Africa needs more fiscal space from global institutions to be able to adapt’, said Adesina. He stressed the urgency to make Africa shock proof for natural disasters. ‘Take cyclones Idai and Kenneth that brought up to 2 billion US dollar damage to infrastructure in Mozambique and the surrounding countries in 2019. But it also effects farmers that have to cope with more drought.’
Spur green growth
‘This is not only about tax money’, Adesina continued. ‘The private sector is very critical. We need to align public, private and global finance on the Paris agreement and spur green growth.’ One such alignment can be on a fair carbon pricing that will reduce Africa’s deforestation and help to mitigate the effects of droughts and soil erosion.
An important pillar of such a global alignment is the African Adaptation Acceleration programme (AAAP), launched by the African Development Bank and the Global Centre on Adaptation during the Climate Adaptation Summit last January in the Netherlands.
The timing of the summit and the joint leader’s statement was not only topical because of the ongoing talks in preparations for the COP26 but also in regard of the global alignment on the 20,4 trillion dollar Covid-19 stimulus plans that governments are working on.
As many other leaders in the world, the African leaders believe there is an unique opportunity to focus these plans on green investment.
Commitment to climate fund
CEO Patrick Verkooijen of the GCA called upon the developed world to support Africa‘s ambition on climate adaptation. He reminded the promise made by the developed world on the creation of a climate fund at the climate summit COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
’Let us not forget the agreement to mobilize 100 billion US dollar each year. Where are we today on climate adaptation? At 30 billion. This needs to increase tenfold’, he said.
‘We will go into the Glasgow conversation and expect that the United States, the European Union and other economic blocks will unite around Africa’s ambition. Our African Adaptation Acceleration programme has the plan. We hope the world will rally behind us’, Verkooijen added.
See the full review of the Africa Covid-climate emergency summit.