15 September 2023, Africa: We, the representatives of African civil society, scientists, media, farmers organizations, and other like-minded advocates for climate action, are meeting to advance our common goals and agenda in parallel with the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. We wish to underscore and communicate the following points, especially considering their consideration at COP28 in Dubai later this year.
- We welcome the Africa Climate Summit and the efforts of the African Union and heads of state and governments to formulate and advance a more familiar position on climate change for Africa, especially given the continent’s uniquely climate-vulnerable position and current lack of resilience and adaptive capacity.
- We take note of the African leaders’ Nairobi Declaration on Climate and hope that it will help raise ambition for an outcome of COP28 that is more favorable to African needs and includes more consideration of African perspectives.
- We note, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have still not been met, and the need to urgently advance their achievement with the climate crisis as the world faces the likelihood that the 1.5-degree Paris goal on climate will be missed by 2030.
- We wish to point out that Africa’s extreme vulnerability results from a lack of adaptive capacity due to development challenges and the failure so far to meet the SDGs. In particular, 590 million Africans lack access to modern energy, and 875 million depend on traditional biofuels for cooking, resulting in high mortality from air pollution and rapid deforestation. Without electricity, Africans remain highly vulnerable to climate disasters and impacts.
- The energy access SDG (Goal 7) is being missed. The UK has electricity generation rates per capita that are 20x that of Kenya, for example. At COP28, world leaders must focus on urgently delivering universal access to electricity by 2030 and increasing generation capacities and deliveries in Africa by an order of magnitude by the same date. In our view, clean energy should include all available deliverable and sustainable technologies, including wind, solar, clean biomass, hydro, nuclear, and geothermal. Public and concessional financing must be made available to reduce the cost of capital for clean energy projects.
- The situation regarding the End Hunger goal (Goal 2) has worsened, with 20 percent of the population undernourished in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) compared to 17 percent in 2013. About 60 percent of the SSA population is defined as food insecure. Agricultural productivity has barely risen in SSA since the 1960s, with cereal yields in Africa being a fraction of those in developed nations. These yield gaps are keeping Africa locked in poverty. They must be urgently addressed to improve Africa’s climate resilience and deliver on the zero hunger SDG, including through science-based innovation and improvements in genetics and crop breeding technologies, as well as access to irrigation, land tenure security, transport improvements, etc.
- The debt situation also continues to worsen. A new expert working paper released for Africa Climate Week by the DRGR reveals that SSA is increasingly mired in debt, with total stock now more than 500 billion dollars. Debt servicing takes an average of 12 percent of government spending in SSA and 25 percent in some countries, such as Zambia and Ghana. This money is unavailable to finance hospitals, schools, and development outcomes. SSA urgently needs debt relief and additional resources in the forms of liquidity and concessional and grant finance to deliver on any of the SDGs and overall climate resilience.
- While Africa’s per capita emissions are tiny compared to those of developed countries, Africa can achieve development without the need to increase the use of fossil fuels and in a way compatible with the Paris Goals. We urge African governments to recognise the needs of other vulnerable countries in the Global South and to support their aspirations to prosper amid climate change. We stand in solidarity with countries that have developed their Climate Prosperity Plans from the Climate Vulnerable Forum/V20 to deliver sustained and inclusive growth compatible with a Net Zero world.
- At COP27, a Loss and Damage Fund was established, but it is still unclear where the funds will come from, and there remains the risk of another empty bank account. Promises made should be promises kept. Africa demands sustained, adequate, and predictable loss and damage financing from countries that have a much higher proportionate responsibility for climate damages that are now being suffered by African countries every day. This must be fully established and operational by the conclusion of COP28.
- There were serious concerns about the lack of civil society inclusion in the Africa Climate Summit and the lack of gender perspectives and youth voices at the summit, as well as a disproportionate influence of outsiders on the draft declaration and overall agenda. We assert that it is vital that all stakeholders are represented, including the voices of youth and women, indigenous peoples, and smallholder farmers in particular, and that so-called African perspectives genuinely reflect the interests and viewpoints of people in this continent above all else. There must be more spaces for sharing intergenerational wisdom on strategies for climate action that are culturally appropriate and, therefore, more sustainable.
This statement is not intended to be an exhaustive list of issues; many others demand fuller consideration. However, they are some of those we feel deserve proper inclusion on the COP28 agenda, and we will work with other civil society partners to achieve this.
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