Optimistic Africa as COP27 offers bright outlook and opportunities

Civil society members are calling for a balance between funding for mitigation and adaptation

Children drop out of school to join their parents in search of food and water in drought-stricken northern Kenya. Photo: Tony Malesi

World leaders and politicians are gathering in Egypt for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). The fact that the summit will take place on African soil has given the inhabitants of the continent most affected by climate change high hopes that pressing issues such as climate finance will be at the center of discussions.

The conference comes at a time when Africa is facing disasters such as prolonged drought, food insecurity, high energy costs and floods. Residents are happy that, under these conditions, the climate agenda will be fully covered at COP27.

Wycliffe Osundwa, a smallholder farmer from Kenya, said:

Farming, especially farming, has never been a matter of trial and error due to failed rains. While drought is ravaging some places, unusually high rainfall is overwhelming others.

“This meeting should provide financial solutions and compensation for the losses,” said Osundwa, who has switched to beekeeping from beekeeping.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report highlights the most dire situation and the impending threat facing the continent.

The report notes that Africa has only marginally contributed to climate change, with about two to three percent of global emissions. “But it is disproportionately singled out as the world’s most vulnerable region.”

The African Development Bank, one of the largest funders of climate mitigation efforts in Africa and headquartered in Cote d’Ivoire/West Africa, detailed that the continent loses an average of $15 billion annually to climate crises.

“If appropriate mitigating measures are not taken, this figure is expected to reach 50 billion dollars a year by 2030,” the bank said in a statement.

A cross section of experts and climate activists from Africa are optimistic and hopeful that this year’s conference, which some have described as the “African COP”, is a mega-opportunity to highlight the continent’s unique needs and dire circumstances. .

Amid unfulfilled climate commitments due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and disruptions to energy and food supply chains, Africa’s current chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on climate change, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima of Zambia, said the continent’s priorities are already at the forefront of the summit.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict is a setback for Africa’s climate agenda. It shifts the continent’s focus from climate commitments to food supply chain sustainability. But we will not let the geopolitical situation lower our expectations,” said Mwepya, a leading member of the talks. press release.

He added that COP27 could advance the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), including adaptation and mitigation efforts and the delivery of necessary funding.

“In addition to the new agenda, such as the push for a special loss and damage facility, some of our agenda items are from previous summits and we plan to repeat them,” he said, adding:

For example, we will try to reach 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, a promise that developed countries have not fulfilled.

Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) executive director Mithika Mwenda of Kenya said Africa has high hopes for COP27 as it is the fifth event held on African soil. PACJA is a powerful consortium of over 1,000 organizations from 48 African countries and is very vocal in the fight against climate change.

“Despite the summit being called the ‘Africa COP’, African civil society wants to classify it as the COP of ordinary Africans. This is because we want the issues related to Africa to be widely expressed during the 11 themed days,” he says.

Activists and members of civil society are calling for a balance between funding for mitigation and adaptation, especially after a statement released by the Center for Global Adaptation showed that only 7 percent of funds go to climate adaptation.

According to the report, climate change will cost $579 billion by 2030, with a large portion of global funding directed towards mitigation. “Only 7.2 percent of global climate finance goes to adaptation efforts.”

During the opening of the COP27 summit on Sunday, delegates agreed to put the controversial issue of loss and damage on the agenda. As expected, this will generate heated debate and will probably be the biggest highlight of the two-week meeting.

One of the challenges African parties face in negotiations is the inability to quantify non-material losses and damages, such as deaths, loss of livelihoods or cultures due to displacement, for material compensation.

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