It’s that time of year again… this week the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings open, making for an energetic and hectic time for all involved. For those of us working on climate change issues in Africa, this is an especially exciting time.
For one, there is heightened awareness and urgency surrounding climate change issues in Africa. In November, South Africa will assume presidency of the Convention of Parties (COP-17) meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which will take place in Durban, the first time a climate change COP will be held on the African continent. This being Africa’s “first COP”, many people not traditionally expected to be involved with such issues have been taking a lead and stepping up to the plate – country leaders and finance ministers for example, joining their environment and natural resources ministers in seeking adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate change.
In the past two weeks, three meetings –on climate-smart agriculture , environmental protection, and sustainable energy access–have been held in South Africa and Mali, creating a momentum of support for the issues that lie at the heart of Africa’s development challenges. Closely tied to this is the collective realization that is emerging: that climate is not just an environmental issue, but also fundamentally a social issue, an economic issue, and a major threat to achieving development. In fact, a changing climate affects every facet of human endeavor.So how does one go about combating climate change within a sustainable development context? Given the cross-cutting nature of climate change effects, we believe that actions–adaptation and mitigation–are needed on a broad range of fronts.
These “building blocks,” if you will, constitute the essentials for countries developing plans to combat climate change on a war footing and securing a climate-resilient future for Africa and its people:
- Sustainable economic growth: Setting ambitious global mitigation targets to mitigate the dire consequences of not pursuing a path of low carbon development.
- Energy: Improving energy access to address Africa’s energy deficit that is hobbling economic growth and impacting human welfare
- Agriculture & Food security: Promoting increased productivity, greater climate resilience, and reduced emissions and enhanced sequestration–through climate-smart agriculture
- Water & Disaster Risk Management: Being proactive about adaptation and taking into account water and disaster risk management in planning processes.
- Forests: Aligning REDD+  with the technical and institutional capacities of African countries.
- Cities: Integrating them into the UNFCCC work on securing their mitigation and adaptation potentials.
- Indigenous populations: Fostering and strengthening the capacities of indigenous peoples who will bear the disproportionate brunt of climate change.
- Carbon Markets: Creating a fast-track process through the Clean Development Mechanism to improve access to carbon markets.
- Financing: Seeking strong representation in the governance of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to source, allocate, and disburse finance for effective climate actions.
Clearly, the multifaceted causes and effects of climate change cannot simply be addressed through single sector responses or single country responses. Rather – it requires us to move into a new paradigm where we truly start to think differently, and where we don’t operate in a “business as usual” mode, but take deliberate, concerted steps to strengthen partnerships for combating climate change. The upcoming COP-17 conference is only highlighting the urgent need to start addressing these concerns.
The Bank is working closely with Africa regional clients to implement our Africa Climate Resilience Strategy . And, this Saturday, working with our partners at the AU, selected Regional Economic Communities, and client countries, we are initiating an exciting project on Africa Climate Risk Management and Green Growth to build capacity, prepare climate investments, and initiate implementation of such investments in a manner that is transformative, innovative, and replicable.