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Africa Climate Week: going for mitigation or adaptation?

Blog | Thu, 08 Sep, 2022 · 6 min read
participants of the Africa Climate Week in Gabon

Participants of the Africa Climate Week in Gabon (@UNEP)

There are burning topics in the news right now and climate change is undoubtedly one of them. It has been identified as the leading human and environmental crisis of the 21st century. The problem of understanding climate change is one of the major challenges confronting African people, their governments and the African Union (AU).

African nations are among the lightest polluters but they are among the one who are suffering the most from it in their pursuit of water and food security, sustainable development, and political and economic sustainability. Increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa according to many studies. Mitigation and adaptation are two sides of the same coin and although these two sides have been approached separately, we must now have a more global approach to tackle climate change by addressing CO2 emissions but also by supporting vulnerable communities.

UN-REDD programme was part of the UNEP delegation sent to Gabon to assist to the African Climate Week (ACW) and represent both programme and organization to this very important event that some might call ‘Pre-COP 27’ since the next COP will happen on the African continent in Egypt. ACW 2022 was held from 29 August to 2 September in Gabon with the main objective of engaging and empowering stakeholders to drive climate action across countries, communities and economies.

Indeed, last year, regional collaboration emerged as a driver of global progress. The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 recognizes Regional Climate Weeks as a platform for governments and stakeholders to strengthen credible and durable response to climate change. Working together opens opportunity to advance climate action, address social inequalities and invest in development that is good for humanity and nature. As such ACW 2022 was used as a collaboration platform to explore (i) resilience against climate risks, (ii) the transition to a low-emission economy and (iii) partnerships to solve pressing challenges.

Adaptation was the main focus of this ACW event. As the whole World, Africa is hit by climate change impacts and actions must be taken quickly to avoid a disaster, for communities and natural resources, leading to potential conflicts for resources and migration. Many countries stressed the need for immediate action, and above all for immediate funding – ‘trillions are needed, not millions’ says Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth. The main goal of UN-REDD is mitigation but great opportunities of cross-cutting actions are emerging thanks to Nature-Based Solutions (Nbs).

On the mitigation side, many discussions took place on carbon markets: existing markets? Requirements? Gaps? Access? Prices?  So many questions that countries are asking and that need answers to guide them in selling credits. "There will be different qualities of carbon credits on the market meaning it is fine to also have different prices," says Oliver Philips, Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank. As for the World Bank, they think that carbon price will increase in the medium/long term thanks to jurisdictions programmes. "The problem is related to emissions reductions, it is not happening fast enough. We must support countries to shift from project to jurisdictional level to accelerate and generate these ERs," says Yoann Allanic, REDD+ Technical Advisor for the UN-REDD Programme in Africa.

The future looks uncertain but this ACW showed us great leadership from Africa to make the next COP a success by improving collaboration to tackle CO2 emissions and support adaptation of the most vulnerable people at the same time.