Reflections on Accelerating Climate Action at Africa Climate Week 2023
The Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6) reasserts that ambitious mitigation measures must be implemented immediately to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, with transformational adaptation and climate resilient development also requiring urgent upscaling.
The ongoing 2023 Regional Climate Weeks create an opportunity to ramp up global ambition through regional solidarity and prioritization, laying the foundation for stronger dialogue and outcomes at the upcoming COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.
At this year’s Africa Climate Week (ACW), the NDC Partnership, in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hosted a Regional Exchange for members in the region on “Accelerating Climate Action”.
Africa, despite historically low contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, stands to be disproportionately impacted by climate change. National, regional and local level solutions are, however, already being implemented across the continent, with significant experiences and results to share. The Regional Exchange provided a dedicated peer-to-peer platform for policymakers, practitioners and key stakeholders to meet and exchange ideas and information on approaches to climate action and lessons learnt from implementation.
The three-day program included a series of curated learning exchanges on climate policies, sectoral approaches and stakeholder engagement strategies for accelerating climate action, particularly in the context of revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Long-term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT-LEDS) and national policies supporting the achievement of the Paris Agreement.
“We need collective efforts to practical climate solutions,” noted Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Rwandan Minister of Environment, at the opening of the Regional Exchange. “Rwanda believes in taking a holistic approach to climate issues across sectors, integrating climate into our programs. This holistic approach is essential. We must put people and the environment at the center of climate action.”
The program hosted a range of themed events and workshops, with topics covering pertinent themes such as the implementation of energy transitions in the context of NDCs, LT-LEDs as a socioeconomic and environment instrument, accelerating Article 6 readiness in Africa and innovative approaches to climate action in the water-climate nexus.
With nearly 800 participants over the three days, the event provided an important platform for collaboration between climate focal points from across the African continent. A wide range of critical reflections and messages from the Regional Exchange emerged, informed by the leading topics, all of which will inform the Global Stocktake (GST) process that will conclude at COP28. Some key takeaways include:
- Finance is critical for accelerating climate action, and the timing and availability, or lack thereof, will profoundly affect the ambition, quality and implementation of national climate action plans.
- Although there are several ongoing initiatives to support this area of work, many countries do not have fully operational Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) systems that meet the requirements of the new Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). Existing systems are often fragmented, covering specific sectors, with varying geographical scope and reporting formats. Oftentimes they also lack proper institutional arrangement and regulatory framework for their deployment.
- Data scarcity has always been a major issue across Africa. Despite these challenges being largely related to local conditions, some challenges are directly related to fluctuating international conditions. Ever-changing rules and reporting guidelines, the multiplicities of tools and software promoted by different projects and lack of coordination in external support are often adding to the "confusion" of countries in the establishment of their data and MRV infrastructure.
- Undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the status of implementation of the current NDCs is crucial to guide and drive implementation of current NDCs and development of future NDCs.
During the discussions, the challenges of policy formulation were highlighted, underlining the fundamental need to address various gaps and obstacles. One key challenge identified was the lack of capacity and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders, emphasizing the importance of involving a diverse range of voices and perspectives. Another issue raised was the fragmentation of policies, as well as the scarcity of financial resources and limited involvement of the private sector.
It was emphasized that the private sector should be proactive and participate in national policy formulation process, calling for policy dialogues between the private sector and other stakeholders.
In addition to continent-wide policy formulation challenges, barriers to climate finance were also discussed. The availability of funding, as well as its inadequate coverage in terms of geography and thematic aspects, emerged as significant concerns.
Participants highlighted the need for long-term sustainability and the importance of providing incentives for private sector involvement, such as profitability. There was a consensus that climate finance should be more integrated into national budgets, shifting the focus from relying solely on external funding to drive national solutions. Overall, the discussions underscored the importance of addressing these barriers and enhancing country-driven processes for effective policy formulation and climate finance allocation.
Exchanges on the alignment between NDCs, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and LT-LEDS, indicated a strong desire among countries to enhance coordination and coherence. Participants noted that the required tools are indeed available to tackle climate change, but better integration and alignment are required to harness their full potential for transformative change. By strengthening integration and cooperation between national and international bodies, countries can maximize the effectiveness of their climate plans and ensure a unified approach to addressing the climate challenge.
"With the collective commitment of our members in Africa, the NDC Partnership is building momentum to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and drive sustainable development,” says NDC Partnership Global Director Pablo Vieira. “Regional exchanges like this one provide a critical platform to learn from our mutual successes, ensuring that no country is left behind. Together, we can achieve more."