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New platform launched to protect African communities from climate change impacts

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Hajia Amina Mohammed

Fresh efforts are in the offing to halt impacts of climate change in the continent, with the launch of a regional office of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) in Côte d’Ivoire.

Christened GCA Africa, the office is hosted by the African Development Bank at its headquarters in the Ivorian capital Abidjan and will work with partners across the continent to scale and accelerate adaptation action that protects African communities from the impacts of climate change.

GCA Africa will focus on programmes and action, knowledge acceleration and capacity building and agenda-setting that respond to the acute challenges from the changing climate facing African countries.

The GCA Africa programmes include improving the food security of one billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 through a program on rural well-being and food security, as well as projects to support communities through water for urban growth and resilience; using nature for more resilient infrastructure; adaptation finance and building youth leadership.

Commenting on the launch, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, said: “There is an urgent need to step up the support for people in Africa, and around the world, affected by climate change.  I welcome the Global Centre on Adaptation Africa as a crucial partner in delivering the elevated ambition and enhanced action that is needed to make this shift towards a resilient future.”

AFDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, noted that the Bank has committed to doubling its financing for climate to $25 billion by 2025, with over 50 per cent devoted to climate adaptation. Africa must not be short-changed by global climate finance. We will partner with the GCA to mobilize more resources for climate adaptation in Africa.”

Ban Ki-moon, Co-Chair of the Board of the Global Centre on Adaptation and 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “This is a historic moment to accelerate adaptation in Africa. Nowhere is the challenge of achieving sustainable development in the face of a changing climate more acute.

“Our new regional office will support regional and national adaptation efforts by emphasizing and spreading existing best practices on the continent and ensuring their fully-fledged integration into broader international adaptation efforts”.

According to the GCA Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Verkooijen said: “The impacts of climate change are already being felt across Africa and will only increase in magnitude. Adaptation is not a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. Through our role as a solutions broker, GCA Africa will work closely with partners in every sector to ensure the most effective adaptation measures are shared and scaled across the continent, responding to the growing demand for strengthening resilience to the impacts of our changing climate.”

The launch of GCA Africa comes shortly after the launch of its South Asian office in Dhaka by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in September 2020. Its first regional office was launched in Beijing by Premier Li Keqiang in June 2019.

In May 2020, GCA Africa published a GCA policy brief, with the African Adaptation Initiative and endorsed by 54 Heads of State and Government, which recommended focusing stimulus investment in Africa on resilient infrastructure and food security to overcome the COVID-climate crisis.

The GCA is the lead partner institution for the Climate Adaptation Summit in the Netherlands – the first major gathering of international leaders dedicated entirely to adaptation. The summit takes place on 25  January 2021 and is hosted by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands. The GCA is also the Managing Partner to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers of Finance, a group of 48 developing countries highly vulnerable to climate change.

GCA is an international organization that works as a solutions broker to accelerate action and support for adaptation solutions, from the international to the local, in partnership with the public and private sector, to ensure we learn from each other and work together for a climate-resilient future.

Founded in 2018, the GCA is hosted by the Netherlands. Through an evolving network of offices and global and regional GCA teams including a global innovation hub for climate adaptation launched by Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, the organization engages in high-level policy activities, new research contributions, communications, and technical assistance to governments and the private sector.

African leaders welcomed the opening of a regional office of the Global Center on Adaptation on Wednesday, voicing hopes it will spur the continent’s efforts to combat climate change.

In speeches marking the virtual launch of GCA Africa, the leaders said the Center could also provide an impetus for a more resilient recovery after COVID-19, which they said had compounded climate-induced vulnerabilities.

“In the post-COVID period, our objective should not only be to recover and build better but to do so in a climate-conscious way,” said Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.

“There is no (more) stark reminder of the need for us to take urgent action than the devastating impact of climate change that we are witnessing now. We have no other option but to mobilize ourselves more than ever before to safeguard the planet. Time is not on our side,” Zewde noted.

Hosted by the African Development Bank at its headquarters in the Ivorian commercial capital, Abidjan, GCA Africa will work with partners across the continent to accelerate adaptation action that protects African communities from climate change.

Several regional and global leaders attended the high-level launch. Key speakers included the 8th UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, co-chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo; Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of GCA.

There were also speeches by representatives from the African Union Commission, Dutch businessman and co-chair of the GCA Feike Sijbesma, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Gabonese President Ali Bongo, who is also the chairperson of the African Adaptation Initiative, Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development for Norway, and Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation for Sweden.

Welcoming the opening of GCA Africa, President Akufo-Addo expressed the hope that it will work to scale up the “bright spots” of adaptation on the continent, including Ghana, where development partners have kicked off a project to enhance the resilience of national infrastructure systems against threats of climate change.

“We look forward to working with GCA and its partners to meet the challenges of climate change and ensuring resilience is built into Africa’s economic recovery plans.”

President Kenyatta noted that the climate change challenge is no longer a projected crisis. “It’s indeed a reality that we need to control urgently,” he said, citing the incidence of El-Nino-triggered floods and droughts in parts of East Africa, which has also been hit by a locust invasion.

He commended the partnership between the Bank and the African Adaptation Initiative under the GCA. “I am optimistic that through this partnership Kenya and other African counties will attract more financing and other resources that we need to implement our various national adaptation plans.”

Opening the regional office, Adesina said the occasion marked a major milestone in the Bank’s drive to build climate resilience for Africa. Adesina, who began his second five-year term as Bank President this month, said one of his key priorities over the next five years is for the Bank to drive investments in green growth and climate finance for Africa.

“As a Bank, we are committed to helping Africa build back from the COVID-19 crisis, better, stronger and with greater health and climate resilience,” he said, adding that the Bank’s financing for climate had quadrupled, from 9% of its total portfolio in 2016 to 36% by 2019. “By the end of 2021, we will reach our target of 40% of the total portfolio.”

Also, the Bank has committed to providing $25 billion in climate financing by 2025, Adesina stated.
The GCA Africa programs include improving the food security of one billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 through a program on rural well-being and food security, as well as projects to support communities through water for urban growth and resilience; using nature for more resilient infrastructure; adaptation finance and building youth leadership.


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