Africa Climate Week signals opportunities and challenges

The high-level segment of the climate week focused on increasing ambition and attracting investments

March 20, 2019

Africa Climate Week got firmly underway this morning with the commencement of the high-level segment at the Ghanaian capital’s Convention Center.

The week gathers stakeholders from all sectors in an encouragement to increase the scope and scale of climate ambition, on a continent that although it least responsible for the emissions causing climate change, it is yet the most negatively affected.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, COP24 President, Michał Kurtyka and UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad – affirmed the need to foster cooperation from all countries and non-Party stakeholders globally to meet the goals in the Paris Agreement.

The need for action and finance

The event takes place in the shadows of Cyclone Idai, which has hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, affecting more than 2 million people – a stark reminder of the imperative to act on climate change, which experts say is exacerbating such storms. The almost 3000 delegates attending the Climate Week observed a one-minute silence for the victims of the catastrophe, which continues to devastate coastlines along Southern Africa.

The President of the Republic of Ghana said that, against the backdrop of the disastrous cyclone, Africa Climate Week must “provide more practical solutions to channel financial means towards national climate ambition.”

The President – who is both the host of the event and an Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – also used his keynote speech to underscore how “climate change is the biggest threat to the attainment of the whole development agenda.”

This critical interlinkage between the climate and development agendas was a recurring theme throughout the course of Wednesday’s high-level activities, echoed by many pan-African Ministers. But it was perhaps best expressed by the Mayor of Accra and C40 Chair, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, who said: “I am committing our city to a plan in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and, simultaneously, in line with the SDGs.”

We need a green vision

The overriding message being heard at this Regional Climate Week, is that our future will be compromised if we do not manage to de-risk financing for climate action in the 54 African nations and the world in general.

As the John Christensen, Director of UNEP DTU Partnership, pointed out during his closing remarks on the high level events of the day, “to attract private sector investments towards climate action projects, we need clear plans and clear ambition.”

With the right enabling frameworks in place, public finance can be used more strategically to attract private sector players and scale-up clean energy investment.
“To solve the climate crisis we cannot only talk about reducing emissions, we need a green vision to make green energy and green cities attractive to everybody,” John Christensen added.

Africa Climate Week is held under the slogan “A race we can win”.
John Christensen pointed out, that the importance of this race cannot be exaggerated, something he is reminded of, when he holds his one-year old grandson, he said during the opening.
“We can win the race, and we must. We cannot leave a world to our children and grandchildren in which they cannot live.”

One of three regional climate weeks

Africa Climate Week will conclude on Friday afternoon, where its outcomes will be presented to the Special Envoy for UN Climate Action Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, as critical input to the Secretary General’s event on 23 September.

Africa Climate Week is the first of three annual regional climate events this year – the latter two being the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week and the Asia Pacific Climate Week. The Africa Climate Week is being orchestrated by a number of core partners, including World Bank Group, African Development Bank, West African Development Bank, CTCN, UNEP, UNEP DTU Partnership, UNDP, IETA, Marrakech Partnership and UN Climate Change.