President of Kenya William Ruto speaking at the event on climate finance. (Image © FAO)
AfricaEnvironment

African leaders call on Global Community to honour climate change Commitments

High-level representatives from across Africa have led calls for greater action on the climate crisis for climate-responsive agrifood systems and economic growth on the continent.

The call came at a high-level event hosted by the African Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the Government of Uganda on the eve of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU.

At the event, Climate Finance for Agriculture and Food Security: Implementation of the Nairobi Declaration and Outcomes of the UNFCCC COP28, the delegates highlighted the critical need for increasing climate finance in support of climate-responsive agrifood systems to withstand climate-related challenges and foster economic growth in Africa.

Leaders called upon the global community to honor the commitments made at COP15 to provide Africa with resources to address the climate crisis, a pledge that was further fostered during the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) in Kenya’s capital and the COP28 in the UAE.

The latter commitments upheld the notion that Africa needs to accelerate all efforts to reduce emissions to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably down to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Kenyan President William Ruto in his keynote address mentioned that resources required to cope and respond to climate change will continue to rise exponentially into trillions of dollars. For Africa, as the climate impact worsens and becomes more expensive to deal with, investment priorities must be directed into adaptation, especially in attaining food sovereignty.

“The collaboration between FAO and our continent will significantly help Africa to cope with the climate crisis, so innovative approaches and new collaborations across our countries within our region are essential, as we also focus on eliminating trade barriers that impede the movement of goods and services across our borders,” the President noted.

Major population movements due to climate-related hazards and associated hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition are increasingly becoming a common phenomenon, said Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s Minister for Agriculture in complementing President Ruto’s statement.

Tumwebaze stressed that “African countries must scale up adaptation and resilience measures with mitigation as a co-benefit in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, in his message delivered by Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, noted that African countries suffer disproportionately due to limited resources for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The Chairperson said: “It has been estimated that allocating funds for climate change adaptation in the agrifood systems of Africa offers a more cost-effective approach compared to financing emergency response, including disaster relief and recovery efforts, due to increasingly frequent and severe crises.

“The estimated cost per year of adaptation measures in Africa amounts to approximately $15 billion. This figure represents only a fraction of the potential costs associated with inaction, which could soar to over $201 billion by 2050”.

Despite Africa’s low contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, the region suffers greatly from the adverse impacts of climate change.

In 2020 alone, $30 billion was lost due to declines in crop and livestock production caused by extreme weather events and disasters, said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General.

“While agrifood systems possess the potential to deliver climate solutions, the lack of incentives is threatening climate adaptation efforts. Strong collaborations can secure the future of Africa’s agrifood systems, nourish its people, and simultaneously preserve its natural resources,” noted Semedo.

Climate financing in Africa

Participants of the event recognized that Africa is not historically responsible for global warming, but bears the brunt of its effects, impacting lives, livelihoods, and economies.

Despite this fact, African countries continue to face disproportionate burdens and risks arising from climate change-related weather events and patterns.

Prolonged droughts, devastating floods, out-of-season storms and wildfires are causing massive humanitarian crises with detrimental impacts on agrifood systems.

In 2020 alone, over USD 30 billion was lost across Africa due to declines in crop and livestock production caused by extreme weather events and disasters, severely impacting rural livelihoods and exacerbating hunger, affecting 20.2 percent of the population or 278 million people.

The Africa Climate Summit in September 2023 served as a significant platform for African leaders and stakeholders to emphasize the imperative of decarbonizing the global economy for equality and shared prosperity.

The resulting Nairobi Declaration on climate finance and call to action now form the cornerstone of Africa’s unified stance in the global climate change process.

The COP28, last year, countries agreed to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund, pledging approximately USD 661.39 million – which FAO says is an essential milestone, given the agrifood sectors’ vulnerability to climate-induced loss and damage.