As Isaiah Esipisu laments in an article on IPS News, African media was “poorly represented” at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC in Katowice, Poland, which closed in the wee hours of Sunday, 16 December. As a contribution to correcting this shortcoming, this issue of SDG Knowledge Weekly focuses on the newsworthy, Africa-related events that took place and knowledge products that were released around the COP.
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) previewed findings from a joint assessment of Africa’s “Green Growth Readiness” at a COP 24 side event on 10 December 2018. Through case studies from Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia, the assessment covers: the current state of green growth in Africa; readiness to promote green growth in the context of SDG implementation; and roles of development partners (including AfDB and GGGI) in promoting green growth in the context of implementing the SDGs and countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change. An IPS News article reports that the study found urgent needs around finance, as well as the strengthening of policy and planning frameworks for green growth.
Also on green growth, the Government of Rwanda hosted the inaugural Africa Green Growth Forum, which took place in Kigali, from 26-30 November 2018, under the theme: ‘For a green and climate resilient Africa.’ The agenda highlights the timing of the Forum just prior to COP 24, noting that the discussions will serve as an input to the discussions in Poland. Among the many speeches and presentations available, Anthony Nyong, AfDB, highlights investing in green growth in Africa. Among other topics, he describes AfDB tools and investment opportunities in the agriculture and energy sectors, barriers to adoption of green growth technologies, and lessons learned at country level.
A regional NDC hub for African countries was launched “to engage national, sub-national, non-state actors and private sector representatives on appropriate policies, strategies and actions tailored to suit individual needs of African countries to enable them deliver their climate change commitments.” The Hub, which AfDB established in November 2017, focuses on three main areas: long-term climate action; mobilizing means of implementation; and coordination, advocacy and partnerships.
An AfDB brochure summarizes the Hub’s purposes, goals and intended outcomes. It identifies potential vulnerabilities, barriers to success and financial needs for fully realizing countries’ NDC targets, laying out a roadmap for achievement. In support of these objectives, AfDB and partners held discussions at COP 24 on encouraging cooperation across regional NDC hubs and operationalizing NDCs in Africa. A compilation of AfDB publications released prior to and in the margins of COP 24 is available here.
Despite progress on NDC implementation, a second article by Isaiah Esipisu on IPS News notes that many African countries “already live the future” of a scenario where the planet has warmed by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Responding to questions by Esipisu, Gernot Laganda, World Food Programme (WFP), stresses that climate change is already affecting food security, noting that the number of hungry people is increasing and extreme weather events continually drag people back into poverty. Agriculture-based economies, such as those in Africa, feel the effects of climate change most acutely, he explains, adding that one consequence of climate change is migration, which “is actually a traditional adaptation mechanism.”
Echoing Laganda’s point on migration, Gilbert Houngbo, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), emphasizes the need to “invest in Africa’s youth before migration to Europe doubles,” as reported by Hannah Summers in The Guardian. Houngbo flags the importance of investment in sustainable farming on the continent, but acknowledges that more is needed: “priorities are decent schools, potable water and basic healthcare.” He also describes access to modern technology as being essential for young people and outlines the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in rural areas. All are key to ensuring food security and profitability of smallholder farms, which can stem migration flows.
The key, as highlighted by Houngbo above, is investment. The Brookings Institution’s Landry Signé and Witney Schneidman reflect on the inaugural Africa Investment Forum, held from 7-9 November 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Forum, they note, was convened with the aim of “unlocking Africa’s investment potential by facilitating onsite transactions.” While the Forum previewed over 230 projects across 15 sectors and announced investment interest in 49 projects worth US$38.7 billion, Signé and Schneidman note that lower business costs through better business regulations and special economic zones are needed, lest the deals face challenges to implementation and long-term sustainability.
The African Economic Conference was held from 3-5 December 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. Convened by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the conference took place on the theme ‘regional and continental integration for Africa’s development,’ building on the March 2018 commitment of 44 African countries to a common market for Africa, known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the earlier launch of an African Common Passport in July 2016. Supporting papers cover information and communications technology (ICT), economic integration’s impacts on the environment, regional integration versus bilateral diplomacy, food security, gender equality and energy, among other topics. Numerous UNECA press releases on these subjects are also available.
During the conference, UNECA launched the 2018 Africa Sustainable Development Report, which tracks the continent’s progress towards both the SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063. The report aligns with the theme of the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)— “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”—focusing on the five SDGs reviewed: 6 (clean water and sanitation); 7 (affordable and clean energy); 11 (sustainable cities and communities); 12 (responsible consumption and production); and 15 (life on land). A detailed write-up on the report’s findings against each Goal is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.
Finally, the Intra-African Trade Fair 2018 was held 11-17 December 2018, in Cairo, Egypt. Hosted by the African Export-Import Bank in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Fair aimed to bring African businesses together to share information and explore opportunities on the continent. The Afreximbank convened the Fair in part due to low rates of trade within Africa, attributed in part to lack of access to trade and market information.