African Development Bank and Civil Society Join Forces at COP28 for Climate Resilience

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, — At the United Nations’ Climate Conference COP28, a formidable African civil society coalition, represented by Secou Sarr, Executive Secretary of ENDA-Tiers Monde, announced a set of five critical priorities to tackle climate change effectively. These priorities include adaptation, addressing loss and damage, transforming food systems, land use, and the protection and restoration of forests. This announcement was made at a side event on December 5, during the ongoing COP28 in Dubai.

The coalition, which consists of numerous African non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has united under the newly launched “African Development Bank Group-Civil Society Coalition on Climate and Energy”. This collaboration aims to amplify the African voice and influence in the COP28 debates.

Africa, bearing the brunt of climate change impacts yet receiving minimal climate finance, finds itself in a challenging position. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, emphasized the continent’s right to utilize its natural resources beneficially. He advocated for a redefinition of African economies’ value, suggesting a focus on natural capital, including mineral, forestry, and renewable energy resources. He pointed out the overlooked value of the Congo Basin, the world’s largest carbon storehouse, in GDP assessments of regional countries.

The coalition backs African leaders’ appeal to direct special drawing rights for climate finance to the continent, particularly through the African Development Bank. It calls for global, governmental, and developmental partners to implement inclusive practices that engage farmers and local communities, incorporating both scientific and traditional knowledge without harming biodiversity or societal resilience.

Highlighting the urgent need for adaptation and resilience-building in climate-vulnerable African economies, the coalition urges parties to prioritize these aspects.

Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture and Human and Social Development, highlighted the significance of the Coalition for Africa. She referenced President Adesina’s establishment of the Civil Society Division as a testament to the importance of community-focused agendas. Dunford noted that the Bank dedicates 64% of its funding to climate adaptation in Africa and has introduced a Climate Action Window to provide resources and technical assistance to the continent’s least developed countries, aiming to mobilize at least $42 billion, supported by the African Development Fund.

Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of the Coalition, underscored the importance of the finance/civil-society/private-sector nexus in combating climate change in Africa. He called for collaboration among civil society, the private sector, and banks for the continent’s benefit.

Pauline Nantongo Kalunda, Executive Director of ECOTRUST, exemplified successful partnerships by describing how collaboration between civil society and the private sector enabled 15,000 small farmers to develop tree planting for carbon storage. However, she stressed the need to remove barriers to accessing climate finance.

Mithika Mwenda, Chair of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, lauded the role of civil society and the partnership with the Bank that led to significant commitments.

Burkinabe Environment Minister Roger Baro spoke on climate change as a catalyst for terrorism, highlighting his country’s resilience amidst security and humanitarian challenges. He mentioned government initiatives in tandem with the private sector and civil society, such as annual reforestation campaigns and public-private partnerships.

Karen Wanjiru Kimani, a young environmental activist, called for the inclusion of youth in environmental issues and described initiatives like tree-planting clubs in schools to combat drought.

The event also paid tribute to Yacouba Sawadogo, a Burkinese farmer and anti-desertification crusader, who passed away on December 3.