World Climate Day | “The OSS carries the voice of Africa to defend adaptation as a priority”

World Climate Day | “The OSS carries the voice of Africa to defend adaptation as a priority”

Comlan Médard Ouinakonhan

Comlan Médard Ouinakonhan
Environment and Climate Change Expert,
Sahara and Sahel Observatory

During the first African Climate Summit, held in Nairobi from September 4 to 6, 2023, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, stated that there was still potential for hope to avoid the worst effects of climate change through a more impactful climate action. Thus, he called on world leaders to come as one to counter climate change and its adverse impacts on development, particularly in Africa, where adaptation capacities are limited. Mr. António Guterres also indicated that even though Africa represents only 4% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, it unjustly bears some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures: extreme heat, heavy flooding and tens of thousands of deaths from devastating droughts.

Despite this dark picture of Africa being the continent most affected by global warming, political speeches, debates and commitments seem to be very little focused on adaptation which should make it possible to reduce its vulnerability and strengthen its resilience in order to guarantee a sustainable development. Indeed, mitigation is much more present on the political agenda of international events, meetings and negotiations on climate change. All multilateral climate agreements including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and the Paris Agreement (PA) have placed much greater emphasis on mitigation. For example, Article 2 of the UNFCCC states: “The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner ». 

In this context, the Sahara and Sahel Observatory celebrates the 2023 World Climate Day and joins all other organizations, institutions and initiatives to put climate change on top of political agendas, as a priority for Africa to take substantial measures in the short, medium and long term in order to prepare and support communities, cities and ecosystems to respond to extreme weather events. The 6th IPCC report explained that with the current financing, African countries will not be able to adapt and meet the growing needs of their populations. It is said that by 2050, the cost of adaptation will increase from around 20 to 50 billion dollars per year for a 1.5°C warming trend and to more than 100 billion dollars per year for a 4°C warming trend. The lack of knowledge and insufficient data is also a big problem to financing adaptation for African countries.

The OSS takes the World Climate Day to welcome and recognize the international efforts and negotiations currently underway to take into account climate change adaptation, in particular:

The operationalization of the Glasgow-Sharm El-Sheikh Work Program on the global adaptation objective (2022-2023) that should be adopted at COP28. The OSS has an extensive experience in implementing concrete adaptation projects on the African continent taking into account the sustainable management of ecosystems, the integrated management of water resources, the improvement of the living conditions of the populations, etc. which can be references for the establishment and operationalization of the global adaptation goal framework. These projects include: (i) EURECCCA: Enhancing Resilience of Communities to Climate Change through catchment based integrated management of water & related resources in Uganda; (ii) ADSWAC: Strengthening resilience as a means of adaptation to drought and climate change in communities in South-West Africa, covering Angola and Namibia ; (iii) DRESSEA: Strengthening Drought Resilience for Small Farmers and Pastoralists in the IGAD Region, covering Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda; (iv) AdaptWAP: Integration of Climate Change Adaptation Measures in the Consolidated Management of the Transboundary Wap Complex, covering Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. 

The establishment of financing arrangements to deal with losses and damages. While welcoming the historic decision of the international community to set up a special fund for losses and damages, the OSS proposes that the Early Warning Systems (EWS), the promotion of Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and revolving funds are included among the technical tools considered in these financing arrangements. It is worth mentioning that the OSS has always been contributing with its expertise in this regard. In addition, in the context of this new international financial mechanism, the OSS has experience having implemented a specific policy concerning involuntary displacement and the resettlement of populations. This policy aims to identify, avoid and reduce any possible harm to populations and the environment during the implementation of its projects.

With the aim of strengthening its position on adaptation to climate change, the OSS delegation is taking part in the Dubai COP28 of the UNFCCC from November 30 to December 12, 2023 and is hosting side events focusing on: (i) climate finance, providing solutions for land and ecosystems in Africa; (ii) from the project approach to the program approach, what advocacy strategies for decision-makers? And (iii) from incubation to financing for adaptation: accelerating the development of water & climate projects.

The OSS calls upon every decision-maker and key player to place special emphasis on adaptation and give it greater importance in the same way as mitigation, for the more mitigation efforts are made, the less adaptation efforts will be necessary. But as for now, it is crucial to immediately undertake adaptation measures in Africa.