Africa needs climate adaptation finance

For COP26 to be a breakthrough moment, we must translate climate adaptation ambition into concrete action. The science is clear. Africa is not ready for anticipated future climate impacts. 

On Tuesday 2 November, the African Development Bank Group and the Global Center on Adaptation, in partnership with the AU, cohosted an event that brought together African and G20 leaders with heads of international organisations. Our focus was the critical challenge of adaptation in Africa, a continent that has contributed the least to carbon emissions and climate change but is the most vulnerable.

Perennial and unusual weather patterns including floods, cyclones, droughts, desertification, soil degradation, and locust infestations pummel vast areas of the continent. 

For millions of Africans, life is simply unbearable. 

The effects of climate change are self-evident. This includes insufficient natural resources, conflicts, forced displacements and migration,  and a dearth of development.

In short, Africa cannot breathe.

The hopes and aspirations of young men and women will be mortgaged if we fail as leaders to do what is right and just. 

Preparing at scale for anticipated and potential climate impacts will require visionary translation of ideas into action. 

The African Development Bank recognises that climate change is an existential threat for Africa. This is why we have set bold targets. Some 40% of our financing each year will go to climate projects. We are aligning all our operations with the Paris Agreement by 2025. 

To help end energy poverty, a major undertaking is the Bank’s $20- billion Desert to Power initiative which will help create 10 gigawatt of power via solar energy and connect 250-million people to electricity across the Sahel. Desert to Power will be the world’s largest solar power zone and a renewable energy powerhouse. 

Against the ravages of climate change, Africa must ensure its food security. 

The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation funded by the Bank has already delivered climate resilient agricultural technologies to 11.2 million farmers in 28 countries, in just two years. We are well on our way to achieving   the goal of reaching 40 million farmers to produce 100 million metric tonnes of food that will feed 200 million people by 2025. 

But more can and must be done. 

I am excited about the African Development Bank’s joint initiative with the Global Center on Adaptation – the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme. Our goal is to raise $25-billion by 2025 for climate adaptation finance. 

We are working with national governments, development partners and other financial institutions to maximise the impact of our finance as we continue to align behind climate adaptation plans. 

We are excited by the decision of the government of the UK to provide a $2-billion guarantee facility that will enable the African Development Bank to unlock significant finance and investments for climate action in Africa.

Africa cannot and must not carry the burden alone for what it has not caused. Development partners and the private sector must come together to support African countries as they manage climate risks and finance investments that increase resilience. 

At COP26, developed countries must deliver on prior promises made. This includes the critical $100-billion-a-year finance commitment made in Copenhagen at COP15 in 2009. It is inconceivable that we are still gathered at the table debating whether or not this is feasible or sufficient, in order to reverse a looming catastrophe.

We must mobilise public and private finance to create green investments and support climate resilience.

The imperative of now is bold action. Now is the time to turn promises and expectations into reality.

We know the facts. What we need now are funds. 

Together, we can turn an existential code red into a prosperous code green.

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Akinwumi A Adesina
Akinwumi A Adesina is president of the African Development Bank Group

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