/ 22 August 2022

Q&A: Africa Climate Week and why it matters in the lead-up to COP27 later this year

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Africa Climate Week starts at the end of August in Gabon. The event is an opportunity for African countries to set out key climate topics like how to deal with climate risks, moving to a low-emission economy and other key challenges. A major theme will also be looking at how to close financial gaps related to tackling climate change. 

The M&G asked Portia Adade Williams, a research scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Ghana to explain why Africa Climate Week is important.

Why does Africa Climate Week matter?

It is a platform to strengthen common interests and regional collaboration in responding to climate change among African countries. It serves as a driver for Africa’s progress in advancing climate actions while exploring opportunities to share knowledge. The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 recognises “regional climate weeks as a platform for governments and stakeholders to strengthen the credible and durable response to climate change”. 

For Africa, this serves as an opportunity to embrace national interests in both climate actions and socio-economic development solutions that are inherently interconnected. It is a crucial step towards the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) scheduled for November 2022 in Egypt.

What is the aim of Africa Climate Week?

During the week there will be collaboration between governments including ministers, development organisations, vulnerable groups (youth and women), civil societies and the climate community at the regional level. The goal will be to explore shared possibilities of adapting to climate impacts and discuss mandates for implementation given by the Paris Agreement. The broader aim is to advance ambitious collaborations in addressing climate change.

This is mainly in support of the implementation of African countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement which are climate action plans to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. The week will look to discuss, through engagement and collaboration, what the shared risks and opportunities are on low carbon and climate resilient development pathways. 

How can African countries achieve climate goals?

The event will identify important pathways for addressing critical gaps and challenges with climate change in Africa. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows increasing negative effects of climate change on key development sectors calling for urgent climate actions. Climate change creates a major threat to achieving Sustainable Development Goals yet provides opportunities to harness Africa’s huge resource potential to enhance the achievement of the targets. 

Notably, this year’s event will also feature an Action Hub to share action already happening to reduce climate impacts and build resilient communities in even broader and inclusive ways (with webcast and virtual participation available) for all organisations in Africa. It is a space to share knowledge and transfer it. At the same time, this knowledge will contribute to enhancing climate mitigation and adaptation through actions targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience.

In the lead-up to COP27 later this year in Egypt, will objectives be set out in Gabon?

Initially, the hope is to help African countries achieve climate goals by advancing the implementation of the NDCs. A key focus will be ensuring finance for African countries. Africa will need investments of trillions in USD in mitigation and adaptation by 2030 to implement NDCs. “UNEP-commissioned research also estimates that the cost of adapting to climate change across Africa could reach $50-billion a year by 2050, if the global temperature increase is kept within 2°C above pre industrial levels”.   

In the lead up to COP27, the first ever global climate talks in Africa later in November, there is significant interest and attention in spotlighting Africa’s priorities. Another focus will be taking stock of how the impact of COP26 outcomes and other global challenges (COVID-19 and the Ukraine/Russia crisis, for example) should inform Africa’s negotiation approach and position at COP27.

Pressing challenges that must be addressed are resilience to climate change, moving to low-emission economies, and partnerships to deal with challenges and financial gaps.