The 17th African Economic Conference ended with a charge to the development community and governments in Africa to take decisive actions to address climate change.
In a clarion call for decisive action, the African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and United Nations Development Programme – the conference hosts, said it was expedient that leaders in Africa moved away from rhetoric and verbal romance and confront climate challenges by articulating concrete solutions for climate-smart development on the continent.
Participants asserted that achieving net zero emissions—the crux of the three-day conference—could be accomplished if all stakeholders could meaningfully engage while providing the right environment for public-private partnerships.
“Africa is the region that is most vulnerable in the face of climate change,” says Mauritius’ Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Renganaden Padayachy, who also reiterated the dangers associated with climate change specially to lives.
“And if we limit climate change, we will change lives,” he said at the closing of the three-day conference, which had an in-person attendance of over 350 delegates, with thousands more participating online. AEC 2022 provided a timely forum to discuss innovative solutions to support climate-smart development in Africa.
African Development Bank Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, Prof. Kevin Urama, stressed that Africa’s future would come from the innovation of young Africans.
Speaking directly to Africa’s youth, Urama said: “Your innovation, your knowledge, your power, use that so that we can do climate-smart development on the continent.” He noted that the conference produced rich lessons, including challenges, solutions, and what the private sector and government can do to leverage available skills and technology.
In a speech on her behalf, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, called for accelerated action.
“We must be particularly mindful of the economic, societal, environmental, political, and security costs of green transitions. We must fully understand the trade-offs and opportunity costs on communities and families and avoid pathways that undermine development prospects and deepen inequalities,” Eziakonwa said.
She observed that climate finance was urgent and urged African governments to resolve the uncertainty around it. “Reaching net zero emissions must also mean reaching zero poverty,” Eziakonwa reiterated.
Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr. Hanan Morsy, observed that addressing climate change should not be a choice but an imperative for Africa to achieve climate-smart development.
“As such, what we have developed and discussed here regarding climate-smart development is not just an event. This is a process,” she said and urged African countries to heed the analyses and recommendations presented at the conference.
The conference, held in Balaclava, Mauritius, brought together policymakers, climate experts, representatives of the private sector, academics and youth to develop an action plan to guide Africa as it navigates the threat of climate change.
AEC2022 was jointly organized by the African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme, in collaboration with the government of Mauritius. This year’s conference had the theme, “Supporting Climate-smart Development in Africa.”
Meanwhile the African Development Bank and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s OECD Development Centre, have joined forces to roll out what they called, “policy toolbox” for accelerated low-carbon transition in Africa.
The two institutions launched the Equitable Framework and Finance for Extractive-based Countries on the side-lines of the last COP7in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The toolbox provides options for policymakers to chart a path to a just, sustainable transition to low-carbon in line with national development priorities.
Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Director of the OECD Development Centre, said: “We look forward to working with the African Development Bank on the implementation of EFFECT in Africa. We share the view that a low carbon transition is possible in fossil-fuel-producing and mineral-rich economies without compromising on their development ambitions. Governments and private investors tell us they are ready to talk; we are joining forces to convene productive dialogues that will lead to action.”
Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director of the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Management and Investment Centre, said: “We welcome the collaboration with the OECD on the implementation of EFFECT in Africa. The Bank recognizes the importance of just transition pathways that reflect the peculiar contexts and needs of African countries. Africa’s natural resources sector is facing severe threats and impacts from climate change. There is a need for innovative tools and partnerships that can deliver the right solutions for the continent’s sustainable development.”
The two partners are expected to focus on context-specific, tailored solutions to the challenges facing Africa’s natural resource-rich countries. Such steps include discussions among governments, industry, development finance institutions and civil society of the equity and cross-border dimensions of the low carbon transition; development of just-transition indicators. Others include, support for the development and implementation of low-carbon roadmaps and fostering of peer learning; and development of collaborative and actionable solutions for industrial decarbonization, low-carbon value chains, and future-proof infrastructure.