Africa on Front Lines of Climate Crisis, Achieving Sustainable Development in Jeopardy, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Adaptation Summit

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks to the Africa Adaptation Summit’s High-Level Dialogue for the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), in Rotterdam, Netherlands, today:

I would like to start by warmly thanking the hosts of today’s conference, the Heads of State and Government and institutional leaders present. I must say this while regretting the absence of leaders of the G7 and the European Union at today’s important meeting towards the twenty-seventh United Nations climate change conference.  Now is the time for solidarity and keeping the promise to humankind while protecting our planet.

Let me also express my solidarity with people of Pakistan facing the worst floods in the nation’s recorded history.  Over 1,100 lives lost.  Over 6 million people needing immediate support.  Over 33 million people in total affected.  Nearly 1 million homes, 3,000 kilometres of roads, 2 million acres of crops destroyed.  It is clear that millions who are suffering contributed very little to the causes of this climate crisis.

Meanwhile, searing heatwaves, violent floods and brutal droughts continue to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa, Pakistan, Spain and many other regions.  Therefore, the twenty-seventh United Nations climate change conference comes at a particularly challenging time.

Impacts from the war in Ukraine, exacerbating rising food and energy prices and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting lives and livelihoods around the world, and eroding international ability to confront the climate crisis.

We simply cannot afford to abandon the climate emergency.  The science is clear.  As is the Paris Agreement [on climate change] and the commitments made to people and planet.  Yet, global emissions continue to rise.  If you are living in Africa, Central or South America, South Asia or in a small island nation, you are 15 times more likely to die from a climate disaster.

Africa stands on the front lines of the climate crisis.  Years of progress are being lost and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is in jeopardy.  The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in more than 40 years, putting up to 20 million people at risk of acute food insecurity.  At least 7 million livestock have perished affecting the long-term livelihood and sustenance of millions.

Against this backdrop, global adaptation finance needs are set to grow to at least $300 billion a year by 2030.  Yet, even as the human toll of climate impacts mounts, adaptation commitments from Glasgow have stalled.  This inaction has deepened the trust deficit between developed and developing countries.  But, more importantly threatening hope for our young people.

Yesterday, at the youth adaptation forum, I heard the voices of young people across the world demanding inclusive climate action.  This is short‑sighted and self-defeating in both the long and short term.  It is abundantly clear that investments in adaptation pay huge dividends on all sides.

Investing $1.8 trillion in adaptation solutions this decade can lead avoiding $7.1 trillion in costs.  Every dollar invested in adaptation can bring up to $10 in net economic benefits.  There is no mystery to what is required.

First, developed countries must make good on the contributions that were announced to the Adaptation Fund at the twenty-sixth United Nations climate change conference.  Nine months later, the Secretariat of the Adaptation Fund is still waiting; $230 million of the $356 million pledged to the Fund has not been delivered.

Promises made must be delivered in full and on time for people and the planet we live on.  This is critical to rebuild trust in the multilateral system and our ability to prevent further loss of lives, livelihoods and the environment.

Second, the Glasgow decision urges developed countries to collectively double adaptation funding to at least $40 billion a year by 2025.  This must be delivered in full, as a base line.  Developed countries need to provide, by the twenty-seventh United Nations climate change conference, a clear road map of how and when they will deliver on this commitment.

This needs to start with the replenishment of the African Development Fund of the African Development Bank, which has supported bold adaptation action in the Sahel, the Great Green Wall, the Zambezi basin and the Horn of Africa.  And a substantial replenishment of the Green Climate Fund will also be needed in 2023.  This will be a litmus test for countries honouring their end of the Glasgow Pact.

Third, we also need to dispel the myth that adaptation is not “investment‑ready”.  At the request of the Secretary-General, we are working on an Adaptation Pipeline Accelerator that demonstrates that collaboration among public and private financiers and developing countries must be the rule for how adaptation finance is delivered.

The Accelerator is supporting countries in moving from identifying adaptation priorities, to developing an investment plan, to setting a pipeline of investable projects.  The accelerator builds on existing initiatives, such as the partnership between the Global Center on Adaptation and the African Development Bank to deliver the Africa Accelerated Adaptation programme, pledging $25 billion into adaptation within five years.

Fourth, adaptation finance cannot be disconnected from the dire fiscal situation in many developing countries.  In addition, countries need options to refinance crippling existing debt, including debt for climate adaptation swaps, where vulnerable countries can reduce their debt stock and free up resources for adaptation.  We applaud the leadership of Kristalina Georgieva in bringing to fruition the Resilience and Sustainability Trust, opening up financing to vulnerable countries especially those facing climate emergencies.

Finally, we need genuine leadership from the multilateral development banks.  It is no longer tenable for multilateral development banks to continue business as usual, when so many vulnerable people are losing their lives and livelihoods as the climate crisis worsens.

Management and shareholders must overhaul their antiquated models to make them fit for purpose and take more risk to support the transition of developing countries to renewable energy-based, climate resilient economies.  This means multilateral development banks must mainstream resilience building and vulnerability in all their investments and commit 50 per cent of their climate finance to adaptation.  The private arms of the multilateral development banks, must also make quantitative commitments to finance adaptation.

The Secretary-General’s initiative on Early Warning for All aims to ensure everyone on Earth is covered by early warning systems within the next five years.  Today, 6 out of every 10 persons in Africa lack coverage.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is finalizing the Action Plan with its core partners to deliver on this initiative at scale.  In addition, more support will also be needed to the African Risk Capacity to enable response to recovery efforts the day after a climate disaster.  I urge all of you to join and support these initiatives.  It is only when we coordinate and collaborate that we deliver results as scale.

The twenty-seventh United Nations climate change conference must also deliver a breakthrough on implementation for adaptation, and outcomes on loss and damage that address the question of finance and fully operationalize the existing institutional arrangements.  This would strengthen global efforts towards resilience and reinforce that loss and damage is about international solidarity.

Adaptation must be about more than survival in this era of climate crises.  It must mean a commitment to improving livelihoods and translate to development with dignity for all.

I look forward to the outcomes of this important meeting feeding with urgency the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, G20 and twenty-seventh United Nations climate change conference.

Source: United Nations

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