Partners say investment in climate services is in everyone’s interest

A cross section of experts and African policy­makers who were at the Doha climate talks agreed that substantial investments in cli­mate services for Africa’s devel­opment would serve the inter­ests of users and stakeholders even beyond the continent.

Speaking at a dinner dia­logue organized by partners of the Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) at the Doha Hilton Hotel, discus­sants took turns on the podium to say “not enough” to the ques­tion: Are we investing ‘enough’ in climate services for Africa’s development?

Dr. Elena Manaenkova, Dep­uty Secretary-General of the World Metrological Organiza­tion went further to affirm that “investing in climate services in Africa would in fact, serve the rest of the world because in­formation generated in Africa would be used by everyone else on the planet”, according to the Information and Communica tion Service of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The dialogue was also ad­dressed by the Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Aly Abou Sabaa; the Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), Dr. Fatima Denton; as well as by Ms. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Chair of the ClimDev Steering Committee and Commissioner for Rural Development and Ag­riculture at the African Union Commission who hosted the dinner.
The Commissioner stressed the central role that climate information plays in policy for­mulation and in the daily lives of ordinary citizens “who are the ultimate beneficiaries of those services because they are often the hardest hit by extreme weather events.”

Emerging from one of the long negotiation sessions at COP18, Ms. Tumusiime said that “what we usually tackle in climate negotiations such as ad­aptation and mitigation needs good climate information ser­vices to be effective” and that indeed, in many African Union member States, climate and in­formation services deserve se­rious upgrading.

She said that “improving the quantity, quality, accessibility and utility of climate informa­tion is an essential part of the trajectory towards a climate re­silient economy and society in our continent”.
She added that this moti­vated the decision of African Heads of State and Govern­ment, to entrust the ClimDev Programme with the responsi­bility to respond to the urgent information needs that climate change poses to Africa.

The AU Commissioner re­called the recent outreach ac­tivity organized in Stockholm as “part of our collective pur­suit” to marshal resources to kick-start the ClimDev-Africa Special Fund, and called for the renewal of “our commitment to this programme, including by generating the required finan­cial support for its effective im­plementation.”
Ms. Fatima Denton, the Co-ordinator of ACPC praised the wisdom of leaders of ECA, AUC and AfDB for thinking about the ClimDev idea, before assuring guests that the idea is as relevant today as it was four years ago because the threat posed by climate change re­mains real and serious.

Commenting on the ration­ale behind the dinner dialogue, Denton said that Africa has to constantly define and re-eval­uate its own choices within the United Nations climate talks.
“The UNFCCC negotiations framework is a meeting point for us as scientist, policymak­ers and civil society to converge or diverge on matters relating to climate change….but Af­rica needs to find its own space where it can adequately reflect on climate problems that are re­lated to our development path­ways to the ambition we define and to the instruments that will give greater sway to delivery mechanisms that we choose”, she explained.

She said that there are at least three reasons why Africa, and indeed the international com­munity needs to continue to invest in climate services, citing the fact that both adaptation and mitigation strategies rely heavily on the availability and use of good climate services.

Ms. Denton added that just small steps in upgrading cli­mate services would go a long way towards “improving and maximizing the potential for big impacts in terms of sup­porting livelihood systems.”
Finally, “if you want to man­age climate risks of both today and tomorrow, you have to in­vest in climate services”, Den­ton said.

Ms. Tove Goldmann of the Swedish Development Agency spoke on Sweden's faith in ClimDev-Africa pro­ject and urged other partners to come on board so that the programme could effectively become a useful instrument in the service of Africa. Sweden is one of the early supporters of ClimDev and continues to be among its main funding agen­cies.
Other guests who addressed the dinner dialogue came from among African ministers in charge of the environment, rep­resentatives of Regional Eco­nomic Communities, research institutions, leading NGOs, the World Bank as well as inde­pendent experts.

The dinner event was organ­ized by ClimDev-Africa imple­menting institutions under the auspices of the African Union Commission. It brought to­gether friends and partners of Africa, to inform them about the ClimDev’s activities and in­vestment and knowledge gaps in climate services.
The dinner also aimed to build partnerships and mo­bilize resources to respond to the continent’s need in establishing appropriate cli­mate information services for building climate resilient de­velopment programme for the continent.

The event demonstrated that the Programme has support at the highest levels, is delivering significant benefits for Africa and that the ClimDev Special Fund (CDSF) is something that should be invested in to com­plete the establishment and operationalisation of the Pro­gramme.

Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) is a joint programme of the African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

It aims to construct a founda­tion in Africa for the response to climate change based on building science and observa­tional infrastructure; enabling strong working partnerships between government institu­tions, private sector, civil socie­ty and vulnerable communities; as well as creating / strengthen­ing of knowledge frameworks to support and integrate the ac­tions required.
ClimDev-Africa programme has three broad activity areas, including knowledge genera­tion, sharing and networking that consist of research, knowl­edge management and peer learning, and outreach activi­ties; advocacy and consensus building; and advisory services and technical cooperation, which comprise capacity mobi­lization, capacity building and technical assistance.

Its partners share the work in such a way as to elicit the best from each according to their comparative advantage. While ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) concentrates on knowledge generation, en­hancing policy capabilities of countries, AUC coordinates the Climate Change and Deserti­fication Unit (CCDU) while AfDB manages the ClimDev-Special Fund (CDSF) to finance climate change projects in the Continent