Concept Note


It is now generally accepted that anthropogenic climate change poses a major threat to all the advances made by humanity unless drastic and urgent responses are implemented to control emissions and support adaptation to already occurring climate change. However, since the Rio Earth conference in 1992, global efforts to respond to climate change have not been particularly successful. Instead, global warming has worsened and the search for an appropriate governance framework capable of  adequately controlling greenhouse gas emissions, generating new resources and investments in adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and ensuring that development remains sustainable continues. As Rees (2014) observes, “human-induced global change represents a new context for development planning that cannot safely be ignored.”[1]

For Africa, climate change has massive implications for development. The continent contributes the least greenhouse gasses but stands to lose the most to climate change because of its vulnerability and limited adaptation capacity. Consequently, it is the continent that has the greatest interest in a climate governance framework that is functional and capable of controlling emissions while at the same time providing for adaptation to already occurring in the climate system. To this end, African states have been members of the UNFCCC from its outset, and have developed several high level continental, sub-regional and national mechanisms to streamline their participation in the convention. Through the Africa Union Commission, African countries have set up a Committee of Heads of African States on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), while at the ministerial level several committee including the African Ministerial Committee on Environment (AMCEN), African Ministerial Committee on Water (AMCOW) and African Ministerial Committee on Meteorology (AMCOMET)have been set up to coordinate African climate responses in different sectors and engender African collaboration in the global climate governance regime. The ultimate objective of these initiatives is to ensure the continued sustainable development of African economies in a changing climate.

The architecture of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes the need for a framework that would address the twin challenges of controlling emissions and supporting sustainable development.  Article 2 of the Convention of the sets out the three objectives of the Convention – the stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the setting of a time frame that would allow for adaptation to climate change, and the need to ensure sustainable development.

“The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.” (United Nations, 1992. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

However, the impact of the UNFCCC and its associated Kyoto Protocol has been somewhat mixed. While major advances have been made in understanding the climate system and in designing and implementing adaptation strategies, global warming is continuing and in some estimates actually accelerating. Contestations in global climate governance are increasing and cooperation is limited inter alia by national self-interest. There is therefore great anticipation that at Paris in December 2015 the world will construct a climate governance framework capable of limiting global warming and supporting sustainable development in an already warmer world.

2015 is a watershed year for Africa and for the world. Three major events that will shape the course of our planet for years to come are scheduled during the course of the year. In July 2015, the Financing for Sustainable Development in summit will be convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa has high hopes for this conference. The Post 2015 Development Agenda Summit will convene in September 2015 in New York. The summit will launch the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will define the development planning framework in the post MDGs era. Already Africa has developed a common African position on the post 2015 development agenda based on a comprehensive consultation process. Finally, December 2015 will see the convening of the COP 21 of the UNFCCC which seeks to develop a climate governance framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change will be central to all these processes, and the outcomes of the Paris COP 21 will determine the ability of the world to meet and sustain its development goals.

The expiry of the Kyoto Protocol is an opportunity for reflection on the performance of the UNFCCC since its inception with reference to the achievement of its goal as stated in Article 2 of the convention. For Africa in particular, such a reflection needs to focus on an assessment of the impacts of climate change on the development trajectory thus far, model future development trajectories on the basis of the different climate scenarios, and, on the basis of these assessments, contribute to the design of a post Kyoto framework that would be capable of delivering the objectives of Article 2. As already articulated in several messages from the continent[2], a progressive agreement in Paris should be ambitious and as close as possible to the recommendations of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, and should include:

  • The adoption of a binding climate change agreement which addresses the key pillars of the Bali framework and is based on the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities
  • A strong commitment to keep temperature increased below 1.50c.
  • An emphasis on the importance of adaptation for Africa, and
  • Additional and adequate finance, including a strong commitment to capitalize the Global Climate Fund (GCF)

The Climate Change and Development Africa (CCDA) was conceived as an annual forum to enable linkages between climate science and development policy by promoting transparent discussions between key stakeholders in the climate and development community. CCDA seeks to mainstream climate information into decision making and strengthen capacities focusing on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, food security, energy and transport. CCDA achieves this objective by bringing together researchers, policy makers and development practitioners, climate scientists, user groups and other stakeholders to understand contemporary climate change issues and contribute towards the identification and elaboration of appropriate responses, including providing support for policy responses, mitigation, adaptation and technological innovations, among others. Previous CCDA forums have discussed issues of climate science and policy, and emphasized the need to use climate science and climate information t support the development process. The themes of CCDA conferences have been “Development First, Addressing Climate Change in Africa” (CCDA – I); “Advancing Knowledge, Policy and Practice on Climate Change and Development” (CCDA – II);  “Africa on the rise: can the opportunities from climate change spring the continent to transformative development?” (CCDA – III);  “Africa can feed Africa now: translating climate knowledge into action”  (CCDA- IV).

CCDA-V Objectives

CCDA-V will be a moment of reflection on the performance of the UNFCCC in achieving its stated objectives of emissions reduction and sustainable development. The Conference will be a culmination of climate change dialogues across the continent and will focus on addressing the climate change, sustainable development and equity issues provided for in Article 2 of the UNFCCC in the context of the broad theme on “Prospects for Sustainable, Resilient and Creative Economies in Africa in the Context of a Changing Climate”. The 5th Conference will seek to review the experiences of the contemporary global climate governance regime with a view to evaluating its effect in achieving the objectives of article 2 of the UNFCCC, particularly with reference to Africa’s sustainable development. Issues of greenhouse gas stabilization and the implications of global warming for Africa’s sustainable development will be addressed through a review and analysis of the interactions between climate sciences, policy in the global climate governance framework. CCDA-V will review the application of the principles of the UNFCCC with a particular emphasis on the implications of the principles for equity. This is an opportune moment to engage the African continent and the world in such a review. The review will bring together reflections on the African climate change experiences thus far, and seek to inform the Paris framework on African perspectives. The reflections will also set the basis for developing climate sensitive development policies and processes in Africa in the post Paris period.

Specifically, CCDA-V will have following objectives:

  1. Deepen understanding of the role of climate data, information services and climate knowledge in development planning and climate proofing Africa’s economic development processes;
  2. Share experiences and deepen understanding of climate trends and the impacts of climate change in key development sectors in Africa, and the implications of these experiences for the continent’s sustainable development.
  3. Contribute towards the development of common African positions regarding the post Kyoto global climate governance regime.
  4. Anticipate the outcomes of Paris and initiate preparations for the implementation of the post Paris, such as the INDCs currently under preparation
  5. Build on the recommendations of the Fourth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa and the climate research frontiers identified at the 2013 African Climate Conference.
  6. Continue to be the main African platform for networking between climate and development stakeholders.

Expected outputs and outcomes from CCDA-V


  • Conference summary statement
  • Conference report
  • Policy briefs
  • Web publications
  • Daily publications
  • Press releases
  • Peer-reviewed Conference publications (Books, book chapters and proceedings)


  • Enhanced understanding of the linkages between climate science, policy and the developmental and equity outcomes engendered by the prevailing global climate governance regime.
  • Better understanding of recent climate change trends and the implications for Africa’s sustainable development
  • Increased focus on investment and partnerships within the field of climate research for development by African Governments and partners
  • Improved knowledge of the opportunities for clean energy development to inform the development and or enhancement of appropriate policy platforms to support renewable energy initiatives
  • Integration of climate change issues into comprehensive rural development programmes to inform sustainable development planning

CCDA-V Theme

Africa, Climate Change and Sustainable Development:  what is at stake at Paris and Beyond?


Sub-theme I:    Global governance of climate change

Climate Science, the UNFCCC principles and the Paris Framework

Governance is a very recent concept in climate and natural resources discourse and practice. Although there is not yet a strong consensus on how to define ‘governance’, the concept is generally used to describe how power and authority are exercised and distributed, how decisions are made, and to what extent citizens are able to participate in decision-making processes. Hence, governance is about making choices, decisions and trade-offs, and it deals with economic, political and administrative questions. The principal climate change concern for Africa is its implications for development and the wellbeing of societies and ecosystems. The governance of climate change adaptation on the continent thus requires a review of the nature and trajectory of growth and development processes, the democratization of global systems to achieve equity, and the realignment of decision making processes to facilitate greater public engagement in the formulation of global and national responses to climate change.

The trajectory of the global climate governance framework reflects the outcomes of complex interactions between the different and sometimes conflicting interests of developing vs. developed countries, of governments vs. markets, public vs. private interests, and so on. The negotiations in the successive COPs of the UNFCCC have focused on defining the main components of the climate response (Mitigation and Adaptation); apportioning responsibilities for these responses (e.g. the definition of parties into Annex 1 and non-Annex countries, with each category having different sets of responsibilities); Financing for the climate response (include the mobilization and distribution of climate funds), and monitoring and verification mechanisms.

The Convention has impacted African national responses to climate change in significant ways, defining and supporting national policy frameworks, implementing capacity building programmes, and providing some funding for the national climate responses. However, Africa’s role in shaping the architecture, content and effect of the convention has been limited by several factors, including inter alia limited capacities -both financial and technical- which have meant that Africa’s participation in the convention processes has been episodic rather than continuous;   differences between the approaches of different countries which have complicated African common positions on many convention issues; and climate change financing mechanisms which are accessed on an individual country basis.

As the global climate governance framework has evolved and become more complex, the challenges of engaging with this framework to reflect the interests of the African states as well as to create a conducive environment to support the development of African national responses has also become more challenging. Various initiatives have been launched to support African governments and negotiators in the UNFCCC processes. These have cumulatively improved Africa’s engagement with the convention and its protocols.

The challenges of constructing a binding global agreement on climate change were starkly laid bare in the evolution of the UNFCCC, whose response to the stalemate was the Kyoto Protocol (KP). But even the KP soon became problematic as some countries refused to be bound by its provisions and others withdrew from the protocol for whatever reason. The Kyoto protocol effectively ceased in 2012, to be replaced by a successor climate agreement which was to be finalized at the Copenhagen COP. However, Copenhagen did not deliver an agreement, reflecting the different interest and ambitions of the parties, and instead developed a set of interim measures to guide the transition from the KP to a new climate agreement. COP 21 in Paris in December 2015 is expected to deliver the new climate agreement which will define global; climate governance in the post KP period. As such COP 21 will be a land mark moment in the evolution of global climate governance. 

For Africa in particular, COP 21 represents a moment when the creation of a new global agreement coincides with the increasing influence and confidence of Africa in the global scene. African economies have been growing significantly over the past decade. The amount of investment flows onto the continent have increased exponentially. Democratization and other processes to streamline governance systems in all spheres of economic activity have been undertaken successfully in most African countries. In the climate change context, the continent has put in place a Committee of Heads of State on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), African Ministers of Environment have an annual conference at which climate change has become the most significant discussion; African Regional Economic Commissions have elaborated regional climate strategies; and most African governments have put in place policy and legal frameworks to guide their own national climate responses. But climate change remains a global rather than national challenge, and as such national responses can only be effective in the context of an enabling global framework.

The global context in which the climate response is framed is characterized by a divergence of interest between the global north and the south. This divergence is reflected in the outcomes of many of the past COPS, which have tended to sideline the interests of developing countries. However, there is also a growing recognition that failure to put in place adequate climate responses will have dire consequences for both the developed and developing world. Climate change threatens the advances made by developed countries while at the same time presenting massive challenges for the growth of developing economies as the incidence and costs of climate related disasters increases. While the world has long been galvanized into action, evidence indicates that the response thus far is inadequate.  As such Africa, being the continent that contributes the least to global warming and suffers the most from climate change, is singularly interested in a post Kyoto framework which ensures that global climate governance continues to be based on the Precautionary Principle and Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), sufficiently addresses the Polluter Pays Principle and builds on Article 2 of the UNFCCC. It is imperative for African negotiators, scientists, policy makers and publics to debate the structure and content of an agreement that would deliver such a global governance frameworks, and to seek ways of informing the negotiation process towards achieving this agreement.

A core principle of the UNFCCC is the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). The convention states (2)

The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.

CBDR has probably been one of the most contested principles of the UNFCCC, and its interpretation represents these contestations. The contestations are based on national self- interest and the geopolitical considerations particularly of the developed world. But how will the ideals enshrined in the principles of the UNFCCC be represented in a post Kyoto Climate Governance framework given the geopolitical and economic issues underlying the negotiations processes? The parties to the UNFCCC have historically had different interpretations of CBDR as reflected in the tensions between mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is seen as the reflection of the historical responsibility for GHG emissions which must be borne by the developed industrialized north.  Adaptation, on the other hand, should define compensatory payments made by the industrialized countries to those who bear the costs of climate change to which they contributed little. Towards Paris, the dominant narrative appears to have become one based on a recognition that responsibilities for emissions are not static, and that therefore developing countries should also move beyond adaptation and integrate mitigation in their climate strategies by controlling their emissions. This is the defining debate underlying the road to Paris.

A second principle undergirding the UNFCCC is the precautionary principle.  Principle 3 of the convention states:

The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this, such policies and measures should take into account different socio-economic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors. Efforts to address climate change may be carried out cooperatively by interested Parties.

In practice, the precautionary principle of the UNFCCC has been articulated in terms of limiting global warming to below 1.50C. Progressively, however, the discourse in the evolution of the post Kyoto framework has begun to articulate this threshold as 20c.  While the African negotiating position towards the post Kyoto framework demands a strong commitment to keep temperature increased below 1.50c, there has been little or no discussion to inform the apparent upward revision of the threshold temperature of the precautionary principle. This raises several questions that have to be addressed. What has driven this revision? How has it been communicated? What is the understanding of the implications of 20c temperature increase on Africa’s development potential and sustainability?

A related issue is that of compliance. The UNFCCC has faced the challenge of creating an adequate balance between voluntary and compulsory mechanisms to ensure compliance with emissions reductions targets, funding for adaptation, and technology investments. The different solutions that have been adopted to undergird climate actions to date reflect a preference for voluntary, market based mechanisms. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), attracted a lot of interest but limited investment prior to the collapse of carbon markets. REDD+ has been seen as a mechanism that will generate both carbon and non-carbon benefits, although the implementation of REDD+ initiatives suggest that it may have been still-born. Efforts at compulsion have alienated leading industrialists and resulted in some of the most influential polluting economies pulling out of the KP process.  The Paris accord will, by all indications, emphasize voluntary emissions reduction targets set through the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to emissions reduction.

From cap-and trade- to pledge and review

Global climate governance is shifting from the cap and trade that characterized the Kyoto Protocol, to a new pledge and review process characterized by bottom up national actions. The Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC was designed as a framework for a collective global climate response. It allocated roles and responsibilities for the climate response based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility. Based on the Berlin Mandate, the KP sought to “elaborate policies and measures” for Annex I Parties, as well as “set quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives.” The approach entailed allocating Parties into categories (annexes) with different responsibilities, imposing caps on carbon emissions, putting in place institutional and financial mechanisms to support adaptation to climate change, and creating opportunities for trading in carbon credits. The KP ‘cap–and–trade’ approach has been described by some as a ‘top-down’. 

The Paris approach, emanating in the Warsaw COP, is based on a ‘pledge and review’ process in which parties will announce ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (pledges). The party will then allow a review of these pledges, after which they are written into a universal agreement as individual commitments. There are concerns that the logic of pledge and review is flawed. Pledges are unilateral declarations of intention, and the extent to which these can collectively constitutes a level of ambition sufficient to control global warming within the 20C limit is doubtful. The expectation in the design of the process is that commitments will be renewed in a cycle intended to ‘enable an upward spiral of ambition over time’.

Sub-theme II: Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Africa

Rural Development, agriculture and resilience

To further elaborate its principle of supporting sustainable development, the Protocol further provides (4) that:

The Parties have a right to, and should, promote sustainable development. Policies and measures to protect the climate system against human-induced change should be appropriate for the specific conditions of each Party and should be integrated with national development programmes, taking into account that economic development is essential for adopting measures to address climate change.

Climate change constitutes a significant threat to sustainable development. Over the past decade or so, many African countries have reported impressive economic growth. Although this growth registered could be partly explained by improvements in governance, it has largely been driven by natural resource exploitation by multinationals, accompanied by massive land alienation, and has often been accompanied by growing inequalities and high levels of unemployment.  Notwithstanding Africa’s commendable growth trajectory, the current pattern of growth is neither inclusive nor sustainable. It has yet to result in the structural transformation of African economies, which continue to be characterized by high levels of dependence on natural resources and exports of primary commodities, predominantly agrarian economies with high levels of rural poverty, and low per capita agricultural output and productivity compared to the global average. Where progress was previously made in the pre-structural adjustment period, these have largely been eroded by the de-industrializing effects of structural adjustment, and the decimation of the public sector and public provision of services. The continent thus continues to grapple with a regressing rural economy, rocketing levels of unemployment especially among the youth, high levels of jobless migration into urban areas and the concomitant feminization of labour especially in the small-holder agricultural sector.

Climate change threatens to exacerbate the challenges of rural development. Erratic rainfall and recurrent droughts are already threatening agricultural production and output and contributing to the migration of young people into urban areas. Flooding and other extreme events are destroying the little infrastructure that exists in both urban and rural areas. The predominantly agrarian nature of African economies and the rural nature of the bulk of its population, coupled with an inordinate dependence on natural resources and the low adaptive capacities combine to make them highly vulnerable to climate change. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a rise in temperature of more than 2°C could exacerbate the existing food deficit and prevent the majority of African countries from attaining their development goals. This makes rural development a key component of sustainable development on the continent.

Rural development entails many transformations. It is premised on the development of new rural relations of production, value chains and value webs, the provision of new and sustainable sources of renewable energy, reforms of land and water rights, the creation of off-farm labour, and so on. Rural economies are poorly integrated into national and global economies because of poor or non-existent infrastructure (roads, energy, telecommunications, and banking). Sustainable rural development entails structural transformations of rural economies which will lead to their diversification beyond agriculture. Major changes in the structure of employment and sources of income for rural populations are required. Evidence indicates that where infrastructure exists, reliance on non-agricultural employment and income for the rural population has been increasing rapidly and is of great importance. The provision of basic physical and social infrastructure as well as the development of skills and entrepreneurship support are urgent priorities. But all are also vulnerable to climate change impacts. The question of how to account for climate change into rural development strategies needs to be resolved.

New opportunities to define an alternative approach to rural development include the expansion of the “new agriculture”, industrialization of rural areas, increasing economic integration between rural and urban areas, progress in decentralization of governance, expansion of civil society organizations in rural areas, and increasing demands for environmental services (de Janvry and Sadoulet 2004). Specifically, such opportunities exist in ICT, eco-tourism, bio-technologies, environmental protection and renewable energy generation. Integrated approaches also include promoting linkages among public and private stakeholders, developing rural workers’ and entrepreneurs’ structures, encouraging dialogue among them and with authorities, and building the capacities and voice of youth and women, in order to unlock their potential to drive rural innovation.

Given the importance of agriculture for Africa’s development, and the dependence of African agriculture on, numerous interventions have been designed and implemented to address the adaptation of agriculture to climate change impacts, and also to support innovations that are designed to increase the resilience of the sector to climate change.  A series of sessions will discuss Climate resilient agriculture, focusing on climate smart agriculture, technology and innovation, and national support systems for adaptation in agricultural systems in Africa. The sessions will attract presentations of lessons learned and best practices from a wide array of interventions designed by external intervening agencies such as donor agencies, NGOs and governments, as well as innovations by farmers and farmers’ organizations.

Opportunities for Innovative Financing

Climate finance has also defined previous UNFCCC negotiations, and remains a thorny issue in the lead up to Paris. The link between developed countries; contributions to climate finance and ODA remains problematic, with limited new funds being dedicated towards financing the climate response. At the same time, some developing countries have made admirable progress in mobilizing domestic funds to finance their own climate policies, but these also remain woefully small, reflecting the limited capacity of the LDC economies to internalize the climate response. The debate on financing climate actions cannot be delinked from CBDR, and the tensions between the developed and developing countries in this context are based on the perceptions and realities of responsibilities for GHG emissions.

Renewable Energy

Energy is a key factor in development. The limited access to energy characteristic of most of rural Africa accounts in part for the low levels of development of rural economies. An estimated 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity or remain un-electrified due to poor quality of the grid. Out of them, 84% live in rural areas.   While the MDGs integrated energy as a cross cutting issues critical for the achievement of all other goals, the Post-2015 Development Agenda will integrate energy access as one of its primary targets. This acknowledges the crucial importance of energy for development.  

Rural communities have for centuries relied solely on traditional biomass energy sources, human and animal power. However, the stock of traditional biomass energy resources is dwindling fast due to increased pressure from growing populations, but also because of the absence of energy substitutes for traditional energy sources. Renewable energy technologies (RETs) and other modern energy technologies are almost non-existent in much of rural Africa, thus curtailing the development potential.  In terms of budgetary allocation, rural energy development has not received a fair share of public investment in comparison to other sectoral investments. There is thus an urgent for commitment from concerned authorities to the use of renewables for spurring rural development. This could be through increasing the budget allocation to rural energy, which is currently negligible, the modification of existing institutional frameworks for rural energy delivery, and the design and implementation of appropriate rural energy initiatives suitable for productive activities and sustainable development. There is a need to develop and strengthen capacities on policy, technical and entrepreneurial approaches to rural energy provision and access to promote sustainable rural development.

Rural areas are characterized by their remoteness and low population density. While often grid extension is not a feasible option, decentralized renewable energy solutions are the better alternative to alleviate energy poverty:

  • they are cost-effective over the system’s lifetime;
  • easy to deploy, install and maintain; and, 
  • their design can be tailored to demand needs

Renewable energy is part of the answer to power the needs of the world’s poor, and a prerequisite for rural development. In general, rural areas offer abundant renewable energy resources. To provide access to sustainable electricity and services, different types of renewable energies (biomass, small hydro, small wind and solar) and technologies can be used or combined to best address local needs. Renewable energy solutions should become a key element of rural electrification plans in developing countries, as they can also support local business creation, improve water irrigation and sanitation systems, as well as offer new opportunities for public health, education and gender equality. Investment in renewable energy for rural development has been proven to result inconsiderable reductions of CO2 emissions.

Trade, Trips and Technology Transfer

The protocol seeks to ensure that climate change does not lead to restrictions on trade and the movement of goods.

The Parties should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international economic system that would lead to sustainable economic growth and development in all Parties, particularly developing country Parties, thus enabling them better to address the problems of climate change. Measures taken to combat climate change, including unilateral ones, should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade.

Climate change programmes and strategies should thus entail the development and implementation of mechanisms to assist developing countries to cope better with global warming. Chief among these should be the transfer through trade and other mechanisms, of appropriate technologies, particularly in the renewable energy sectors. The protocol provides that the special needs of the developing countries should be taken into account (2)

The specific needs and special circumstances of developing country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and of those Parties, especially developing country Parties, that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention, should be given full consideration.

However, restrictions such as contained in the TRIPS, WTO and other regulatory mechanisms have not been sufficiently reviewed to allow for easier technology transfers. Some countries such as South Africa have been negotiating technology transfers within the confines of existing international treaties and regulations, and have gained valuable experiences in this regard. It is imperative that developing countries share such experiences in order to enhance technology transfers.

Sub-theme III: The State and Africa’s Prospects for Sustainable Development under Climate Change

The global nature of the climate challenge and the response to it entails that the state is a central player in the design and implementation of adaptation responses. The global architecture to manage climate response, including the financing of climate adaptation and mitigation, creates a complex web of multi-lateral and bilateral requirements that are dependent on a properly functional and capacitated state, with appropriate national and sub-national institutions, to function. Hence the development of adaptation and mitigation policies and strategies is highly dominated by central state actors – civil society organizations and local communities have so far played a limited role in the formulation of national climate change adaptation policies and strategies.

Yet by and large the state and state institutions in Africa have limited capacities and are faced with major challenges that undermine the development of innovative mitigation and adaption responses. The reconstitution of the African state through SAPs has meant that for many years the state has progressively withdrawn from even the provision of social services through the privatization of many services such as education, forestry, water and sewage reticulation, energy generation and provision, transportation (including the construction and maintenance of road, rail and shipping infrastructure) and agriculture. All of these are key climate change adaptation sectors. Government institutions are faced with major challenges regarding the development and implementation of adaptation polices and strategies in these and other sectors. These include:

  • weak coordination as a result of conflicting and overlapping mandates,
  • dysfunctional arrangements for inter-agency integration,
  • over-burden of external (UNFCCC and donor) reporting requirements and inadequate financing for adaptation,
  • absence of national frameworks for functional partnerships between the state, the private sectors and civil society,
  • Inadequate frameworks for decentralized policy making to accommodate local governments and community interests and so on.

This situation undermines the articulation of key governance principles such as equity, stakeholder participation, accountability and transparency into national climate responses.

Other challenges for the African state emanate from the fact that there is inadequate investment in strategic areas for climate change adaptation. Most state and civil society actors are involved in climate change awareness-raising, capacity building and research with fewer investments in legislative aspects, coordination, investment regulation and financial cooperation. Africa is on a development trajectory characterized by high rates of growth, increasing FDI and ODA, as well as the creation of conducive environments for investment. However, the state’s capacity to integrate climate change adaptation into these developments is limited.  CC governance in Africa calls for a review of the quality of growth and development processes, an emphasis on equity as well as improvement of the level of public engagement in the formulation of national responses.

  • Mainstreaming climate change into economic frameworks and sectoral policies is of paramount importance in order to ensure integrated adaptation responses. The current state of national adaptation strategies and the confinement of the climate change agenda to the environment sector makes it difficult for development planners to have a holistic perspective of adaptation priorities at both macro (national) and micro (local) levels.
  • The assessment of social and economic vulnerabilities needs to be strengthened so as to inform processes for identifying adaptation priorities.
  • There is a need for national adaptation policies that provide clear guidelines for integration and implementation of strategies, programs and activities.
  • Macro-economic policies need to be reviewed to ensure that they build the resilience of the poor and enhance their capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Finally, many African governments have limited ability to mobilize funding for climate change adaptation and are almost completely reliant on donor funding to support national climate policies and programs. In such cases, climate change adaptation capacities reside in NGOs and donor agencies than within the state. This means that many climate adaptation activities take place in projects and other interventions that are typically designed and implemented outside national policy frameworks, even when such policy framework exist. Yet the state continues to ostensibly play the central coordination role in climate governance. But the limited financial capacities imply a mismatch between the policy and coordination intentions of the state and the governance realities entailed in a largely projectized climate response.

In such a scenario, and given the challenges of FDI and market expansion for climate governance, a key governance question that occupies us is how can the capacities of the African state, and by extension regional institutions, be strengthened to ensure the emergence of a robust climate governance frameworks on the continent??

Organization of the Conference

The conference will follow the format of earlier CCDA conferences. It will consist of a high-level dialogue, plenary sessions, parallel sessions, pre-events, side events and post-events. A number of eminent participants will deliver keynote addresses on the experiences and outcomes of the extant global climate governance regime with regard to the objective of the UNFCCC as encapsulated in Article 2 of the convention. The implications of these experiences for sustainable development in Africa will be discussed, and suggestions for the construction of a post Kyoto climate governance framework elaborated. The Conference will also feature prominent roles for civil society organizations, gender groups, young people and farmers.

On the first day of the Conference, a high-level plenary session will be held, during which ministers and prominent experts will discuss the theme and set the tone for the rest of the Conference. The session will be followed by a number of speeches introducing the plenary discussions on each sub-theme. Participants will have the opportunity to engage the panelists and presenters to further explore the points raised in the presentations.

To open up the space for more in-depth discussions on specific climate change and development topics identified under the sub-themes, the second day will be dedicated to five parallel sessions. Presentations, tailored to each topic, will be moderated by experts on each sub-theme.


A pre-event forum will be held to discuss Article 2 and its interpretation in climate policies arising out of the UNFCCC???


  1. United Nations Environment Programme?
  2. ICSU? Network of African Science Academies
  3. Civil Society (Researchers, analysts, NGOs etc)
  4. Gender, youth and climate change (in collaboration with the Social Development Policy Division of the Economic Commission for Africa)
  5. Climate change and sustainable development in Africa
  6. Role of the media in communicating climate-related impacts and adaptation options
  7. Role of African farmers in local adaptation initiatives


A poster exhibition on the sidelines of the conference will provide an opportunity to show-case, network, and share views on options within and outside Africa to translate climate knowledge into action in order to achieve a climate-resilient agricultural transformation and to cope with climate impacts.

Climate Research for Development

A one (1) day event to be organized in Livingstone, Zambia


de Janvry and Sadoulet (2004)

Depledge, Joanna (2000) Tracing the Origins of the Kyoto Protocol: An Article-By-Article Textual History.  Prepared under contract to UNFCCC.

Rees,  W.E. (2014) Avoiding Collapse: An agenda for sustainable de-growth and re-localizing the economy

United Nations, (1992). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

UNECA-ACPC (2011) First Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDAI) “Development First: Addressing Climate Change in Africa”

UNECA – ACPC (2012)  “Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA II): Advancing Knowledge, Policy and Practice on Climate Change and Development.”

UNECA-ACPC (2013) “Third Annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA – III) Africa on the rise: can the opportunities from climate change spring the continent to transformative development?

UNECA-ACPC (2014) “Fourth conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa - Africa can feed Africa now: translating climate knowledge into action.”

[1] William E. Rees, (2014) Avoiding Collapse: An agenda for sustainable de-growth and re-localizing the economy

[2] United Nations, 1992. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

[3] E.g. the African Group of Negotiators meeting in Addis Ababa, January 2015.