Actualizing climate action and a green recovery in Africa

Kampala, Uganda, 28/September/2021 - The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has outlined a raft of ambitious solutions and innovative measures to support Africa in integrating climate-smart actions to build forward better as the continent embarks on a robust pandemic recovery agenda.  


Jean Paul Adam, the Director of ECA’s Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Division, enumerated on the inventive and tested models during the on-going Africa Climate Week 2021 which is aimed at building momentum for action and consolidating enhanced ambitions ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November.


According to Adam, green and blue investments opportunities are Africa’s best bet for economic recovery creating an enabling environment for the realization of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the achievement of the Paris Agreements targets.  Adam noted that Africa has the advantage of vast nature based ecosystems that can be leveraged to attract more green and blue bonds financing in addition to the $100bn climate financing promised for developing nations under the Paris Agreement.


“Africa is playing catch-up in relation to green bond financing, with the continent having less than one per cent of the current global green bond issuances. The total green bond market stands at $539bn based on 2020 estimates. At present Africa has less than $8bn of that share.” Adam says. “There is an opportunity of African countries to consider development of livelihoods linked to rehabilitation of nature which also allows Africa to valorize its natural carbon sinks, such as the Congo Basin Forest and its peatlands, and bargain for a fair carbon price that rewards these global goods.”


With an estimated 13million square kilometres of ocean space as African territorial waters, Adam called on the continent to harness the vast opportunities accruing from this anchor of the Blue Economy which classifies the ocean as an economic model and a conservation hotspot. “Oceans are a key opportunity for Africa and there is a proposal under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 30 per cent of all marine spaces.” Adam says. “It has been shown by recent studies that the protection of marine spaces improves fisheries yields. This calls for the involvement of African countries taking a more pro-active stance in relation to their ocean management and marine spatial plans. The Blue Economy represents a huge opportunity for nature based solutions.”


Citing case studies on South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) undertaken jointly by the ECA and Oxford University, Adam noted that investments in renewable energy, resilient transport and nature-based solutions are projected to deliver much better yields than through maintaining status quo fossil fuel based investments.  In RSA the yield is projected to be 250 per cent better in terms of decent jobs and 420 per cent better in terms of value increase in the country’s economy compared to traditional fossil-fuel powered investments. On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the studies found out that similar investments will deliver 130% more jobs and 280% more value added in the economy.


Adam further enumerated the five key planks of Africa Green Recovery Plan namely increased climate financing, support on renewable energy uptake, focus on nature based solutions, enhancing climate-smart agriculture and facilitating green resilient cities.


Speaking at the event Harsen Nyambe Head of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Management Division at the African Union Commission (AU) called on African member states to implement the various existing biodiversity conservation plans.


“What is lacking in Africa is implementation. Countries have adaptation plans and even the nationally determined contributions are in place among other biodiversity and climate change action plans, but our challenge has been actual implementation.” Nyambe said.  “The Sixth Assessment Report  of the IPCC clearly demonstrates that window of opportunity for us to be able to address the climate change crisis is fast closing on us and this by itself stresses the importance of urgent actions.”


Larissa Sosthène Kouadio, the Technical Advisor of Cote d’Ivoire Ministry of Economy noted that the green recovery agenda offers Africa a major opportunity to rebuild and achieve a climate resilient future. “Green recovery policy that will be inclusive will be the key in order to tackle both societal and environmental issues in Africa.” “Green recovery is a great opportunity to be seized. We do have an opportunity like never before to start doing things in a new way, to learn from our mistakes and to leverage from our systems to be more resilient, greener.” Ms. Kouadio said. “The path will not be easy as we will continue to fight against poverty, unemployment, and demographics challenges. This transition will require financing, more funding which is difficult to mobilise through the actual system. Changes must integrate public and private sector financing and investments.”


Martha Melesse, Senior Program Specialist, Sustainable and Inclusive Economies, of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) called on gender inclusivity to be mainstreamed in the African Green Recovery Action Plan by addressing discriminatory norms, structural and access barriers.  “Recovery needs to go beyond business as usual to ensure that sustainable reforms provides benefits to all. More data and evidence to guide reforms going forward.” Melesse said. “Integrate gender in climate action so as to distribute benefits to all.


Issued by:


ECA External Communications Section

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Addis Ababa


Tel: +251 11 551 5826