Letter to COP28 President: African CSOs’ Position on Adaptation
Dear COP28 President,
As you host the world for COP28 later this year, we, the representatives of African civil society organisations, have high expectations of your leadership in guiding the world towards a climate resilient, sustainable and accountable future.
Indeed, this edition of the COP is an important moment for the world and particularly for the vulnerable communities in Africa. It is also a priceless opportunity for the UAE to lead the world in making firmer and fearless commitments on adaptation.
Mr President, you have previously called for additional investment in ‘‘smarter water use and food production’’ within an accelerated time frame. Though our solutions may differ, these issues are of significance to Africa and the survival of its people.
You are also on record saying ‘‘we must do more to protect our most vulnerable communities and our most critical systems’’ from extreme weather and biodiversity loss.
The people of Africa are suffering disproportionately from the effects of climate change. From prolonged droughts to devastating floods, rising temperatures, and increased food insecurity, African countries are facing severe challenges that threaten the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people. This, despite, hardly contributing to any of the atmospheric pollution driving the climate change they are already suffering from.
Thankfully, our continent has an abundance of real, practical, and sustainable solutions to tackle climate change, including agroecology, food sovereignty, and indigenous knowledge systems that have successfully been applied for generations to make our people more adaptive and resilient against climate change.
Sadly, sir, and despite its critical place in the climate discourse, adaptation has been sidelined in the multilateral climate agenda for decades. Interventions in adaptation have been reactive, incremental, piecemeal, and grossly insufficient. This implementation gap, unfortunately, is widening. Time is also running out.
Fossil fuels, for instance, constitute about 79 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, together with industrial activities, transport and built structures. An urgent and just phase-out of fossil fuels is what the world needs. It is the pivot on which life on the planet balances. COP28 must, therefore, make commitments to end dependence on fossil fuels.
As you have rightly remarked before, ‘‘it is not too late to correct the course’’ and humanity is not entirely ‘‘powerless” to do the right thing. As President of COP28, you bear the primary responsibility to anchor the world on a new, sustainable path that will make development and food systems on the continent climate resilient.
We implore you to set a precedent by championing a strong climate adaptation agenda at COP28 and by pushing for unwavering commitment to its delivery. The world must embark on this important journey and your decisions will signify its beginning.
The enormity of the challenge, while daunting, presents you with a unique opportunity to develop and rally world leaders behind an alternative climate and development vision. A vision that reminds the world that the Just Transition pathways to climate adaptation and resilience are urgent. Even more so, for Africa.
To highlight this urgency and to respond to it, COP28 must specifically:
1. Place Africa’s Adaptation needs at the top of its agenda
World leaders, under your guidance, must take a unanimous and firm position that:
Clearly articulates the urgency of Africa’s adaptation needs.
Advocates for the integration of adaptation into the scope of the Just Transition Work Programme to achieve parity with mitigation.
Ensures the Global Stocktake at COP28 recognises the link between adaptation and sustainable development goals for Africa.
Recognises that principles of equity, justice, rights-based approaches, and social vulnerability underpin and drive Africa’s climate and development vision for a Just Transition to climate adaptation and resilience.
Prioritises Africa’s agriculture, food systems, agroecology and support for smallholder farmers as critical adaptation interventions.
Secures, protects, and advances land rights and security of tenure of farmers, pastoralists, women, Indigenous groups, and other vulnerable groups to enhance their resilience, sustain their livelihoods, and protect biodiversity.
2. Push for decisive outcomes on the Global Goal on Adaptation - GGA
COP28 must push for more political momentum towards agreement on global science-based targets whose support has been limited so far. With your guidance, this conference must collectively make a firm decision on GGA that promotes an ambitious and effective goal that is easy to communicate, holistic, and globally applicable. It must include overarching quantifiable and specific targets for priority sectors such as water, food and agriculture, sustainable cities, health, land use and biodiversity. It must also guarantee the requisite means of implementation and support for the most vulnerable, including Africans.
This goal must also recognise the importance of ecosystems and increased finance in line with the temperature goal and needs of developing countries.
3. Advocate for Drastic Increase in Adaptation Finance
Mr President, as climate impacts in Africa increase in frequency and intensity, addressing the adaptation financing gap is critical and urgent. Climate finance commitments made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement and COP26 in Glasgow must be delivered urgently.
You have previously called on the international community to double adaptation finance to the Global South to $40 billion annually by 2025. While this is commendable, today, Africa alone requires up to $52.7 billion per annum by 2030 to deal with climate shocks.
You must, however, continue to strongly call for the provision of additional, accessible and predictable financial support to Africa, by identifying new sources and doubling of adaptation finance by wealthy nations.
Sir, you are a proponent of inclusive reform of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. To this end, Africa celebrates you for promising that your country will ‘‘play a proactive, supportive and facilitating role’’ in these reforms.
The overhaul of the global financial architecture must place adaptation finance as the principal priority and increase the scale of climate finance, boost access to the finance and recognise the need for grant-based financing Africa.
More than ever before, this COP must also advocate for incentives and favourable, fit-for-purpose financing options for vulnerable continents like Africa, namely, tax waivers, debt write-offs, green credits, and other options that meet the adaptation needs of developing countries. This finance must flow to African institutions, including the African Adaptation Initiative and other community-led resilience-building efforts.
4. Promote Operationalisation of the Loss & Damage Fund
Sir, you have acknowledged the need to help vulnerable nations to rebuild after climate-related disasters and by operationalising the loss and damage fund. COP28 must emphasise the need for a full-spectrum approach to L&D finance to cover both economic and non-economic impacts of climate change. You must also push for an approach that makes access to this fund by frontline communities and civil society organisations easier.
Earlier this year, you noted that your country is approaching COP28 with ‘‘a clear sense of responsibility and a great sense of urgency’’ to build a global ambition and to accelerate action on climate change for the betterment of humanity and the planet. The time is finally here.
You have in your hands an opportunity to steer the climate discourse towards a new and historic trajectory that places adaptation for the world and Africa at its core. To shape history. Make it count.
Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Chair, Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN)