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UCLG Africa Climate Task Force: Strengthening climate action by regional and local governments in Africa

The Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa has the opportunity to participate in this debate by bringing the perspective of African territories

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TANGIER, Morocco, June 27, 2023/ — United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa)  held a meeting of its Climate Task Force in Tangier on June 21, preceding the MedCOP 2023 event held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed IV on June 22 and 23 2023. The objective of the meeting was to strengthen synergies among the different colleges constituting the Task Force in order to collectively reflect on a common position of regional and local governments in Africa for COP 28. This meeting also aimed to refocus the operational framework of the Climate Task Force to be able to provide concrete responses to emerging issues in the field of climate.

In their opening speeches, both Mr. Mohammed Sefiani, Co-president of the Climate Task Force, Vice-President of the Mediterranean House of Climate and Mayor of the city of Chefchaouen, and Mrs. Firdaous Oussidhoum, Special Advisor to the Secretary General of UCLG World, underlined the vital role and importance of collaborative action for the involvement of regional and local governments in the fight against climate change. Mr. Mohammed Sefiani highlighted the transformative power of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force in boosting climate initiatives across Africa. For her part, Ms. Firdaous Oussidhoum,  underlined the importance of the commitment of regional and local governments in addressing climate challenges. She praised the efforts made by UCLG Africa to promote the involvement of African local and regional authorities in climate action and their inclusion in the global conversation regarding the challenges and efforts to combat climate change. That is why UCLG Africa represents the voice of local authorities worldwide at the United Nations Transitional Committee for Loss and Damages. Towards COP 28, a Stocktake of Southern countries is being established as part of the partnership for climate change mitigation. UCLG World has delegated UCLG Africa to represent global local authorities in the working group tasked with defining the working modalities of the Loss and Damage Fund, which was decided upon during COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

In his remarks, Mr. Zachariah M. Njeru, Minister of Lands, Public Works, Housing, and Urban Development of the Republic of Kenya, highlighted the importance of the Task Force in establishing connections among all parties in the fight against climate change. The Minister referred to recent discussions at COP26 and COP27, emphasizing key outcomes such as the Glasgow Pact, the Sharm el-Sheikh Global Goal on Adaptation, and the need to improve means of implementation and equity in accessing climate finance. Mr. Njeru noted that there is an ongoing global debate to operationalize these key instruments for effective adaptation and resilient development trajectories. The Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa has the opportunity to participate in this debate by bringing the perspective of African territories. The Government of Kenya supports this essential contribution, which connects the dots between decisions made at the global, regional, or national level and their implementation on the ground. Furthermore, the Minister pointed out that the Government of Kenya relies on UCLG Africa and its Climate Task Force for the implementation of the “Building Climate Resilience for the Urban Poor” (BCRUP) initiative.

Mr. Mohammed Atani, representing the Secretariat of the African Conference of Ministers of the Environment (AMCEN) and Head of the UNEP Office for West Africa in Abidjan, first welcomed the inclusion of UCLG Africa in the platform for implementing the decisions of AMCEN during its last session held in September 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, for cities and local governments. Mr. Atani pointed out that during the next meeting of AMCEN, which will take place from August 15 to 18, 2023, in Addis Ababa at the headquarters of the African Union, it is expected that UCLG Africa will present the achievements of the organization since Dakar in waste management and its inclusion in the implementation platform.

Mr. David Ombissi, Program Officer at UNEP, Regional Office for Africa, provided details on the upcoming CMAE meeting in August 2023 in Addis Ababa, specifically regarding the need to strengthen collaboration between the different parties. The meeting will take place from August 14 to 18, 2023, with two segments: the expert segment on August 14 and 15, 2023, and the ministerial segment on August 17 and 18, 2023. This 19th session will prepare for the African Climate Week in September 2023 in Nairobi and COP 28 in Dubai. Mr. Ombissi also mentioned the ongoing process of establishing a chemical management instrument in September and the upcoming UNEP assembly. UCLG Africa will be required to prepare a report on the missions entrusted to it in Dakar.

Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Scretary General of UCLG Africa, stressed the urgency for Africa to tackle the challenge of adaptation to climate change which is par excellence the priority for climate action in Africa. The Secretary General of UCLG Africa insisted on the need for climate justice towards developing countries and towards Africa in particular which has participated only marginally in the ongoing climate change, for which the continent is nevertheless paying a very high price. Climate justice should start with balancing efforts in global climate action between the mitigation of global warming and the adaptation to climate change. Climate justice is also to be sought in the facilitation of regional and local governments’ access to climate finance. Local authorities are in fact on the front line when it comes to adaptation to climate change. Mr. Elong Mbassi recalled that one of the reasons why adaptation to climate change has remained the poor relation of climate finance is the absence of metrics to measure the impact and progress made in terms of adaptation actions. This is a project to be opened urgently in which the members of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa should take an important part. “People are expecting inputs from us concerning on the implementation of the decisions of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)“, indicated Mr. Elong Mbassi, adding that  “we are expected, local and regional authorities, to work hand in hand with civil societies, to provide proof that climate action will have an impact when it is done above all at the local level under the impetus of mayors and leaders of local authorities. It is the culmination of years of advocacy efforts for multi-level and multi-actor action. This plea also addresses the need for climate justice, in particular to compensate for the ecosystem services that our countries provide to humanity. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the organization from 12 to 16 October 2023 in Brazzaville of the Summit of the Three Hydraulic and Forest Basins of the Amazon, the Congo, and the Mekong rivers which represent 80% of the world’s biodiversity and which have an essential in role in terms of carbon sequestration, without which the temperature of the planet would be outside acceptable limits. However, this ecosystem service is not appreciated at its fair value. This is why, at the invitation of President Sassou Nguesso of Congo, a meeting of Heads of State of the countries of the Three Basins took place, to which was also associated a Forum of the local and regional governments of the Three Basins” , added the Secretary General of UCLG Africa.

During the discussions that followed the introductory speeches, Mrs. Chantal Colle, Director of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), expressed her frustration with the outcomes of COP27, where Africa’s voice was not sufficiently amplified. The injustice done to Africa in the realm of climate must be loudly proclaimed. The climate urgency is not primarily caused by Africa, as the continent lags behind economically compared to other regions and does not contribute significantly to pollution. Additionally, the continent can benefit from technological advancements to embrace low-carbon solutions.

AREI is an initiative born at COP21, from the will of African Heads of State with the support of a dozen developed countries and of the European Union. Two billion Euros have been allocated to this initiative, which has made it possible in less than 3 years to add 10 Gigawatts to the continent’s energy potential, giving access to energy to several hundred thousand people in Africa. AREI has reserved an envelope of 200 million Euros to serve as a primer for the implementation of large Inga-type hydroelectric projects. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 health crisis did not allow this sum to be released. There is therefore a financing potential that can be mobilized to speed up access to energy and water in remote areas or small towns. It is indeed paradoxical that Africa, which has two thirds of the world’s hydrogen reserves in the world, has the population with the least access to energy. AREI aims precisely to fill this gap, using as much as possible renewable energies and decentralized solutions.

AREI ardently wishes to participate in the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa and to voice there the concern relating to access to energy and the efforts to be made in terms of actions to mitigate global warming.

Mr. Mohamed Nbou, Climate Advisor at the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa and in charge of the Climate Task Force, recalled the history of the establishment of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force and the conclusions of its meeting held in 2019 in Katowice, Poland, during which the members of the Climate Task Force were split into eight areas of work in which they were able to bring an added value due to their particular skills. This breakdown has been updated as follows:

1. Decentralized cooperation

Team Leader : UCLG Africa

Members : CEMR; Climate Chance

2. Adaptation and Resilience

Team Leader : Africa Adaptation Initiative

Members : PACJA; C40; University of Agadir

3. Access to energy and mitigation of global warming

Team Leader : AREI

Members : ICLEI Africa; AMEE; GCOM

4. Territorialization of NDCs

Team Leader : UCLG Africa

Members : ENERGIES 2050; GCOM

5. MRV (Measurement, Reporting and Verification)

Team Leader : CDP

Members : University of Agadir; University of Marrakesh; ADEME; ENERGIES 2050

6. Climate Finance

Team Leader : African Development Bank

Members : BOAD; EBID; DBSA

7. Capacity Building

Team Leader : PCCB

Members : ALGA/UCLG Africa; 4C Morocco; ADEME; PACJA

8.Communication

Team Leader : Climate Chance

Members : UCLG Africa; ICLEI Africa.

Mr. Nbou further explained that the efforts of UCLG Africa have focused on establishing UCLG Africa as a representative of territories within the institutional ecosystem of Climate and climate finance at both the African and global levels.

Mr. Nbou also indicated that UCLG Africa was in charge of four programs, three of which were financed within the framework of the Readiness programs financed by the Green Climate Fund, relating to: 1. the territorialization of Morocco’s NDCs in the Souss-Massa region; 2. support for local and regional authorities in the WAEMU region in West Africa for the preparation and implementation of local Climate-Energy plans; 3. the decarbonization project for industrial zones in the region of Tangiers Region, and the ” Building Climate Resilience for the Urban Poor ” (BCRUP) initiative , the implementation of which is the subject of a Partnership agreement between the Government of Kenya and UCLG Africa, and which is at the planning, arrangement, and fundraising stage.

The implementation of these projects may not be done without the mobilization of the skills represented by the members of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa.

Mr. Nbou finally informed the members of the Climate Task Force that they are also asked to confirm their willingness to participate in a consortium with a view to responding to a call for projects initiated by the German BMZ around innovations in mobility, decarbonization of industrial processes, and adaptation to climate change. The terms of reference will be distributed to members who must quickly confirm their interest, given the very short deadlines for submitting projects (end of July 2023).

Mrs. Aïssatou Diagne, Project Manager at the West African Development Bank (BOAD), presented BOAD’s initiatives in the field of climate and confirmed BOAD’s interest in participating in the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa.

Speaking on behalf of African civil societies, Mr. Augustine Njamnshi , Chair of the Technical and Political Affairs Committee of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), shared his organization’s contributions and perspectives on climate action. He confirmed PACJA’s commitment to participate in the field of adaptation and resilience, and in that of building the capacities of grassroots communities.

Ms. Rajae Chafil, Director of the 4C Center (Centre of Competences in terms of Climate Change) Morocco, highlighted the initiatives of the center to address the challenges of climate change in Africa. Mrs. Chafil notably drew attention to the urgent need to establish a mapping of climate risks incurred by local authorities, a work that 4C Morocco is currently carrying out in collaboration with the umbrella organizations of local authorities in Morocco. She indicated that 4C Morocco is ready to share its experience in this field with other African countries. 4C Morocco also confirmed its availability to work in the various areas assigned to it within the framework of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa.

Mr. Stéphane Pouffary intervened to present ENERGIES 2050, an association that supports African countries in the preparation of Climate negotiations, and participates in the development of their NDC and in the monitoring of their implementation. “ENERGIES 2050 supports the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa and is proud to participate in it “, indicated Mr. Pouffary, adding that ENERGIES 2050 fully appreciates the progress made by UCLG Africa, in particular its inclusion among the recognized official institutions in the Climate ecosystem in Africa ” .

Dr. Meggan Spires, speaking on behalf of ICLEI Africa, highlighted the partnership work that UCLG Africa and ICLEI Africa have carried out over the past few years, materialized by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for which the two entities can congratulate each other. Dr. Meggan Spiers recalled that this partnership relationship has been further strengthened thanks to the participation of ICLEI Africa and UCLG Africa in the implementation of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa (COM SSA). ICLEI Africa confirmed its participation in the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force and declared its willingness to collaborate in the implementation of the projects presented, including to respond to the BMZ call for projects.

Mr. Romain Crouzet , Director General of Climate Chance, confirmed his organization’s interest in participating in the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa and in participating in current or future projects in this context. The Director General of Climate Chance invited the members of the Task Force to take part in the Climate Chance Conference scheduled for October 22 to 25, 2023 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Mr. Aziz Fassouane , Vice-President of Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, underlined the central role of the University in taking into account the challenges related to climate change and the promotion of sustainable development. Mr. Fassouane highlighted the initiatives undertaken by Ibn Zohr University in collaboration with UCLG Africa, emphasizing research, knowledge sharing, and capacity building as essential tools to endow local and regional governments with the expertise needed to effectively address climate-related challenges.

At the end of the meeting, UCLG Africa confirmed its determination to work with the members of the Climate Task Force in order to show the contribution of local and regional governments to climate action and to the thinking relating to the methods and tools to be put in place to align local climate action with national and global commitments. Mr. Elong Mbassi of UCLG Africa reiterated the thanks of the UCLG Africa Secretariat to the members of the Climate Task Force for their commitment to participate in the new development stage of climate action by local and regional governments, particularly in Africa.

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