Climate change poses a severe threat to the development plans and priorities of African countries.  More concretely, efforts in poverty reduction, enhanced access to water and modern energy services, infrastructure development, and improved agricultural productivity to meet the needs of a growing population are likely to be affected by a changing climate. Without adaptation to, and mitigation of climate change impacts Africa’s overall development as well as its current positive economic progress are likely to be stalled.

The 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[1] projects future warming across the continent in the range of 0.2oC (low scenario) to 0.5oC (high scenario) per decade up to the year 2100. This suggests an increase in climate-related ‘shocks’ in the region including droughts, storms, flooding, extremes of temperatures and rising sea levels. The last Special Report on Extreme Events (SREX) of the IPCC[2] also highlighted the importance of addressing both exposure and vulnerability of several key sectors like agriculture and food security, water supply, energy security, regional security and migration, healthcare, and biodiversity to extreme events in Africa.

The high vulnerability of the continent to the impacts of climate change is further exacerbated by the low adaptive capacity of African countries. Many of them cannot effectively respond to these challenges due to factors such as weak institutions, widespread poverty, inadequate technologies and social infrastructure, conflicts and limited human and financial capacities.

The imperative for African countries is therefore to chart a new development pathway that promotes climate-resilience and low carbon emission development. Mainstreaming of climate change into policy formulation and development activities will be critical to addressing the development and climate change issues in the continent. It was highlighted in CCDA-I, held in Addis Ababa in October 2011 that a clear connection between research, policy and practice is required to explore and implement the opportunities provided by adaptation and mitigation strategies. For example, science-based climate information on variability of rainfall patterns is critical in developing and implementing concrete adaptation strategies to cope with water stress and extreme events.

Mainstreaming of hydro-met information into national and regional frameworks such as Integrated Water Resources Development and Management for example, is critical in developing effective strategies to address loss and damage. Transforming the challenges posed by climate change into opportunities requires active engagement of all stakeholders in Africa’s development agenda including policy makers, academicians and practicing stakeholders. For example, new development paradigms such as the ‘Green Economy’ also known as ‘Climate-Resilient Low Carbon Development’need to be urgently discussed and addressed by all stakeholders in order to avoid discrepancies and ensure effective ownership and engagement of all actors. Indeed, sectoral policies and strategies need to mainstream climate change at the local, national and regional levels, while also taking into account global policies on finance and technology transfer.

The Nairobi Action Plan Framework, for example, needs effective policies to be developed and implemented at the local, national and regional levels. Clearly, there is a need for changes to current institutional and policy frameworks to accommodate global, regional and national strategies to respond to and integrate climate change into the development agenda. It will be critical for instance, to revisit the current climate finance frameworks to address issues such as the accessibility of these funds to African countries.

The second annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-II) is one of the key activities of the Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) Programme. This joint initiative by the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) is meant to provide a forum for dialogue and engagement with various stakeholders involved in climate and development in Africa. The ClimDev-Africa Programme is an integrated programme with strong inter-linkages between programmatic activities delivered through the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and the Climate Change and Desertification Unit (CCDU), and investment activities delivered through the ClimDev Special Fund (CDSF), implemented by UNECA, AUC and AfDB respectively. 

The programme was mandated at regional meetings of African Heads of State and Government, as well as by Africa’s Ministers of Finance, Planning and Environment, and responds to the urgent challenge that climate change poses to the advancement of Africa’s development objectives. More concretely, it seeks to address the need for greatly improved climate data and information for Africa, and to also strengthen the use of such information for decision making by improving analytical capacity, knowledge management and dissemination activities. Furthermore, African Heads of States general assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec.448(XIX)), July  15-16, 2012 decision on “Africa’s preparation for the UNFCCC CoP18/CMP8” requests UNECA, the AfDB and other partners to step up their efforts in terms of providing the necessary facilitation and coordination support towards an effective Africa’s preparation for the COP18/CMP8. As such, the CCDA-II provides an important opportunity for coordination of efforts. 

The UNECA-ACPC, which is also the technical arm and the secretariat of ClimDev-Africa will host the second CCDA-II conference on October 19 and 20, 2012 at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year, the theme for the conference is Advancing Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Climate Change and Development. The CCDA-II conference seeks to emphasise and advocate the urgency and the need to pursue climate resilient and climate-proof development in the continent through better-informed policies and practices.

The CCDA-II will concentrate on three sub-themes that aim to highlight strategies and demonstrate best practices in the areas of Climate Services Delivery for Development, Sustainable Energy Access for All Africans by 2030 and Outstanding Issues in Climate Negotiations:  Relevance for Africa. The rational for the sub-themes include:

Climate Services Delivery for Development:

  • A number of African institutions have started to address the need for improving climate services delivery in Africa. Effective climate services delivery is indeed a prerequisite for managing and/or reducing risks and maximizing opportunities associated with climate change. These services ensure climate resilient development and as such facilitate real time adaptation to climate variability and climate change.
  • Hydrological and Meteorological (Hydro-Met) observation systems including terrestrial, atmospheric and oceanographic data constitute a crucial element for climate risk prevention and management. As such, Hydro-Met systems currently in operation could be strengthened further and rehabilitated in many cases, and new observation systems need to be added to existing networks. In addition, data analysis and research are essential to understanding the effects of climate variability and climate change in short and long terms respectively.

Sustainable Energy Access for All Africans by 2030:

  • Development is Africa’s most important priority and access to modern energy services is central to meeting the social and economic developmental challenges in the continent.  Access to improved, reliable and secure modern energy services would contribute to expanded production opportunities, improved livelihoods and economic development.  Africa faces a severe threat from global climate change which is anticipated to impact key sectors including agriculture, water supply, energy and regional security. In the energy sector, it is imperative for Africa to chart a development pathway that is low carbon intensive and climate resilient. This may include, for example, investing in a mix of renewable energy sources and other sources such as natural gas.  
  • The UN General Assembly has declared the year 2012 as the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’.  This is aimed at promoting global access to sustainable energy for all by the year 2030, through climate-friendly pathways and through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This sub-theme provides an opportunity to identify and analyze the critical issues, barriers and opportunities towards ‘Sustainable Energy for All’.


Outstanding Issues in Climate Negotiations:  Relevance for Africa

  • The ‘Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’ sets a timeframe of 2015 for the Ad Hoc Working Group to complete its work and to be implemented from 2020.  The 2015 deadline is relatively short given previous experiences in such negotiations and the challenged faced. Three important challenges that will addressed under this sub theme include: 
    • The current rounds of negotiations must not compromise or delay adaptation.  Faced with changes in the onset, timing and severity of rains, coupled with changes in temperatures (which bring about pests and diseases), African farmers are already adapting their productive systems to all these new circumstances. 
    • The overwhelming majority of people across the continent rely on ecosystem services for their livelihoods. There is a fragile relationship between human wellbeing and natural systems and as such there is a pressing need to integrate this into the negotiation processes.
    • Climate negotiations need to be informed by knowledge and science. On-going transaction of ideas between African knowledge institutions (and their scientists) with climate change negotiators is critical in order to arrive at evidence based positions.  Further work on institutional mechanisms is required for such an interaction.