Victoria Falls, 28 October 2015 (ECA) - “For Africa, climate change has massive consequences, the continent contributes the least to greenhouse gases but tends to be the most vulnerable to its consequences. This climate change is a threat to human survival in Africa,” said Mr. Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, the Vice-President of Zimbabwe, when opening the 5th Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference, currently taking place in Victoria Falls.
Mr. Mnangagwa pointed out that Africa has a large stake at the forthcoming COP21 negotiations in Paris and at adapting to climate change since it will be the region most affected by the impact of this change.
“Africais grappling with recurring droughts due to climate change. Africa has the greatest interest in a climate change governance framework,” he emphasised and noted that “COP21 represents a unique chance for Africa to assert itself in climate global governance”.
Ms. Fatima Denton, the Economic Commission for Africa Director of Special Initiatives Division, under which the African Climate Policy Centre falls, reiterated the significance of the upcoming negotiations for the continent.
“Stakes for Africa at COP21 are high, Africa will be at the receiving end of climate change impact. We need to understand what is at risk,” she said to the more than 400 delegates at the conference who included ministers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Gambia, representatives from the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and UN agencies and members of the diplomatic corp.
Ms. Denton reminded delegates of the importance of Article 2 of the convention: an article we seem to have forgotten about. “In Paris we demand that the sacred principle of common but shared responsibility be given central place”.
The responsibility of change lies with the whole world, believes Ms. Denton. “Are we doing enough to stop the current haemorrhaging of the earth’s resources? Are we able to replenish, regenerate our soils to ensure that those most dependent on our natural capital do not find themselves held up in a cul-de-sac that bears no signposts?
Africa depends largely on its rain-fed agricultural production. However the continent is facing challenges in responding to challenges such as the “alarming rate of degradation of our water resources, soils, food systems, land, forest and air and the rainfall and temperatures that we rely on to sustain our people,” said Ms. Denton.
“Today is about what Africa can do for itself and with others to be able to act as the main purveyor of climate resilient development services”. Ms. Denton asserted Africa is confident enough to tell the rest of the world that “it no longer has the license to emit on our behalf and that we are prepared to invest in smart development by using our current atmospheric space to green our economies and to build climate resilient infrastructure”.
Institutions such as the African Development Bank “have stepped up support for African countries to build resilience to climate change and to finance green economy since the global finance architecture does not provide the finances Africa needs,” said Ms. Mary Manneko Monyau, AfDB’s representative in Zimbabwe.
Ms.Denton reminded those present that this 5thClimate Change and Development in Africa Conference is about our collective security, what we can do today so that no one is left behind, global solidarity and addressing our collective responsibility.
“The climate risks that we face are real but the opportunities for change and for designing a new climate business model are immense,” concluded Ms. Denton.
The 5thClimate Change and Development in Africa Conference titled “Revising Article2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” whose main theme is ‘Africa, climate change and sustainable development: what is at stake at Paris and beyond?’ is held from 28 to 30 October 2015.
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