9 November 2012

Ethiopia: Action Speaks Louder Than Words


It is now so long time since global warming has become a life concern with serious consequences particularly for developing countries. Sources indicate that the impact of climate change would equally affect all regions, ages, classes, income groups etc. Poor communities are identified to be the victims of the problem than the well to do. It is simply noticeable that the impacts and risks associated with global warming are already happening in several ways imposing tremendous negative impacts on different sectors: food security, water resources, health to mention a few among others.

Just before a decade ago, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed by many countries though it is a question how whether it has brought the desired solution or not to the challenges of climate change.

The Second Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-II) was organized by the Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) was held recently at the United Nations Conference Centre, here, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prime Minister Haile-Mariam Dessalegn, Mr. Carlos Lopes, UN Under Secretary-General and UNECA Executive Secretary, Lamin G. Barrow, on behalf of Dr. Donald Kaberuka, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) group, and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson through her representative were some of those dignitaries who delivered opening statements during the occasion.

The meeting brought together over 300 participants from African member states, regional economic communities, river basin organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, academia, and development partners.

The overall objective of the conference was to establish a dialogue forum to raise awareness on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-II) with a focus on in key climate change and development issues and options thereby mobilize further actions. The CCDA-II, for this purpose, has involved policy makers, researchers, practitioners, civil society and other stakeholders with the aim of ensuring policies, strategies, programmes and practices in Africa to take into consideration the reality of climate change. CCDA-II also aims to strengthen the basis of Africa's participation and position in the 18th UN Climate Change Conference planned to be held in Doha, Qatar, and ensures the continent's concerns and priorities are reflected in a post-2012 climate change regime.

The theme of CCDA-II was 'Advancing Knowledge, Policy and Practice on Climate Change' reflecting the need for Africa to address development in the context of climate change, and emphasize the importance of African ownership of its own policy formulation and decision making process. In addressing the theme, the conference considered three sub-themes, i.e. Climate Services Delivery for Development, Sustainable Energy Access for All Africans by 2030 and Outstanding Issues in Climate Negotiations: Relevance for Africa.

The opening ceremony was a bit inspirational that nearly allmost all those public figures who delivered opening speeches in particular and the conferees from all corners of the continent in general were heard speaking out on the subjects of sustainable development, green growth, climate resilience and adaptation, low carbon development and energy access. There were also keynote speeches of the conference. During the session, the Speakers and conferees showed their strong desire and commitment to devise mechanisms to solve climate problems and other related environmental challenges and highlighted the need to climate negotiations to address Africa's concerns.

During the conference, different plenary sessions and round table discussions chaired by renowned personalities were held in various halls to deliberate on the above sub themes.

The first day's plenary session and roundtable discussion was on climate services delivery. The parallel sessions on the sub-themes highlighted the impacts of climate change, the risks associated with further climate change and the need for climate services. It was noted during the event that there should be a number of African institutions which mainly engage in addressing the need for improving climate services delivery in Africa for it is a prerequisite for managing and reducing risks. Issues such as the need to make information more relevant for users and reach grass roots and the need for improved observations to support climate services were raised and discussed as well.

Climate information and analysis for risk management and adaptation; and limitations of research and development for climate science, services and policy were the issues related to climate service delivery for development were focused on the second day.

Sessions on sub-theme one were concluded with various recommendations made based on the above deliberations. The Conference underscored the main role played by the regional climate outlook forums and suggested a continuation of improvements in communicating to the users. National Agencies are said to be the most important link in the climate services chain from global to local and as such political authorities are heartened to invest on national and sub-national agencies and their climate services that reach communities. The Conference also recommended that the research and science community needs to be skilful and actionable forecasters, combined with effective communication. It is said that knowing the market is important to improve the link between research and its use. On the whole, discussions regarding sub-theme I were ended having suggested that climate science researches in Africa are not well coordinated being usually undertaken in ad-hoc fashion. Key institutions in Africa and outside should work together to identify research frontiers that advance Africa's development and urge to implement them.

The second plenary and roundtable discussions were on sub-theme 2 (sustainable energy access for all Africans by 2030). The role of oil, gas and renewable energy sources such as hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and bio energy in the energy mix of African countries were the first focus areas of the sessions among others. Having talked over those topics, the conferees, as usual, forwarded various recommendations. It was proposed that governments should ensure an enabling policy environment and comprehensive policies that integrate the energy sector with other sectors. On the other hand, innovation was recommended to be very vital for effective technology policies, planning and the adoption of modern energy across Africa. The other suggestion forwarded was that research and policy communities should develop methods of monitoring and quantifying the impacts of strategies and projects on the livelihoods of local communities. Emphasis should be placed by governments on encouraging and developing capacities of local and regional research institutions. Government, civil society and private institutions are urged to work together for mainstreaming climate change into development projects.

On the last session, the conferees discussed on sub-theme 3 (outstanding Issues in Climate Negotiations: Relevance for Africa) and forwarded several recommendations. Negotiators, practitioners and researchers were urged to further_strengthen the role of science in the negotiations process while recognizing that this process cannot be based solely on science. On the other hand, developed countries were needed to set the right carbon price which will in turn_encourage_investment in mitigation activities and commit new and additional finance to the established mechanisms.

Yes, it may be illogical to counter argue on those deeds because, leaders should come together to discuss and reach consensus on communal agendas that affect all creatures indiscriminately. As the saying goes 'Dialogue is the oxygen of change' .

However, leaders and other stakeholders should at the same time be able to back up every decision on global warming with action. How many policy makers might have really incorporated these subjects in their policies and put them in to practice.

It is not how much one wishes or talks that counts, but how much he makes it practical.

Copyright © 2012 Ethiopian Press Agency. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.