On the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18), underway from November 26 to December 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said that African countries should build or reinforce their capacities to use efficiently green climate funds when they become available. The statement was made by AfDB Vice-President Aly Abou-Sabaa at a high-level panel discussion on "Financing Climate Change: Africa's Access to Convention Funds". The meeting brought together African government officials, representatives of development institutions and key players in the global climate finance community to discuss the prospects and challenges to Africa's access to climate finances.
The ways and means to address Africa's challenges on the issue was also one of the key talking points of the intervention by Abou-Sabaa. In his view, with adequate resources and continued support from the international community, Africa can do much more to address its climate change threats as it strives to build a resilient African economy. "We have an obligation to work collectively to build together what is needed to immediately access funds," Abou-Sabaa said.
Among the challenges the continent faces, adaptation financing is the priority, said Therezya Huvisa, Tanzanian Minister of Environment and Chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). Africa's partners, such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), are already providing support, as Saliba Dobarzic from the GEF pointed out. "The GEF has still invested $200 million in Africa with $64 million specifically for water, health and disaster risk in collaboration with the African Development Bank," she said.
Daouda Ndiaye of the Adaptation Fund emphasized the need to share knowledge and use the scarce resources available in the best way possible. Ndiaye felt that the fiduciary standards by adaptation boards were accessible and allowed institutions to get accredited, and the process was a very positive experience and worth the time. "It gives countries the ability to formulate a strategy and lay out its procedures and allows for better absorption capacity," said Ndiaye.
European Commission Director General Jos Delbeke emphasized that the work ahead is going to help Africa improve its rate of absorption capacity: "Performance-based systems are at the heart of accessing convention funds," said Delbeke, adding that the European Commission is engaging with the Green Climate Fund. However, he warned against the danger of the Green Climate Fund becoming yet another institution that would add another administrative layer and eat up financial resources.
For Fatima Denton of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the main focus should not be only about accessing the funds, but how African countries would actually use them.
Anthony Ngoye of the African Development Bank informed the audience that the AfDB had committed to spending US $6.4 billion in Africa over five years, focusing on climate resilience and green growth. He also highlighted the Bank's commitment to increase African countries' ability to access the green climate funds as well as other funds for climate change.
In conclusion, Abou-Sabaa recognized that the greatest challenge was to agree upon priority actions to help Africa prepare itself to receive and effectively use green climate funds when they become available. He expressed hope that the negotiations during COP18 would provide concrete outcomes for medium- and long-term finance issues. In the meantime, he added, partners should work collectively to build the capacities of African countries.
Financing climate change is a major concern for Africa in its quest for sustainable development and in transitioning to a green economy. A recent study by the AfDB estimated adaptation costs in Africa in the range of US $20-30 billion per annum over the next 10 to 20 years. In addition, the costs of putting Africa on a low-carbon growth path could reach US $9-12 billion per year by 2015. The funding that is currently delivered to the continent is far from meeting these needs.
Efforts from the international community and African countries to improve access to climate finance in Africa have yielded significant results in recent years. However, the current flows remain insufficient to meet Africa's actual needs. To date, Africa has not received financial resources for climate finance from its multilateral and bilateral development partners that are in any way commensurate with likely future needs. It is estimated that Africa received only US $435 million of multilateral climate finance in 2009/10, a mere four per cent of the total of such flows.
Climate flows from bilateral development partners have traditionally been more important in Africa. Dedicated climate funds are increasingly placing more emphasis on supporting African countries.
Such funds have approved about US $2.9 billion of climate finance to Africa. While this is low in absolute terms, they tend to be more supportive of Africa, particularly for adaptation.
The current split between funding for mitigation and adaptation (95%: 5%) contrasts with the estimates of costs. This is particularly problematic in Africa where adaptation needs are already manifesting and where local or national capacity to adapt is limited.
Overall, African countries, particularly the least developed ones, face certain challenges at each stage of climate finance delivery. These have to be considered and dealt with in any new mechanism, particularly those under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in order to enhance the effectiveness, equity and accessibility to funding by African countries.