Nairobi — The 7th Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA - VII) opened in Nairobi Wednesday with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) pledging to continue working together to make Africa's development sustainable, inclusive and climate-resilient.
Speakers from the pan-African institutions said they will continue to work with member States, partners and stakeholders in their efforts to influence, strengthen and enable the transition to climate-resilient development in Africa through responsive policies, plans and programmes focusing on building transformed economies and healthy ecosystems on the continent.
Mr. James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the Economic Commission for Africa's African Climate Policy Center (ACPC), said the urgency to achieve a low carbon climate-resilient economy was even greater now following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report.
The report warns that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C beyond which even half a degree would significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for millions across the globe.
But it is not all doom and gloom, he said, as the report concludes that 'anthropogenic emissions up to the present are unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades or on a century time scale'.
"This means that there is a chance for a stable climate system which will allow for sustainable development but only if we do manage to halt emissions in the projected time frame," said Mr. Murombedzi.
"The world is therefore faced with two challenges. The first to halt emissions and to have an organized transition to a carbon neutral future in the shortest time possible. And the second to restructure our economies to ensure sustainable development without further emissions."
He said it has been demonstrated that in addressing these challenges, there were opportunities to be harnessed.
For his part, James Kinyangi of the AfDB and the ClimDev Fund, said the Bank's Climate Action Change Plan for the period 2016-2020 was ambitious. It explores modalities for achieving adaptation, the adequacy and effectiveness of climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer - building skills so African economies can realize their full potential for adaptation in high technology sectors.
Under this plan, the Bank, which hosts the ClimDev Africa Special Fund, will nearly triple its annual climate financing to reach $5 billion a year by 2020.
Mr. Kinyangu reiterated the Bank's commitment to continue to work with African countries and its partners to deepen partnerships and investments that help address the impacts of climate change.
For her part, the representative of the AUC's Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner, Ms. Olushola Olayide, said that the AUC was working with its partners to enhance the application of climate information services for building resilience on the continent.
"The main aim is to strengthen the knowledge framework and foster partnerships between government institutions, the private sector, civil society and vulnerable communities for climate informed decisions," she said.
Mr. Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), said civil society organizations were seeking collaboration with governments on the continent and stood ready to offer support as Africa seeks homegrown ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.
He warned that the rise of 'the inward-looking nationalist right-wing movement and climate deniers' in the West was a signal of hardening positions in potential inaction by those largely responsible for the world's climate problems.
"Our leaders who hold the key for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement should remain candidly focused and resist attempts to scatter the unified African voice to deny Africa a strong bargain in the design of the Paris rulebook," said Mr. Mwenda.
About 700 participants, including researchers, policy makers, parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of multilateral development banks, intergovernmental agencies, development partners, academia, private sector, civil society, the youth, women and the media, are attending the conference under the theme; "Policies and actions for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement for resilient economies in Africa."
The CCDA is an initiative of the ClimDev-Africa initiative, a tripartite programme of the AUC, the AfDB and ECA. It was conceived as a physical dialogue place to promote interaction between science and policy on issues related to the climate change-development nexus.