European private sector notably absent at Africa Adaptation Summit

By Anne-Marie Bissada
Posted on Monday, 5 September 2022 20:01, updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2022 17:01

Attendees from the Africa Adaptation Summit on 5 September 2022 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (TAR/Anne-Marie Bissada)

Ahead of this November's COP27 in Egypt, African heads of state and other global leaders on 5 September held the Africa Adaptation Summit to ensure money flows to Africa for climate adaptation projects. The summit concluded with $55m in funding earmarked for African adaptation — a far cry from the goal of $25bn.

“I can’t help but notice with some bitterness the absence of some industrial leaders. They are the main polluters on this planet, and they are the ones who should be financing these changes,” Senegalese President Macky Sall, this year’s chair of the African Union (AU), said in opening remarks at the summit.

“This leaves a bad taste in our mouths,” Sall added. “I am a bit disappointed to be honest.”

Top officials convening at the one-day event at the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam, Netherlands, also included Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Congolese leader Félix Tshisekedi, World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and the Chair of the AU Commission  Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Sall reiterated that regardless of the amount of funding, climate adaptation must leave African countries in control over their own resources.

Mahmoud Mohieldin, the UN climate change high-level champion for Egypt, also stressed that the funding should not be in the form of debt, but rather “concessional.”

“It should be in the form of grants, long-term investments supported by knowhow and technical assistance,” he said. “And then the last resort should be long-term concessional finance in the form of borrowing.”

‘Litmus test for COP27’

The Africa Adaptation Summit is a joint initiative between the Global Center on Adaptation and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Together, they were hoping to mobilise $25bn in funding in the next five years from the summit. In the end they were far from their mark with a total of $55m. The funding pledged are in accordance with the Africa Acceleration Adaptation Programme (AAAP), an African-led initiative put in place at last year’s COP26.

The breakdown is as follows for funding over the next five years:

  • UK: $23m
  • Norway: $15m
  • France: $10m (in the next two years)
  • Denmark: $7m

Summit host Patrick Verkooijen, the CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, noted the outcome of the summit would be a “litmus test for Sharm el-Sheikh”: Will there be money on the table come COP27 in November for Africa to execute its Africa Acceleration Adaptation Programme?

“They passed the test”, he told The Africa Report. African states will go to COP27 with some funding.

“Am I optimistic? No. Am I discouraged? No.”

On the morning of the summit on Monday, Mohieldin told The Africa Report that Africa is far behind where it needs to be in terms of funding for climate adaptation.

“What we’re receiving today is less than 1/7th of what is required. So we need to multiply the figure that we have today, which is ranging between $10bn to $12bn, and multiply it by a factor of seven per year,” to achieve adequate funds to put in place projects of adaptation across Africa.

‘The private sector should step up’

Sall noted in his opening remarks that the majority of leaders from the private sector were absent from the summit. Other dignitaries echoed the sentiment.

“Those who should be among us are not,” said AU head Mahamat.

We need a mix. Senegal has 31% of renewable energy. If we could use fossil fuel, we could reduce the cost of energy.

“The private sector should step up,” agreed Feike Sijbesma, the GCA co-chairman and former CEO of Dutch chemicals mulinational Royal DSM.

Without financing, adaptation projects to help African countries cope with climate change cannot go forward. These include projects such as retrofitting refineries or exploiting gas reserves, necessary steps to allow Africa to keep developing while minimising emissions.

“Africa is facing the 3 Cs: Covid, Climate, Conflict. The solution is the 3 Fs: Finance, finance, finance,” said AfDB President Adesina.

Sall added that Africa needs “basic energy that helps us to support our economies. We cannot leave Africa to have only renewable energy. No country has managed to develop with only renewable. We need to have a baseload to have cheap and competitive energy.”

He added: “We need a mix. Senegal has 31% of renewable energy. If we could use fossil fuel, we could reduce the cost of energy.”

Finance won’t work without trade

Just ahead of the summit, the World Trade Organization and the GCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to leverage the connection between trade and adaptation action in countries particularly vulnerable to climate change.

“I want to remind everyone that finance is crucial,” said the WTO’s Okonjo-Iweala. “But during the pandemic when we had the money, many countries had the money, Africa [also] put money, but we couldn’t the get vaccines when we needed it. Why? Because [of] the wrong trade policies.”

Africa is unstoppable when unlocking its full potential.

She added that while people often jump to conclude that trade is part of the problem, the MoUs will demonstrate how trade can be part of the solution.

“Once we mobilise this money, we are not stopped from using it because of the wrong polices,” she said.

Africa only contributes to 3%-4% of the global output of emissions. 80% of emissions come from G20 countries.

Putting money into Africa is not only ensuring the continent can safeguard itself against the deluge of climate change brought on by the North, but it’s also to ensure that their efforts to mitigate the crisis involves everyone.

“Africa is unstoppable when unlocking its full potential,” said Verkooijen. “That is the breakthrough we are striving for at COP27.”

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