Africa is especially vulnerable to climate change. Although continent-wide plans to combat its impacts emerged only recently, some visionary African leaders have produced innovative lower-carbon country strategies, providing a platform for decision-makers to turn complex problems into opportunities.
With pragmatic contributions from key African delegations, Durban launched a process involving all countries in moving towards a new legal framework by 2015 (for implementation from 2020) and a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. There were efforts to help Africa, including streamlining Clean Development Mechanism procedures. While funding remains to be designed and identified for many key initiatives, these were given the green light for further refinement or implementation (Technology Mechanism, Green Climate Fund, REDD+).
African interests lie in international follow-up and energetic domestic action, working multilaterally to ensure all parties to Durban keep to their commitments and – regionally and domestically – prioritizing climate change considerations through appropriate planning frameworks and projects.
Heads of state and finance, environment and planning ministers can lead by example, mainstreaming climate change considerations into continental, national and sub-national decision making, while producing and implementing programmes for inclusive climate-resilient green growth. These include:
- planning for lower-carbon growth models (including in hydrocarbons sectors), investing in renewable energy (hydro, geo-thermal, solar, wind) with policy frameworks that encourage private-sector and development partners while respecting the interests of local communities; - adapting to sustainable climate-resilient (and smart) agriculture and water management for 'green' markets; - preventing deforestation and forest degradation; attracting new low-carbon green industries, leapfrogging technology, helped by new innovative climate finance and support from developed and emerging nations, while retrofitting existing mines and industries; and - taking measures to address disaster risk within economic and fiscal policy, and in sector-based economic and land-use planning.
African leadership, 'ownership' at all levels and genuine partnership are needed if initiatives are to be truly effective and sustainable.