COP26: Africa must finance its adaptation, $100 billion commitment or not, experts say

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Africa must have a comprehensive approach to climate resilience beyond adaptation financing, regardless of foreign contributions, experts said during a session titled “Adaptation Financing for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)”. The session, held on Monday on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow, was dedicated to the implementation of NDCs in East Africa.

The African Development Bank, German political think-tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) jointly convened the event.

In his opening remarks, Anthony Nyong, Africa Director of the Global Center on Adaptation, said finance was not the only requirement for implementing Nationally Determined Contributions in Africa. “It takes much more than just money to implement NDCs,” he said, noting that “we need a revolution in knowledge, proper planning and finances.”

Nyong added that Africans cannot implement NDCs without recognizing it as a developmental challenge. “We abound with adaptation solutions; what we need is scale and speed. These solutions will largely be driven by the private sector and, armed with this knowledge, we will increase implementation of the NDCs through the private sector,” he stated.

Jean-Paul Adam, Director of Climate Change and Natural Resources at UNECA, said there was a need to think of innovations that allow Africans to mobilize financing whether they have access to the $100 billion pledged by rich countries for climate action or not. The funding was due from 2020 but that date was pushed back to 2023 at COP26.

“We need to empower African countries so that they can make a difference by themselves and they can utilize different instruments to raise additional financing, recognizing that the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the fiscal revenues of African countries,” Adam said.

“We must also look at ways in which the private sector can be engaged, one of the main areas being to facilitate the issuance of green bonds in the continent,” he said, noting that Africa currently represents less than 1% of the global green bonds issuances.

Olufunso Somorin, Principal Regional Officer, Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank in East Africa, emphasized the need for wider financing for adaptation aside from concessional loans and grants. These, he said, would include equity investments from the private sector or blended finance, using grants and equity, among others.

Making a case for the national adaptation finance framework, Somorin pointed out that most reports on adaptation financing underplayed the role of domestic resources. “We need a financing framework that can capture that clearly,” he said.

The finance framework, he said, should also include a national register that is very clear about cost and detailed about projects, benefits, potential revenues and other details that any private sector investor can use to identify areas that may be of interest to them.

Somorin said launching the financing framework will vary from country to country, depending on existing policies. Some countries may have the national framework nested in an existing fund; others may require new institutional arrangements and some capacity building to implement the fund, he noted.

According to Anja Berretta, Africa Director for Energy and Climate Change at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, implementing NDCs is a national task despite being discussed at a global level.

She underscored the need to make the public aware of the difference between mitigation and adaptation with regard to climate finance. “Policy dialogue is important to strengthen the awareness that adaptation is crucial for countries,” she said.

The session sought to champion domestic resource mobilization to drive comprehensive adaptation financing in East Africa and build adequate climate change resilience.