First conference on climate change and development in Africa underway in Addis Ababa

Report
from UN Economic Commission for Africa
Published on 17 Oct 2011 View Original

ECA Press Release No. 126/2011

Addis Ababa, 17 October 2011 (ECA) - The UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, has reiterated his support for adaptation as Africa’s foremost strategy to tackle the multiple effects of climate change on the continent.

Addressing the opening session of the first annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-I) which opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning, Mr Janneh said that adaptation is not just one of the options for Africa, it is an obligation, given the formidable challenge that the phenomenon poses to Africa, it is a matter of survival for millions of rural Africans.

“That is why African leaders have said repeatedly that for Africa, adaptation is an existentialist issue and a serious cause for concern. Adaptation offers the chance to manage, spread risk and enhance choices, thereby contributing to sustainable development whilst dealing with social, economic and security threats posed by climate change”, he explained.

He however cautioned that “adaptation without rapid cuts in emissions to maintain global warming at its lowest possible level, would be futile”, according to the information and communication service of the ECA.

The three-day conference is expected to provide a forum for dialogue, awareness raising so as to mobilize effective commitment and actions on climate change by African stakeholders. It is organized by ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and UNECA, within the framework of ClimDev Africa programme.

By bringing together policy makers, academics and practitioners, the conference aims to come out with concrete proposals on how to integrate climate change concerns into existing and future development policies, strategies, programmes and practices in Africa.

The theme of the conference is “Development First: Addressing Climate Change in Africa”, and it is deliberately chosen to highlight the need to put development at the centre of all climate change-related research, practice and policy.

The Conference comprises plenary sessions with keynote presentations on the broad subject of green economy in the context of sustainable development, followed by several parallel sessions. These sessions are complemented by plenary sessions that will inform the debates around the Conference theme.

The parallel sessions will provide an opportunity for the presentation of papers related to the Conference theme, with particular focus on the following sub themes:- (i) Climate Science, Data, Information and Service Delivery; (ii) Climate Resilience Development and Adaptation; (iii) Low Carbon Development in Africa and (iv) Economics and Finance.

Initially planned for about 300 participants, some 700 people attended the opening session of the conference. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director General of TERI and Chair of Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, officially opened the conference.

Shortly after the opening session, the conference embarked on a two-hour high-level dialogue that saw policymakers, scientists and practitioners lurk horns on the theme of the conference. Panellists included Hon. Henri Djombo, Minister, Republic of Congo; H.E. Ms Jennifer Webster, Minister, Ministry of Finance, Guyana; Dr Tewoldeberhan Gebre-Egziabher, Director General, Ethiopian Environmental Planning Authority; Mrs. Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Change Commissioner and Dr. R.K. Pachauri, DG TERI and Chair of the IPCC.

All speakers expressed optimism as to the outcomes of the conference, calling it a good start for the African Climate Policy Centre.

Some 30 media practitioners from all the five sub regions of Africa and the Diaspora are covering the event. They also plan to nurture working relationships and deepen their understanding of the challenges posed by climate change and how Africa is coping with its impacts.

A press conference has been called on 19 October 2011 to the end of conference.

Issued by:

ECA Information and Communication Service
P.O. Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia

Tel: 251 11 5445098
Fax: +251-11-551 03 65
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org
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