Africa needs substantially scaled-up finance, technology and capacity-building to combat climate change

Six Months before the Crucial Negotiations on Climate in Copenhagen, African Ministers Reach a Landmark Position on Climate in Nairobi

Nairobi, 29 May 2009 - Over thirty African Ministers of Environment have today attained a major milestone on the road for combating climate change on the continent.

The Nairobi Declaration adopted at the just ended Special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) on climate change highlights major challenges and opportunities in the negotiations for a more equitable climate regime.

The Declaration provides African countries with a platform to make a strong case for support at Copenhagen 2009.

African Ministers of the Environment have agreed to mainstream climate change adaptation measures into national and regional development plans, policies and strategies.

In doing so, they will aim to ensure adequate adaptation to climate change in the areas of water resources, agriculture, health, infrastructure, biodiversity and ecosystems, forest, urban management, tourism, food and energy security and management of costal and marine resources.

Buyelwa Sonjica, President of AMCEN and Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in South Africa, said, "It is clear to me that as a continent Africa has needs that managing climate change and the environment have to speak to. I am heartened by the progress made by the negotiators and the political will shown by the presence of the ministers".

She added, "Africa looks at all aspects seriously with adaptation taking a special place. I am excited to be part of this very auspicious group. AMCEN being a specialized technical committee of the African Union shows the seriousness with which Africa looks at this issue".

The Declaration urges all parties ? and particularly the international community ? that increased support to Africa should be based on the priorities for Africa, which include adaptation, capacity-building, financing and technology development and transfer.

The priority of African countries is to implement climate change programmes in a way that helps achieve sustainable development, particularly in terms of alleviating poverty and attaining the Millennium development Goals, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable such as women and children who are bearing the brunt of the impact today.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP which hosts the AMCEN secretariat, said: "Africa's environment ministers have today signaled their resolve to be part of the solution to the climate change challenge by forging a unified position, within their diversity of economies, in advance of the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in just 192 days time".

"The development prize for Africa is an acceleration of clean and renewable energy projects and payments for carbon-storing ecosystems from forests up to eventually perhaps dryland soils, grasslands and sustainable agriculture. Africa has today shouldered its domestic and global responsibilities. It is now time for other Continents and countries, especially the developed economies, to now seriously shoulder theirs," he said.

The Ministers have agreed that the key political messages from Africa to inform the global debate and negotiation process should be based on the established principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

The African position stems from the fact that Africa has the lowest per capita emissions, and yet it is bearing the highest impact of climate change ? with projections showing that by 2020, in some African countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent. During the same time frame, between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change.

Africa's major economic sectors are vulnerable to current climate sensitivity, with huge economic impacts, and this vulnerability is exacerbated by existing developmental challenges such as endemic poverty, complex governance and institutional dimensions; limited access to capital, including markets, infrastructure and technology; ecosystem degradation; and multifaceted disasters and conflicts. These in turn have contributed to Africa's weak adaptive capacity, increasing the continent's vulnerability to projected climate change.

Adaptation therefore emerges as the most immediate priority. Since the Kyoto Protocol was drawn up, there has been some progress in acknowledging the need to support adaptation in developing countries. However, most of the work remains to be done, particularly with the cost of adaptation in Africa estimated between $1 billion ? $50 billion per year.

As existing financial mechanisms have proven inadequate, complex and fragmented, African countries have not yet been able to gain full access to these resources. The Declaration highlights the need for a coherent financial architecture for climate change, with equitable governance and simplified access procedures.

In this regard, African Ministers are advocating for the improvement and modification of the Clean Development Mechanism in order to ensure equitable geographical distribution of projects that contribute to sustainable development efforts on the continent. They are also calling for the expansion of eligible categories to benefit from carbon credits and other international incentives to include sustainable land use, agriculture and forest management, in order to promote agricultural productivity in a way that improves resilience and adaptation to climate change.

African Ministers also recommend that the Group of Eight implement the recommendation to create a regional climate centre in Africa for the improvement of climate risk management and the implementation of the regional strategy for disaster-risk reduction.

Africa also calls upon developed countries to set ambitious targets to reduce their emissions by 2020, towards the upper end of the 25-40 per cent range below 1990 levels in order to achieve a significant reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Africa should move towards low-carbon development, particularly as the effective implementation of mitigation measures will offer opportunities for Africa to increase its economic competitiveness along a sustainable path of low-carbon development.

In order to ensure an effective African response to climate change, the Nairobi Declaration calls for the involvement in climate strategies of women, youth and people with disabilities, as well as the private sector and civil society organizations, particularly in the areas of education and awareness-raising and capacity building.

Note to editors:

The Special session on Climate change gathered about 300 Africa negotiators, high level experts, civil society organizations and Ministers in Nairobi, with the view work towards a shared vision for Africa on climate change and to develop a common and informed voice for the continent in Copenhagen (Denmark) and to advance the continent's interests in negotiations for the climate regime beyond 2012.

Africa's common negotiating position on a comprehensive international climate change regime beyond 2012, in addition to the conceptual framework on African climate change programmes, will be submitted for consideration and adoption by the Heads of State at their summit in July 2009.

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