Photo: ACP Secretary-General Dr Patrick I. Gomes at the first-ever United Nations Trade Forum, organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, Switzerland, from 9 to 13 September 2019. Credit: Timothy Sullivan (UNCTAD) - Photo: 2019

ACP Reiterates Call for Urgent Ambitious Climate Action

Viewpoint by Dr. Patrick I. Gomes

The writer is the Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). Following are extensive excerpts from his presentation at the United Nations Trade Forum from 9-13 September 2019 in the Session ‘Climate Action and Trade’ in Geneva.

GENEVA (IDN) – The ACP Group of States shares with the great majority of well-informed persons, globally, that climate change is the most significant challenge, this century, for the achievement of sustainable development on planet Earth.

The painful reality is that its adverse impacts are more severe in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. Droughts, desertification, hurricanes, floods, agricultural losses, reduced water resources and sea level rise are major concerns for the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of states. Many of these countries continue to face serious impacts on lives and livelihoods.

Harsh evidence of this has been the two deadly consecutive tropical cyclones that hit Southern Africa in March and April this year. Cyclone Idai in March and Cyclone Kenneth in April are considered as two of the top five worst storms to ever hit Mozambique. Cyclone Kenneth is on record as the strongest storm to hit the African continent. Together, they’ve caused an unprecedented amount of damage and devastated the lives of 2.2 million people and killing at least 700 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. (according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).) Cyclone Kenneth also caused significant damage in the Comoro Islands and Tanzania.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in Southern Africa. They had to be gathered in transit camps, with little or no access to clean drinking water or sanitation services, heightening the risk of water-borne diseases. The threat of a cholera epidemic is high with over 7,000 cholera cases reported in Mozambique so far.

[…] search and rescue operations continue, in face of the devastation caused by hurricane Dorian in Abaco and Grand Bahama of the Bahamas. More than 80,000 persons are homeless, in need of food and drinking water and more than 40 deaths, days ago. The strength, scale and scope of damage is unprecedented in the history of the Bahamas, says Prime Minister (Dr. the Hon. Hubert)  Minnis.

Such existential encounters reinforce, the Special Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of October 2018, which makes the case for urgent ambitious climate action to halve the amount of global CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by 2030; and to ensure that CO2 emissions reach net zero by 2050. (This requires rapid reductions in energy demand over the next two decades.) These are fundamental in order to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century.

(Another disturbing report says the Greenland Massive Ice Sheet may have melted by a record amount this year and sea levels could rise up to four metres world-wide.)

In this global context, the ACP Group is committed to supporting member states address the causes of climate change by their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the impacts of climate change by the implementation of both adaptation and mitigation actions.

Our main efforts are through – the Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA)+ Programme of 70 million euros over 4 years.

The programme   provides technical assistance and capacity building to ACP countries and regions to build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change while at the same time contributing to efforts at the regional and national levels to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Specifically, the focus is on supporting national commitments towards low carbon economies by their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

As you may be aware, countries are to revise or update their NDCs in 2020. This is an opportunity to increase ambition in view of keeping the global temperature to below 1.5°C.

Under the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme, the Climate Support Facility (CSF) provides demand-driven, short-term technical assistance and training on climate change to ACP regional organisations and countries.

In this effort, the ACP Group has reviewed all 79 NDCs of its Member States. The findings show that ACP countries will need at least USD 2,317 billion, as well as support on capacity building and technology transfer, to implement their NDCs and address both mitigation and adaptation challenges.

 (Furthermore, the CSF has provided demand-driven technical assistance and capacity building to support several ACP countries to plan and implement climate actions.)

In the strategic choices guiding our efforts, the ACP has focused on three (3) inter-related and mutually reinforcing levels of action: governance; investment and financing; and productive sectors and livelihoods.  Now some examples!

For example, the CSF supported Cote d’Ivoire in establishing a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for climate action to create a favourable environment for investment in adaptation and mitigation. The CSF also supported Cote d’Ivoire in carrying out a feasibility study to determine the precise mandates and competences of the National Climate Agency and a National Climate Fund. The Agency and Climate Fund will be mechanisms to help the country channel funding towards low-emission and climate resilient investment, necessary to implement its NDC.

In Cote d’Ivoire, support was also provided to strengthen the capacity of Ivorian civil society to mobilize climate finance and develop a climate change adaptation project proposal to be submitted to a climate finance source, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

In Namibia, assistance from the CSF helped the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources develop Climate Adaptive Fish Farm Management Plans. In addition, climate adaptive aquaculture project proposals on integrated aquaculture were developed to provide solutions for food security and income generation of the rural poor (by introducing for example, species tolerant of the changing climate and the combination of ground water with crops and fish production).

Moreover, national technical institutions in Namibia were enabled to design and deliver high-quality and effective forward-looking aquaculture and fisheries training programmes to help local fishers and fish farmers face reduced precipitations and increased temperatures which bring modifications to ecosystems and their productivity.   

In Benin the CSF is supporting the Government in the development of an action plan for the implementation of its Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Development Strategy. Support was also provided to prepare three concept notes to be submitted to climate funding sources such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

These concept notes will allow the Government to undertake actions in its NDC, such as: (strengthening the resilience of communities and agricultural sectors; and) construction of a multi-purpose dam, to increase water storage and supply capacity for irrigation, industry and human consumption, combined with other uses such as flood control and power generation. One of these is focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Reduced Emissions from forest Deforestation & Degradation

In Tanzania the CSF has supported local communities in Pemba island to develop enterprise solutions to climate change vulnerability, by means of:

  • a Gender-responsive business development curriculum to support local spice producers developing climate-smart businesses with specific attention paid to empowering women; and secondly,
  • a Climate Smart Marketing strategy to increase the potential of Spice Agroforestry and the Spice Industry of Pemba

This initiative supported the efforts carried out by local communities to adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through community-based afforestation and reforestation as well as low-carbon land use techniques such as agroforestry. These techniques improve soil management, avoiding soil erosion and degradation, while maintaining food production and increasing crop quality.

In the Caribbean, the CSF supported the Commission of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in training (36) instructors (including engineers, fisheries managers and NGO workers) in disaster and environmental management, identifying and analysing the links between ecosystems, disaster risk reduction, resilience and climate change. This initiative also looked at mainstreaming eco-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation (DDR/CCA) into development policies, plans and strategies.  

In the Pacific, the CSF worked with Samoa to develop a pilot project to sell solar-powered water purification, as part of a business proposal to involve Samoa’s private sector in climate adaptation. The project’s solar water purification systems distil polluted or contaminated water (including salt water) using sunlight. This project addressed the steady reduction in potable ground water, water supply for coastal, rural and isolated communities and a sustainable reduction in the cost or potable water available to urban communities.

With these few highlights I wish to assure you that the ACP Group will continue to place high importance on working with its member states to address the impacts of climate change… both mitigation and adaptation.

The examples mentioned are all aimed supporting the SDGs, in an holistic manner for cumulative impact, but particularly Goals 13 (climate change), Goal 15 (biodiversity) and Goal 17 (means of implementation and global partnership).

We are indeed honoured to be working with a range of partners including United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); negotiating groups (such as the Alliance of Small Island States – AOSIS, the African Group of Negotiators – AGN, and the Least Developed Countries Group – LDC); the European Union, the private sector and civil society, as we strive to advance and deepen the dialogue and advocacy on climate change.

We sincerely hope that other partners will join forces to increase the ambition and support common efforts to ensure that we meet the global temperature goal of well below 1.5°C for the survival of our planet and people, for present and future generations. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 September 2019]

Photo: ACP Secretary-General Dr Patrick I. Gomes at the first-ever United Nations Trade Forum, organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, Switzerland, from 9 to 13 September 2019. Credit: Timothy Sullivan (UNCTAD)

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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