African leaders demand action on ‘broken promises’ at climate adaptation summit

African and international leaders gathered in Rotterdam this week to call on industrialized countries to deliver on their promises and fund the continent’s climate adaptation.

The African Adaptation Summit is being held in preparation for COP27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt in November.

“Rotterdam is a test for Sharm-el-Sheikh. Are we going to talk as usual or really mobilize funding? This is what would give us hope for COP27,” said the President of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union, Macky Sall.

Africa knows its needs but needs funding

In Rotterdam, African Leaders presented climate adaptation initiatives that require co-funding from industrialized countries. The flagship action is the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).

With the endorsement of African AAAP leaders, it is the largest adaptation program to date and, in the words of Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, it could be a game-changer for the continent.

The program aims to scale up adaptation in four areas: agriculture and food security; resilient infrastructure; youth empowerment; and innovative financing initiatives.

A plan at this level requires finance around 25 billion dollars (25 billion euros) until 2025.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is mobilizing half of this amount and leaders are calling on industrialized countries to keep the rest in line with their long-standing promises.

“This is the biggest global adaptation effort ever,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said, “but we need the money.”

“The AfDB put 12.5 billion dollars (12.6 billion euros) out of 25 billion dollars, so we weren’t begging. We say that we did not cause the problemwe come to the conversation with a good heart and great commitment, so join us halfway.”

The pledge to fund climate adaptation for developing countries has been in place since 2009. At COP15 in Copenhagen, developed nations pledged to jointly mobilize 100 billion dollars (nearly 101 billion euros) per year by 2020 to meet the climate needs of developing countries.

This amount was never realized. At COP21 in Paris, alongside the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, countries extended their target to 2025.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, signed last year in COP26urged developed countries to “at least double” their collective climate finance for adaptation. However, the annual funding gap is likely to reach $41.3 billion (€41.6 billion) by 2030 according to the Global Center on Adaptation.

Africa has a “debt of broken promises”

Despite the magnitude of the existing and declared solutions, a sense of disappointment pervaded the African Adaptation Summit.

Participants criticized the speed at which financial and climate pledges were being delivered.

UN Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed warned that “the Glasgow Pact is in danger of failing” and stressed that emissions are only increasing despite the Paris Agreement.

Yet African leaders mostly regretted that key decision makers – leaders from the developed world and the private sector – were not present.

“The biggest polluters would have immediate answers for us,” DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said.

Mohammed added that “what is now in danger is that you add another debt to Africa – one of solidarity and one of broken promises.”

Of the leaders of industrialized countries, only Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans attended the summit in person.

Traditional donor countries, such as Francethe UK or Norway, sent their international development ministers as representatives. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sent a pre-recorded statement.

In total, donors announced €55 million in new contributions: €23 million from the UK, €15 million from Norway, €10 million from France and €7 million from Denmark.

African leaders welcomed the contributions and stressed that African unity cannot go unnoticed.

“I’m convinced that [those who are not here] will hear about the importance of this event,” said President Tshisekedi.

GCA chief Patrick Verkooijen expressed the need for “a much deeper conversation with the private sector on how we can bring them to the table” ahead of COP27.

Climate justice in the face of the cost of living crisis

Participants spoke in unison about Africathe continent’s heightened vulnerability to climate change – despite the continent’s tiny contributions to the crisis.

AfDB’s Adesina pointed out that although Africa has emitted less than 3% of historical global emissions, 9 out of 12 countries most vulnerable to climate change are on the mainland. This inequality is the basis of the claims of African countries.

Beyond climate justice, leaders highlighted the benefits of timely adaptation efforts.

Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, pointed out that “paying for climate adaptation is cheaper than paying the bills every time there is a climate catastrophe”.

Adesina of the AfDB and Timmermans of the EU also mentioned the “self-interest” of industrialized countries. Ensuring that Africa remains habitable, for example, prevents a climate migration.

Yet the leaders remained keenly aware of how the increasingly difficult living situation across the globe may jeopardize their efforts.

President Akufo-Addo warned that “climate action must not become another casualty of our complex geopolitical circumstances.”

There are only four meetings left before COP27 in November, including a pre-COP in Kinshasa, DRC. African leaders will continue to push for climate adaptation financing by demanding action rather than words and mobilizing actors currently absent.

“None of us here are naïve,” said Verkooijen of GCA.

“We realize that there is a Ukrainian conflictinflation is up, energy and food prices are up, and that we are still recovering from COVID. »

“But at the same time, all of us at the top realize that we can only grow and develop in a green and prosperous way if we take climate change into account.”