ADISS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - The African civil society under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has constituted new Board of Directors that will align the roadmap for climate justice agenda for the next three years.

During  PACJA General Congress in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the 2023 Africa Union Summit, members from over 50 African countries came together to set out the blue print for a more engaging climate action in the aftermath of the 27th round of climate negotiations in Egypt. The 2023 general congress was held under the theme, “accountability and stock taking.”

According to the Executive Director of PACJA Dr Mithika Mwenda, Africa is the most impacted by climate change but the least responsible and informed.

“We need to empower our local communities both with the resources and right knowledge to enable them better fight climate change” said Mithika.

Climate change accordingly impacts vulnerable communities in Africa in particular and the world at large such as smallholder producers, indigenous people, women, children, youth, many of whom live in fragile ecosystems and rely on natural resources for their livelihood.

Experts agree that the combined impact of the climate crisis, COVID 19, deepening debt burden, Russia-Ukraine war and skyrocketing food and energy prices, resulting into increased cost of living for millions of people across the globe, especially those at the frontline of climate change impacts, necessitates urgent concerted action both at grass root and international levels.

It is against this backdrop that PACJA and its partners are calling for collective efforts and the needed resources to drive innovative actions of the ground.

Dr Mithika lauded the multiple partners that have stood by the strong civil society movement in the African continent to push the various stakeholders to action in addressing climate change.

“Our actions cannot be successful without the support of these donor institutions and we are calling on all to come on board so that we can better strengthen our engagements” Mithika said.

 It should be recalled that the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwumi Adesina reiterated on the power of civil society organizations last year in a climate conference in Ivory Coast, harping on their contribution in pushing the Bank’s effort to build the continent’s resilience to climate change.

“We will need civil society organizations, to strongly advocate for and support the 16th replenishment of Fund, as it holds great promise for supporting the most vulnerable in the face of climate change devastation,” the Bank chief said at the climate forum.

One of the actions driven very powerfully in the African continent as pathways to address climate change crisis is the embrace of renewable energy. PACJA says one of its strategic initiatives in the climate change drive is ensuring a people-centered energy transition in Africa through civil society engagement.

 According to Dr Augustine Njamnshi, coordinator of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access, ACSEA renewable energy has to be put at the center of all climate change actions.

“The ACSEA project aims to strengthen civil society’s role in promoting and implementing sustainable energy transition initiatives including renewable NDCs in Africa, influence renewable energy policy development at domestic, national and global levels” Njamnshi said.

PACJA new Board Chair Najwa Bourawi from Tunisia also emphasized on the need for a sustainable energy transition in Africa for the continent to meet its needs for socio-economic development.

“The time is critical. We must act quickly in the renewable energy transition to address the shocks of climate change that are affecting the African people,” Najwa said.

The General Congress also saw the election of members to head the executive council of PACJA and heads of different committees of the board of the organization for the next three years. These committees include the technical and political committee, the finance and administrative committee, the ethics and arbitration committee, the recruitment and credentials committee. Also elected to the continental committee was the Isaiah Esipisu, the Continental Coordinator for PAMACC.

                                                                 

LOME, Togo (PAMACC News) - The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a dual-currency Trade Finance Line of Credit for ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) comprising $50 million and EUR 50 million. An additional co-financing of $30 million for the credit line will come through the Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF) from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

EBID will use the three-and-a-half-year facility to provide direct financing to local corporates. Part of the facility will also be channelled through select local banks for on-lending to key sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and transport. The ultimate beneficiaries will be Small and Medium-sized Enterprises(SMEs), local enterprises cooperatives and farmers in the West Africa region.

Speaking soon after the Board approval, the Deputy Director General for the West Africa Region, Joseph Ribeiro noted that regional development finance institutions like EBID are key partners of the African Development Bank and serve markets and client segments critical to the overall development of the continent.

“They play an important role in promoting trade and regional integration. This is the Bank’s first financing support to EBID, and we look forward to an even stronger partnership in the near future,” he said.

The Bank’s Head of Trade Finance, Lamin Drammeh, stressed the critical need for such support in the region. “We are excited to work with EBID to increase access to trade finance in the ECOWAS region with a special focus on the agriculture value chain, SMEs and women-owned businesses”, he said. “Regional institutions like EBID complement the Bank’s efforts to bridge the trade finance gap in Africa and serve as an effective conduit for channeling much-needed funds to underserved countries and sectors”, he added.

The African Development Bank estimates the annual trade finance gap for Africa to be around $81 billion. Compared to multinational corporates and large local corporates, SMEs and other domestic firms have greater difficulty in accessing trade finance.

DIAMNIADIO, Senegal, (PAMACC News) - The African Development Bank Group will invest $10 billion over the next five years to boost Africa’s efforts to end hunger and become a global breadbasket.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Africa Food Summit in Diamniadio, Senegal, the Bank Group’s President Dr Akinwumi Adesina called on more than 34 heads of state, 70 government ministers, the private sector, farmers, development partners, and corporate executives present at the summit, to work out compacts that would deliver food and agriculture transformation at scale across Africa..

He encouraged them to take collective action to unlock the continent’s agricultural potential to become a global breadbasket.

The summit, also known as Dakar 2 – under the theme Feed Africa: food sovereignty and resilience—takes place amid supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More than a thousand delegates and dignitaries attended, including the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.

The government of Senegal and the African Development Bank Group are co-hosting the summit, eight years after the inaugural Dakar 1 summit where the then newly elected President Adesina announced the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy.

Opening the summit, President Sall—who is also the African Union chairperson—said the time had come for the continent to feed itself by adding value and stepping up the use of technology.

“From the farm to the plate, we need full food sovereignty, and we must increase land under cultivation and market access to enhance cross-border trade,” Sall said.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said the Dakar summit was timely and would provide innovative solutions to help Africa become less dependent on food imports.

“Food sovereignty should be our new weapon of freedom,” Mahamat said. Addressing the audience, he urged development partners to work together within existing structures, such as Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area, for sustainable transformation.

Mahamat commended the African Development Bank for rolling out transformative initiatives, including a $1.5 billion emergency food production facility in 2022 to help African countries avert a potential food crisis following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The President of Kenya, William Ruto, said, “It is a shame that 60 years after independence, we are gathered to talk about feeding ourselves. We can and we must do better.”

The African Development Bank Group chief said: “Today over 283 million Africans go to bed hungry every day. This is not acceptable. No mother should ever have to struggle with rumbling of the stomach of a hungry child.”

“We must raise the bar. We must raise our ambition. We must arise and say to ourselves: it is time to feed Africa. The timing is right, and the moment is now. Feed Africa; we must,” said Adesina.

The bank head urged the leaders to turn political will into decisive actions to deliver food security for Africa, “We must strongly support farmers, especially smallholder farmers, majority of whom are women, and get more young people into agriculture. And we must take agriculture as a business, not a development activity, and boost support to the private sector.”

President Higgins of Ireland said with Africa’s young population accounting for about 20% of the world’s young people, the continent had great potential. He said the rest of the world would look up to it in the future.

“Let us make this century Africa’s Century, one which will see the continent become free from hunger,” Higgins said.

In his message to the summit read on his behalf, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged that Africa was currently facing the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, as the Russia-Ukraine war had caused the price of fertilizers to shoot up and made their supply difficult. 

Guterres pledged the UN’s support to help Africa become a global food powerhouse.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said countries must offer more robust support for farmers, dedicate a chunk of the national budget to agriculture, and motivate youth and women to farm.

“Feeding Africa is imperative. We must ensure we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future,” Buhari said.

The Nigerian president commended Dr Adesina and the African Development Bank for rolling out special agro-industrial processing zones across the continent, including in Nigeria.

He said: “Special agro-industrial processing zones are game changers for the structural development of the agriculture sectors. They will help us generate wealth, develop integrated infrastructure around special agro-processing zones, and add value.”

During the three-day summit, private sector players are expected to commit to national food and agriculture delivery compacts, to drive policies, create structural reforms, and attract private sector investment.

Central bank governors and finance ministers are expected to develop financing arrangements to implement the food and agriculture delivery compacts, in conjunction with agriculture ministers, private sector players, commercial banks, financial institutions, and multilateral partners and organisations.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - For a period of three months leading to the 27th round of negotiations at the UN Conference of Parties on climate change, fossil fuel-linked entities spent close to $4 million on social media adverts, to promote key messages that belittled the fight against climate change, a new report has revealed.

 According to the report released on Thursday 19, the phrase ‘energy independence’ was most common and found verbatim in 1925 paid adverts on Meta’s Ad Library – a company that owns Facebook,  Instagram , Messenger and  WhatsApp among others, followed by ‘American energy’ (1558 adverts) between September and November when the UN climate summit took place in Egypt.

This came after the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had warned that “vested interests had generated rhetoric and misinformation that undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency.”

And now, the environment civil society and nongovernmental organisations particularly form Africa and Asia are even more worried because Sultan Al-Jaber, a pro fossil fuel enthusiast, who is the Chief Executive Officer for a globally leading Gas and Oil firm has already been appointed as the President-designate for the 28th round of climate negotiations (COP 28).

“This is the textbook definition of impunity and conflict of interest. Addressing the climate crisis requires deep cuts in the production and use of fossil fuels. That course of action is squarely at variance with Al-Jaber’s business interests,” said Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“You wouldn’t invite arm dealers to lead peace talks. So why let oil executives lead climate talks? Burning fossil fuels is the single largest cause of the climate crisis, and the single biggest threat to solving it,” said Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness – an international environmental non-governmental organisation.

Authors of the new report titled ‘Deny, Deceive, Delay’, which was spearheaded by the Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) are also faulting the social media providers for deliberately supporting climate misinformation and disinformation.

“During COP, Twitter’s search engine pushed #ClimateScam as a top result without any justification for the data behind it,” said Erika Seiber, climate disinformation spokesperson at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Until governments hold social media and ad companies accountable, and companies hold professional disinformers accountable, crucial conversations around the climate crisis are going to be put in jeopardy,” said Seiber, pointing out that Twitter should be held accountable to explain how the inexcusable climate denial trend came to be.

 During the climate negotiations, conspiracies surrounding the ‘Great Reset’ and ‘New World Order’ were rife, presenting climate action as part of a plot by ‘global elites’ to exert control and, conversely, claiming that climate change has been ‘engineered’ to destroy capitalism.

At the same time, the climate deniers framed negotiations around ‘Loss and Damage’ as an unfair transfer of wealth to the ‘developing world’, contrasting Loss and Damage to austerity measures and heating bills in the UK, where most high-traction attacks originated during the summit before spreading in the US and Australia. This content largely sidestepped any reference to climate impacts, instead focusing on the benefits of fossil fuels for ‘human flourishing’.

Another newer trend according to the report was ‘wokewashing’ – the adoption of ‘progressive’ rhetoric to oppose climate action. Such framing spanned a range of arguments, including that ‘green technologies’ such as Electric Vehicles are bad or even worse for the environment than fossil fuels, and that climate action constitutes a form of ‘Western Imperialism’ or ‘neo-colonialism’.

CAAD is now calling on the US government, EU, UN, IPCC and Big Tech companies to acknowledge the climate disinformation threat and take immediate steps to improve transparency and data access to quantify disinformation trends, to stop misleading fossil fuel advocacy in paid ad content, enforce policies against repeat offenders spreading disinformation on platforms, and to adopt a standardised and comprehensive definition of climate disinformation.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC ) - Ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders in Davos next week, Alvaro Lario, President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), warns of the urgent need to invest at speed and scale in long-term rural development to prevent recurring food crises and end hunger and poverty.

“We cannot continue to go from food crisis to food crisis. We should not have to see countries experiencing acute food insecurity over and over again. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We must take immediate and concrete actions to strengthen our failing food systems - this requires strong commitment and bold investment,” said Lario.

At Davos, Lario will be calling for a massive scale-up of investments in agriculture, and long-term rural development from governments, investors and private companies with the view to ensure nutritional security and food sovereignty, an issue that has become critical for developing countries. At least an additional US$30 billion per year in investments are needed according to pre-COVID19 estimates, now the costs are even higher.

“Only long-term investments in rural economies can provide long-lasting solutions to hunger, under-nutrition and poverty. This is what will enable small-scale farmers to increase local production, better adapt to climate change, build short and local food chains, build and sustain local markets and commercial opportunities, and create small rural businesses. This approach makes a lot of economic sense,” said the IFAD President.

According to World Bank research, growth in agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.

 

Today, the world is experiencing an unprecedented food crisis due to the convergence of high food, energy and fertilizer prices linked to the war in Ukraine, and several climate shocks. Key drivers of hunger remain conflict, climate change and the economic slowdown and difficult recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of people facing acute food insecurity soared - from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million in 2022. Currently, a total of 49 million people in 49 countries live on the edge of famine. One person in ten - about 828 million people - are currently suffering from hunger defined as chronic undernourishment. In addition, almost 3.1 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. Increasingly world food consumption is concentrated on three main crops (wheat, maize and rice). An estimated 45 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, 149 million children have stunted growth and development due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients in their diet, while 39 million are overweight.

Despite global commitments to end hunger by 2030, donor support for agriculture has been stagnant at just 4 percent of total ODA for at least two decades. About 3 billion people live in the rural areas of developing countries and they rely to a significant extent on small-scale farming for their food and livelihoods.

 

In the years to come, extreme weather events will likely increase in frequency and magnitude, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Global food systems are at increased risk of disruption, with potential supply shortages and price hikes.

As the world becomes more fragile, building food sovereignty and security by strengthening local resilience, ensuring local production and well-functioning markets will become increasingly vital. Part of the solution also lies in supporting indigenous cropping systems, agro-ecology and reducing food waste and loss which represents about one third of the food produced today. 

“We should not wait another minute to invest in rural areas. With climate change accelerating, we have a very narrow window of opportunity to help rural populations adapt, and continue to produce the food that they and their communities need to survive - which in turn is key to global health and stability,” said Lario.

Research shows that future crop yields could decline by up to a quarter by the end of the century with extreme weather events increasing in regularity and intensity. Also more than 35 per cent of the global cropland used to grow wheat and rice could be subject to damaging hot spells by 2050.

Small-scale farmers who produce one third of the world’s food receive less than 2 percent of global climate finance.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Climate advocates in Africa and across the world have expressed concerns following the appointment of Dr Sultan al-Jaber, the Chief Executive Officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to preside over the 2023 Conference of Parties (COP) on Climate Change.

“I have learned with consternation that they have nominated an oil merchant as President,” said Dr Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Secretary of the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), which is a network of over 1000 African environment related civil society organizations.

“We need to be firm and protest against this impunity, otherwise, this is going to be a conference of polluters,” said Dr Mwenda, who has for two consecutive years been named among 100 top most influential individuals in the world by the apolitical.co.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) offers processing, refining, marketing, and distribution of crude oil, petroleum, gas, sulfur, and petrochemical products for consumption worldwide. As of 2021, the company had an oil production capacity exceeding 4 million b/d with plans to increase to 5 million b/d by 2030

“You wouldn’t invite arm dealers to lead peace talks. So why let oil executives lead climate talks? Burning fossil fuels is the single largest cause of the climate crisis, and the single biggest threat to solving it,” said Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness – an international environmental non-governmental organization.

“Hosting crucial climate talks in a repressive petrostate is one thing, having a fossil fuel CEO as its President is just mad. Even at this early stage it’s difficult to see how COP28 can lead to any positive progress on the climate crisis, when run by those with a stake in the continued burning of fossil fuels,” she said in a statement.

It is on record that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will host this year’s talks in November, registered at least 70 fossil fuel lobbyists to COP27 in Egypt, including Dr Al Jaber, who is the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for the Climate.

As a result, COP27 ended in disappointment for many, as fossil fuel producing nations including Saudi Arabia blocked a push by others, notably the US and EU, to include a promise to phase down all fossil fuels in the final deal.

Following his appointment, Dr Al Jaber noted that 2023 will be a critical year in a critical decade for climate action.

“The UAE is approaching COP28 with a strong sense of responsibility and the highest possible level of ambition. In cooperation with the UNFCCC and the COP27 Presidency, we will champion an inclusive agenda that ramps up action on mitigation, encourages a just energy transition that leaves no one behind, ensures substantial, affordable climate finance is directed to the most vulnerable, accelerates funding for adaptation and builds out a robust funding facility to address loss and damage,” he said in a statement.

However, climate activists still maintain that Dr Al Jaber cannot preside over a process that is tasked to address the climate crisis with such a conflict of interest.

According to Tracy Carty, Global Climate Politics expert with Greenpeace International, appointment of Dr Al Jaber sets a dangerous precedent, risking the credibility of the UAE and the trust that has been placed in them by the UN on behalf of people, current and future generations.

“COP28 needs to conclude with an uncompromised commitment to a just phase out of all fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas,” she said noting that Greenpeace is deeply alarmed at the appointment of an oil company CEO to lead the global climate negotiations.

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