Climate Change (205)

PAMACC News - Hurricane Beryl’s trail of destruction in the Caribbean reinforces the need for the newly created loss and damage fund to be able to respond quickly to climate disasters.

It also highlights the importance of more effective long-term support for small countries on the frontline of the climate crisis, so they don’t spiral further into unsustainable levels of debt.

Like Africa, countries such as Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada have suffered tragic losses from the hurricane – the earliest Category 5 storm on record for the Atlantic.

While it’s too early to put a value on the destruction, a disaster like this has the potential to wipe out a significant portion of an individual country’s annual economic output.

At last year’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai world leaders celebrated the operational phase of the loss and damage fund, although the design is yet to be finalised. Beryl has given a visceral demonstration of why administrators must be nimble, providing easy access to support in the lead up to – and aftermath of – these kinds of disasters.

In Beryl’s case, official warnings issued a week ago predicted its path through parts of the Caribbean. In reality though, there needs to be a significant investment in long-term measures to help frontline communities prepare for these disasters.

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) principal researcher, Ritu Bharadwaj, said: “Hurricane Beryl is a brutal example of what loss and damage looks like.

“The immediate damage bill will be immense, but there will also be a significant long-term economic cost because of the time it will take to rebuild. And we’re just at the start of this year’s hurricane season.

“Getting the design of the loss and damage fund right will be critical to anticipating and responding to these kinds of disasters in the future.

“The international community needs to ensure that Hurricane Beryl and future storms don’t compound the debt burden facing many small island states.”

IIED has advocated for several measures to ensure the loss and damage fund is nimble enough to respond to major climate disasters, including immediate help for affected communities along with support for longer-term resilience.

In May, the leaders of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) endorsed a plan aimed at alleviating crippling levels of debt while also building economic protections.

Part of the plan involves parametric insurance and pooling risk, so that individual countries are not overwhelmed each time a climate-related disaster strikes.

IIED has developed a toolkit to help measure the readiness of a country's existing social protection programmes to deliver climate resilience.

DAKAR, Senegal (PAMACC News) - Nearly 55 million people in West and Central Africa will struggle to feed themselves in the June-August 2024 lean season, according to the March 2024 Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released by the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

This figure represents a four-million increase in the number of people who are food-insecure compared to the November 2023 forecast and highlights a fourfold increase over the last five years. The situation is particularly worrying in conflict-affected northern Mali, where an estimated 2,600 people are likely to experience catastrophic hunger (IPC/CH phase 5). The latest data also reveals a significant shift in the factors driving food insecurity in the region, beyond recurring conflicts.

Economic challenges such as currency devaluations, soaring inflation, stagnating production, and trade barriers have worsened the food crisis, affecting ordinary people across the region with Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali being among the worst affected.

Prices of major staple grains continue to rise across the region from 10 percent to more than 100 percent compared to the five-year average, driven by currency inflation, fuel and transport costs, ECOWAS sanctions, and restrictions on agropastoral product flows. Currency inflation is a major driver of price volatility in Ghana (23%), Nigeria (30%), Sierra Leone (54%), Liberia (10%), and The Gambia (16%).

West and Central Africa remain heavily dependent on imports to meet the population's food needs. Still, import bills continue to rise due to currency depreciation and high inflation, even as countries struggle with major fiscal constraints and macroeconomic challenges.

Cereal production for the 2023-2024 agricultural season shows a deficit of 12 million tons, while the per capita availability of cereals is down by two percent compared to the last agricultural season.

“The time to act is now. We need all partners to step up, engage, adopt and implement innovative programs to prevent the situation from getting out of control, while ensuring no one is left behind,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s Acting Regional Director for Western Africa. “We need to invest more in resilience-building and longer-term solutions for the future of West Africa,” she added.

Malnutrition in West and Central Africa is alarmingly high, with 16.7 million children under five acutely malnourished and more than 2 out of 3 households unable to afford healthy diets.  In addition, 8 out of 10 children aged 6-23 months do not consume the minimum number of foods required for optimal growth and development.

High food prices, limited healthcare access, and inadequate diets primarily drive acute malnutrition in children under 5, adolescents, and pregnant women. In parts of northern Nigeria, the prevalence of acute malnutrition in women aged 15-49 years is as high as 31 percent.

"For children in the region to reach their full potential, we need to ensure that each girl and boy receives good nutrition and care, lives in a healthy and safe environment, and is given the right learning opportunities," said UNICEF Regional Director Gilles Fagninou. "Good nutrition in early life and childhood is the promise for a productive and educated workforce for tomorrow's society. To make a lasting difference in children's lives, we need to consider the situation of the child as a whole and strengthen education, health, water and sanitation, food, and social protection systems."

In response to increasingly growing needs, FAO, UNICEF, and WFP call on national governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to implement sustainable solutions that bolster food security, enhance agricultural productivity, and mitigate the adverse effects of economic volatility. Governments and the private sector need to collaborate to ensure that the fundamental human right to food is upheld for all.

In Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Niger, millions of people now benefit from national social protection programs supported by UNICEF and WFP. Both agencies are expanding their support to the Chad and Burkina Faso governments. Similarly, FAO, IFAD, and WFP have joined forces across the Sahel to increase productivity, availability, and access to nutritious food through resilience-building programs.

"To respond to the unprecedented food and nutrition insecurity, it is important to mobilize for the promotion and support of policies that can encourage the diversification of plant, animal, and aquatic production and the processing of local foods (through the provision of agricultural inputs, access to productive resources for all to stimulate increased production and improve product availability)" said FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Robert Guei.

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Environment experts are touting the REDD+process as one of the most promising opportunities to address the most compelling challenges of climate change in Africa.

However the question by stakeholders on the accessibility of REDD+ finance at scale if countries deliver on their promises and how capacity building will be supported to address expectations from it, lingers on.

It is against this backdrop that the African Forest Forum (AFF) and the UN-REDD Programme are co-organizing an innovative four-week long Community of Practice (CoP) approach, “to catalyze a good understanding of REDD+ finance types and sources, as well enhance knowledge of the result-based financing architecture including carbon markets and associated standards, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, other financial instruments supporting the REDD+ process in Africa,” says a press statement from AFF.

The CoP approach that will run from 15 April to 10May, 2024 accordingly, will integrating both web-based discussion and a series of webinars on the theme “Unlocking sustainable solutions for effective REDD+ Result Based finance in Africa.”

The discussions are expected to bring to fruition the exigencies of designing REDD+ Strategies with a wide national lens and efforts to acquire financing, according to the release.

“It will  help to explore opportunities to support countries in deepening their engagement with forest carbon markets, that could contribute to harnessing carbon finance as part of their National climate Action strategy.It aims to ensure a comprehensive and insightful exploration of the critical dimension of REDD+ process and finance, stimulate experience sharing among community members, invited guest speakers and experts. The sharing of country and experiences and learning from other members of the community will better improve understanding of the REDD+ process” the release stated.

According to UN REDD+, many countries in the Africa have made tireless efforts to integrate REDD+ into their National planning policy and financing processes. Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, among others, recognize investments in key sectors of the economy and the need to realign investments in these sectors to REDD+. Through an analytical mapping exercise related to land-use investments, Cote d’Ivoire has been able to re-align investments to REDD+. Ethiopia has positioned REDD+ in its Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy and Zambia has integrated REDD+ into the implementation matrix of its 7th National Development Plan.

The CoP discussions on REDD+ process accordingly will provide unprecedented opportunity to engage in dialogues at continental and national scale to weigh into what type of policies and measures based on the discussions around the drivers of forest changes, are needed within REDD+ Strategies and how these can be achieved.

Among other expectations, the discussions the release notes “will, enhance knowledge of the REDD+ process and the implementation status in Africa,improve understanding of the importance of REDD+ finance within the framework of the financial instruments for nature-based solutions to climate change,improve understanding of the REDD+ finance types and sources including public upfront finance and results-based finance,equip participants with knowledge of available forest carbon markets (compliance or voluntary),enhance understanding of different carbon schemes and standards (such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS), ART-TREES, LEAF process etc) as well as requirements including costs.”

The African Forest Forum is an association of individuals with a commitment to the sustainable management, wise use and conservation of Africa’s forest and tree resources for the socio-economic well-being of its peoples and for the stability and improvement of its environment.

It provides independent analysis and advice to national, regional and international institutions and actors, on how economic, food security and environmental issues can be addressed through the sustainable management of forests and trees.

Sham El Sheikh, Egypt (PAMACC News) - The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) has re-affirmed its commitment to Africa’s climate and development aspirations.

Addressing a high-level stakeholder post-COP28 meeting taking place on the margins of the African Union (AU) summit, AGN Interim Chair, Alick Muvundika said the group will continue to represent and defend Africa’s priorities and aspirations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) multilateral processes.

Dr. Muvundika said the AGN stands ready and eager to continue receiving guidance from the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and the Committee of African Union Heads of State on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) to ensure that the continent’s climate interests are safeguarded.

He cited the historic establishment and operationalisation of the loss and damage fund at COP27 and COP28 respectively, as an outstanding outcome where the AGN was a key player in reaching the decision and ensured that Africa’s interests were well articulated.

“As we start the year, looking back at COP28 and planning for 2024, I wish to re-affirm our commitment to the continent’s cause. The group, guided by AMCEN and CAHOSCC, has in the presented Africa, and remain a strong and united group of technical negotiators ready to safeguard and defend Africa’s interests in the UNFCCC processes,” said Dr. Muvundika. “As always, we remain committed to the guidance of our policy makers at the level of the AMCEN and CAHOSCC to ensure that we keep in tune with relevant policies guiding the continent’s development agenda.”

The AGN Interim Chair highlighted key decisions from COP28 which include; operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund where; operationalisation of the Global goal on adaptation; the first Global Stocktake (GST); and the Just Transition Pathways work programme.

In highlighting the multifaceted nature of climate change and its impacts on various sectors most African countries, Dr. Muvundika said the group is looking at innovative ways of how to constantly engage and enhance synergies between climate negotiators and policy makers from the environment sector and other climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water and health among others.

“Climate change is a development issue beyond the environment sector. For example, climate impacts on health and agriculture have widely been articulated. For the first time, we had a health day at COP28 where climate and health issues were discussed. As negotiators, we therefore need innovative approaches to engage with these climate sensitive sectors in order to expand not only our own understanding but also be of support to the entire development spectrum which is impacted by climate change,” said Dr. Muvundika as he addressed the AGN LC post-COP28 meeting in Sham el Sheikh, Egypt, supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Egypt.

Speaking during the same meeting, UNDP Egypt Resident Representative, Alessandro Fracassetti, highlighted the importance of partnerships and lauded the existing partnership between UNDP and the Egyptian government, and by extension, the AGN.

“I would like to take a moment to highlight the fruitful partnership between UNDP and the COP27 Presidency over the past couple of years. The designation of COP27 as both the "Implementation COP" and the "African COP" has been instrumental in shaping the outcomes of this conference, and acknowledge the substantial efforts and resources dedicated by the Government before and during COP27,” said Fracassetti.

And representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ambassador Mohammed Nasr commended UNDP for consistently supporting Egypt and AGN and emphasised the importance of the AGN to Africa’s unified approach to climate change negotiations in the interest of the continent’s development needs.

“This meeting comes after a crucial conference, COP28 in Dubai, where critical decisions were reached. This meeting will discuss several critical issues that will feed into key decisions at various levels and meetings such as CAHOSCC and UNEA. We are therefore happy to support continued efforts around a united approach to Africa’s development challenges,” said Ambassador Nasr.

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