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Act now, or the continent is doomed, Africa told at climate conference

By Lynet Otieno in Addis Ababa | August 29th 2019

Climate Change is the most urgent humanitarian situation and requires everyone in the world to tackle if biodiversity is to stay.

Besides, the devastating effects of the climate crisis are closer home, here in Africa, and action may not wait another minute.

Such is the message African leaders are being sent at the Conference on Climate and Development in Africa (CCDA-VIII) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with emphasis being made on the need for governments to invest in climate adaptation and mitigation of the crisis as soon as possible.

Just this week, at least 62 people were killed in Sudan, after heavy rains that caused flooding. Others in the minds of many were the cyclones experienced in the southern part of Africa, food insecurity in many parts of the continent, conflict and disease, all which can be directly linked to climate change.

The conference, with the theme: “Stepping Up Climate Action for a Resilient Africa: A Race We Can and Must Win”, started on Wednesday, ending Friday.

The eighth edition of the annual event brings together participants from around the continent and beyond, and will this time also consolidate recommendations to be shared with the world during the Climate Action Summit to be held in September.

Speakers urged African leaders to use locally and easily available resources such as research, traditions, knowledge and skills acquired locally, even as they seek help from donors to tackle the climate crisis.

The meeting was ushered by several pre-events, including one on Citizens’ engagement on the growing partnership between Africa, China and other emerging powers on climate finance; and an African journalists’ training on reporting about climate and environment.

Others are climate resilience, renewable energy, and green economy strategy, youth in irrigation.

During the start of the conference, Frehiwot Woldehanna, the Ethiopian Minister of Energy, Water and Irrigation, urged African nations to think bigger on matters of climate and give climate change the appropriate approach as indicated in their National Development Contributions highlighted in the Paris Agreement.

 “Many African countries have submitted ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions to Climate Action – NDCs - showing that African leaders have made strong commitments to tackle climate change while striving to meet their national development agendas,” he said, adding that nations needed to remember that lives were at stake with every delay in climate action “and each one of us risks losing their lives”.

African Development Bank’s James Kinyangi stressed on the immediate focus on resilience and adaptation to the climate crisis, as many African communities were vulnerable.

“Having ratified the Paris Agreement, almost all African countries are now committed to Climate Action in support of building resilience through early warning systems, comprehensive risk assessment and management and risk insurance,” he said, adding: “The time is now”.

Kenya’s Mithika Mwenda, who is also the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Executive Director, stressed the need for focus, immediate action, and partnership to tackle the climate crisis. “As the most vulnerable region and communities at the frontline of climate crisis, we should not wait for others to shape the logic and narrative on climate change, as they will do it to shape their geopolitical interests. Governments and African citizens should be at the frontline of the evolving discourse on climate justice, which embodies us as a people.

CCDA “is a flagship event of the ClimDev-Africa programme, a joint initiative of ECA, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, mandated by African Heads of State to bring to bear their collective efforts to foster a common and coordinated response to climate change throughout the continent.”

The first CCDA was held in 2011.

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