Stop making Africa beg for what is rightfully hers

President William Ruto confers with the Kenyan delegation during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US. [PCS, Standard]

 A lot of meetings bringing together world leaders, like the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), are full of ambitions to address climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss that hamper development for many nations.

Money is the crucial matter at all the meetings, be they UNGA, UN climate talks (Conference of Parties), G7, G20, even locally, African Ministerial Conference on Environment, Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa, and the first Africa Climate Summit.

A session at the UNGA, happening in New York has piled pressure on nations to act rather than procrastinate on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Three years into the Decade of Action to achieve the non-legally binding SDGs, the UN estimates that 575 million people will live in abject poverty, while a 600 million suffer extreme hunger by 2030 if things remain the same.

Money is needed to address poverty, boost access to healthcare, energy, water, sanitation and education; ensure gender equality, sustainable cities and consumption, climate action… all 17 SDGs, with their 169 action points.

While the SDGs are just a benchmark for progress and guide on what nations should do, achieving them would save many nations on the frontline of climate crisis, which also happen to be the poorest, most debt burdened, and with minimal technology or infrastructure to withstand shocks such as earthquakes or conflict. At the last United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha in March, the “inequality crisis” was highlighted as hampering economic growth of the 46 LDCs.

As the UN Secretary General Antonio Gueteress put it at UNGA, financing is crucial for development, “progress on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement”.

Great push, but these will merely be talk if action on critical issues do not follow, ambitions remain order of the day and rich nations increase their carbon footprints while reneging on promise to mobilise $100 billion reparations annually, besides sustaining the Green Climate and other funds.

Financially empowering countries on the frontline of the climate crisis is a moral imperative and a strategic necessity. If anything, Africa is not lying idle. Locally, there are actions that enable farmers and entrepreneurs access cheaper loans and improve investment in drought-resistant crops, rainwater harvesting, or renewable energy projects.

Several African nations have policies and regulations enabling climate action. Many have ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). They try to boost reforestation and development of clean energy sources to protect the environment and stimulate economic growth.

But loans, loss and damage in times of calamities, huge allocations to disaster management and preparedness eating into nations’ GDP remain a hindrance.

Africa still needs grants and subsidies to increase climate change adaptation and mitigation, and to develop economically. Effective adaptation strategies require transfer of climate-resilient technologies to rural communities, and providing access to affordable and efficient clean energy solutions, to reduce carbon emissions.

Empowering Africa with financial resources to tackle climate change and achieve the SDGs requires a multifaceted approach that combines financial instruments with education and strong partnerships. After UNGA, focus shifts to UAE. Let COP28 deliver action on Loss and Damage fund, grants rather than loans, and fix injustice in new fossil fuel projects while moving to Net Zero.

Africa is not seeking charity, nor sympathy; the continent needs tangible action to tame non-self-inflicted crises.

-The writer is a climate justice advocate. @lynno16