Civil Societies Are Key to Africa’s Climate Change Resilience, Says Dr Adesina

President of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwumi Adesina says civil society organizations are essential partners in the Bank’s effort to build the continent’s resilience to climate change.

Addressing the opening plenary of the 2022 Civil Society Forum on Thursday in the Ivorian economic capital, Abidjan, Adesina highlighted the African Development Fund’s Climate Action Window to mobilize up to $13 billion to provide 20 million farmers with climate-smart agricultural technologies and 20 million farmers and pastoralists with weather-indexed insurance. The scheme will also revive 1 million hectares of degraded land, and provide renewable energy for about 9.5 million people.

“We will need you, 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 told the forum.

The African Development Fund is the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group that supports eligible African countries in strengthening their economic capacity, reducing poverty, and spurring economic and social development. ADF-contributing countries are currently discussing its next financial replenishment.

The two-day forum was held under the theme “Engaging civil society for climate resilience and just energy transition.” It fostered an open dialogue with civil society actors, allowing them to share their views and proposals ahead of the global climate summit, COP27, slated for mid-November in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh.

Adesina said COP27 must help refocus attention on Africa’s needs and priorities. He also commended African civil society organizations for their contribution toward strengthening the continent’s resilience and adaptation to climate change.

The Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture Human and Social Development, Dr. Beth Dunford, reiterated civil society’s role as an essential link between the bank and African communities. “We are in it together to build climate resilience and bring about a just energy transition that enhances transparency and accountability.”

Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, Dr Kevin Kariuki, projects that for Africa to meet its needs for socio-economic development, it must double its energy consumption by 2040. To help this happen, “the Bank is committed to engaging in permanent and constructive dialogue with all African climate change stakeholders, including the civil society, to deliver tangible results and ensure a successful COP27 for Egypt, and for Africa”, Kariuki said.

The president of the Panafrican Farmers Organization, Kolyang Palebele, called for the integration of resilience into national development plans and challenged African governments to operationalize the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Growth and Transformation of Agriculture in Africa for Shared Prosperity. “The time is critical. We must react quickly to the shocks of climate change that are affecting the African people.”

The diplomatic corps in Abidjan also aired strong support for the continent’s climate change objectives.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Côte d’Ivoire, Lee Sang Ryul, commended the African Development Bank’s efforts to ensure accountability by working closely with civil society organizations. He reiterated his country’s commitment to supporting energy projects and institutional capacity building to aid the continent’s growth.

The Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Cote d’Ivoire, Wael Badawi, assured the audience that civil society will be represented during COP27. “Egypt will be organizing thematic days on the margins of COP27 as panel discussions in which we seek a balanced participation from States, private sector and from civil society organizations mostly to tackle issues such as finance, new and renewable energies, water, adaptation and agriculture, biodiversity, science and scientific research, solutions, decarbonization, civil society, women and youth,” he said.

The opening ceremony included a high-level conversation between Bank chief Adesina, an African Union Youth Advisory Board Member, Soumaya Zaddem, and Salif Traore, founder of Magic System Foundation and UNESCO and UNHCR ambassador.

This was followed by induction for civil society organizations and accountability sessions on Bank’s civil society engagement.

The 2022 forum formed part of the bank’s engagement with stakeholders leading up to COP27.

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