Africa put its faith in Paris pact; make good on your promises

Saturday April 01 2023
UN general assembly hall

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau speaks at the UN general assembly hall prior to a vote on a resolution aimed at fighting global warming on March 29, 2023. PHOTO | ED JONES | AFP


The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came with all the usual warnings of the calamities that will befall us if we do not stop global warming now.

The IPCC report puts climate justice into sharp focus. It says: “Prioritising equity, climate justice, social justice, inclusion and just transition processes can enable adaptation and ambitious mitigation actions and climate-resilient development.”

But, as yet, we have no mechanism to bring about climate justice. The COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last year agreed to set up a “loss and damage fund” to compensate poor countries for the harm caused by climate change.

So far that fund is empty.  International finance for reducing emissions and adapting to climate risks in the developing world has repeatedly fallen far short of the $100 billion annual target set by donors 14 years ago. The trickle of money that arrives is tied up in red tape.

Climate catastrophes

That is why vulnerable countries are having to borrow to pay for the increasing costs of climate catastrophes.


African countries face seeing their GDP growth rate fall by up to 64 percent by the end of the century, even if the world succeeds in limiting global heating to 1.50C. The economic cost of climate disasters in developing countries is projected to reach as much as $580 billion a year by 2030.

How does the world expect countries to protect vulnerable populations if the international funds promised are not there?

Africa does not want aid or emergency relief funds. It wants to invest in a climate-resilient future. It needs funding to rebuild roads, bridges and buildings so they can withstand frequent flooding and storms. It needs to invest in R&D to develop new crop strains that can withstand prolonged droughts. It needs to give farmers access to climate data services, and much else besides.

Build back better

Climate adaptation needs to be built in so that communities not only build back after a natural disaster, but also build back better.

Africa has a plan on how to do this – the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme is an Africa-owned and Africa-led initiative developed by the Global Centre on Adaptation and the African Development Bank in close collaboration with the African Union. It serves as the implementation of the Africa Adaptation Initiative to mobilise $25 billion to implement, scale and accelerate climate adaptation across Africa. Since 2021, AAAP has mainstreamed climate adaptation in over $5.2 billion of investments in 19 countries.

Africa put its faith in the Paris Agreement on climate change but has been short-changed. It is time for industrialised countries to make good on their broken promises and fully fund the need for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

Doing so will not only restore the fractured trust between climate-vulnerable regions and the rich world; it will also be the surest way to achieve climate justice and build a more stable global order.

Ban Ki-moon is 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Patrick Verkooijen is CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation