News from Africa

Partners say investment in climate services is in everyone’s interest

Té / 7 December 2012

DOHA, Qatar, December 6, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A cross section of experts and policymakers attending the ongoing Doha climate talks has agreed that substantial investments in climate services for Africa’s development would serve the interests of users and stakeholders beyond the continent.

Speaking at a dinner dialogue organized by partners of the Climate for Development (ClimDev-Africa) at the Doha Hilton Hotel last evening, discussants took turns on the podium to say “not enough” to the question: Are we investing ‘enough’ in climate services for Africa’s development?

Dr. Elena Manaenkova, Deputy Secretary-General of the World Metrological Organization went further to affirm that “investing in climate services in Africa would in fact, serve the rest of the world because information generated in Africa would be used by everyone else on the planet”, according to the Information and Communication Service of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The dialogue was also addressed by the Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Aly Abou Sabaa; the Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) Dr. Fatima Denton; as well as by Ms. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Chair of the ClimDev Steering Committee and Commissioner for Rural Development and Agriculture at the African Union Commission who hosted the dinner.

The Commissioner stressed the central role that climate information plays in policy formulation and in the daily lives of ordinary citizens “who are the ultimate beneficiaries of those services because they are often the hardest hit by extreme weather events.”

Emerging from one of the long negotiation sessions at COP18, Ms. Tumusiime said that “what we usually tackle in climate negotiations such as adaptation and mitigation need good climate information services to be effective”, and that indeed, in many African Union member States, climate and information services deserve serious upgrading.

She said that “improving the quantity, quality, accessibility and utility of climate information is an essential part of the trajectory towards a climate resilient economy and society in our continent”.

She added that this motivated the decision of African Heads of State and Government, to entrust the ClimDev Programme with the responsibility to respond to the urgent information needs that climate change poses to Africa.

The AU Commissioner recalled recent outreach activity organized in Stockholm as “part of our collective pursuit” to marshal resources to kick-start the ClimDev-Africa Special Fund, and called for the renewal of “our commitment to this programme, including by generating the required financial support for its effective implementation.”

Ms. Denton, the Coordinator of ACPC praised the wisdom of leaders of ECA, AUC and AfDB for thinking about the ClimDev idea, before assuring guests that the idea is as relevant today as it was four years ago because the threat posed by climate change remains real and serious.

Commenting on the rationale behind the dinner dialogue, Denton said that Africa has to constantly define and reevaluate its own choices within the United Nations climate talks.

“The UNFCC negotiations framework is a meeting point for us as scientist, policymakers and civil society to converge or diverge on matters relating to climate change….but Africa needs to find its own space where it can adequately reflect on climate problems that are related to our development pathways to the ambition we define and to the instruments that will give greater sway to delivery mechanisms that we choose”, she explained

She said that there are at least three reasons why Africa, and indeed the international community needs to continue to invest in climate service, citing the fact that both adaptation and mitigation strategies rely heavily on the availability and use of good climate services.

Dr. Denton added that just small steps in upgrading climate services would go a long way towards “improving and maximizing the potential for big impacts in terms of supporting livelihood systems.”

Finally, “if you want to manage climate risks of both today and tomorrow, you have to invest in climate services”, Denton said.

Ms. Tove Goldmann of the Swedish Development Agency spoke on Sweden faith in ClimDev-Africa project and urged other partners to come on board so that the programme could effectively become a useful instrument in the service of Africa.

Sweden is one of the early supporters of ClimDev and continues to be among its main funders.

Other guests who addressed the dinner dialogue came from among African ministers in charge of the environment, representatives of Regional Economic Communities, research institutions, leading NGOs, the World Bank as well as independent experts.

The dinner event was organized by ClimDev-Africa implementing institutions under the auspices of the African Union Commission. It brought together friends and partners of Africa, to inform them about the ClimDev’s activities and investment and knowledge gaps in climate services.

The dinner also aimed to build partnerships and mobilize resources to respond to the continent’s need in establishing appropriate climate information services for building climate resilient development programme for the continent.

The event demonstrated that the Programme has support at the highest levels, is delivering significant benefits for Africa and that the ClimDev Special Fund (CDSF) is something that should be invested in to complete the establishment and operationalisation of the Programme.

Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) is a joint programme of the African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

It aims to construct a foundation in Africa for the response to climate change based on building science and observational infrastructure; enabling strong working partnerships between government institutions, private sector, civil society and vulnerable communities; and, creating and strengthening of knowledge frameworks to support and integrate the actions required.

ClimDev-Africa programme has three broad activity areas, including knowledge generation, sharing and networking that consist of research, knowledge management and peer learning, and outreach activities; advocacy and consensus building; and advisory services and technical cooperation, which comprise capacity mobilization, capacity building and technical assistance.

Its partners share the work in such a way as to elicit the best from each according to their comparative advantage. While ECA’sAfrican Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) concentrates on knowledge generation, enhancing policy capabilities of countries, AUC coordinates the Climate Change and Desertification Unit (CCDU) while AfDB manages the ClimDev-Special Fund (CDSF) to finance climate change projects in the Continent.

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