Building Back Greener in Africa

By Umberto Labate
ISTANBUL, Jul 7 2020 (IPS)

COVID-19 continues to race across the African continent. People
are dying, and even more are being pushed into hunger and poverty,
in many cases risking to overturn years of development
gains.

The numbers are staggering. While the pandemic is only now
taking root in Africa, there are at least 400,000 confirmed cases,
and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak
is accelerating across the continent.

Add to this the risks of hunger and poverty. Three out of four
people on the continent are food insecure. More than 320 million
people are without access to safely managed drinking water, and
over half the population lack access to any sanitation.

While this pandemic has already taken hundreds of thousands of
lives, there are far greater risks on the horizon for the African
people.

Left unchecked, climate change, environmental destruction,
rising sea levels, droughts, floods and other environmental risks
could trigger mass migration, increase conflict and disrupt, if not
reverse, a decade of economic growth.

“It is imperative that post-COVID-19 stimulus packages
integrate short and long term climate impacts as well as unlock
significant appropriate technological and financial solution
packages, for robust economic recovery and enhanced resilience for
the wellbeing of people and ecosystems,” said Ambassador Seyni
Nafo, Coordinator of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI).

While international support is needed and is being programmed
and reprogrammed across the UN system – with
UNDP leading the global socio-economic recovery
– rebuilding
efforts will primarily come from African ingenuity, African
resilience, African institutions and African leaders.

Africa out front

African minds are stepping up to create solutions. One
noteworthy example is the purchase and deployment of
Smart Anti-Epidemic Robots to fight against COVID-19 in Rwanda
.
Other examples include the
use of blockchain technology to give online rewards for forCOVID-19
reduction efforts in South Africa
and an innovative ‘solar for health
initiative
.’

Africa is leading the way at the political and strategic levels
too. Late last month, 54 African leaders endorsed a new policy
recommendation outlined in a brief on “Integrated
Reponses to Building Climate and Pandemic Resilience in
Africa
.”

The recommendations include adaptation actions to secure the
food supply for vulnerable populations and strengthen the
agricultural value chain, increase access to water and sanitation
in parallel with efforts to improve water governance, and the need
to invest in resilient infrastructure to create jobs. These
recommendations result in a triple dividend for African countries:
reduced pandemic risk, increased climate resilience and
strengthened economic recovery.

According to the World Bank, Africa needs about US$100 billion a
year for the next decade to fill its infrastructure gap. “Low and
middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2
trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes
future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent.
By contrast, investing in ‘business-as-usual’ infrastructure
not optimized for resilience only returns $1.5 for every $1
spent.”

The brief was champion by Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, and
created in partnership with the Global Commission on Adaptation
(GCA)
and the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI).

At last year’s Climate Talks, the European Union announced
ramped up support for AAI with a
EUR 1 million grant, administered by UNDP
. With this
catalytical seed money the initiative is now serving as a broker
and catalyst to bring together key stakeholders to discuss and
enact climate resilient strategies for sustainable development in
Africa.

“The impact of climate change on our world is accelerating.
Ambitious and coordinated actions are necessary to address this
global threat. The EU is placing sustainability criteria at the
centre of its recovery policies, both domestically and
internationally. The African continent has an enormous potential to
adapt and enhance its efforts towards a climate resilient
development future, and the EU is a proud supporter of this
endeavor,” said Alessandra Sgobbi, Policy Officer at the European
Commission – DG Clima.

The big picture
The international community has moved swiftly to support African
countries in responding to the COVID-19 crisis with over $50
billion announced thus far. This is a good start, but only a
portion of the funds required to future-proof investments and build
long-term resilience.

African institutions, such as AAI, are stepping up to fill this
gap. Together with support from the UN system, donors, and global
leaders, they are making the case and showing the way for a
resilient future.

About the author
Umberto Labate is a Portfolio Management Specialist and Technical
Advisor working in the ‘Nature, Energy and Climate Team’ of the
UNDP Global Policy Network. He supports countries to identify and
address developmental risks through integrated interventions,
access to climate finance, and coordination with multiple partners,
with the ultimate objectives of enhancing climate action and
achieving the SDGs.

The post Building
Back Greener in Africa
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

African leaders highlight the opportunity for a triple dividend:
reduced risk, increased resilience and strengthened recovery.

The post Building
Back Greener in Africa
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Building Back Greener in Africa