Africa Climate Week kicks off in Libreville, Gabon

The 2022 edition of the Africa Climate Week has kicked off in Libreville, Gabon, bringing together ministers, scientists, activists, thought leaders and civil society groups from across the continent, to discuss the threats associated with climate change.

This high-level political push for collaboration on climate comes just months before Africa hosts the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, hosting ministers and delegates from at least 42 African countries at the high-level ceremony.

The at least 1,000 delegates in attendance are expected to discuss the impacts of climate change on Africa and the solutions the continent can implement to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

“In less than three months, the UN Climate Change conference will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. COP27 is described as Africa’s COP and will significantly shape our future. As one of the last major climate events before COP27, Africa Climate Week can bring us together to walk down the road to COP27 with unity of purpose and resolve for a better future,” President Bongo said in his opening statement.

He added; “I urge you to take this opportunity to work on innovative, concrete and sustainable solutions and give African nations the means to fight climate change successfully.”

Also in attendance were officials from relevant United Nations agencies and bodies and other multilateral agencies.

The COP27 President Designate and Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry was also in attendance and addressed the high-level gathering.

“Africa is undoubtedly the continent of promising opportunities. Yet, and despite contributing less than 4 per cent of global emissions, we are now confronted with the impacts of climate change that are already curtailing our efforts for sustainable growth and testing the resilience of our communities,” Shoukry said.

He added; “These impacts have left almost no region in Africa unaffected, making the continent one of the most devastated by the impacts of climate change, according to the latest IPCC reports.”

Africa is obliged, with its already limited financial means and scant level of support, to spend around 2-3% of its GDP per annum to adapt to these impacts; a disproportionate responsibility that cannot be described as anything other than “Climate Injustice”.

African Governments, and all other African voices, from civil society, youth, women groups, farmers, workers, academia, and the thriving African private sector, should all continue to call for climate justice based on equity and the availability of means of implementation, and guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” Shoukry added.

“We will spare no effort to assist parties in engaging in a frank, constructive and dynamic dialogue that addresses loss and damage, including the central issue of new and additional finance dedicated thereto,” highlighted the Foreign Minister of Egypt and the incoming COP President.

COP 27 has been nick-named The African COP, and is expected to push the adaptation agenda, which the president-designate has promised to support.

As part of the preparation, African Countries have been urged to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to demonstrate greater ambition moving forward.

NDCs are plans that detail countries’ actions to cut down their carbon emissions and climate-proof their economies.

As the host of the ACW2022, Gabon is looking to lead by example and has already submitted its second NDC to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In the NDC, Gabon commits to remain carbon neutral beyond 2050. Currently, Gabon is the second most forested country in the world, with a nearly 90% forest cover.

ACW 2022 is organized by UN Climate Change in collaboration with global partners, UN Development Programme, UN Environment and the World Bank Group and will run until the 2nd of September.

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