Southern African News Features                                           SANF 10 No 39, Oct 2010
Africa consolidates common position on climate change ahead of Cancun

Africa is stepping up preparations for the forthcoming climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, with Member States in agreement so far on a common negotiating position, which centres on increased finance, technology and capacity for adaptation and risk management.

To give new impetus to the common negotiating position, African countries are expected to meet this month at the 7th African Development Forum (ADF) to discuss ways on how the continent could play its part in addressing climate change.

The theme of the forum scheduled for 10-15 October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is "Acting on Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa."

Climate change has had a devastating effect on humanity with increased frequency and severity of droughts and floods affecting socio-economic growth of many countries, with Africa badly exposed as it has less capacity for mitigation and adaptation.

This is despite the fact that Africa is the least contributor of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

"Africa has so far succeeded in articulating its concerns and interests in a common position and conveying them to the international community in the ongoing climate change negotiations," a statement released by the ADF said, adding that this momentum should be maintained and strengthened until a deal acceptable to all stakeholders is reached.

"As negotiations continue towards a hopeful conclusion at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico in December, it is important that Africa keep on course with a united front in further refining and administering its common position."

"ADF VII will help strengthen the African common position in the ongoing international negotiations, by raising awareness and building consensus among all African stakeholders and with development partners on Africa’s concerns and expectations for a post-2012 global climate change agreement."

The forum would also offer an opportunity to exchange information, knowledge and experience on how best Africa can and should cope with climate change through effective action on policies, strategies, programmes and practices.

Africa has already said that, if accorded the right support, it has the capacity to address effects of climate change and ensure developmental gains that have been achieved in the last few years are not reversed or lost.

"The people of Africa have the will and desire to surmount the climate change and development challenges they face daily, but they lack the resources and the means necessary to do so," African Union (AU) chairperson, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi said at the recent AU Summit of Heads of State and Government.

While the Copenhagen conference held in 2009 agreed that developed countries commit themselves to jointly mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 and an additional US$30 billion for the period 2010-12 for adaptation and mitigation in vulnerable countries, Africa favours a different approach.

The continent wants an approach in which developing countries will be beneficiaries of technology transfer, capacity building and funding of US$200 billion a year by 2020.

Other demands by Africa include the need to cut emissions to at least 40 percent below the 1990 levels by 2020. The continent also wants deeper cuts by developed countries to reach at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The forthcoming ADF, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), would also aim at building and strengthening new strategic alliances and partnerships to further Africa’s climate change agenda.

The ADF was initiated a few years ago to address the challenges of development in Africa and establish a consensus-based African development agenda. The first meeting was held in 1999 while the last was hosted in 2008.

Each meeting chooses a theme of pressing relevance to Africa’s development. For example, at the last meeting the theme was "Action on Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and ending Violence against Women".

National governments, representatives from UNECA, AU and AfDB as well as the private sector, civil society and academia are expected to take part in the 7th ADF.

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