Experiences from Africa Climate Week, the road to COP 27

By Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, SF Global Co-Director and NDC Coordinator, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Contracted through UNDP

Over 2,300 people came to Libreville, Gabon Africa’s last Eden, where 80% of the country is covered with forests which absorb 100 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. Gabon has one of the most ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the world, which commits to remain carbon neutral to 2050. Throughout the week, participants could enjoy through videos and photographs displayed in the many rooms at the conference venue, the spectacular rain forests, amazing wildlife and fascinating art and culture of Gabon. The venue of the conference was overlooking the Atlantic ocean, with spectacularly clean beaches, evidence that the country takes environmental management seriously. I was part of the group of NDC Coordinators from Africa who were funded by NDC Partnership to attend ACW to share experiences and learn from the regional exchange sessions. New funding initiatives were launched during the week and panel discussions held on a variety of topics. There were some interesting side events and several opportunities for networking and exploring collaboration at the ACW. It was my first time to attend an ACW and here I share my experiences from the week here.

Climate change and development go hand in hand

Development is measured through the world’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while climate action is measured through achievement of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). There is growing recognition that countries, particularly in Africa, need to advance the Agenda 2030 and Paris Agreement jointly to have both developmental benefits and climate resilience. Aligning the two can have a multiplier effect, reduce duplication and increase efficiency- maximizing resources, technical capacity, information, and expertise sharing. There were several sessions at Africa Climate Week where linkages between NDCs and SDGs were discussed.

The Kingdom of Eswatini delegation comprising of Duduzile Nhlengethwa-Masina (Director of Dept. of Meteorology), Simelane Bafana (Instrumentation Engineer at Dept. of Meteorology), Deepa Pullanikkatil (NDC Coordinator).

There is need for long term vision

The Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT-LEDS) is an instrument that illustrates how countries can decarbonize their economies in the long run, up to 2050 and beyond, against which shorter-term targets can be set through NDCs and National Adaptation Plans. It is a crucial policy tool and can help to explore the consequences of policy choices in terms of integrated socio-economic objectives. LT-LEDS should be country-owned, tailor-made, and forward-looking to allow countries to follow a low carbon and climate resilient pathway after toll that COVID-19 recovery has taken on many developing nations’ economy. The NDCs and LT-LEDS are connected because aligning short-term climate action with long-term strategies can substantially shape countries’ short- and mid-term priorities, policies and investment pipelines, leading to significant cost reductions in the long-term. Linking NDCs to long-term mitigation strategies will be key in ensuring efficient use of resources, particularly crucial for responding to climate change amidst and following the COVID-19 crisis.

Just Transition

The buzz words at ACW were “Just Transition”. The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group defines the Just Transition concept as a framework for facilitating equitable access to the benefits and sharing of the costs of sustainable development such that livelihoods of all people, including the most vulnerable, are supported and enhanced as societies make the transition to low carbon and resilient economies. A Just Transition affirms Africa’s right to development and industrialization based on the Paris Agreement-negotiated language of equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. The consensus seems to be that, in Africa, the priority is to lift its people out of poverty foremost, while supporting environmental sustainability and inclusive economic growth. AfDB launched a Just Transition Initiative with funding from Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and this will develop a network of relevant stakeholders, partners and experts to discuss a just transition in Africa with an objective to create consensus and a way forward on the continent.

Financing is urgently needed for climate action

At ACW, climate finance was widely discussed and mentioned in almost every session. “It is not realistic to have climate action without considering the full context of the sustainable development agenda, poverty, hunger, employment and women empowerment. Mobilization of climate finance in Africa is crucial to create real progress in Africa.”, said COP 27 Climate Champion, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin. It is estimated that Africa will need $2.8trillion to implement NDCs between 2020 and 2030. African governments have committed USD 264 billion of domestic public resources, about 10% of the total cost. USD 2.5 trillion must come from international public sources and the domestic and international private sectors. This external financial support, required beyond domestic public sources, is defined as “climate finance need”. We hope COP 27 will help mobilize additional climate finance beyond the $100billion promise.

Road to COP27: Action & Implementation

One of the outcomes of CoP26 was the finalisation of the “Paris Rulebook”. As a result, the main theme of CoP27 is the implementation of the Paris Agreement. COP 27 must live up to its expectation because we have no time to lose, as evident by the recent drought in Somalia, heatwaves in Europe and flooding in Pakistan, climate change continues to wreak havoc around the world. We have a lot to do, and I left Gabon with the message that Africa will move forward with ambition, determination and hope towards a climate resilient future and will continue the discussions at COP 27 to ensure that we foster ambitious action on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

TRENDS2017 | Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies

Reflection on Conference Attendance

Conference Name:          TRENDS2017

Location & Date:              Pretoria, South Africa – October 17-19 2017

Paper Presented:             A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Locating Human Wildlife Interaction in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana

Authors:                              Modise OM. Lekoko RN , Thakadu O & Mpotokwane M.; University of Botswana

Presenters:                         Profs. Modise & Lekoko

TRENDS2017 marked the 14th year of PASCAL International conference and the first to be held in South Africa. The theme of the conference was Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies. Team Botswana was particularly attracted to the conferences strands that weaved around important areas of (i) the role of nation state versus the global economic power (ii) Cities would be like countries with global power and (iii) Rethinking the role of universities. The theme of interest for the Botswana team was the third strand because it wanted participants to dialogue about and gauge the present and future responsibilities of universities in collaborating with communities to address community or national development. Botswana’s paper on human-wildlife interactions fitted well in this strand calling universities to team up with communities to address local challenges using traditional community approaches such as Kgotla and story-telling thus connecting ‘with the old and modern African tradition’, as was one main theme of the conference. Proceedings were thus tailored to take a form of everyday life consultation and dialogue as used in “the Kgotla or Lekgotla in Botswana and South Africa”(TRENDS2017).  To this respect, our paper was able to bring unique practical perspectives on the importance of using traditional indigenous community practices in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.

The paper we presented was enlightening, shedding light on how universities can make themselves valued by the communities. Like the Sustainable Futures Network, the Pascal 2017 Pretoria Statement stated that “Pascal’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order to provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities/regions”.  It unpacked how worldwide perspectives generated through research in universities could be prolifically applied on local possibilities. This we believe echoes the sentiments expressed by the Sustainable Futures Network.

 Our paper attracted constructive feedback:

Suggestions for improvement

Explore in detailed elephants migration routes

  • Correlation analysis and comparison with experiences elsewhere may add value
  • A broader geographical sampling (within Botswana) may be considered to allow comparison
  • Construct a robust sampling of study site
  • Collect more publicly available data e.g. through informal discussion of the villagers.


  • The use of familiar and non-traditional research techniques like community forum (Kgotla) and story-telling
  • Cultural sensitivity of respecting community leaders (Dikgosi & elders) as principal investigators
  • Approaching the study with an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary mind-set and respect for community members
  • Robust data selection and analysis to bring out what conflict meant for the villagers
  • Presenting the interviews with more authority from the voices of community members

With all these comments our study will continue to improve and advance into a more holistic exploration of this challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

The Research Team in Botswana would like to appreciate the support and thank Mia Perry (coordinator of University Court of University of Glasgow - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for this opportunity to present at TRENDS2017 conference, which in our opinion is a giant step on a journey to Building Connections for Sustainable Futures in Africa.

The comments given will be taken into consideration as the research advances.

For more information please visit: http://pascalobservatory.org/ & http://cradall.org/resources/links/pascal-international-observatory

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