No time to waste. Ministerial meeting calls for urgent financing for countries most vulnerable to climate change
With barely two months to go before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, Africa and other developing parts of the world that bear the severest brunt of climate change are warning against turning it into a mere talking shop of promises.
African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and speakers at the 2nd ministerial meeting on climate and development held on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly on Tuesday in New York questioned the commitment of developed countries to deliver on the promises they made at COP26 in Glasgow and the 2015 Paris Agreement.
They called for urgent action to raise funding for the world's most vulnerable nations.
The top-level meeting wants climate and nature objectives mainstreamed across financial and economic policy as well as a significant action point to be presented at COP27 in November.
“We are late. We must act. I’m fed up with saying the same thing too many times in the same meetings. Business as usual is the collective enemy. It’s time for action,” said US climate envoy John Kerry adding, “We are working on something serious to be put on the table at Sharm El Sheikh.”
Senator Kerry spoke about his recent trips to Nigeria and Senegal, which are among 48 sub-Saharan countries that contribute less than 0.55% of carbon gas emissions yet suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change.
He said the world must change the way it does business ahead of COP 27 and called for the involvement of the private sector to raise the financing that is required to tackle climate change. “Climate and development go together. The key point is: where is the money? All promises were left in Paris.”
Dr. Adesina painted the reality of climate change in some of the African countries he recently visited, describing the situation as a heart-wrenching thing.
“In Cabo Verde, they have not had rain for nearly three years. In Mauritania, vast areas are deserted because of lack of rain,” said the African Development Bank head
Adesina told the meeting: “Africa is suffering, choking, and is in serious financial distress for what it didn’t cause. There must be a greater sense of urgency not in talking, but in doing and delivering resources that the continent needs very desperately.”
He charged the world to deliver at COP 27 -the Africa COP, “we must deliver the goods there. If there are good to be delivered, it’s really about adaptation. We do desperately need to have the financing for adaptation.”
Adesina spoke about the bank-led Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, which is mobilizing $25 billion of financing to support the continent at scale.
Speakers advocated for a coordinated strategy that involves funders, partners, and the private sector working together to finance climate change, especially for adaptation. Additionally, they urged countries to honour the promises they made at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
“Adaptation never gets the attention it deserves. We need to make sure we are funding the things that have the highest impact, said co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates.
He highlighted how the challenge of climate change has been underscored by a series of bad weather events this year, emphasizing the urgency of action, including investing in technologies and scientists in developing countries.
“It is fantastic that there is the goal of doubling adaptation money by 2025 to $40 billion. I will say a few things about how we think about measuring those 40 billion dollars. The first is that it should probably be focused on low-income countries. The needs there are quite traumatic. There is a question of how we define that money given these weather events and their effects on agriculture…”
He added: “I don’t think the world community is saying that we should spend less on vaccines in order to fund climate adaptation, but rather that we want this money to be incremental in the aid budget.”
Rwanda's Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, and co-chair of the meeting echoed the voices of young people at the meeting.
She said: “As you can see, young people are worried about their future. Let us use today’s ministerial meeting to learn from one another and share practical and tangible actions that will make young people proud of us. We are here together, working hand in hand to address the climate crisis to ensure a bright future for our young people.”
A youth climate activist from Papua New Guinea Vinzealhar Ainjo Nen emphasized the reality of the situation in her country.
“Papua New Guinea is one of many island nations experiencing the wrought of the climate and nature crisis-long droughts, submerging islands- you name it. My people and I are existing in these conditions every day,” she told the meeting.
Referring to what she described as a lengthy and complicated legal process to access climate funds at the national and international, she observed: “I must stress that mother nature does not operate within legal frameworks, and we don’t have time to waste.”
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Simon Stiell echoed the need for what he termed “a series of actions” to mobilize finance.
“We need to get the whole architecture working. Climate disasters are increasingly coming in a variety of forms. We are formally in a decade of decisive action,” he reminded the meeting.
Rwanda and the UK COP 26 Presidency co-chaired the Second Climate and Development Ministerial Meeting to review progress since COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference and advance transformational global climate action.
The meeting brought together 30+ countries and representatives of the UN, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and IMF to assess areas for progress on priorities of climate-vulnerable countries and deliver climate action.