The Covid-19 pandemic has wrought havoc on economies, communities and ecosystems across the world. It has been described as a revelatory crisis, enabling us to see more clearly crises that already were unfolding before the pandemic. One of these is the climate crisis. Like Covid-19, climate change is a global crisis that affects countries and communities in different ways. Africa is already bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change, while contributing the least to the crisis. The vulnerabilities to climate change are reflections of wider developmental issues, including poverty; massive infrastructure gaps in energy, water, agriculture transport and other sectors; and low institutional development and overwhelming capacity constraints.
The Covid-19 crisis is an inflection point. This is reflected in the categorical calls by citizens, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders for a better post Covid-19 world. A post pandemic world should recognise the crises and challenges that existed before the pandemic, devise solutions, and build a better, more equitable and sustainable dispensation. Despite the widespread calls to build back better, concrete ideas about how this can be achieved are still evolving. Already in 2020, governments worldwide are investing more than $10 trillion in crisis relief stimulus packages. Most of the stimulus packages coming on stream do not sufficiently incorporate climate resilience into their recovery plans. The narrow window of opportunity to build a more climate resilient world could close very quickly. The pandemic and the resulting responses hold many lessons which can inform the post-pandemic reconstructions. There are many similarities between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change crises, as well as significant divergences. How can the lessons and experiences be harnessed to inform climate informed post pandemic reconstruction?
The African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Climate Change and Desertification Unit (CCDU) of the African Union Commission (AUC), and the ClimDev-Africa Special Fund (CDSF) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are hosting a series of webinar events – as part of the Africa Climate Talks (ACT!) - aimed at teasing out key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and exploring viable pathways towards building a climate resilient Africa. The webinars are based on an ACPC background paper on “Climate Change and Development in Africa Post COVID-19: Some Critical Reflections” that is available here.
Initial indications are that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease caused by the corona virus making the leap from wildlife to humans, possibly through an intermediate species. There are clear links between health and the environment. Biodiversity loss and proximity to wildlife can create the conditions for illnesses to spread. Research suggests that the emergence of new human diseases is closely linked to loss and degradation of ecosystems and habitats, which in turn is driven by climate change, resource extraction, urban and agricultural expansion and pollution. Rising temperatures have been linked with changes in the range of malarial mosquitoes, and the spread of malaria and the Zika virus. but promote meaningful. These health challenges arising from climate change impacts are thus just a harbinger of things to come in the absence of urgent and meaningful concerted global action on climate change.
The objective of the 3rd Africa Climate Talks is to explore the convergence of the COVID-19 and climate crises and what this means for vulnerable communities and global climate governance and action during and beyond the pandemic. Specifically, the 3rd Africa Climate Talks will bring together Africa’s academia, civil society, private sector, regional institutions and development partners to stimulate a pan-African discourse aimed at contributing to the emergence of an African, particularly African SIDS’, narrative on how to better respond to climate change in the era of COVID-19 and beyond by building resilient economies through green/blue economy, and how to realize and ensure the means of implementation, built on the firm foundation of the common but differentiated responsibilities of the UNFCCC and respective capabilities of countries.
Specific objectives – Key issues
To ensure that there is adequate discourse and engagement on the foregoing regional climate change challenges, the event deliberations will be organized under the following discussion sessions:
- Riding the triple climate, Covid-19 and economic storm: regional and global perspectives;
- First climate change. Now Covid-19. The north-south divide continues. What then for Africa? What expectations from COP26?
- From vulnerability to resilience through green/blue economy. What will it take? Challenges and opportunities for Africa, especially for African SIDS and coastal economies.
Five break-out groups on the topics listed below will facilitate consolidation of key messages coming out of the 2nd Session of the 3rd Africa Climate Talks:
- What Africa should seek to leverage from COP 26, and how this can be done?
- Africa’s voice and agency in the global climate governance and geopolitical landscape – lessons from Africa’s journey in the UNFCCC process for the COVID-19 era and beyond;
- Building resilience: innovative ideas for African solutions to Africa’s climate and recovery challenges;
- One for all, all for one. What constitutes climate justice and a just recovery/transition for Africa?
- Tapping the green/blue economy for African SIDS and coastal economies: challenges and opportunities beyond COVID-19.
- Enhanced Africa’s voice and agency in the global climate governance and resulting geopolitical landscape in the era of COVID-19 and beyond;
- Better understanding on how to leverage the linkages between climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis to build forward for an African green and resilient future beyond the pandemic;
- Strengthened regional strategies and global frameworks for a just transition towards resilient economies and attainment of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The primary target audience of the Africa Climate Talks is African non-state actors (civil society, academia, private sector, youth and other marginalized groups) in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as policy makers, regional and sub-regional institutions, and development partners.
Venue and date
The second session of the 3rd Africa Climate Talks will be a virtual event hosted by the ECA in collaboration with the University of Cabo Verde. It will take place on the 17-18 May 2021.
African Climate Policy Centre
Economic Commission for Africa
Menelik II Road, PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia