By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Africa is a negligible emitter of greenhouse gasses, yet the continent stands out as the most vulnerable region of the globe to climate change, with the primary driver of vulnerability being the prevailing low levels of socio-economic development.
Years gone by, the rains used to be predictable and it was easy for local communities and farmers to plan with the seasons. But times have changed; livelihoods are now being impacted by the reality of climate change.
The implementation EU-UNEP Africa Low Emissions Development Strategies (Africa LEDS) Project has demonstrated through ground actions and investment support tools, that strategic implementation of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) priorities, aligned to key socioeconomic sectors, can maximise both climate and priority socioeconomic benefits simultaneously.
The EU-UNEP Africa LEDS Project, funded by the European Union Commission, supported seven partner countries to establish structures at policy and operational levels, to inform NDCs implementation investment decisions, shifting focus from traditional approaches that focus on climate benefits alone.
Lessons from Partner Countries
The partner countries at a peer-learning and closeout meeting in Accra, Ghana, showcased project interventions towards “Unlocking Socioeconomic Opportunities Through Low Emissions Development Actions”.
Cameroon showed that greening the entire cassava value chain using nature-based approaches of agro-forestry at the farm level, clean energy for processing andICT for linkage to markets – as opposed to physical movements and hawking in search of buyers which expends more energy hence emissions – can create multiple income opportunities as envisioned in the country’s vision 2035 and drive NDCs implementation.
In Cote d’Ivoire, practical demonstration of converting agricultural waste in rice fields into biofertilizer and fuel briquettes proved that communities can shift from high emitting conventional approaches to more sustainable approaches and unlock socioeconomic co-benefits in line with their vision 2020.
Waste-to-briquettes tests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) demonstrated that the country can save up to 5000ha of natural forest if the paradigm of waste to briquettes is scaled up and replicated nationally.
Kenya made significant progress in modelling clean cooking solutions – from the modelling results a possible saving of 2.9 million tons of charcoal could be achieved in 2030. Translating this into cost, the nation will save 165billiobn Kenyan shillings by 2030.
The impacts that have been identified in Zambia’s modelling activities include the creation of jobs, contribution to the earnings, GDP and output for the communities.
The Mozambique work proved that a policy upscaling investment in the combination of agroforestry with solar powered irrigation would maximize all important parameters of climate action and development in the country.
Ghana provided very novel lessons from their modelling actions, demonstrating that the NDC priorities in domestic energy, forestry, agriculture and land-use could be maximised for both climate and socioeconomic benefit through a trajectory of clean cookstoves fired by renewable wood.
Five-fold Strategic Drive for Africa’s NDCs and Low Emissions
The EU-UNEP Africa LEDS Project has culminated in a five-fold outcome and lessons to drive Africa’s NDCs and low emissions:
First, from agriculture and energy which are the core sectors accounting for up to 70% of NDC commitments, to other productive sectors like waste, forestry and infrastructure. This work showed that maximization of benefits is only achievable through amalgamating actions across complimentary sectors for synergy, as opposed to business as usual approaches of conducting actions in sectorial silos.
Second, this work provided a mechanism for accountability for what countries are doing with their unconditional NDCs – proving that as a matter of fact, they could potentially do much more than their set target in their first round NDCs with minor adjustments to factor in amalgamation.
Cameroon and Ghana provided typical cases. In the case of Ghana, combining clean cookstoves over which a policy is already in place, with renewable forestry would sequester 85% more carbon and provide cross cutting socioeconomic benefits of more jobs, more income savings and reduced deaths from indoor pollution.
In Cameroon they proved that combining agriculture, energy, ICT and transport will sequester carbon eight times more effectively and create 5million more jobs. Mozambique also in their report showed that combining solar powered irrigation with agro-forestry would sequester 70% more carbon and record 2 times higher in investment returns.
Third, this work showed that NDCs can create opportunities for the youth and that their skills, talents and ongoing work can be leveraged as drivers of NDCs. This will be through the logic of amalgamation to maximise both climate & socioeconomic benefits by bringing in sectors that youth gravitate to, so they can be enablers of this maximization through enterprise actions.
For example, Cameroon proved that ICT, a sector close to youth can through digital marketing, be leveraged to drive both climate smart and clean energy NDCs. The amalgamation of clean energy to power cassava processing in Cameroon brought in youth through ICT, to enable over 500 women link their cassava products to markets.
By this, more revenue were earned to drive incomes for not only the women and youth but also finance upscaling of both climate smart farming of cassava & clean energy – which are NDC priorities of Cameroon.
Fourth, the work showed that driving amalgamation will call for a harmonization of policy implementation between environment and the other product ministries like energy, agriculture forestry, transport, ICT and waste, where economic actions are undertaken.
This work showed that such coherence in policy could be achieved by establishing policy taskforces to be convening mechanisms for such collaborative work across ministries.
Fifth, this work showed that the importance of intra-Africa south-south cooperation could not be overstressed. Through work done in just 7 countries, a logic for driving second round NDC commitments as well as driving substantial implementation that unlocks economy-wide benefits was realized for the entire continent and adopted in a declaration to be shared across Africa.
The upcoming AMCEN in South Africa will provide a forum for continentalization of this logic through the declaration as it is set to be presented before ministers for their notation. This will constitutes the framework for optimal NDCs implementation across Africa, where investments are channeled to where both socioeconomic and climate benefits are maximised.
Opportunities to Replicate Strategies and Models
Other countries, like Nigeria, Benin and Togo and Uganda are already taking lessons from the seven project partner countries to leverage on their NDCs.
“One of the key lessons learnt here is the synergy among State agencies for the government to have a holistic approach to tacking climate change. I have also learnt the need for political buy in by all the leadership in the country and also the need to prioritize strategic sectors that can accelerate both climate and socio-economic priorities,” said Dr. Yerima Peter Tarfa, UNFCCC Focal Point and Director of the Department of Climate Change at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment.
According to Togolese youth climate actor, Tsedse Mensa Kwami, the meeting offers opportunities to learn from the models and strategies developed from the EU-UNEPAfrica LEDS Project to replicate in Togo and other countries, especially in engaging the youth in enterprises that drives climate action and create wealth.
“The youth in Africa really need to be informed to be able to engage themselves in the climate action and low emissions development enterprises to unlock income opportunities and drive climate action solution as was showcased by Cameroon and other countries,” he said.
“What I have seen and learnt here is that low emission development is the gateway to Africa’s transformation and this echoes what we are doing in Uganda especially with the Buganda Kingdom Cassava Agro-industrialisation initiative. What the Africa LEDS project has taught me is that the work we are doing in bringing together our cassava farmers needs to be added value using clean energy and connect them to markets using ICT. This will reduce cost with processing as well as create more youth income earning opportunities for the country,” said Mr. Patrick Luganda, Uganda Climate Action and Low Emissions Development Expert.
The Accra Action Agenda on Africa LEDS
Participants attending the Africa LEDS experience sharing meeting in Accra, came out with a Declaration: The Accra Action Agenda on Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) For Africa
They urged governments in Africa to create an enabling environment for low emissions development strategies uptake in Africa, leveraging on strategic implementation of ambitious NDC commitments.
Among the actions is the request for governments and regional institutions, state and non-state actors, to leverage on low emissions development strategies as a business and enterprise opportunity through tapping into strategic NDCs implementation as demonstrated in the Africa LEDS project.
It also calls upon the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) at its next session to take note of the low emissions development strategies project outputs and outcomes with intent for policy influence towards continental wide uptake.
UNEP has also been requested to leverage on its existing inclusive framework initiatives on low emissions development to drive implementation of these results towards realising implementation of ambitious NDCs across Africa.
Dr. Richard Munang, UN Environment Africa Regional Climate Change Coordinator, is confident the EU-UNEP Africa LEDS Project will drive an optimal path to NDCs implementation across the continent.
The UN Environment provided technical backstopping to the EU-UNEP Africa LEDS Project, in guiding implementation at both strategic and operational level together with its technical partners, the Brew-Hammond Energy Centre of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).