African Civil Society Groups urge Climate Action to hasten Green Recovery

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows settlements in the Salabani village where the rising water levels of Lake Baringo have now flooded displacing entire villages near Marigat, Baringo county on the Kenyan Rift Valley. (Photo by CELINE CLERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Sub-Saharan African countries should intensify action on climate change concurrently with COVID-19 containment in order to realize a speedy, inclusive and green recovery, campaigners said on Tuesday.

Mithika Mwenda, executive director of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), said the continent should prioritize low carbon development pathways in order to boost resilience of communities and habitats during the pandemic era.

“The twin climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic in Africa calls for coordinated action to cushion local communities and ecosystems from further shocks,” Mwenda said at a virtual forum.

African policymakers, green campaigners and scholars participated in the virtual forum to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation programs in the continent.

Mwenda noted that economic fallout linked to the pandemic has disrupted climate financing in Africa hence worsening the vulnerability of communities already reeling from droughts, hunger, water stress and disease outbreaks.

He said that stimulus packages earmarked for recovery from COVID-19 shocks should factor climate resilience for vulnerable demographics including women, youth and the disabled.

A recent study conducted by PACJA and partners in eight African countries revealed that communities expressed support for a more robust climate action as part of recovery from COVID-19 related social and economic shocks.

Robert Onyeneke, a Nigerian agricultural economist with specialization in resource and environmental economics, said climate scientists said the study reinforced the need for African governments to rally behind people-centered interventions aimed at accelerating green recovery.

“African governments should revise climate policies to ensure they focus on strengthening the resilience of local citizens whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic,” said Onyeneke.

He suggested African countries should leverage digital advocacy, domestic resources, and knowledge sharing including grassroots education as part of their climate response, adding enhanced coordination is key to boosting the bargaining power of African countries during the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, from October 31 to November 12.

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