African Development Forum to address adaptation issues in a changing climate
Over seven hundred climate change practitioners are expected to attend the Seventh African Development Forum (ADF VII) from 10–15 October, 2010 on the theme, "Acting on Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa" .
The forum is being co-organized by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); the African Development Bank (AfDB); and the African Union Commission (AUC) at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a strong focus on adaptation strategies through effective action on policies, strategies, programmes and practices.
According to Mr. Josue Dione, Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development Division at the ECA, and whose Division is leading the organization of the Forum, the continent contributes only about 3.8% of total greenhouse gas emissions yet its countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change in the world. “The imminent and project impact of the threat of climate change to sustainable development in Africa makes this Forum timely and urgent,” says Dione.
“Not too long ago, the Government of the Gambia spent millions of dollars to reclaim the beaches that are so crucial to the country’s tourism. Today, the sea has fought back, repossessing the reclaimed land and the sea is now a few metres away from many hotels.” He also notes that unusual weather patterns are confusing farmers and negatively affecting productivity in many African countries.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data reveals that a quarter of Africa’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast and most of Africa’s largest cities are along coasts and therefore vulnerable to sea level rise, coastal erosion and extreme events. The Forum will therefore aim to address the increasing challenges through spirited, action-oriented approach to dialogue and attention to existing research.
Dione does argue that although the climate is changing and we can’t stop the change, we can adapt to its impacts. He notes that adaptation does not mean getting the historical polluters off the hook. “It only means that since these impacts are most damaging to Africa, Africans will not wait for the next Conference of the Parties before taking action.”
Pre-forum activities slated from 8-10 October will aim to thrash out recent research and initiatives by scientists, policy makers and other climate change actors. Discussions will focus on Climate Change and Security; Climate Change Measurement; Forests, Governance and Climate Change; and Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition, a climate change media training for African media will be piloted at ADF and rolled out in the months following ADF VII.
In addition to the main plenary and parallel events, a Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) programme and its African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) will be launched at an exhibition aimed at showcasing climate change initiatives by various stakeholders. Internationally acclaimed musicians, including Ras Kimono from Nigeria and Eric Wainaina from Kenya will join Ethiopia’s, Jonny Raga in lending artistic expression to the climate change adaptation message at a public concert slated for 15th October.
It is expected that by 15th October, the agreements reached by the participants attending ADF VII will help strengthen Africa’s participation in international climate change negotiations. It will also raise awareness and build consensus among stakeholders on Africa’s concerns and priorities in a post-2012 international climate change regime.
The African Development Forum is an ECA initiative organized jointly with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union Commission (AUC). It is intended to advance an Africa-driven development agenda. It presents a unique opportunity to connect African decision-makers with the best policy advice, informed by credible analytical work and relevant experiences.
The ADF has gained recognition as an effective forum for informed dialogue and consensus building on key African development challenges, and for agreeing on implementation priorities and strategies at national, sub-regional and regional level.
All six previous forums have helped launch new initiatives and activities, as well as important blueprints that have had wide ranging impacts.