Good preparations strengthen Africa’s negotiating positions at COP19, experts


Varsaw AfricaWarsaw, Poland 14 November 2013 (ECA) – As negotiators and experts prepare to enter the high level segment of the 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19), which opened in Warsaw this week, the mood among African delegates here is one of confidence and determination to defend the continent’s interest at all costs.  This upbeat mood is explained by the outcomes of at least two preparatory events that preceded COP19 – the Conference of African Environment Ministers which met in Gaborone, Botswana and the Third Annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA III). Both events were held in October, a month before COP19. One of the key messages from CCDA III came from the United Nations under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Carlos Lopes, when he cautioned that because Africa is “trapped in global negotiations on climate change which on the whole are largely driven by global and external interests”, a solution space would only be created when Africa … “firms up its own views on how to put the continent’s interest first.” Mr. Carlos reiterated the relevance of the UNFCCC over the years and elevating climate change issues to the highest political attention. He however, noted that the commitment made by developed countries of $100bn US dollars a year by 2020 is not forthcoming. This severely impedes Africa’s ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Africa therefore calls on developed countries to make good their financial pledges. He drew sustained applause from scientists and policy makers at the meeting when he argued that “Climate change offers Africa an array of incredible investment opportunities that can reap dividends.” He continued: “offering an African climate development policy can respond to the unique vulnerabilities and opportunities the continent faces, while positioning it to influence negotiations and outcomes.”  This, says Ms. Fatima Denton, Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre and Officer in Charge of the Special Initiatives Division at the ECA, “reflect the current momentum for a new narrative of the climate change discourse among Africans scientists and policy makers.” This new narrative, she explains, “is one that, while accepting the reality of climate change, shifts emphasis from bemoaning over its disproportionate impacts on Africa, to what African scientists and policy makers can, and are doing to adapt or mitigate those impacts.” This also reflects the views adopted by the Conference of African Environment Ministers in Gaborone when they resolved to take a common position as the basis for negotiations on strengthening the international climate change regime through full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP). The ministers also resolved to call for outcomes at COP 19 that are based on science, equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, reflecting the latest scientific, technical, economic and social information as, according to them, these outcomes will significantly influence efforts to secure sustainable development for Africa. Most of the African negotiators present in Warsaw confirm that these views have guided and informed discussions by the African group, since their arrival here. It would be recalled that the ministers also reaffirmed that a long-term global goal must include ambitious short-term, medium-term and long-term mitigation commitments by Annex I parties reflecting their historical responsibilities and an equitable and appropriate contribution to the global effort. Calls for the provision of adequate means of implementation, including finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, to enable Africa to address its adaptation needs in particular, has been one of the staples on Africa’s menu at virtually every COP for the last decade. So too have been calls on developed country parties to urgently scale up support for the implementation of adaptation measures and national adaptation plans, particularly through the Cancun Adaptation Framework and the Nairobi Work Programme. In Warsaw, Africa also wants developed countries to support and expedite work to understand, reduce and compensate for loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including its impacts on agriculture.  Furthermore, they have called for a well structured standing body with technical and financial facility, clear functions, relevant national points and a trust fund to address loss and damage. Most of these issues were extensively dealt with at CCDA III, says Tom Owiyo, one of ECA’s scientists who explains that the conference provided a platform to play back critical issues in the negotiations to seek contribution from a larger audience from across Africa, as well as fine-tune science-informed  positions on a number of negotiation tracks. The Ministerial segment of the conference opens on Monday 18 November 2013. Issued by: ECA External Communications and Media Relations Section


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