Africa and the Climate Change Agenda: Hurdles and Prospects in Sustaining the Outcomes of the Seventh African Development Forum

Author:James Forole Jarso
Position:Holds an LL.B. from Moi University in Kenya, an MA in Human Rights & Development from Kampala International University in Uganda, and a Specialized Diploma in Human Rights from American University Washington College of Law Academy on Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, where he received the 2010 Human Rights Award
WINTER 2011 38
Climate change has become one of the biggest developmen-
tal challenges facing the planet. The challenges are even more
pronounced and significant for the African continent, because
of its levels of poverty and low capacity to adapt. . . . Time has
now come that we collectively as nations [and] individually in
our right have to do something to avert consequences of climate
change in order to avoid a future catastrophe. We need to act
now, because if we do not, the development gains that we have
attained in our countries will be lost, thereby leaving more peo-
ple in poverty. – Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika1
Over the past decade or so, climate change has been regu-
larly cited as one of the biggest impediments to Africa’s
realization of sustainable growth and development.2 In
particular, African leaders have been warned that, in light of the
immense challenges posed by the phenomenon, the continent
stands a very marginal chance of making meaningful progress
towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
(“MDGs”) by 2015.3 It cannot be gainsaid that these warnings
are not without basis. Climate change commands significant
influence on Africa’s performance; it portends innumerable
socio-economic and political challenges for the continent, which
has perennially garnered “breaking news” coverage largely for
the appalling humanitarian catastrophes on its soil.
Though it contributes only about 3.8% of the total green-
house gas (“GHG”) emissions,4 the continent constantly experi-
ences the adverse impacts of climate change, as a result of its
high poverty levels and low capacity to adapt.5 For example,
the continent’s food security situation has continually worsened
as the productivity of rain-fed agriculture, the main source of
livelihood for most Africans, frequently slumps due to erratic
rainfall patterns;6 massive livestock losses have been caused by
successive prolonged droughts in virtually every corner of the
continent;7 sea level rise (leading to coastal erosion) and flood-
ing (even in areas that never before experienced floods) have
become a common sight;8 persistent and new health problems
are increasingly reported in virtually every corner of the vast
continent;9 and violent conflicts have become the order of the
day as environmental migrants and local communities clash over
control of, or access to, resources.10 Worryingly, the effects of
climate change have proved to be akin to Russian roulette, with
every pull of the trigger posing risks for all, and the poor bearing
the heaviest brunt because of their dependence on the surround-
ing environment for their survival.11
by James Forole Jarso (HSC)*
Today, issues relating to climate change are addressed in a
plethora of treaties adopted within the United Nations (“UN”)
framework. These international instruments include the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”),12
which was adopted at the landmark UN Conference on Envi-
ronment and Development (“Earth Summit”) in 1992 as part of
the package to save the planet along with the UN Convention
to Combat Desertification (“Desertification Convention”),13
and the Convention on Biological Diversity (“CBD”), which
seeks to ensure conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,
as well as fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of genetic
resources.14 Other instruments related to climate change which
were subsequently created include the Kyoto Protocol to the
UNFCCC (“Kyoto Protocol”),15 which establishes legally bind-
ing obligations for the developed countries to reduce their GHG
emissions and, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (“Cartagena
Protocol”), which was adopted (as a supplement to the CBD)
to protect biodiversity from the potential risks posed by living
modified organisms (“LMOs”) resulting from modern biotech-
nology.16 In their formal acknowledgment of the importance of
climate change issues, African countries have overwhelmingly
subscribed to these instruments.17
Africa’s predicament has received formal acknowledge-
ment in various circles. Within the inter-governmental African
Union (“AU”) framework, on several occasions climate change
has garnered the attention of the Assembly of Heads of State and
Government (“the Assembly”). For instance, in January 2007,
the Assembly called upon the AU Member States to integrate
climate change into their respective national development pro-
grams.18 In February 2009, the Assembly emphasized the need
for international climate change negotiations to give Africa an
opportunity to demand compensation for damage caused by
global warming.19 More importantly, the Assembly approved
the Algiers Declaration on Climate Change (“Algiers Decla-
ration”),20 thereby paving way for the building of a common
* James Forole Jarso holds an LL.B. from Moi University in Kenya, an MA in
Human Rights & Development from Kampala International University in Uganda,
and a Specialized Diploma in Human Rights from American University Washing-
ton College of Law Academy on Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, where he
received the 2010 Human Rights Award. He is a pro bono Research Fellow at the
Elderly Rights Program at American University Washington College of Law and
holds the Head of State Commendation (“HSC”) medal, awarded by the President
of the Republic of Kenya for exemplary humanitarian service in Northern Kenya.
The author is grateful to Dr. Michael Mawa (of Nkumba University, Uganda) for
his invaluable comments on the draft of this article.
African Position in preparation for the fifteenth Conference of
the Parties to the UNFCCC (“COP-15”).21
In July 2009, the Assembly, among other things: 1) estab-
lished the Conference of African Heads of State and Gov-
ernment on Climate Change (“CAHOSCC”)22 to spearhead
leadership in the climate change negotiation process;23 2) urged
the CAHOSCC, all ambassadors, and negotiators to use the
approved African Common Position24 to achieve optimal results
for the continent;25 and 3) authorized the AU Commission to
facilitate the AU’s accession to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Pro-
tocol, and the CBD.26 Then, in February 2010, the Assembly
requested the CAHOSCC to establish a streamlined single nego-
tiating structure at both Ministerial and Expert levels.27
At the inter-ministerial level of the African Ministerial Con-
ference on the Environment (“AMCEN”), climate change issues
were addressed on a number of occasions. The agenda was offi-
cially floated at the Conference’s twelfth session in Johannesburg,
laying the groundwork for the preparation of a common conti-
nental position on climate change.28 Shortly thereafter the special
session on climate change, which also had the African Group of
Negotiators in attendance, adopted the Nairobi Declaration on the
African Process for Combating Climate Change,29 which, among
other things: 1) noted with concern the inadequacy, complexity,
and fragmentation of the existing climate financing mechanisms,
as well as the constraints faced by African countries in access-
ing these facilities;30 2) reaffirmed the adoption (by the Assembly)
of the Algiers Declaration, and “the need [for African countries]
to speak with one voice in the negotiations process for the new
legally binding global climate change regime;”31 3) stressed that
“Africa’s priorities are to implement climate change programmes
on adaptation . . . , in particular to alleviate poverty and attain
the Millennium Development Goals, with emphasis on the most
vulnerable groups, especially women and children;”32 and 4) rec-
ognized the need “to ensure coordination and coherence in the
implementation” of existing climate change adaptation and miti-
gation actions in Africa.33
Within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (“NEPAD”),34 the Action Plan of the Environ-
ment Initiative affirms the continent’s concerns vis-à-vis the
challenges posed by climate change, and provides for climate
change as one of the core priority areas to be addressed by the
continent’s leadership.35 On the realization that climate change
poses a key challenge to environmental sustainability, biodiver-
sity, and food security in Africa, through its Climate Change and
Natural Resource Management program, NEPAD provides a
platform on which the continent’s players share knowledge and
experiences in addressing the fast-creeping threat.36
Climate change issues have equally garnered the atten-
tion of various forums, in particular the African Development
Forum (“ADF”), a biennial multi-stakeholder gathering commit-
ted to building consensus and mobilizing partners for Africa’s
development. The 2010 Seventh African Development Forum
(“ADF VII”), whose theme was “Acting on Climate Change for
Sustainable Development in Africa,” was jointly organized by
the Addis Ababa-based UN Economic Commission for Africa
(“UNECA”), the AU Commission, and the Tunis-based African
Development Bank (“AfDB”).37 The participants, drawn from
diverse stakeholders,38 deliberated on the challenges and oppor-
tunities presented by climate change in Africa, and, after the
five days of intensive panel discussions and parallel sessions,
adopted a common statement (“Consensus Statement”) with
some fifty-six points of agreement.39
This article aims to unearth the challenges and prospects
in sustaining the outcomes of these principled negotiations for
the African continent to make lasting progress in addressing the
effects and impacts of climate change and variability.
The African Development Forum (“ADF”) is a joint ini-
tiative of UNECA, the AU Commission, and the AfDB.40 It is
Africa’s pioneer multi-stakeholder platform established with a
view to establishing a consensual African-driven development
agenda, and mobilizing partners for Africa’s development.41
Every forum has a designated theme, on which deliberations
are based. Initially, it was intended that the Forum be convened
annually. However, after the second ADF, in 2000, the partici-
pants agreed that the Forum be convened biennially. Thus, the
third ADF was held in 2002, instead of 2001. The seventh ADF
VII was recently held in October 2010 and the eighth ADF VIII
is slated for 2012.
Thematic Focus of the Forum
ADF VII was devoted to discussions on climate change and
participants were tasked to examine the challenges and opportu-
nities presented by the phenomenon, with a view to, within the
global context, identifying long-term actions to ensure Africa’s
development process is climate resilient.42 The discussions were
carried out against the backdrop of the realization that climate
change is one of the biggest threats to sustainable growth and
development in Africa.
Objectives of the Forum
Generally, ADF VII was intended to provide a multi-
stakeholder platform to discuss and build consensus on how to
mainstream climate change concerns into development policies,
strategies, programs and practices in Africa, and to strengthen
the African Common Position to ensure that it adequately
reflected the continent’s concerns and priorities in the on-going
international climate change negotiations.43
Specifically, the Forum was convened to accomplish sev-
eral goals. First, it considered the evidence and impacts of cli-
mate change in Africa and the need for adequate information and
services to better inform decision-making and actions.44 Sec-
ond, it deliberated on the challenges and opportunities climate
change poses in Africa and policy-making,45 while promoting
cooperation in sharing of best practices and lessons-learned.46
Finally, within the framework of the demonstrated evidence and
impacts of, as well as the challenges and opportunities presented
WINTER 2011 40
by, climate change, the Forum defined priority actions and
measures, built new strategic alliances and partnerships, and
provided momentum for the African Common Position, in prep-
aration for the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (“COP-16”)
in Cancún, Mexico.47
On the premise of the evidence presented, which reflected
climate change as a serious, urgent, and compelling reality in
Africa,48 the participants concluded the Common Statement,
which embodies some fifty-six points of agreement. The key
ones are highlighted below.
With a view to enhancing the continent’s position in the
international climate change processes, ADF VII participants
agreed that African countries and their leadership should engage
all relevant stakeholders in the on-going climate change discus-
sions, and in particular, build the continent’s capacity through a
coordinated, effective, and representative position to effectively
participate in the relevant international negotiations, in order to
ensure that the outcomes reflect the continent’s concerns and pri-
orities.49 The agreement also pledged to support implementation
of decisions and resolutions of the AU Assembly, the AMCEN,
and other relevant continental bodies in regard to climate change
concerns for the continent.50
Leadership for Climate Change Response
On the understanding that African leaders and their devel-
opment partners have critical roles to play in implementing
Africa’s climate change agenda, participants also agreed that
African leaders and their development partners should strongly
support the CAHOSCC to enable it to effectively mobilize polit-
ical commitment and provide effective political leadership. Fur-
ther, there were pledges to demonstrate additional leadership.51
These included commitments relating to: 1) taking bold deci-
sions on the issue of innovative climate change financing mech-
anisms, including proper carbon pricing to complement funding
under the UNFCCC;52 2) educating the public to enhance under-
standing of climate change and variability; 3) garnering support
necessary to meet national commitments; and 4) addressing the
fallacy that developed countries only have a charitable obliga-
tion to finance climate change actions in developing countries.53
The Role of the Private Sector
On the understanding that the private sector54 has a vital role
to play in addressing climate change in Africa, the participants
agreed that African governments should “create an enabling
policy environment to encourage the private sector to harness
its expertise, resources and creativity.”55 Related to this pledge,
there was agreement to create and develop partnerships between
public, private, and civil society stakeholders.56
Further, the participants called on African governments
to “establish minimum standards for local and Foreign Direct
Investments” (“FDIs”) that were appropriate for both national
needs and the private sector.57 Finally, there was a pledge to
“encourage research and development that will create Africa-
specific technological solutions . . . taking into account [the con-
tinent’s] rich indigenous knowledge systems.”58
In the Consensus Agreement, ADF VII participants pledged
a number of sector-specific actions, including in agriculture,
food security, and infrastructure. For instance, in order to
improve the continent’s approach in addressing agriculture and
food security challenges, the Agreement called on African coun-
tries to take a “holistic approach;” seek a strong, fair, and com-
prehensive future agreement on payment systems for agriculture
sector emissions;60 improve and grow “index-based insurance
schemes and safety nets;” and accelerate initiatives aimed at
reducing dependence on rain-fed farming.61
In addition, to address the adverse impacts of climate
change on the continent’s infrastructure development efforts,
the agreement called on African governments to “climate-proof
their water infrastructure,” promote more sustainable demand,
increase efficiency, increase rain-water harvesting, and sup-
port more successful water management at all levels, including
for states sharing water resources, notably rivers.62 In addition,
the agreement pledged to adopt a “holistic approach” to pro-
mote low-carbon energy sources and technology, and “to sup-
port the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa
(“PIDA”)63 to ensure development of the continent’s priority
infrastructure projects.64
In their resolve to address the social and human develop-
ment challenges posed by climate change,65 the participants
agreed to “employ . . . a human rights-based approach (HRBA)
in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.”66 The
agreement pledges the governments to support an “equity-based
health care financing in climate change funding mechanisms
and internal resource mobilization.”67 There was also a pledge
to comprehensively incorporate gender perspectives in develop-
ment, encourage eco-friendly development and awareness, and
promote “youth-led actions and processes.”68
Further, the participants agreed that, in order to address the
peace and security issues posed by climate change,69 African
countries should “engage in preventive diplomacy,”70 in part
through the Climate for Development in Africa (“ClimDev-
Africa”) Programme, to effectively address the interface
between climate change, peace and security issues, and disaster
response.71 The agreement also proposed amending the African
Union Protocol on peace and security,72 and tasked the AU Peace
and Security Council (“PSC”) to, in its work, take into account
climate-related peace and security issues, including migration.73
Finally, in their efforts to address the impacts of climate
change on ecosystem sustainability,74 African governments
agreed to promote effective and sustainable human-centered eco-
system management,75 encourage the use of Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (“REDD+”)
initiatives to reduce poverty, and implement the UNFCCC, the
CBD, and the Desertification Convention “in a synergistic man-
ner to promote coherent [environmental] management.”76
It was agreed that, in order to improve financing for climate
change actions in Africa,77 African governments and their devel-
opment partners should promote financial reform to enhance
funding access for Africa, in particular by identifying and pri-
oritizing efficient financial resource distribution, in part through
newly forged Public-Private Partnerships. The agreement also
“strongly supports” the establishment and setting up of the pro-
posed African Green Fund (“AGF”),78 which is expected to
coordinate and manage climate financing on the continent.
In addition, the participants agreed that to improve the con-
tinent’s capacity to manage the risks of climate-related disas-
ters,79 African governments should strengthen the national
institutions generating and handling climate-related data, and
promote the exchange of this information. The agreement also
calls for promotion of broad cooperation in sharing climate-
related knowledge (through early warning systems) and disaster
management, and strengthening of surveillance and monitoring
systems across all regional levels.80 It also calls for promotion of
index-based insurance in arid and semi-arid areas,81 as well as
promotion of integration of climate risk management (“CRM”)
in all levels of education and all levels of policy-making.82
Further, to improve the continent’s level of scientific and
technological innovativeness to respond to climate change,83
the participants agreed that African countries should “build
a regional climate change knowledge repository,”84 invest in
scientific research and development,85 and support and priori-
tize disaster risk-management and preventive capacity. On the
international level, the agreement seeks to promote the pursuit
of technology transfer and global partnerships to that end.86
Finally, the Agreement promotes the strengthening of African
universities and research and technology centers to “increas[e]
their competitiveness in the global market.”87 To improve
Africa’s capacity to respond to climate change,88 the agree-
ment pledged that African countries, with the support of their
development partners, should strengthen CRM-related national
institutions, including educational institutions at all levels, and
improve the capacity of vulnerable groups;89 and foster South-
South cooperation.90
Impotent Political Leadership
Africa lacks credible leadership to address climate change.
The political leaders are yet to effectively walk their unending
talks; save for the multitude of pious resolutions,91 there is no
concrete effort to deal with the fast-unfolding crisis. In fact,
the continent’s affairs have been reduced to endless spirals of
meetings and deliberations, only to come up with more meet-
ings. It is this circus that has, for instance, delayed the estab-
lishment of the AGF.92 In general, the continent’s leadership
lacks the requisite political will to steer the continent to the path
of sustainable growth and development, with mere rhetorical
promise to tackle the climate change-related challenges engulf-
ing the continent.
Further, leadership has been lacking in preventing the
destruction of the continent’s ecosystems, and in mitigating
poverty and hunger, two of the biggest drivers of environmental
destruction on the continent. For instance, in the fast-evolving
“global land rush,” millions of African farmers have lost their
arable lands to foreign investors.93 These deals, often shrouded
in veils of secrecy, have violated the resource rights of millions
of poor Africans, fuelling poverty and food insecurity,94 two of
the biggest drivers of environmental destruction on the African
continent. Furthermore, as vast forestlands (and other ecosys-
tems that act as carbon sinks) are opened up to large-scale farm-
ing, the continent continues to be exposed to further threats of
climate change. Sadly, attempts by environmental activists to
resist the deals are often forcibly countered by the concerned
Against this backdrop and in the absence of committed and
visionary leadership, it cannot be denied that at both regional and
national levels it would be an exercise in futility to attempt sus-
taining the outcomes of ADF VII. Sadly, if African leaders con-
tinue to act in the way they are currently, the Consensus Statement
may as well land in the heap of unimplemented texts on climate
change, only to gather dust and be forgotten altogether.
Corruption and Economic Mismanagement
Corruption may be the most talked about problem in most
African countries, many of which have been poorly managed for
the better part of their post-independence histories. As we begin
the twenty-first century, unfortunately, not much has changed;
most of the leaders still use their official positions for self-
aggrandizement, as opposed to public service.96 In fact, over
the years, many African countries have perpetually ranked very
poorly on Transparency International’s corruption scorecard.97
In both the public and private spheres, the vice has greatly
undermined the continent’s growth and development prospects,
while exacerbating the costs and effects of climate change.98
Undoubtedly, the resulting impoverishment, dilapidation of
basic infrastructure, and decay of the social justice system,
among many other associate evils, will adversely undermine
the affected population’s resilience to shocks related to climate
change. More importantly, corruption affects the flow of financ-
ing for addressing climate change.99 These are real challenges
that starkly stand in the path to effectuation of the outcomes of
Continued Impoverishment and Worsening Food
For decades, Africa has unsuccessfully struggled to eradi-
cate poverty.100 Closely intertwined with, and largely culmi-
nating from, poverty is chronic food insecurity, a situation that
WINTER 2011 42
has seen millions of Africans deprived of food, the most basic
necessity in life. According to a recent estimate by the Food
and Agriculture Organization (“FAO”) of the UN, Africa hosts
approximately thirty percent of the world’s hungry popula-
tion—about 276 million Africans face hunger.101 The causes are
many and complex, and include corruption, protracted armed
conflicts, economic and political marginalization, and continued
Unfortunately, the millions condemned to perpetual poverty
and chronic food insecurity have often turned to various forms of
environmentally harmful means of survival, including charcoal
burning, fuel-wood vending, logging, and encroachment on for-
ests and other sensitive ecological zones to open up more farm-
lands. These actions will undoubtedly exacerbate the impacts of
climate change in the affected areas, thereby portending a vis-
ible challenge to sustenance of the outcomes of ADF VII.
The Culture of Marginalization
Discussions on climate change issues in Africa are largely
dominated by the political elites and their ilk.102 Many have been
left out of the process. In particular, groups that have remained
vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change (like indig-
enous peoples, women, children, and the youth) have been
pushed to the peripheries of the discussion, and millions of Afri-
cans have had no effective voice in the process.103 This has fur-
ther led to a number of individuals and communities expressing
skepticism of the nexus between the environment and climate
change, thereby dismissing claims that the current problems are
attributable to man’s activities.104
These challenges, which were expressly acknowledged at
ADF VII,105 cannot be wished away even in the post-Forum
periods, for they portend a serious challenge to effectuating the
outcomes of the Forum. Indeed, it need not be emphasized that
addressing these challenges will greatly contribute to sustenance
of the outcomes.
Global Inaction and Unreliable Pledges
Africa’s efforts to address climate change issues cannot suc-
ceed if treated in isolation of the global trends. Further, we must
not forget that, contributing only about 3.8% of the global GHG
emissions,106 Africa is suffering the wrongs of others, and even
if it were to fully tackle climate change in its domain, its efforts
would not be more than a drop in the ocean. In light of this, a
cursory view of the prevailing global practices reveals a mixed
track record, with non-commitment surfacing at various times.
For instance, the commitment of some developed coun-
tries to address climate change in developing countries has
been merely rhetorical; some of them have yet to honor their
pledges under the current global financing mechanism.107 This
has resulted in inadequate, unpredictable, and unreliable financ-
ing for climate change actions in Africa, as in other developing
countries.108 The World Bank too has not been straightforward
in its dealing with (and in) developing countries; through its sub-
sidiaries, it continues to finance the “global land rush”109 and
other projects that would likely contribute to climate change.110
Surely, if Africa is to meaningfully address climate change,
and if the outcomes of ADF VII are to be sustained, adequate,
predictable, and reliable, financing for climate change actions is
indispensable. Otherwise, in the absence of such external financ-
ing support and recognizing that most climate change actions
are largely capital-intensive, Africa may be able to only do very
little, if anything, to manage climate change on its own.
Proliferation of Climate Funds
Over the last few years, we have witnessed proliferation of
climate funds, a handful of which have benefited (or are expected
to benefit) the African continent in its efforts to implement vari-
ous climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. Such fund-
ing regimes include the Clean Technology Fund (“CTF”),111 the
Special Climate Fund (“SCF”),112 the Kyoto Protocol Adapta-
tion Fund,113 the Congo Basin Forest Fund (“CBFF”),114 the
Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (“FCPF”),115 the Global
Environment Facility Trust Fund (“GEF Trust Fund”),116 the
Global Climate Change Alliance (“GCCA”),117 the Least Devel-
oped Countries Fund (“LDCF”),118 and the Special Climate
Change Fund (“SCCF”).119 These funding efforts received a
major boost when the establishment of a “Green Climate” Fund
was proposed at the recently concluded COP-16.120
It cannot be denied that, the dissatisfactions notwithstand-
ing,121 cumulatively, these initiatives can greatly contribute
to Africa’s cause to address the challenges posed by climate
change. If well harnessed, these funding mechanisms have the
potential to significantly contribute to the sustaining the out-
comes of ADF VII.
Developments within the AU Framework
A number of recent developments within the AU frame-
work hold some positive prospects in sustaining the ADF VII
Outcomes. For instance, on October 13, 2010, at a ceremony
on the sidelines of ADF VII, the AU Commission, the AfDB,
and UNECA launched the Climate for Development in Africa
(“ClimDev-Africa”) Programme,122 which aims at strengthen-
ing the climate-resilience of economic growth and the MDGs
through mainstreaming of CRM in sensitive sectors. Shortly
thereafter, in November 2010, under the auspices of the AU
Conference of Energy Ministers (“CEMA”), the AU Commis-
sion, the AfDB, and UNECA jointly hosted the First All-Africa
Energy Week 2010 (“AAEW”), a high-level stakeholder forum
for monitoring progress, taking stock, undertaking constructive
dialog, and sharing knowledge, with the aim of enhancing uni-
versal energy access.123
In addition, on November 4, 2010, the AfDB launched the
African Carbon Support Project (“ACSP”), which is designed
to assist project developers in the continent in accessing carbon
finance to ensure commercial viability of their projects.124 Most
recently, on December 6, 2010, the AfDB representatives joined
representatives from other Multilateral Development Banks in a
joint side event of the COP-16, whose theme was “Scaling-up
International Climate Finance.”125
By and large, their individual merits or otherwise notwith-
standing, these initiatives hold immense potential to sustain the
outcomes of ADF VII, as well as other regional commitments
to address challenges related to climate change and variability.
The Cancún Gains
Though heavily criticized as having yielded too little,126
COP-16 heralded a number of gains with potential to contrib-
ute to sustenance of the Outcomes of ADF VII. For instance,
though not legally binding, the Cancún Agreement reflects some
level of changing relations between developing countries and
the developed countries; it embodies a “fairly modest” deal on
reduction of emissions, calling on developed countries to reduce
their GHG emissions (as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord).127
The Agreement also proposes the establishment of a “Green
Climate” Fund, which is intended to assist developing countries
finance emission reductions and adaptation actions.128
Contributions of the Civil Society and the Private
The African private sector and the civil society, though long
excluded from the mainstream discussions, currently play indis-
pensable roles in addressing climate change issues on the con-
tinent. While the civil society has been particularly involved in
lobby and advocacy activities,129 the private sector has proved
critical in supplementing the existing global climate financing
initiatives.130 For instance, on June 5, 2008, the Rockefeller
Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—through
their Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
(“AGRA”)—established the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund
(“AECF”) to leverage private sector and donor funding for suc-
cessful eco-friendly projects and enterprises.131
In order to sustain the various outcomes of ADF VII, Afri-
can governments should, as a matter of priority, implement a
number of measures. Though not offered as an absolute panacea
for the climate change problem in Africa, these measures are
believed to wield immense potential to sustain the outcomes and
other related initiatives to address the challenges posed by cli-
mate change and variability on the continent.
First and foremost, they must back up their words with
action—moving from the unending official rhetoric to offer-
ing effective leadership in addressing issues related to climate
change. In particular, they have to link the continent’s Common
Position and the prevailing regional, sub-regional, and national
policies, strategies, practices, and programs. Second, they have
to fully commit themselves to the fight against corruption,
ensure proper targeting of funds received under the prevailing
climate funds regimes, and establish effective normative and
institutional frameworks. Third, they have to fully commit them-
selves to the fight against poverty, also through the establish-
ment of appropriate normative and institutional approaches, and
with adequate budgetary focus.
Fourth, they must profile climate change as a human
rights issue and nurture a sustainable culture of human rights,
in particular through mainstreaming of human rights concerns
into all regional, sub-regional, and national polices, strategies,
practices, and programs. Indeed, climate change issues have
to be effectively integrated in litigations on the environment,
with effective remedies for any resulting violations of environ-
mental rights. Fifth, African governments need to effectively
leverage the window of opportunity availed by climate change
and variability, in particular the opportunity to establish green
Sixth, African governments have to consider inviting lead-
ers from developed countries to their meetings, with a view to
enabling them to fully appreciate the African version of the cli-
mate change debates. Seventh, they need to effectively engage
the big GHG emitters, with a view to having them honor their
pledges to reduce their emissions and support climate change
adaptation and mitigation actions in Africa. Eighth, they need to
engage the international community to break the long-standing
lack of transparency at the Breton Woods institutions, in particu-
lar the World Bank.
Ninth, African governments have to invest in routine situ-
ational assessments in order to establish the progress, challenges
and prospects in addressing climate change. In addition, they
need to work towards breaking the reigning skepticism (through,
for instance, broad-based social mobilization and dissemination
on the interface between the environment and climate change.
Further, the governments have to establish and sustain credible
specialized institutions, preferably within the AU Commission
framework, to coherently address climate change issues on the
continent. In particular, they must prioritize the operationaliza-
tion of the AGF, while engaging the continent’s international
development partners to sustainably support the initiative.
Last but not the least, African governments have to con-
sider subscribing to the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on
Biological Diversity.132 The Protocol, which opened for signa-
ture and ratification on February 2, 2011, has the potential to
promote more equitable distribution of genetic resources for the
This article highlighted key challenges and prospects in sus-
taining the outcomes of ADF VII. Although immense challenges
lie in the path to sustenance of the outcomes, there are equally
immense prospects, which, if properly harnessed, can ultimately
drive Africa towards effectively combating climate change. On
the basis of the balance sheet of challenges and prospects, the
article has offered measures that African governments must to
adopt. These measures, though not an absolute panacea for the
continent’s woes, have the potential to contribute to the cause of
fighting the challenges posed by climate change and variability
on the continent.
African leaders must improve the continent’s normative
and institutional capacities to deal with the challenges posed
by climate change. Undoubtedly, they cannot just sit and watch
calamities unfold in series; the time has come for them to
jointly and individually take action to avert the consequences
WINTER 2011 44
of climate change, if they are at all committed to saving Africa
from fatal catastrophes. Otherwise, the continent’s hard-earned
development gains may quickly erode, thereby subjecting more
Africans to the curse of poverty for the foreseeable future.
1 Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President, Republic of Malawi, Chairman, Afr.
Union, Opening Remarks at CAHOSCC, Meeting, Kampala, Uganda, ¶¶ 1-4
(Jul. 24, 2010),
2 See Meeting of the Committee of Experts of the 3rd Joint Annual Meetings
of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Confer-
ence of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development,
Lilongwe, Malawi, Mar. 25-28, 2010, Report on Climate Change and Devel-
opment in Africa, E/ECA/COE/29/5, AU/CAMEF/EXP/5/(V) (Mar. 2, 2010)
[hereinafter Report on Climate Change and Development], http://www.uneca.
3 See 8th Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum, Berlin, Germany, May
22-23, 2007, Climate Change and Africa 3-4, http://www.africapartnership- (highlighting particular threats to the
continent posed by the effects of climate change that will prevent Africa from
meeting the MDG’s).
4 Id. at 3 (noting that Africa is the least responsible for the anthropogenic
causes of climate change).
5 See Seventh African Development Forum, Oct. 10-15, 2010, Climate
Change and Sustainable Dev. in Africa: An Overview, ¶ 20, http://www.uneca.
6 According to the recent estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization
(“FAO”) of the UN, about 276 million Africans face hunger. This translates to
approximately thirty percent of the world’s hungry population. See FAO, THE
IN PROTRACTED CRISIS 10, fig.5 (2010),
7 See Seventh African Development Forum, supra note 5, ¶ 20.
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 Id.
CHANGE–THE ANATOMY OF A SILENT CRISIS, at ii, 22-39 (2009), http://www. (Providing case stud-
ies from around the world, including several locations in Africa where lower-
income populations have disproportionately suffered the burdens of climate
12 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 9, 1992, S.
Treaty Doc No. 102-38, 1771 U.N.T.S. 107 (entered into force Mar. 21, 1994),
13 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experi-
encing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, Jun. 17,
1994, 1954 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force Dec. 26, 1994), http://www.unccd.
14 Convention on Biological Diversity, Jun. 5, 1992, 1760 U.N.T.S. 79 (entered
into force Dec. 29, 1993),
15 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec.
11, 1997, 2303 U.N.T.S. 148 (entered into force Feb. 16, 2005), http://unfccc.
16 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity,
Jan. 29, 2000, 2226 U.N.T.S. 208 (entered into force Sept. 11, 2003), http://
17 See, e.g., Wilma Lutsch, S. Afr., Dept. of Envtl. Affairs & Tourism,
National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (Feb. 2008), http://www.cbd.
meetings/seminar/application/pdf/sem_sup3_south_africa.pdf (discussing South
Africa’s obligation to meet the aims of UNFCCC); National Steering Commit-
tee for the Implementation of the Convention On Biological Diversity (CBD)
GHANA, (last
visited Jan. 30, 2011); Action Programmes, UNCCD,
actionprogrammes/africa/africa.php (last visited Jan. 30, 2011).
18 See Assembly of the African Union, Eighth Ordinary Session, Jan. 29-30,
2007, Decision on Climate Change and Development, in Decisions and Decla-
rations, Assembly/AU/Dec.134 (VIII),
Assembly of the African Union, Eighth Ordinary Session, Jan. 29-30, 2007,
Declaration on Climate Change and Development in Africa, in Decisions and
Declarations, Assembly/AU/Decl.4 (VIII),
19 See Assembly of the African Union, Twelfth Ordinary Session, Feb. 1-3,
2009, Decision on the African Common Position on Climate Change Including
the Modalities of the Representation of Africa to the World Summit on Climate
Change, in Decisions, Declarations, Message of Congratulations and Motion,
AU Doc. Assembly/AU/Dec.236(XII), ¶ 5, [hereinafter Decision on the African
Common Position],
20 The Algiers Declaration on Climate Change, SAHARA & SAHEL OBSERVA-
id=622&Itemid=643&lang=en (last visited Mar. 12, 2011); see Decision on the
Implementation of the Decision on the African Common Position on Climate
Change, May 25-29, 2009, AU Doc. EX.CL/525(XV),
21 See Decision on the African Common Position, note 19, ¶ 3.
22 Current members of the CAHOSCC are: Ethiopia (Coordinator), Algeria,
the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda,
the AU Chairperson, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the Chair-
person of Conference of African Ministers of Environment (“AMCEN”), see
Afr. Union, Concept Note: First Meeting of the Conference of African Heads
of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and African Lead
Experts on Climate Change, Aug. 24, 2009, ¶ 2,
Press Release, African Press Organization, First Meeting of the Conference of
African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and
African Lead Experts on Climate Change (Aug. 11, 2009), http://appablog.
23 See Decision on the African Common Position, supra note 19, ¶ 2 (approv-
ing the Executive Council’s recommendations in Decision EX.CL/500(XV)).
24 For a critical insight into the African Common Position, see Werner Scholtz,
The Promotion of Regional Environment Security and Africa’s Common Posi-
tion on Climate Change, 10 AFR. HUM. RTS. L.J. 1 (2010); Albert Mumma, The
Poverty of Africa’s Position at the Climate Change Negotiations, 19 UCLA J.
ENVTL. L. & POLY 198 (2002).
25 Decision on the African Common Position, supra note 19, ¶¶ 3-4.
26 See Assembly of the African Union, Thirteenth Ordinary Session, Sirte,
Libya, July 1-3, 2009, Decision on the Accession of the African Union to the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the
Kyoto Protocol, in Decisions and Declarations, Assembly/AU/Dec.248(XIII),
¶ 3,
PDF; see also Assembly of the African Union, Thirteenth Ordinary Session,
Sirte, Libya, July 1-3, 2009, Decision on the African Union Accession to the
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in Decisions
Endnotes: Africa and the Climate Change Agenda
Endnotes: Africa and the Climate Change Agenda continued on page 86