Africa a “Special Needs and Circumstances” Region
Africa Opinions

Africa a “Special Needs and Circumstances” Region

November 2 2021, Glasgow, UK| Climate finance for addressing loss and damage, fairtrade in adaptation to climate change and debt relief for a green and inclusive recovery are key issues Africa wants addressed at the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Glasgow in Scotland.

According to the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) at the COP26, Climate change impacts and catastrophes are sweeping across the continent as attested to by the latest report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report released last August.

According to the report, Africa is a particular vulnerability hotspot, with its adaptation needs expected to grow substantially even if global warming is held below 2°C.

According to a report released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and other agencies on the ‘State of the Climate in Africa, 2020’, the African mountains are facing looming and permanent damage due to changing climate.

“The rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in Eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system.” Warns Prof. Petteri Taalas Secretary-General, WMO.

Many parts of Africa like the Sahel, the Rift Valley, the central Nile catchment and north-eastern Africa, the Kalahari basin and the lower course of the Congo River, are experiencing higher-than-normal rainfall, together with flooding.

Dry conditions prevailed in the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea and in north-western Africa and along the south-eastern part of the continent.

In some countries like Madagascar, prolonged drought and poor harvest complicated by COVID 19 pandemic triggered a humanitarian crisis.


There has been extensive flooding in many parts of East Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Chad, Nigeria (which also experienced drought in the southern part), Niger, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, with reported loss of life and displacement of populations.

Many lakes and rivers reached record high levels, including Lake Victoria and the Niger River at Niamey and the Blue Nile at Khartoum. Such high-impact events have stressed African’s vulnerable sectors like agriculture, water, energy, wildlife, biodiversity and public health, thereby significantly affecting development.

Worse, according to Robert Muthami, a climate policy analyst, the cost of adaptation in vulnerable developing countries is expected to rise rapidly after 2020.

Kate Nkatha, Commercial Director, Fairtrade Africa (FTA) said the farming communities, are impacted by changing weather, leading to decreased food security, loss of property, deteriorating infrastructure etc.

“Take cocoa for example – 70% comes from West Africa, directly supporting over 100 million people in Ghana, Ivory Coast… and millions more indirectly in Africa”.

Billions of people in the supply chains across the world depend of the Cocoa to support their livelihoods — in terms of transportation, manufacturing, retailing, legislation and taxation and any negative impact in Cocoa production from West Africa has a ripple effect to the whole world! Climate change has that potential to cripple families.

Because of such unique conditions of the African continent, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) has urged the 26th Conference of Parties (COP) to consider Africa a “special needs and circumstances” region.

This consideration is consistent with the Paris Agreement, scientific findings and previous decisions of the COP and Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP); the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Bali Action Plan, guidance to the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund decisions.

According to the AGN, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened climate change impact on the health and the economy of Africa.

It has affected the already highly volatile markets and reduced the continent’s GDP by up to 3.4%. It is estimated that Africa lost between $173.1 billion and $236.7 billion for the years 2020–2021, and this has made it even more difficult to adapt to climate change.

Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, who is part of the African Delegation at COP26, notes that the continent has to position her issues prominently and convincingly at the conference because only we understand what we need in order to deal with the emerging climate issues. “We have to demonstrate that our issues are unique and deserve special attention,” he says.

Africa is estimated to contribute only 4% of the total global emissions. By the time of the opening of the COP26 on October 31, the AGN noted that all of the African countries had communicated their ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are non-binding national plans, policies and measures governments aim for to address climate change.

During the COP26 opening ceremony, the AGN expressed disappointment with lack of progress in the implementation of its provisions.

“We are deeply concerned about the delay in agreeing on common time frames. It has been 6 years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, but Parties have not decided on this agenda item,” said the AGN.

Common time frames are important in bringing clarity, transparency and understanding (CTU) of NDCs and this is possible only with a single common timeframe.

The AGN are also pressing for a climate finance package under the UNFCCC, with a continuation of long-term finance (LTF) under the Convention.

A new global goal on climate finance is, proposed before COP27, with the target of getting minimum commitment by developed countries to mobilize and provide at least USD 1.3 trillion per year by 2030 in form of grants, of which 50% would be for mitigation and 50% for adaptation.

The AGN has also called for streamlining of the process of accessing Green Climate Fund resources to make it easier for countries to implement their NDCs and provisions of the UNFCCC.

“Such unilateral conditions risk hundreds of millions of dollars of multilateral financing in support of climate change and just transition projects in Africa,” noted the AGN.

The AGN further said that Africa calls for adequate and predictable financial support to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, which supports developing countries to access information and knowledge.

“COP26 is truly a pivot opportunity to advocate for delivery of equitable and robust responses to climate change promises,” said Nkatha.

“As Fairtrade, we support the call for climate justice. But we also say there is no climate justice without trade justice.

The agricultural supply chain starts with the smallholder farmer who deserves fair pay for them to continue playing their role of feeding the world,” she said.