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Africa lines up partners and leads the region in accelerating climate adaptation

European Union, African Union Commission, The AAI Chair from the Gabonese Republic, UNDP and other partners voice strong commitment to drive enhanced knowledge to scale-up climate change adaptation in Africa in the first Strategic Advisory Committee meeting of the Africa Adaptation Initiative

6 October 2020 – High level leaders highlighted the value of building strong institutions to advance locally led climate action across the African continent in today’s First Strategic Advisory Committee Meeting of the Enhancing Knowledge and Evidence to Scale-up Climate Change Adaptation in Africa via the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

As the European Union-financed initiative to support AAI nears its launch, the meeting signaled continued global support for the localization agenda as a key initiative of last year’s United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit.

Africa only contributes a minimal 4 percent of global GHG – compared to the 78 percent of GHG emissions from G20 countries – but at the same time, Africa is severely impacted by climate change.

In her remarks, Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary General, Assistant Administrator and Director of Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, underscored the importance of continuing to tell the story of how African governments and the people of Africa are putting their best foot forward to build locally-driven, climate-resilient pathways.

“This is an initiative that is owned by Africa, and has the full backing and commitment by the leadership of the continent. AAI is as much about the future as it is about today. We are planning forward, building forward today. The continent can count on UNDP to accompany this process and this important drive for sustainability,” said Eziakonwa.

In January 2020, the European Union announced EUR 1 million in new funding to the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI). The grant will be implemented by UNDP, and looks to expand the knowledge base to inform improved and more effective climate change adaptation initiatives in African countries.

“We hope that the AAI initiative shows the EU’s determination to step-up its work on adaptation, sustainable jobs and the transformational change of our societies and our future. This project is a good testimony in our steadfast cooperation with Africa and progress on climate action and policies. Over many years, the EU has been working with our Africa partners to strengthen aspects at the domestic level to really try to lead together in this trajectory towards low carbon and clean energy societies. We say together, because together we need to pursue a holistic transformation both at home and globally,” said Yvon Slingenberg, Director for International, Mainstreaming and Policy Coordination, DG-CLIMA, European Union.

Since its launch in 2015 at the landmark Paris Climate Talks, the African Adaptation Initiative has achieved visibility as a responsive adaptation initiative for Africa. As AAI scales-up its support for climate change adaptation across the continent, the new grant will work to expand the capacity to utilize climate risk information and assess and implement risk transfer mechanisms, strengthen the knowledge and capacity to develop effective climate change adaptation actions, and facilitate the formulation of a report on the State of Adaptation in Africa. This supports the overall efforts of AAI to enhance climate information and services, advance risk transfer, facilitate knowledge management for adaptation and strengthen the adaptive capacity of African actors in dealing with climate change.

“This support could not have come at a more opportune moment. As the world reels from the devastating impacts of climate change coupled with COVID-19, it is ever more important that we recover and rebuild with a green and resilient future in mind. This project has tremendous potential to do just that,” said Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary General, Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.

The initiative will leverage the capacities of UNDP’s network of experts from local to global levels, working seamlessly across the organization’s Nature Climate and Energy portfolio, NDC Implementation Support Programme, National Adaptation Plans support programmes, and the growing work in supporting countries on insurance and risk finance.

“It is not science fiction to imagine that over the next 20 to 30 years there will be tens, if not hundreds of millions of climate refugees moving around Africa and moving out of Africa. So, this challenge of obviously mitigating climate change but adapting to climate change is going to be more and more a feature of our daily lives, and there are going to be more unexpected impacts of climate change to which we are going to have to adapt. This is a critical issue for Africa, it is a critical issue for all of us to address, and it is really important that the EU, UNDP, and all of our partners come together within the African Adaptation Initiative to help us start to address these issues and come up with a short- to medium-term strategy for how we are going to respond to the scale at which adaptation is going to be needed in Africa,” said Gabon’s Minister of Forestry, Lee White. 

H.E. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission, highlighted the value of the Great Green Wall Initiative, COVID-19 responses and food security efforts, and ongoing UNDP and EU support to advance programmes for climate finance and disaster risk reduction across the continent.

“The AAI has grown and would not have been possible without the strong support and commitment from the Government of Gabon,” said Sacko.

Ambassador Seyni Nafo, AAI Coordinator, presented an overview of the initiative during the meeting. “We are on the right side of history; we are doing all that we can to accelerate adaptation and resilience. It is good to have the EU on our side, to tackle, shoulder by shoulder, the challenges that we face. Also, the UN larger family has been there for AAI since day one; your team has done a tremendous job, and we are very fortunate to have you.”

The Enhancing Knowledge and Evidence to Scale-up Climate Change Adaptation in Africa via the Africa Adaptation Initiative will officially launch in the coming months. Details of the launch event will be available on

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