COP 22: Innovative Solutions to Climate Change Challenges for the SIDS


The African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) attracted special attention during the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco. Several side events were organized in parallel to the main negotiations, including one on Innovative Solutions to Climate Change Challenges for the SIDS. It was promoted by SYAH Cabo Verde, the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It counted with the participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Deputy Director-General and Coordinator for Natural Resources, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, as a keynote speaker, and the African Union Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture (AUC-REA), Ms. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the WMO Secretary General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, and the AMCOMET Chair, Mr. Gilberto Silva, for the welcoming remarks.

Credit: Antonio Palazuelos/ FAO

The side event took place at the African Pavilion on November 18th, 2016, becoming the only one of this nature focusing in particular on the SIDS in Africa to mobilize and share comparatively innovative solutions and best practices for addressing and managing the unique risks and defies of climate change in these countries. It aimed at reviewing the status of implementation of the Samoa Pathway in African SIDS as well as raising awareness of developmental challenges posed by climate change while mobilizing resources for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in African SIDS.

In her opening remarks, the AUC-REA, Ms. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, highlighted the importance of supporting the islands in Africa to achieve a full sustainable development of the continent, as well as their strategic role to advance the African agenda on the oceans and achieve the goals of the Agenda 2063.

Afterwards, the Secretary General of the WMO, Professor Petteri Taalas, spoke about the Small Island Developing States and Member Island Territories Programme launched in 2015 and recalled that climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of SIDS, while they are the least emitters of GHGs and yet they bear some of the worst effects of climate change. “SIDS have often demonstrated leadership in calling for determined and urgent action to address climate change. They can also lead the way in the application of weather and climate services to support vital economic sectors and communities in building resilience to weather and climate”, added the Secretary General.

To conclude the opening remarks, the Chair of Bureau of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) and Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Cabo Verde, Mr. Gilberto Silva, explained the initiatives to support national institutions working on climate in Africa and to reinforce the exchange and network of African Institutes of Meteorology. He also mentioned the relevant challenges that climate change poses to the African SIDS and showcased some investments that Cabo Verde is doing in the fields of renewable energy and reforestation to mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as in the agricultures and water management to adapt to climate change.

“Through our Blue Growth Initiative we have expertise that allows us to provide a holistic and integrated approach to addressing issues such as coastal erosion, early warning and carbon sequestration which are all part of building coastal resilience of ecosystems and fishing communities, in addition to securing food through sustainable fisheries and aquaculture”, mentioned Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, during the keynote speech while referring to FAO’s support for a SIDS platform and the African Package announced during the COP22 Global Climate Action Oceans event, both of which can contribute to combatting climate change impacts for African SIDS.

During the panel with dignitaries of the African SIDS, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Seychelles, H.E. Didier Dogley, explained some of the innovative solutions that his country is taking to tackle climate change challenges, including the Blue Bonds and Climate Trust Fund and Endowment Fund. According to the Minister, these financial instruments are key to achieve climate resilience and support measures for adaptation and mitigation.

The Director-General of Environment and Forests from Comoros, HE. Youssouf Elamine Y. Mbechezi, underscored some of the environment protection programs that his government is implementing to foster climate adaptation and support the resilience of vulnerable communities in rural and coastal areas.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) through its African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) will reinforce its support to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Africa in the field of weather information providing key technologies and know-how to tackle the specific challenges that African archipelagos face due to climate change. Dr. James Murombedzi, the Officer in Charge of the ACPC, stressed this during the panel discussion, affirming that African SIDS are a priority for the UNECA.

The technical segment included two presentations, one about “Supporting African SIDS to manage climate risks” by Dr. Joseph Intsiful, Senior Climate Science Expert of the African Climate Policy Centre of the UNECA; another about “Enhancing weather and climate services in African SIDS”, by Mr. Maxx Dilley, Director of Climate Prediction and Adaptation at the WMO.

There were also an intervention from Dr. Pradeep Monga, Director of Energy, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), who summarized the role of his organization in supporting the renewable energy sector in the SIDS regions through the assistance for the establishment of the regional centers on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, including those in the Caribbean, Pacific and the one based in Cabo Verde – ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency-, a success story in the field, according to UNIDO Director of Energy.

From the panel, Dr. Ademola Braimoh, Coordinator Climate Smart Agriculture for the Africa Region at the World Bank, highlighted some cases of good practices on climate adaptation in several countries in Africa. Dr. Justus Joseph Kabyemera, Coordinator of the Clim-Dev Africa Special Fund at the African Development Bank, clarified the role of this fund to support climate change adaptation and mitigation programs in the continent, and in particular in the African SIDS. Finally, Dr. Edmund Jackson, Environment and Climate Change Officer of the Department of Sustainable Economic Development and Trade at the ACP Secretariat underscored the support of this organization to the island nations and the main programs they have for this purpose.

In the closing remarks, H.E. Gilberto Silva called for a solid partnership to support African SIDS and emphasized the importance of reinforcing the intraregional exchange of knowledge and information amid African SIDS to consolidate an effective network to share success practices on climate adaptation and mitigation that entrench the resilience of the peoples from island nations.

The audience was composed mainly by senior officials of the SIDS and the International Organizations, NGO and CSO representatives, think tanks and academia, as well as youth delegates from island countries.

African Solidarity Trust Fund for SIDS

In addition to this event, the COP22 hosted the ceremony of signature of a 1.5 million USD project funded by FAO through the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, between Mr. Gilberto Correia Carvalho Silva, Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Cabo Verde Mr. Didier Dogley, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Seychelles, and the FAO Deputy Director General, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo.

As a result of the signature of the project, African SIDS will benefit directly of the solidarity of their African neighbors. This project will support training and knowledge exchanges on climate-smart food production, and creation of viable market opportunities for nutritious food in Cabo Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles.

It will specifically support Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Seychelles for developing and promoting the adoption of efficient and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices, while building climate resilience within the agricultural sectors through various development pathways, including integrated landscape management and promotion of viable market opportunities to incentivize efficient CSA practices.

The Minister of Cabo Verde highlighted that the African Solidarity Fund is an example of generosity from the African brother countries and it will effectively contribute to enhance the agriculture and the food security in the island states while promoting the knowledge sharing and good practices exchanges amid SIDS countries. Likewise, the Minister Didier Dogley underscored the importance of supporting CSA in Seychelles in order to build resilience and strengthen the food security in the country while decreasing the dependency of food imports for the islands.

Maria Helena Semedo also extended her appreciation to the donor countries in Africa for making possible the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), in particular to Guinea Equatorial and Angola. The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as an innovative South-South cooperation initiative led exclusively by Africa to improve agriculture and food security across the continent.

Credit: Antonio Palazuelos/ FAO

Credit: Antonio Palazuelos/ FAO

Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs