Sahel Climate Fund: A recipe for Africa’s challenges?

The 2nd Heads of State and Governments of Sahel Region Climate Commission, SRCC, at the 36th African Union, AU, Summit held this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has come and gone, but its memories will continue to raise issues of concern, and discussions, in the continent and beyond.

One vital issue that has continued to attract attention globally is the “Sahel Climate Fund” as the financial body of the Sahel Region Climate Commission, SRCC.

SRCC is one of the three climate commissions for Africa created in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016 at the Summit of African Heads of State and Governments, organised at the initiative of King of Morocco, on the sidelines of the 22nd Conference of the Parties, COP22, to the United Nations, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC

The Sahel Climate Fund will mobilise the necessary resources from member states, bilateral and multilateral partners, and private financial institutions to foster cooperation and coordinated actions among Sahel Region Climate Commission member countries to address climate change issues.

It is an undisputable fact that the Sahel is endowed with great potential for renewable energy and sits atop some of the largest aquifers on the continent. Potentially, Sahel is one of the richest regions in the world with abundant human, cultural and natural resources.

However, the Sahel climate is characterised by extreme temperatures with fluctuating periods of rainfall and intense drought. The region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, as Climate change remains one of the major challenges that Sahel’s countries face.

The UN estimates that 80 percent of the agricultural areas in the Sahel belt are already affected by climate change. In this region the temperature is rising one and a half times as fast as the global average.

Sahel which literally mean “coast, shore”, has been explained as a figurative reference to the southern edge of the vast Sahara that forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the more fertile belt of humid savannas to the south. This includes four countries bordering Lake Chad, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Also Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal are in the Sahel Region.

The UN Support Plan for the Sahel targeting 10 countries and covering 2018-2030 was designed to support the implementation of the priorities identified to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda.

The overarching goal of the UN Support Plan for the Sahel is to scale up efforts to accelerate shared prosperity and lasting peace in the Sahel countries and the region at-large by implementing priorities to achieve the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the African Union Agenda 2063.

Developed to stimulate a coherent and coordinated approach aimed at greater efficiency within the framework of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, this strategy is at the centre of the international response to the Sahel in accordance with resolution 2391 of 2017 of the United Nations Security Council.

The Support Plan aims to improve coordination and strengthen collaboration with partners in the region; including national and regional institutions, bilateral and multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society organizations. Women and young people are targeted as a priority by all fields and interventions.

It also focuses on strengthening governance, improving security and resilience, as well as promoting a more integrated approach to address the link between humanitarianism, security and development.

Although countries in the Sahel have abundant human and natural resources offering tremendous potentials for rapid growth, there are deep-rooted challenges associated with environment, politics and security that may affect the prosperity and peace of the Sahel.

The support plan highlights the enormous opportunities in the Sahel and its vast assets in natural resources, energy, tourism and culture; and is aimed at mobilizing public resources and triggering private investments in the 10 countries in support of ongoing efforts and initiatives by governments, international and regional organizations, and other partners, is built around some priority areas.

It is indeed heart warming hearing African leaders at the summit speaking with one voice asking for adequate and predictable climate financing by all and sundry.

Regrettably, the King of Morocco disclosed that the continent only received 12% of global climate financing.

In his usual magnanimity, President Muhammadu Buhari at the summit pledged that Nigeria was ready to host the Secretariat of the Sahel Climate Fund, including equipping and provision of accommodation to its top management staff.

According to President Buhari, as an active member of the commission, Nigeria will support the operationalisation of the secretariat towards effective implementation of climate change activities in the region.

He expressed concern that the availability and access to funds for implementation of climate change activities, especially adaptation, remain major problems for the African region.

He therefore, described the Sahel Climate Fund as an additional financial resource which is adequate and predictable for implementation of the requirements of the Climate Change Convention and the Paris Agreement.

In the words of the Nigerian leader, the Fund will among others, serve as a gateway to climate finance and investment strategy, finance the implementation of National Determined Contributions, NDCs of member states and ensure effective participation of the Sahel Region in the global effort to curb greenhouse gas, GHG emissions.

‘‘Understanding the barriers to accelerated climate finance inflows and our climate related sectors, are perceived to be high risk investment destinations due to multilayered operational risks, the Sahel Climate Fund will serve as a gateway to climate finance and investment strategy that considers innovative and practical ways to overcome multiple risk impediments and sustainable financial support to Sahelian Countries”, added President Buhari.

In addition, the Sahel Climate Fund will be the necessary Climate Finance Mechanism that will be instrumental in financing the implementation of the NDCs of member states, contribute to strengthening the adaptation and resilience capacities of local communities along with their livelihoods, and ensure effective participation of the Sahel Region in the global effort to curb GHG emissions.

It is expected that the Sahel Climate Fund will mobilize the necessary resources from member states, bilateral and multilateral partners, and private financial institutions to foster cooperation and coordinated actions among Sahel Region Climate Commission member countries to address climate change.

PMB further underscored the need for urgent and extensive action as well as broad international participation required to tackle climate change in Africa.

The continent looks forward to a positive and sustainable provision of adequate and predictable finance, adaptation, loss and damage, capacity building, development and deployment of necessary support to the Sahel Region Climate Commission so as to ensure comprehensive activities towards mitigating and adapting to climate change and sustainable development in the region as put forward by President Buhari.

No one doubts the fact that climate change is an increasing threat to Africa whose adverse impact is the underlying cause of many human population stressors and conflicts with the potential of causing regional instability.

Indeed, the Sahel climate fund is a one-stop shop towards addressing the multilayered climate, social, agricultural, security and a whole lot of challenges facing the region.

Ilallah writes from Abuja via [email protected]