CoM SSA Day at Climate Chance puts the spotlight on capacitating local government to finance and implement climate actions
Published: 29 Oct 2021
The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa, a European Union action, recently hosted CoM SSA Day at the Climate Chance Summit Africa 2021. The event focused on topics related to climate action plans and unlocking climate finance for sustainable infrastructure, climate change adaptation, energy access and Nature-based Solutions.
CoM SSA Day, which hosted over 340 participants, commenced with an institutional opening which focussed on financing climate and multi-level governance. Speakers reflected on the challenges local governments face in accessing climate finance as well as strategies to capacitate these governments and ensure that there is collaboration between the local and national level.
Ms Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar, a CoM SSA signatory, said: “The EU support through CoM SSA has been instrumental in sensitising 19 municipalities on building resilience, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and accessing funding.”
CoM SSA programme, co-funded by the European Union (EU), the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) plays a key role in boosting local climate and sustainable energy action in Sub-Saharan Africa, in line with the external dimension of the EU Green Deal.
Ms Irène Mingasson, EU Ambassador to Senegal emphasised the EU’s commitment to building climate resilience: “By 2027, the European Commission will devote at least 25% of its budget to climate and environment.”
All speakers agreed that strengthening capacities at the local level is key to fair and sustainable development.
Mr Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) highlighted the legal challenges local governments face: “The access of financing is not easy in cities and regions because we need to strengthen legal capacity for them to have direct access to loans without going directly to the state. The EU must support the decentralising efforts in Africa.”
The CoM SSA Day event also co-hosted two technical sessions designed to promote knowledge sharing and exchanges between CoM SSA signatories in order for local governments to learn from other pioneering sub-Saharan local governments, and reflect on the needs and the way forward to overcome climate challenges at the local level.
One of the main recommendations heard from experts and African cities on their experiences which emerged during the first session titled, Demystifying Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plans (SEACAPs) was the importance of having focused, clear and specific actions – as this makes the move from planning to implementation easier.
Speakers also highlighted the role of involving the local community throughout the process, in addition to ensuring all stakeholders are fully involved.
Mr Emenyu Antony Philip, Agricultural Officer and Head of Production Department for the Kasese Municipality said, “Bringing in a variety of partners was key to our successful implementation of our SEACAP process.”
The flexibility of the SEACAP development process allows CoM SSA signatories to develop a SEACAP that suits their circumstances. Three local governments; Maputo, Matola and Boane in Mozambique are developing a joint SEACAP. Due to the particular interrelation and socio-economic interdependency between the three municipalities, a joint approach to implementing a SEACAP for the cities was a better fit. This project is part of a multi-stakeholder programme called, Mitigation of Climate Change through an Inclusive and Sustainable Mobility Model in the Maputo Metropolitan Area. This programme is co-financed and coordinated by the AECID under the CoM SSA initiative and implemented by several partners, including UN-Habitat.
Ms Elena Sentieri, Urban Resilience and Development Specialist at UN Habitat said, “The joint SEACAP will be of the first plans at metropolitan level, able to demonstrate the urgency of institutionalising the Greater Maputo as a metropolitan area.”
The importance of considering the local context was again a common message in the second technical session titled, Adaptation through Nature-based Solutions (NbS).
Ms Liliane Assogba Sessou, WACA Management Programme at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said local communities need to take ownership of NbS projects: “The challenges faced by local nature-based solutions projects are to define local solutions with local communities, based on their skills and on local materials so that local people can ensure maintenance and the follow up of the programmes.”
CoM SSA signatories highlighted the importance of using what nature provides to enhance the successful implementation of nature and biodiversity restoration.
Mr Bongani Mnisi, Environmental Planning and Sustainability Manager in the Environmental Management Department for the City of Cape Town provided an encouraging example: “Just by clearing invasive species, about 55 billion litres of water have been saved.”
What became clear from our technical sessions was that there is a need for continued support from local communities, implementing organisations, funders, partners, as well as local and national governments, to ensure the momentum of implementing climate action plans is not lost.
The climate crisis needs a unified approach from local, regional and national leaders, in partnership with all actors and stakeholders in society. Planning processes must be inclusive and participatory to ensure success. Ensuring climate considerations are embedded in all city planning policies – not just in stand-alone climate action plans – is crucial to ensuring resilient and sustainable development.
To view the recordings from CoM SSA Day in English, French and Portuguese click here.
Special appreciation is due to the CoM SSA partners, AECID, CEMR, Expertise France, GIZ, ICLEI Africa and UCLG-A, for their support in the organisation of this event.