CoM SSA Day: Local governments in Africa need to take immediate and impactful adaptation measures to build resilience to climate
Published: 24 Oct 2022
CoM SSA cities have a bold vision for a sustainable and resilient future and reiterated the need for action and financing of adaptation projects ahead of the COP27 negotiations in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt this coming November.
The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) through its co-implementing partner the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), hosted over 300 participants from local and national government, civil society, and the private sector at the CoM SSA Day event held during the week for Sustainable Mobility and Climate #SMDC202 in Dakar, Senegal on 4 October. Over 1000 people from all over the world gathered in Dakar for the week-long conference jointly organised by CODATU Association, CETUD, and the Climate Chance Association. The conference's main theme was adaptation to climate change through energy efficiency and ecosystem-based solutions, with a focus on coastal areas. CoM SSA Day was an opportune moment for CoM SSA signatories to reflect on the needs and challenges that local governments face and to also present different experiences and lessons learned by pioneering Sub-Saharan African cities.
During the CoM SSA Day opening ceremony, the Spanish Ambassador to Senegal, Olga Cabarga, said that while “mitigation is central to reducing global warming, adaptation to climate change is key to addressing the impacts being felt now. Global warming entails all kinds of risks. Whether it is an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts or floods, or coastal erosion due to sea level rise, the impacts will affect everybody”.
Ambassador Cabarga opened CoM SSA Day alongside the Mayor of Kloto 1 in Togo and Chair of the Regional Mayors Forum, Winny Dogbatse, and the CoM SSA Secretariat. Mayor Dogbatse reiterated a common message from CoM SSA signatories, that cities in sub-Saharan Africa, which represent 14% of the global population, are hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, but contribute the least to global GHG emissions and only receive 3% of global climate financing.
Despite the challenges, CoM SSA cities have a bold vision to build a sustainable and resilient future and they reiterated the need for action and financing of adaptation projects, and that the voices of African cities must be heard ahead of the COP27 negotiations in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt in November. Throughout the different sessions of the day-long event, CoM SSA signatories made it clear that adaptation actions are at the heart of the mandate of local governments. The cost of doing nothing is way higher than the cost of the proposed projects which is why we must urgently find ways to support these actions at the local level.
Engineer Solomon Noi from the City of Accra, emphasised that “cities need to develop actions that deal with issues such as waste management, drought, flooding and extreme heat, these are not projects that will bring profitability to financiers, but they are projects that are needed to improve the lives of our citizens”.
Although African cities lack financing mechanisms for adaptation, they are taking climate action because their citizens live in the face of climate change. “In 2017, the degradation of coastal areas had cost the equivalent of 7% of the GDP of Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, and Benin. Tidal currents and movement of sediments know no borders and this requires a combined approach,” said Nicolas Desramaut from the World Bank. In Dakar, without immediate action, they face between 0.5 - 1 meters of sea level rise per year. In response to this threat, they use dikes to protect against the sea level rise. Maputo is experiencing unprecedented flooding, but they are using adaptation measures and nature-based solutions such as mangrove restoration to protect their citizens. “The government is aware of the importance of protecting and restoring mangroves and has defined a national protection strategy to promote sustainable development and contribute to the fight against climate change through actions that also favour of civil society,” said Cortez Taipo from the Maputo municipality.
Adaptation planning is not only critical to respond to the risks and impacts of climate change but also necessary to include in our planning access to energy and energy efficiency in public infrastructure. This session demonstrated that the private sector, and in particular the construction sector, is at the centre of this topic. Building resilience for infrastructure often requires a combination of hard and soft adaptation measures, as well as engineered and nature-based infrastructure options.
Ernest Dione, from the TyCCAO programme, emphasised that “most of a building's CO2 emission takes place in the production of construction materials. The use of local bio-sourced materials contributes significantly to the storage of atmospheric carbon because it does not involve much transformation”. Infrastructure in African cities needs to be built to withstand the current and future impacts of climate change, while also producing as little emissions as possible, and to do this we need innovative methods and building materials.
The CoM SSA Day concluded by taking a deeper look at the types of people who will be most impacted by the effects of climate change and how cities can integrate this thinking at the beginning stages of their climate planning.
The cities of Maputo, Nouakchott and Kisumu demonstrated the critical need to mainstream gender in participatory processes for planning both adaptation and mitigation actions.
Participatory processes need to include citizens of all ages, from all backgrounds and with different disabilities in all the stages of project development in order to ensure a successful process.
In a joint presentation, Gilda Florentina from the Maputo Metropolitan Area and Loide Atália da Silva Massagaie from the Maputo City Council said, “when planning any project or activity we ask ourselves three key questions, have we considered gender in this decision? is it the same for men & women? and if not, how is it different?”.
Overall, CoM SSA cities proved they are taking action to protect their citizens from the impacts of climate change, exploring innovative methods to finance projects that they know will help their communities, improving energy efficiency in public buildings, and including all voices in these processes and conversations. CoM SSA cities are walking the talk, and ahead of COP27 they are calling on all levels of government, the private sector and civil society to join them to ensure that African cities have a sustainable and resilient future.