The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa initiative (CoM SSA), a European Union action, went from strength to strength over the course of 2022, from the regional and national level to the global stage. 18 Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plans (SEACAPs) were launched, more than 230 climate and energy badges were awarded, a new leadership structure was set in motion, signatories were able to access tailored resources to accelerate their actions, pilot projects were implemented and the CoM SSA community of practice grew to more than 320 signatories. See the full CoM SSA 2022 overview document here.
CoM SSA reinforced its support to signatories in terms of capacity building, determining their baselines, reporting, developing project concept notes, and project implementation. CoM SSA does not only focus on technical services to signatories but also elevates the voices of local governments into national and global discourses through representation at national, regional and international events – ensuring the local government perspective is brought to the forefront in key forums.
Elevating the voices of African local governments in international and high-level climate dialogues
In 2022, the CoM SSA Regional Mayors Forum (RMF) was launched and integrated into the governance structure of the initiative. The RMF is currently composed of 11 mayors representing the four regions of Sub-Saharan Africa (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Western Africa, Eastern Africa). Members were elected by their peers through regional votes to represent the voices of all CoM SSA signatory cities. The Mayor of Kloto 1 (Togo) was elected as the Chairperson of the RMF and the Mayor of Lusaka (Zambia) was elected as the Vice-chairperson. Since elected the CoM SSA RMF represented CoM SSA on the global stage at COP27, Africa Climate Week and COP des Villes, to name a few. The RMF plays a leading role in mobilising other Mayors in the region to support and advocate for the topics being championed by CoM SSA. At the same time, the RMF brings the local perspective to key decision-making bodies and advocates at the national and international level on the critical role that cities can play in the fight against climate change.
Sub-Saharan Africa is at the epicenter of climate change response, both in terms of adapting to the impacts (as the most vulnerable continent) and in terms of leap-frogging fossil-fuel-dependent development. However, Africans have not been afforded a moment to envision the future they want and CoM SSA has a major role to play in ensuring that this visioning comes to fruition, in partnership with the EU, as well as to ensure that these messages are taken forward to high-level bodies. To this end, at COP27, the CoM SSA RMF devised and shared a powerful statement on speeding up urban climate action in sub-Saharan Africa. Bringing the African voice to influential forums, CoM SSA organised and featured at a range of regional and global events during 2022, including COP27, Africa Climate Week, CoM SSA Day at the Week for Sustainable Mobility and Climate 2022, World Urban Forum, Africa – Europe Week and CoM SSA Journey at Africities.
In-depth technical support and capacity building to accelerate climate action in the region
Now more than ever CoM SSA signatories are showing their commitment to developing climate-resilient cities. Last year CoM SSA received more than 160 requests for support. As a result, the number of signatories receiving support quadrupled when compared to 2021. These support services range from tailored tools and templated workshops on climate change sensitization, SEACAP conceptualisation and development as well as project conceptualisation. For example, an in-person Risk and Vulnerability Assessment participatory workshop was organised in the City of Windhoek, Namibia, where 20 city officials were trained.
In 2022, more than 1000 government officials participated in CoM SSA trainings.
Hybrid climate sensitisation workshops were conducted for CoM SSA signatory, Association Mauritanienne des Communes du Sud (AMCS), which is comprised of 10 municipalities in the South of Mauritania, including Rosso which is the biggest municipality in the region. On a separate occasion this hybrid workshop was offered to signatory Monrovia where three representatives from the national government also participated.
In Togo, CoM SSA completed 6 training sessions for the 80+ CoM SSA signatory cities in the country. Training sessions focused on the construction of climate action plans, community consultation, and access to climate finance. These sessions enabled the emergence of more than 50 project concept notes and the building of a strong network of Togolese cities committed to meeting the dual challenge of climate change and energy transition.
With CoM SSA’s support, Embu County (Kenya), developed a County Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan through a participatory multi-stakeholder process. The plan, built on a waste audit and multiple stakeholder consultations, identifies eight areas for action on waste management in the County that are now open for partnerships and implementation. Alongside this, CoM SSA supported signatories in Kenya in facilitating an exchange between the city of Lima and Nakuru, offered a waste management training organised in collaboration with UN-Habitat.
The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and the French Development Agency (AFD), with additional funding from CoM SSA, has initiated preparatory studies aimed at setting up a world-class public inland waterways transit system in Lagos State as part of the Waterways Investment and Development of the Environment in Lagos State project (WIDE-LAG), which highlights the efforts made by CoM SSA to build climate resilience in Lagos State through the development of sustainable urban infrastructure.
Through CoM SSA, the Praia City Council (Cabo Verde), in partnership with Ribeira Grande de Santiago City Council (Cabo Verde), has formulated a group of pilot projects focused on mitigation, climate adaptation, and access to sustainable energy. These projects have been the starting point to discuss the reality and specificities of each community and neighbourhood of the city, as well as their priorities for action in the areas of climate and energy, according to the principles and guidelines of their joint SEACAP elaboration process and their strategic objectives.
With CoM SSA’s refined focus on unlocking climate finance, 56 city-level projects have been supported, representing a total potential investment volume of over EUR 436 million. When implemented these 56 projects will lead to the reduction of approximately 18 million tonnes of carbon emissions. To date, over EUR 282 million has been secured for the implementation of CoM SSA projects.
CoM SSA has joined forces with the Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV) to offer training on access to climate finance for signatories. Four training sessions took place between May and September 2022 with the aim of building capacity in accessing finance for local governments in the following selected countries: Mali, Togo, Uganda, Kenya. These training sessions will be followed by a coaching and match-making mission for the seven communities.
Tools and resources geared towards informed climate action planning and implementation in African cities
CoM SSA published three gender guide resources to support signatories in mainstreaming gender into their climate and energy projects. As a continuation of the development of SEACAPs, CoM SSA signatories now have access to resources on how to create gender-responsive projects.
CoM SSA identified a gap in reports on climate action specific to African cities, and therefore developed a series of evidence-based reports to inform African cities on climate planning, implementation and research. In 2022, more than 20 insightful resources were developed by the initiative.
A climate finance online training on how to access external funding, that is relevant to implement climate actions at the city level, was also launched last year. The training prepares participants to successfully deliver on their mandates to secure investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation projects on behalf of their regions. So far more than 340 users have enrolled in the course and more than 80 have successfully completed it.
CoM SSA is a major catalyst for local climate action in sub-Saharan Africa
More than 320 local governments in sub-Saharan Africa are now signatories to CoM SSA, this is an increase of more than 50 since 2021. This means CoM SSA signatories now represent 13,26% of the total population of SSA. In 2022, Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Mombasa County (Kenya) were amongst the biggest, in terms of population, local governments to join CoM SSA. Shortly after joining, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CoM SSA and Mombasa County, laying the foundation for future activities to tackle climate change and provide access to sustainable energy.
As the momentum for effective and meaningful climate planning in the region grows, CoM SSA signatories are reaching key milestones. In 2022:
18 signatories launched their full SEACAP
The number of Adaptation and Mitigation Pillar Badges awarded doubled to 107 and 86 respectively
Work in the Energy Access space has catapulted with more than 44 badges being awarded to signatories for the Energy Access Pillar in 2022, an increase from 4 in 2021.
Nakuru and Kisumu counties (Kenya) launched their SEACAPs at the Africities Summit in Kisumu, becoming among the first counties in Kenya to launch their climate actions plans. The city of Segou (Mali) has also finalised its SEACAP and launched it in August. Segou has already implemented three pilot projects, these include the construction of latrines whose sludge can be recovered and used to produce compost as well as the recovery of waste from the landfill.
To allow for the sharing of lessons learnt and best practices CoM SSA develops and provides platforms for leaders to connect. In 2022, the County Government of Mombasa officials visited Cape Town for workshops on urban adaptation alongside the African Infrastructure Futures Conference and a waste management site visit in the City of Cape Town.
Earlier in 2022, Praia and Ribera Grande de Santiago (Cabo Verde), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Dakar, and Pikine (Senegal) visited several signatory municipalities on the Spanish island of Tenerife for a city-to-city exchange. A three-day visit that brought interesting discussions on shared goals related to developing and implementing local climate action plans and learning from each other about similar challenges in waste management, air quality, or sustainable energy access.
The successes and milestones of CoM SSA and the signatory cities in 2022 were showcased in over 28 articles published on the CoM SSA website and 10 videos.
The CoM SSA initiative prioritises amplifying signatories’ progress to ensure their plans, projects and perspectives are known to relevant stakeholders on a regional, national and global level, thereby extending the reach of the work done under the initiative. Since its launch in 2015, the initiative has grown and evolved to attract new signatories, respond to signatories’ needs and deliver action on the ground, while bolstering this community of practice which is rippling across the region. See the full CoM SSA 2022 overview document here.
The CoM SSA programme is co-funded by the European Union (EU), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). CoM SSA is implemented by the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Agence Française d’Expertise Technique Internationale (Expertise France) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The CoM SSA Secretariat and Technical Helpdesk is led by ICLEI Africa with support from the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA).