Beyond Declarations – A Question of Localization

The mobilization of global climate actions in Bonn, Germany, which hosted the COP23, November 6th – 17th, provided a unique opportunity for UCLG Africa to highlight activities that have made African local governments, cities and territories an important global partner in the drive to achieve long term goals set by the Paris Agreement

2017 is ending with a flurry of activities across key global agendas, none more important than new models for action that integrate issues of Climate Change with the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. The mobilization of global climate actions in Bonn, Germany, which hosted the COP23, November 6th – 17th, provided a unique opportunity for UCLG Africa to highlight activities that have made African local governments, cities and territories an important global partner in the drive to achieve long term goals set by the Paris Agreement. During COP23 we took stock of our achievements and contributions, which included headline declarations that clearly laid out our commitment to climate action and partnerships that have showcased and provided real solutions for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“UCLG Africa has a responsibility to its members to report on climate change issues across the continent to help local and subnational governments understand the immediacy of the threat and how to localize, adapt and mitigate.”

The Cotonou Declaration set in Benin, September 8-10, 2016 (APO.af/9d1PTn), which laid out the common position of local governments of Africa towards Climate Change, was further cemented at the Climate Chance World Summit held September 11-13 in Agadir, Morocco. UCLG Africa hosted the Africa Day deliberations on September 12, which saw Mayors and Presidents of African regions present the Declaration of Local and Subnational Leaders of Africa: Fighting against climate change in Africa together (APO.af/e81XNV). The call-to-action launched at COP22 in Marrakesh, highlighted the need to localize Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and ensure the effective engagement and contributions of local and regional authorities in the development of National Adaption plans. In addition to this, a road map defining a global framework for action towards localizing climate finance was also achieved.

“Reaffirming our adherence and support to the recent commitments and declarations of local and subnational leaders concerning the climate, in particular: The Declaration of the Summit of Cities and Regions of Africa in Yamoussoukro (June 2015); the Declaration of the World Summit of Climate and Territories in Lyon (July 2015); the Declaration of the Summit of World Local and Regional Leaders on Climate in Paris (December 2015); the Declaration of Local and Regional elected leaders of Africa at the preparatory Forum of COP 22 held in Cotonou (September 2016); the Marrakesh Roadmap for Action and Regions for Climate (Nov 2016)”.

 “To date, commitments of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to fight global warming remain insufficient to meet the target set by the Paris Agreement.”

Beyond these declarations there are a wealth of activities taking place at the grass roots level across the continent, which we are showcasing in our Special Climate Change Newsletter (APO.af/L3T9md). We want to raise awareness and engage with all our key stakeholders, non-state actors and civil society partners to showcase and celebrate local action, beginning with our support for Mayors to highlight grass roots adaptions introduced by their communities. Read in the newsletters Top Stories on how UCLG Africa has supported Mayors from Benin and Niger who were recipients of awards at the Climate Initiative Awards at COP23.

Whilst declarations are important and can be significant for local and regional governments in demonstrating their stance and showing their commitment to the Paris Agreement, it is important to determine what real impact is being made on the ground. Where is the practical support for adaption that can be shared with others? What support is available to develop the capacity of stakeholders to access finance for innovative bankable solutions for some of the most vulnerable communities in the world?

Accompanying the climate transition of African cities and territories by mobilizing climate finance

The ambition of these declarations must be inclusive and matched with practical support. It is with this in mind that UCLG Africa has established partnerships that bring together non-state actors – that is, cities and other subnational authorities, civil society, private sector, financial institutions, local communities and indigenous peoples, to play a critical role in implementing these commitments made by the international community. The mobilization of this wider group and their capacity to contribute to the process is the focal point of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force, which was launched in Bonn on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Mr. Barnabé Dassigli, Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of Benin and Chairman of the Specialized Technical Committee N° 8 of the African Union.  Read More in Top Stories in the Special Climate Change Newsletter (APO.af/L3T9md).

On the subject of capacity, UCLG Africa’s (AfriqueLocale.org) Local Government Academy – ALGA, in partnership with the IHS (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies), Erasmus University, Rotterdam and Coursera, have launched a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Planning for Climate Change in African Cities. Read More (APO.af/7v1epB).

UCLG Africa’s vision to create an ecosystem for sharing, training and giving support whilst strengthening the lobbying capacities of African cities requires a real change of approach in order to scale up, mobilize key stakeholders and access climate finance so that “no one is left behind”. By working closely with cities and territories, financial institutions, the private sector, major international institutions and civil society, UCLG Africa will position itself as the go to network to develop climate-compatible actions that will ultimately contribute practically to the realization of the Nationally Determined Contributions of African States.

Source: United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).

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