The African Union launched its 10-year Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan earlier this year, laying the foundation for joint climate action at the continental level.
With our network of thematic experts across the continent, AICCRA played a key support role during the drafting process. In addition to informing policy, the strategy will guide investment in the continent toward key strategic areas for climate action and resilience—including agriculture—connecting research-informed impacts to the farmers we work with.
Africa is the continent most impacted by the effects of climate change even though it contributes less than 4% of the world’s total emissions. The growing recognition of substantial impact and risk to the African continent from climate change made it clear there was a need for the development of a robust and coordinated policy response.
Adopting a continent-wide Climate Change Strategy
In February 2022, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government adopted the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032).
It is a significant achievement for the continent, as it has laid the foundation for joint climate action at the continental level. It also provides a common framework around which African countries and Africans can pursue their collective climate change and resilient development agenda, develop partnerships, and rally support for its implementation.
In the course of the consultation process and drafting of the strategy, AICCRA played a significant technical backstopping role; this included support to design and facilitate validation meetings, assistance in engaging a wide array of thematic experts across the continent for contributions, and subsequent synthesis of technical input in the drafting process.
Timely release enables a common position for Africa at COP27
Hosted by Egypt, the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) has been dubbed the ’Africa COP’, presenting an opportune moment for the continent to voice its climate action priorities.
The Climate Change Strategy is particularly timely in the run up to the COP27 when Africa puts forward an agenda that supports its collective objectives in addressing climate change and building resilience, and outlines key strategic investment needs and opportunities.
The Climate Change Strategy importantly builds policy alignment with Africa’s negotiating position at official UNFCCC COP meetings. For example, the Strategy supports the viewpoints of the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN) by aligning with their key priorities and action areas, such as adaptation and resilience building, and a call for increased climate finance and means of implementation support.
It is particularly important in the run up to COP27 that Africa’s key negotiating bodies, the Egyptian COP Presidency and the AU Commission work towards highlighting these common positions and support awareness creation of the Strategy’s goals and objectives.
Africa’s priorities for COP27
"For the African Group, COP27 should be about advancing the implementation of the National Determined Contributions (NDCs), including adaptation and mitigation efforts and delivery of finance to enhance implementation. COP26 concluded the remaining guidance on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, therefore, we need to advance the implementation of our climate actions.” - Mr. Ephraim Mwepya Shitima of Zambia, Chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on climate change
The new Strategy supports the commitments made by African countries under the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement and is guided by the existing national climate efforts and aspirations of its 55 Member States, as expressed through Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans and long-term, climate-resilient development and decarbonization visions and long-term adaptation goals contained in national Long-Term Strategies.
What can Africa do to strengthen its climate resilience in agriculture?
Climate change continues to have impacts on food systems resulting in production losses, nutrient deficiencies, environmental hazards, human displacement and potential for conflict. Support to climate-resilient agriculture is key to addressing these impacts.
Agriculture will be high on the agenda at the upcoming climate conference; the COP27 presidency will organize a series of thematic days, including Adaptation and Agriculture Day, centered around ways to deal with food security, increase agriculture productivity, reduce losses in food production chain, enhance resilience and livelihoods for small scale farmers and ensure measures are in place for sustained food security and to manage any potential food crises.
The Climate Change Strategy will be a crucial resource for negotiators and other key stakeholders to identify concrete priorities and actions for climate-resilient agriculture in Africa.
The Strategy focuses on a number of issues related to enhancing Africa’s response to climate impacts, as well as ensuring low-carbon, climate resilient growth. This includes challenges related to governance and policy; the identification of eight transformative pathways for sustainable development; enhancing the means of implementation; and supporting Africa’s existing regional initiatives. The Strategy identifies priority areas and suggests concrete steps to take under each of these pillars.
Within the Strategy, agriculture and food systems are recognised as a key pathway towards achieving Africa’s transformative development. The Strategy highlights that deeper commitments to addressing climate change will need to take on board multiple linkages to food systems that have been identified through forums, processes, and institutions such as the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the UNFCCC COP processes and the work of the IPCC.
Key intervention areas are:
Promoting the equitable sharing of climate risk and reward amongst all food system actors, especially small-scale, rural farmers: The Strategy calls for climate insurance for farmers and risk sharing mechanisms, ensuring that the financial costs of climate disasters are not borne solely by farmers but spread equitably across the range of food systems actors, including consumers.
Enhancing resilience of food systems against climate effects, while emphasising nutrition outcomes and integrated planning: For example, extending use of smart, innovative and climate-resilient technologies as well as breed/variety development/switching and technologies that preserve and enhance nutritional qualities in food would help enhance the resilience of food systems.
Emphasising production toward agro-ecological transition, to reduce GHG intensity (including methane and other gases), and dependencies on external inputs: Farmers need to be provided resources to enable/facilitate the transition to more nature positive production systems.
Strengthening food system governance interventions across Africa’s regions: Conducting systematic review of existing policies, strategies and incentive mechanisms that support/inhibit transition to sustainable food systems is key. It is imperative to modify policies, processes and strategies to become more inclusive and participatory (farmers, women and youth).
And last, strengthening finance, investment and resource allocation interventions: There needs to be coordination of investments by channelling flows toward sustainable food systems from philanthropy, private sector direct investment, and multi-lateral donors. Farmers need to have the availability and access to financial resources (both mitigation and adaptation), such as soil carbon management carbon dioxide removal.
As with all policy processes, the adoption of the African Union Climate Change Strategy should be seen as the first, but not final, major outcome of the policy process.
"We all now have a responsibility to ensure that this becomes a living document, one that informs and enriches our actions at local, regional and global levels.” - H. E. Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, Former President of the Republic of Kenya
African countries now have a common vision in this continental strategy and plan. It is an important milestone and gives the continent the opportunity to join forces at the upcoming ’African COP’ to ensure any engagement at the conference is representative of Africa’s low-carbon, climate resilient sustainable development future.
Read the full strategy: African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032)
Partnership engagement and public dissemination have been highlighted as key elements needed to operationalise the Strategy. As such, the African Union Commission organised a technical partners meeting in Kasane from 17th – 19th October to discuss a roadmap towards the Strategy’s implementation. AICCRA’s policy expert helped to facilitate key technical sessions and co-create an action plan for key next steps. In addition, a working dinner is being arranged at COP27 to garner broad-based support for its operation. AICCRA will provide technical support in the design and facilitation of both these engagement events.
- AICCRA Info Note: Developing a Continental Climate Change Strategy
- AICCRA blog: Empowering African policymakers to make food and agriculture a priority for climate change negotiations
- AICCRA Policy Brief: Strengthening Africa’s climate resilient outcomes: Policy coherence in climate-smart agriculture