Africa in the fight against climate change

OECD Observer Business brief
President of the Assembly of Regions and Districts of Côte d’Ivoire (ARDCI)

"Regional authorities in Africa are now getting involved in the fight against climate change by making concrete commitments."

Interview with Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio, President of the Assembly of Regions and Districts of Côte d’Ivoire (ARDCI)

How would you describe ARDCI?

The Assembly of Regions and Districts of Côte d’Ivoire (ARDCI) was created on 13 August 2013, and includes the 31 regions and two autonomous districts of Côte d’Ivoire. It acts as a forum for permanent dialogue and collaboration; represents all the regions and districts to government bodies and third parties both nationally and internationally; delivers opinions on laws and regulations affecting regional authorities; examines and proposes the resources to be deployed to promote development and the smooth running of the regional authorities; and is establishing a tailored programme for the training, further training and conversion of regional councillors seeking to advance their skills and benefit fully from their right to training.

In your opinion, what role should non-governmental parties play in the fight against climate disruption?

Governments cannot work alone, without the support of the private sector, the public and, naturally, regional government. The role of regional authorities is particularly important: the powers that are transferred to decentralised bodies often focus on areas such as the scheduling of development, land planning, and the management of natural resources. In addition, their closeness to the local population allows them to involve all the other stakeholders in designing local policy and thereby boost buy-in and inclusivity. All too often, however, cash-strapped regional authorities lack the substantial resources they need. It is essential that governments give local authorities the means to play their role and fully assume their responsibilities.

The Summit of African Cities and Regions for Climate, held on 24 and 25 June 2015, has adopted the Yamoussoukro Declaration. What does this involve?

The Declaration sets out seven undertakings: 1) implementing good environmental governance; 2) encouraging the establishment of a clean energy mix, including energy efficiency; 3) developing a resilient agricultural sector to ensure food security; 4) sustainably managing our natural resources; 5) building sustainable cities; 6) putting new information and communication technologies to work for the environment and 7) promoting a financial framework for climate projects.

We have focused on two priorities: implementing a Platform for African regions to debate and discuss issues related to climate change; and creating a Climate and Regions of Africa fund; we are committed to spending 1% of our budget on these in order to develop a regional strategy for Africa in the fight against global warming.

The clear signal from the Yamoussoukro summit is that African authorities are ready to take action, and are now getting involved in the fight against climate change by making concrete commitments.

What are you hoping that COP21 will achieve?

We want COP21 to mark the effective engagement of all governmental and non-governmental parties. We want a binding agreement that restricts warming to under 2°C, with a possible move towards 1.5°C, taking account of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility. The countries of the North must face up to their responsibilities in the current environmental crisis.

In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, two thirds of woodland was lost to deforestation between 1970 and 2005. The African Development Bank estimates that climate change costs Africa US$ 40 billion a year. We therefore want to see the sums promised to the Green Climate Fund materialise, and the real recognition of Losses and Damages in the final document.

Compared to other parts of the world, and despite the extent of its current challenges, Africa only receives a small proportion of international funds, and regional governments are often unable to access them directly. So work will need to be done in the wake of COP21 to find effective solutions to this problem. 







©OECD Observer No 304, November 2015

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