ECA boss wants actionable points to guide African policy makers on negotiations, development pathways
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ECA Press Release 169/2012

Addis Ababa, 19 October 2012 (ECA) – The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Dr. Carlos Lopes, has urged participants attending the  Second conference on climate change and development in Africa to come up with actionable points to guide African policy makers on at least two of the pressing issues that Africa faces  with  regards the phenomenon.

Dr. Lopes who was addressing the opening session of the second edition of the annual conference acknowledged the complex nature of the task before some 250 decision-makers, policy analysts, academicians, development practitioners, civil society activists and communications specialist attending the conference.

“The task before us is complex. The time-scale for action is urgent and the requirements for mitigation and adaptation are daunting”, he said. 

He challenged the participants to come out with clear guidelines on how African countries can chart clear policy and development pathways that are climate resilient and of low carbon intensity, particularly in energy, agriculture and water. The next area that deserves urgent attention, he said, is the ongoing round of negotiations on climate change.

“Africa’s position in the forthcoming climate change negotiations (in Doha this December) has to be well prepared so as to obtain its unchanging objectives of obtaining access to more finance, appropriate technology, and capacity development needs”, Dr. Lopes  said.

The high-profile opening session of the conference was attended by H.E. Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Dr. Maxwell Mkwezalamba, AU Commissioner of Economic Affairs; Mr. Jeremiah Lengoasa, Deputy Secretary General of the World Metrological Organization (WMO) as well as by Mr. Lamin Barrow, Resident Representative of the African Development Bank in Ethiopia, who each delivered opening remarks.

Dr. Lopes heartily welcomed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who was arriving at ECA for the first time since assuming office, following the death of his predecessor, the late Mr Meles Zenawi.

Dedicating CCDA-II to the memory of late P.M. Zenawi, the ECA chief executive paid resounding tribute to his contributions and personal the efforts he deployed towards the crystallization of an African Common Position on climate change negotiations in the run up to the Conference of the Parties (COP-17) in Copenhagen.

He said that the theme of CCDA-II ‘Advancing Knowledge, Policy and Practice on Climate Change ad Development’ is intended to underscore the fact that “we need knowledge which is informed by practice to design policies that will promote development in the face of climate change”. 

“The knowledge that we gather, and the way we seek to improve practice in various sectors must help guide the policy process, at both national and international levels”, he said, underlining the fact that there are important domestic implications that would arise from the on-going United Nations Climate Change and Development Conference.

Also addressing the conference, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that Ethiopia’s commitment to address climate change impacts is based on the geography and the recent history of his country.

These, he said, had combined to make them fully aware of the consequences of the vagaries of the weather and the variability of climate. Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa that has been worst hit by climate change I terms of draughts, floods and even loss of human life.

He also recalled the central role that the late Prime Minister Meles played, both as Africa’s spokesperson on climate change and an advocate for sustainable development. He thanked Dr. Lopes for dedicating CCDA-II to the memory of the late Prime Minister Meles. 

Earlier, Dr. Maxwell Mkwezalamba, lauded the collaboration that exists between the ECA, AUC and the African Development in development issues in Africa. He thyen went ahead to elaborate on the African Union desertification Programme.

Mr. Lamin Barrow, Resident Representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Ethiopia welcomed participants and expressed satisfaction at the fact that “climate change is gaining its rightful place in the policy discourse on sustainable development in Africa”.

He said that Africa bears the brunt of climate change impacts which currently costs the continent an estimated at $40 billion every year, which translates to about 3% of the continent’s GDP.

“Climate change also casts a long shadow on Africa’s development aspirations, including prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals” he said,  adding that the African Development Bank’s response to climate change is focused on assisting Regional Member Countries address its impacts, and building the resilience of communities through appropriate adaptation and mitigation actions.

CCDA-II is scheduled to end tomorrow with an outcome statement aimed at guiding policy analyses and programme development in Africa.

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa