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Climate Change: The nexus between SDGs and NDCs leaves African delegates arguing

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There were heated arguments during a panel on sustainable development with participants divided on whether the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) should be at par with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to Nathan Cogswell of the World Resource Institute, the US, a study in over half of the African countries have shown that Africa NDCs are not being aligned with the implementation of the SDGs.

He said the study revealed that both are being implemented by different ministries and entities with no obvious coordination, a fact he said creates the misalignment. “The nexus between the NDCs and the implementation of the SDGs is not clear,” he said..

Under the 2030 Agenda, a series of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) has been agreed that are to be universally achieved.

While under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to submit a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which outlines their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience to climate change. Although SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to establish national frameworks to achieve the goals.

He added that achieving the 1.5ºC will mean taking actions on the ground that will lead to achieving SDGs.

While panellists and delegates agreed to know the interconnectedness of issues related to water (SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation), food security (SDG 2: Zero hunger), and energy (SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy), but more need to be done at the implementation stage for all these agendas, namely, the NDCs, SDGs and Agenda 2063.

“Taking into account the interdependencies and interrelatedness of environmental resources, it is essential that we have efficient and cost-effective strategies through the nexus approach for achieving the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Africa we want, especially given the new dire IPCC climate,” said Economic Commission for Africa’s Nassirou Ba.

Mr Ba, an Economic Affairs Officer with the ECA, and fellow panellists in a session discussing the nexus agreed political will is what Africa needs if it is to achieve sustainable and equitable development and ensure it leaves no one behind as espoused by the landmark Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

“Member States have to take seriously the implementation of the NDCs as not meeting the 1.5C will exacerbate food insecurity on the continent in a period where we are experiencing a massive increase in our population triggering more demand for food,” he said.

NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement. They embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Mr. Ba said Africa needs to change the way it produces and consumes food to ensure its agricultural system becomes carbon-less and green.

Daisy Mukarakate of the UNDP said it was possible for Africa to achieve food-energy-water security.

“All that is required is political will,” she said, adding Africa was currently paying and losing money to remain where it is.

“We are already spending on adaptation, paying to stay stagnant by focusing on adaptation and not building resilience,” said Ms. Mukarakate. “Our aim as Africa is to progress on our indicators but we will not achieve the sustainable growth we so yearn through the SDGs and Agenda 2063 if we remain stuck on adaptation.”

She said most African countries were struggling to align the various development agendas, including Agendas 2063 and 2030, into their national development plans and budgeting processes.

Ambassador Lumumba D’Aping, a former Chief negotiator and Chairman of the Group77 and China, said Africa was being held back by the ‘rampant culture of corruption and impunity’.

He said political leaders should go to COP24 prepared to argue Africa’s case and avoid being bulldozed into supporting decisions that will come back to haunt the continent.

“What is sad is that politics has become a trade where people go to the office to make money instead of addressing serious issues facing the continent and its people,” the Ambassador said, adding this should change to allow the continent to push for solutions to the myriad of challenges facing Africa.

He said African leaders and negotiators should demand a major amendment to the Paris Agreement at COP24. The amendment should explicitly say what Africa requires to survive the onslaught of climate change.

“It’s a civilization challenge because of Africa as we know it will not exist in 2063. If Africa is serious about its development agenda in the face of climate change it should appoint a Climate Commissioner at the African Union Commission,” Ambassador D’Aping said.

Delegates agreed there was an urgent need for African solutions to climate change supported by African science. Governments were urged to genuinely invest in science and its scientists for the development of climate-resilient pathways to beat climate change.

About 700 participants, including researchers, policy makers, parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of multilateral development banks, intergovernmental agencies, development partners, academia, private sector, civil society, the youth, women and the media, are attending the conference under the theme; “Policies and actions for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement for resilient economies in Africa.”

 

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