May 20, 2024


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Kisumu offers one time chance to climate-proof African cities

Kisumu, May 18, 2022: The historical city of Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria on the Kenyan side will this week host over 10000 guests to discuss sustainability of African cities.

However, while of concern to the organisers of the 9th Africities is about peace and security, for climate justice advocates however, the outcome of the meeting should reflect climate-smart solutions that match the continent race towards NetZero.

“African cities and new urban areas have grown and still growing and have become major sources of pollution.

Coming as Africa prepares to host the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt later in the year, the Kisumu meeting could not have come at a better time.

“Africities presents an opportunity for the African Cities and urban areas to dialogue on mechanisms to enhance resilience in line with the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Charles Mwangi, the Acting Executive Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

The UN estimates that more than half the world’s population live in cities: 54% in 2014, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050 (adding an extra 2.5 billion people 2050 compared to 1950’s, 30 per cent.

Despite universally accounting for only 2% of the global total landmass, more people now reside in urban areas than in rural areas. Specifically, this trend is currently inherent in the African continent owing to the spontaneity of the continent’s cities and towns.

According to Mwangi, the position of the African Cities and Urban areas in accelerating climate resilience and providing a pivotal role in the race to zero waste in the continent becomes a very critical point of discussion particularly at this time when Africa is preparing to host the COP27.

“We all know that our cities need to promote proper waste management, adopt non-moneterised transport, and design Climate Change Adaptation Action Plans. Africities provides us with the opportunity of looking into how this fits into the larger African narratives ahead of COP27,” he said.

The meeting in Kisumu will develop a roadmap for protracted actions for COP27 and national level governments in accelerating progressive action in building resilience to climate change in cities.

Further the meeting will catalyze enhanced ambition and action by the African mayors, governors and municipal boards to achieving the Paris Agreement through city level climate actions.

It will provide additional insights in the framing the declaration on climate change by Cities and Local Governments.

Useful to note is that the previous COP26 which held in Glasgow, UK ended with shattered hopes for the African peoples. Despite the frustrations by Africa and other Global South countries, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the COP26 President Alok Sharma closed the conference with assurances that the Paris Agreement ambition of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels is still conceivable.

However, rich countries responsible for pumping harmful Greenhouse gases into atmosphere continue to pursue decisions that will shift the burden of climate action to poor nations while entrenching pathways that will lead to further damage to the planet and humanity.

Countries failed to agree on many outcomes, including the means of implementation (finance, technology and capacity building) which could enable Africa’s delivery of its commitments through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) hence enhancing the continent’s resilience.

Even if the funds are available, the Continent continues to face technical and bureaucratic hurdles in accessing climate finance through unfavorable multilateral systems designed to sustain hegemony perpetuated by dominant global economic powers. By 2019, the world’s poorest countries managed to access only 18% of the Green Climate.

Fund (GCF), while middle income countries such as Mexico and India, accessed 65% of the Fund, most of which is for mitigation. The slow and limited trickle down of these funds to local government level and the citizenry continue to motivate a host of actions as proposed in this concept and in the recently launched Follow the Money Campaign by PACJA.

The most profound loss for African people was the “irreducible minimum demand” for the recognition of the Continent as a ‘special needs and circumstance region’, which was dropped at agenda stage of COP26. African countries were also disappointed at the decision to only have annual Conference of Parties dialogues to discuss funding arrangements to prevent, minimize and manage loss and damage.

According to the UCLG and co-organisers of the side events in Kisumu, the architecture of all Africities Summits aims to address major questions based on the construction of the 2063 Vision of Africa proposed by the African Union Commission.

Mohamed Nbou, Director, Climate Change Department, UCLG Africa said the trend of urbanization has the potential to serve as the leeway to change, driving economic growth in some of the world’s least developed countries and pulling more people out of poverty than at any other time in history.

He noted that climate change could undercut all of this by exacerbating resource scarcity and putting vulnerable communities at risk of impacts such as urban smog, sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms as might have been observed in most if not all the African Cities.

The meeting brings together ministers in charge of local government, housing and urban development, public service; local authorities and local elected officials; officials of local and central administrations; civil society organizations, associations and trade unions; economic operators among others.

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