COP 28: Sharing knowledge to take action

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By Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

” We have to dare to be different, we have to dare to be bold, we have to dare to share, we have to dare to come together, all of our activities have to come with the word dare”, concludes Fatima Denton at the end of the two day conversation on dare to share knowledge on just transitions, in Accra, Ghana.

Fatima Denton- Director UNU-INRA- Credit: Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

In this conversation, women and youth have an important role to play, she says. Key elements of the various online and face to face discussions on just transitions and channels were presented at the end of the two days. But is that enough? For Fatima Denton, the message of this conversation is that there are positive outcomes in terms of investment opportunities. “The reshaping of the system can be done so as not to miss opportunities, “she recalls, referring to the intervention of Xolisa Ngwadla, climate policy advisor and international negotiations. “There are many opportunities in Africa with energy resources, with inter-African trade and value chain integration,” she reports. How can Africa go further? Transitions should not be too fast, but gradual, she says, repeating James Murombedzi’s words.

Dealing with the demands

Sena Alouka, president of Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE)- Credit Photo: Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

Sena Alouka, president of Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE), a non-governmental organization represented for 20 years in 20 African countries, claims: “Dare to share knowledge platform on just transitions” is the beginning of a conversation that should not stop at two days of reflection. Speaking by videoconference, Mailes Zulu, an experienced environmental activist based in rural Zambia, raises a concern about field research. “If you want to do your research on just transitions, if people are doing research, they have to come back to the communities they interviewed. They need to report their findings and solutions to communities that live with natural resources and indigenous knowledge,” she underlines. Why isn’t gender at the core involved in climate finance? she asks.

Chuks okereke, a professor of environment and development at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, also participates online. He believes that access to climate finance must be done by experienced people. “We have the expertise, we know how to present projects, we don’t have to translate them into our local languages,” he emphasizes. But how can people on the ground change local situations if they don’t understand projects and actions? For the experts present, it is not just about projects, it is about meeting a fundamental need of the people on the ground. “To achieve these transitions, we need collective visions, planning and strategies,” recalls Fatima Denton, quoting James Murombedzi.

“Africa must form its own expertise”

In the report “Just Transition”, “Just Transition: A Climate, Energy, and Development Vision for Africa”  written under the supervision of the well known researcher Youba Sokona and published last May, it is recalled that “African countries must apply the precautionary principle agreed at the Rio conference in 1992. Africa needs to develop its own expertise in anticipating new challenges and opportunities. The content’s development aspirations could include its capacity to create knowledge and pan-African educational institutions,” . According to the authors of this study, the continent could strengthen its capacity for technology assessment and perspective analysis by involving African civil society, experts and governments. Could the Dare to share knowledge on just transitions platform be a lever for Africa?

How to anticipate, analyze and evaluate new technologies without funding? Where to find this funding? How to achieve climate finance? Why is climate finance not easy to access?

Robert Sogbadji ( Ministry of Energy of Ghana), in the middle, Xolisa Ngwadla, left, and Professor Chris Gordon, right- Credit: Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

The procedures for accessing finance, including the green climate fund, one of the main climate funds, are considered too long. ” In UNIDOO, one of our projects, we have been trying to access climate finance to achieve energy efficiency for more than two years and are even forced to draw on our own funds,” explains Robert Sogbadji of the Ghana Ministry of Energy. And he adds: “The majority of the money we want to obtain is in the form of a loan and you know the situation of our debts in our countries”.

Yacob Mulugetta, professor of Energy and Development policy at the University of College London- Credit : Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

Present in videoconference, Yacob Mulugetta, professor of Energy and Development policy at the University of College London, and also one of the authors of the report “Just Transition”, advocates a structural solidarity in Africa on the model of Asia. According to him, Africa should follow the example of the Asian elite, which invests heavily in the development of their continent. Several energy access programmes in Africa lack funding. Some programmes exist and operate like those financed by the African Development Bank,’ describes Sena Alouka. But to wonder about the recent programs granted to Africa: “South Africa and Senegal are the two countries benefiting from the JETP, in these programs only 3% of the funds are donations, the rest are loans, what just transitions are we talking about?” Yet this does not seem to be the purpose of these partnerships.

“The added value of JETP lies in the fact that they rely on long-term strategic trajectories to better understand what type of financial instrument (grants, concessional loans, guarantees, loans on the capital market) should be used to finance this or that specific activity, and what activity is needed to achieve that final transformation. Such a transformation agenda requires strong governance including all relevant stakeholders and cannot rely on ad hoc foreign consultations” reports IDDRI, the think tank in an analysis from a workshop on decarbonisation where Youba Sokona and Chuks Okereke were part .

Leadership and aspirations for development

The report “Just Transition, a Vision for Climate, Energy and Development in Africa” reminds Africa to not confuse charity with the responsibility of rich countries. To achieve a just transition, the report recommends mobilization of all actors, leadership and development aspirations such as a programme for global renewable energy and the transformation of access to energy. This programme should bring together financial contributions from bilateral and multilateral sources on the model presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The report calls for an economic diversification financing mechanism to support African countries.

The authors of the report also argue for the provision of a social protection fund, based on requests from the International Labour Organization and trade unions. The “Just Transition” report finally calls for better access to the green climate fund. According to the authors of this analysis, “access to the green fund must be reformed in depth, in the face of the rise of criticism from the private sector and the problematic projects it supports”. The report calls for appropriate funding from the Green Climate Fund to narrow the funding and resource gap of Africa’s climate, energy and development priorities.

Xolisa Ngwadla, climate policy advisor and international negotiations – Credit: Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache

The issue of climate finance, which has been raised for many years, will be increasingly complicated, warns Xolisa Ngwadla. The Just Transition report urges African countries to pay attention to the carbon offset markets in which African forests and land must capture and sequester carbon. These actions, according to the report, allow developed countries to justify CO2 emissions, and are also sources of greenwashing under the guise of carbon neutrality. Several African countries are now positioned in this carbon market. But according to the report’s experts, the African continent must pay attention to misguided energy policies as well as economic policies presented as climate and energy solutions, such as the monopolization of agriculture by the private sector, strengthening fossil fuel extraction for export markets, carbon offsets markets, carbon sequestration geo-engineering projects, bioenergy with carbon capture in large areas affecting rural areas where people live.

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