High-Level Remarks of the Global Center on Adaptation CEO at the meeting on the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund

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Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, ADF Deputies, Executive Directors, other members of the African Development Bank’s Senior Management, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today at this crucial meeting on the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF). My name is Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation. I’m joining you today from our headquarters in Rotterdam, on the world’s largest floating office.

It is an honour for GCA to work on climate adaptation with the African Development Bank under the leadership of my big brother and friend Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Africa’s “Optimist-in-Chief.”

Today, I want to deliver three messages.

First, climate adaptation is not an independent challenge that Africa must tackle separately. It is not an “either/or” question but an opportunity for “and.” An opportunity for leverage.

Second, the needs for climate adaptation are enormous but African countries themselves are already moving forward and financing a portion of those needs. They have no option. But they need partners. They need you.

Third, GCA and the Bank are not waiting. There is an Africa-owned and Africa-led program for investments in climate adaptation – the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). Action is already happening on the ground. But that initial action is not nearly enough.

For all these three reasons the proposed increase in ADF resources and the climate set aside are critical for the continent today.

First, climate adaptation is not an “either/or” challenge. The Sustainable Development Goals can only be achieved if education, health, and infrastructure services like water are adapted to the increasing shocks of climate change.

Adaptation is critical for private sector development. Last year, we interviewed SMEs from all over Africa. More than three quarters said that they have been directly impacted by climate change, by losing their assets or their customers. Africa needs private sector development and adaptation.

The world watches in horror at the war in Ukraine. Food prices are increasing rapidly with direct impacts on African economies and households. But I don’t want to imagine if the crops this year in the region are impacted by climate shocks like droughts or floods. If farmers’ work is lost because of the common climate shocks suffered by Africa every year, then farmers, households and countries will face a triple shock: the COVID economic crisis, the implication of the Ukraine war, and the climate shocks of 2022 and 2023. So, it is not Ukraine or adaptation. It should be Ukraine and adaptation.

Finally, it is not climate adaptation or mitigation. The world must stay within 1.5 degrees warming. The recent IPCC report is the loudest alarm siren we are hearing. This target is possible. But if the world does not achieve it, large parts of Africa will cross the threshold of financially and economically viable adaptation. Large portions of drylands in many Africa countries will become uninhabitable. So, it is not adaptation or mitigation. It is adaptation and mitigation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me discuss my second point. The needs are enormous. GCA calculations made as part of the State and Trends in Adaptation 2021 report focused on Africa show that the continent needs $330 billion between now and 2030 to achieve its NDC targets. But this is not what the African countries are asking for. African governments already committed in those NDCs to put $66 billion of their own funds. They have no choice. Africa must adapt. But it cannot adapt alone. The financing gap is enormous.

Adaptation should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment. Our State and Trends in Adaptation 2021 report also shows that, in Africa, adaptation pays off. Adaptation is good business. For example, investments in climate-smart agriculture can give as much as four dollars in benefits for every dollar invested. Moreover, the costs of inaction are ten times higher than the cost of action. Adaptation is a smart investment.

African nations are already investing and have committed to invest more. But they cannot do it alone. They need the world to partner with them. ADF16, and its climate set aside, are part of the partnership Africa needs.

Dear ADF Deputies, my third point is that Africa, the Bank and GCA are not waiting. African nations have called for an ambitious Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). This is an Africa-owned and Africa-led program. It aims to deliver $25 billion of investments adapted to the rapidly changing climate. GCA, together with the African Development Bank and the African Union, and other partners like the World Bank, EIB and IFAD, are moving forward with the implementation of AAAP investments.

GCA is mobilizing $250 million for the AAAP Upstream Financing Facility. The initial contributions from development partners have helped us bring the best science and global adaptation practice to more than $3 billion of investments already approved by the AfDB’s Board of Directors. The leverage of 1 to 100 of the Upstream Facility is real.

First, the Bank is financing a $350 million project to build resilience for food and nutrition security in the Horn of Africa. GCA experts worked with the Bank team to bring the best models of digital climate information systems to ensure the project activities and the beneficiary farmers have the tools to adapt and build more resilient food systems.

In another example, the Bank is financing an $80 million Youth Enterprise Development program for South Sudan. GCA adaptation specialists are working with the Bank experts to help create the skills, jobs, and SME for adaptation businesses in areas such as agriculture or infrastructure.

Honourable ADF Deputies. Africa cannot wait to invest in adaptation. Africa and its partners like the Bank and GCA are not waiting.

And I hope you do not wait. The mobilization of resources for ADF16 and its climate set aside are urgent for the continent. We hope you hear the voices of African leaders.

At “the African COP”, at COP27, President Adesina, President Macky Sall, as Chairperson of the African Union, and I will convene a High-level gathering of African and world leaders. The continent needs your support. A clear commitment at COP27 for ADF16 and its climate set aside is the response Africa needs.

Africa has the plan. Africa has the commitment. Now, with a fully capitalized ADF-16, it will have the vehicle.

Let’s make it happen.

Thank you.

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