The 17th edition of the annual African Economic Conference (AEC2022) has ended with calls for African countries to cooperate in promoting climate-smart development, which offers great opportunities for the continent to accelerate its economic transformation.
“Africa is by far the most vulnerable region in terms of climate change. We have seen many lives threatened and temperatures beyond 1.5 degrees, causing more deaths on our continent,” said Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Mauritius.
He was speaking at the close of AEC2022 held under the theme, Supporting climate-smart development in Africa, from 9 to 11 December 2022 in Balaclava, Mauritius,
Mr. Padayachy underscored the need for a green, inclusive and robust economy in Africa, noting that the willingness of African governments to prioritize climate change and integrate it in all decisions was key.
He emphasized that climate change should not be treated marginally. “It should be at the center of public action in all of our African governments”. Mauritius, he said, had acted on its climate change goals. For example, it was aiming to attain a 60 percent reduction in the use of charcoal.
Calling for African countries to harness the solidarity of developed countries and international organizations in developing Africa, Mr.Padayachy said:
“Climate [action] cannot be left to a club of the rich. The COP27 agreement is going in the right direction. The setting up of the fund for loss and damage is good preparation for COP28 and particularly for Africa.”
Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) , Hanan Morsy, highlighted that addressing climate change was not a choice but an imperative that Africa can achieve through climate-smart development.
“Africa is in a better position to successfully undertake climate smart regional integration now more than ever before as economic, regulatory and political reforms done by countries have laid a strong foundation for successfully achieving that,” Ms. Morsy said, calling for a shift from process to implementation and action on resolutions.
Emphasizing that climate-smart development required multi-stakeholder involvement, Ms. Morsy commended researchers, young economists and climate experts for analyzing Africa’s development challenges to help member states achieve climate-smart development. She urged participants to act on recommendations made at the conference which showed increased interest in climate change issues.
Ms. Morsy encouraged young researchers to maintain brilliant research and innovation to rise up to the various challenges and urged policymakers to provide an enabling regulatory environment.
“Africa is actually looking for a just future under climate change and is asking for a just inclusive transition in our energy systems and to promote sustainable practices across the sector to minimize the contribution to climate change while pursuing our development,” said Ms. Morsy, reaffirming ECA’s commitment to continue working with its partners to bring about climate-smart development on the continent.
Kevin Urama, Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President, of the African Development Bank Group, said solutions to Africa’s problems lay with the youth whose innovation, knowledge and energy can be used for climate-smart development in Africa.
For his part, UNDP Arica’s Chief of Strategy, Analysis & Research, Raymond Gilpin, said “Africa is the world’s richest continent in terms of natural resources; arable land, renewable energy potential, and a youthful population,” adding that “The main challenge of development is to transform this endowment into prosperity, peace and justice.
Noting that climate-smart development was an urgent necessity for economic development, Mr. Gilpin pointed out that Africa must take note of climate change pressures and attend to them. He said transition in Africa must not only be green but just and inclusive.
“Let us remember that reaching net zero emissions must also mean reaching zero poverty”, Mr. Gilpin said.
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