Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), thinks that ignoring the problem of climate change would be a terrible mistake, even though the world is in the middle of an economic crisis.
According to Verkooijen, putting climate-smart agriculture into practice in sub-Saharan Africa will cost $15 billion a year.
The African Climate Adaption Partnership (ACAP), a joint project of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and GCA, is also trying to raise $25 billion by 2025 to speed up climate adaptation throughout Africa.
Also, because the AU and, by extension, the continent, have backed AAAP, the success or failure of Cop27 will depend on whether or not the international community will use this to its advantage. Verkooijen is planning a discussion at Cop27 in which heads of state will be asked to promise to give Africa the money it needs to adapt.
Verkooijen will use all of his negotiating and persuasion skills at Cop27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to get leaders to agree to a clear road map for meeting their climate commitments.
Not only because the costs of climate change are unimaginably high, especially for developing countries, which take the most damage even though they are the least to blame, but also because investing in adaptation has such high financial returns.
According to his calculations, a dollar spent on weather and climate information services yields between $4 and $25 in returns. A dollar spent on reliable water and sanitation saves lives and generates between $2 and $12 in economic gains. Climate change costs Africa $7–$15 billion annually.
It shouldn’t be that difficult to sell adaptation given that nations were able to raise trillions of dollars to help their economies during the COVID. But it is still far from achieved.
Integrating climate change adaption
The GCA was set up in 2018 with the goal of making adaptation a central part of national policymaking. This will help people be more resilient and, in the long run, save lives and resources. It has its headquarters in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. From there, it forms partnerships with public and private organizations all over the world to encourage working together to help achieve its adaptation goal. In September, it held the Africa Adaptation Summit to get more people involved in programs to help the continent adapt.
Examine the Africa Adaptation Summit’s articles.
Over the past thirty years, Verkooijen has been involved in many different ways, so he is not new to them. As the World Bank’s special representative for climate change, he asked world leaders to work together to raise the price of carbon to cover 25% of global emissions by 2030.
He says he will do anything to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. It appears that the world may not be able to keep temperature increases to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels, even if all pledges are met.
People in Africa, who contribute the least to global warming but stand to lose the most from rising temperatures, will be directly and severely hurt by this. Nine of the ten most vulnerable nations in the world are in Africa. According to Verkooijen, the rest of the world needs to acknowledge how vulnerable Africa is and fulfill the pledges they have made.
Finance is one of these commitments. Adaptation is expensive. According to Verkooijen, putting climate-smart agriculture into practice in sub-Saharan Africa will cost $15 billion a year. The cost of inaction is even more intimidating if this seems daunting.
“The financial penalties of inaction will be $200 billion annually.” He says that investing in climate-smart agriculture is a no-brainer way to make money but that the $15 billion cost must be paid for by the whole world.
In Africa, adaptation costs only $11 billion, most of which comes from multilateral development banks and national governments. This is a lot less than the $52 billion that is needed for the continent as a whole. There is a need to find more money from other sources, such as the private sector and the global capital markets because this funding shortfall is expanding dramatically every year. But even with big financial incentives, a big chunk of the money will have to come from grants or discounts at first.
Even though funding is available from places like the Green Climate Fund, many African governments can’t get it because of how hard it is to get accredited. In order to deal with this, the GCA’s Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) gives countries and institutions the technical help they need to get access to these funds.
Beyond that, it also helps them create the intricate proposals they must make in order to secure the funding required in Africa, which he refers to as “Ground Zero” of the climate disaster, where it is most needed.
Local expertise is crucial
Verkooijen thinks that you can’t ignore the value of local knowledge and points of view.
The best people to understand how the weather affects these places are the people who live there. He emphasizes that they are the ones who know best, and they ought to have greater autonomy over how these resources are used.
In Bangladesh as well as Africa, locally led adaptation is gaining traction, giving local populations a say in how their issues are solved. GCA has accepted the role of connecting financiers, national and subnational governments, and local communities, despite the fact that there is still work to be done in this area.
GCA is involved in planning for adaptation as well as campaigning, setting agendas, and giving data to support its advocacy. This entails creating and implementing development initiatives that take climate change into account.
Verkooijen offers the following illustration: “If the World Bank is implementing an infrastructure program in Ghana, it is crucial to take into account both the current floods and the flood systems of the future.” We need to be on the ground while these programs are being made so we can give a climate perspective and the data needed to support the use of the best, most tried-and-true adaptations.
The African Climate Adaption Partnership (ACAP), a joint project of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and GCA, is also trying to raise $25 billion by 2025 to speed up climate adaptation throughout Africa. In the past 18 months, it has led to nearly $3.5 billion being spent on climate-smart infrastructure, agriculture, and young entrepreneurs.
Verkooijen is proud of this achievement, even though it doesn’t come close to what needs to be done. He is also proud of the fact that their work is giving young Africans jobs in the adaptation sector. “Adoption may sound abstract, but at its core, it’s about jobs, growth, health, and development,” he emphasizes, adding that success stories must be evaluated in light of these factors.
A major concern at Cop27
Verkooijen is extremely clear on what needs to be done when looking ahead to Cop27. Because adaptation is the top goal of the African continent, he claims, “An African cop can only mean adaptability.”
The political leaders of the continent came together at the September summit, which was co-chaired by President Macky Sall of Senegal, the African Union’s chairperson. They agreed that financing adaptation in Africa needed to be prioritized.
Verkooijen says this can only mean one thing: “Cop27 must give money to help Africa adapt to climate change.” Also, because the AU and, by extension, the continent, have backed AAAP, the success or failure of Cop27 will depend on whether or not the international community will use this to its advantage.
Verkooijen is planning a discussion at Cop27 in which heads of state will be asked to promise to give Africa the money it needs to adapt. He will be joined in this effort by President Sall, President Macron of France, Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and other leaders.
Verkooijen responds that he would rather deal with the facts that are in front of us right now than speculate about whether he is still optimistic or concerned after seeing how things have changed over the past 20 years. On a more positive note, he is hopeful that the message will be understood the way he wants it to be, because there is no way for the world to move forward without adaptation, even though different people have different goals in a complicated global environment.
“At the end of the day, there is no path to success if the climate issue is not addressed.” So, the choice is pretty clear: “We can either plan and do well, or we can put things off now and pay for them later,” the author says.
Verkooijen will use all of his negotiating and persuasion skills at Cop27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to get leaders to agree to a clear road map for meeting their climate commitments. The event is being referred to as “Africa’s Cop” by some, but its official name should be “Implementation Cop”.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network