What does the COP21 Paris Agreement mean for Africa?

17 Dec 2015

Two members of a local association of volunteers plant a young tree in a school yard in the town of Goma, North Kivu province. 30 November 2013. Photo: MONUSCO/ Sylvain Liechti.
On 12 December 2015, delegates from more than 190 nations at the 21stConference of Parties (COP 21), agreed to the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global plan to tackle climate change. As a next step in implementation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a high level signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York, USA, and the agreement can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of emissions.  But what does this deal mean for Africa?  The top three wins for Africa in the Paris Agreement could be summarized as follows:  A balanced and ambitious agreement on adaptation and mitigation Under the leadership of the African Group of Negotiators, African countries successfully advocated for a balanced agreement that addresses both mitigation and adaptation in equal measure, in a departure from the Kyoto Protocol which focused significantly on mitigation. Adaptation is critical for African countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change due to heavy reliance on the agricultural sector, and being the least contributor of global CO2 emissions.  The Agreement also urges all countries to submit adaptation needs, priorities and plans, which developed countries will support. While the Agreement confirms a … Read more

What’s at stake for Africa at COP21

07 Dec 2015

UNDP is helping Rwanda boost resilience to disasters and the effects of climate change. Photo: UNDP Rwanda.
The international community is currently mobilized around the ongoing 21stConference of Parties (COP 21) taking place from 30 November to 11 December in Paris, France, and where delegates from around the world are expected to agree on a global plan to tackle climate change. This is a critical moment for the world in general, and Africa in particular. Africa is especially vulnerable to the effects of anthropogenic climate change even though its contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is negligible when compared to that of industrialized regions. With two-thirds of working Africans making a living off the land, erratic and extreme weather patterns resulting in floods and drought affect food security as well as economic activity. Models indicate climate change could cause annual losses that amount to 1.5-3 percent of GDP by 2030. The recently-released 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap Report estimates that Africa’s costs for adapting to climate change will run to USD $7-15 billion per year by 2020. In the scenario that the global temperature rise is kept below 2°C, this figure could rise to $50 billion per year by 2050. Beyond 2°C, the cost of adaptation could reach a staggering $100 billion per year. As such, the African … Read more

Bashi's journey may signal a bigger refugee crisis to come

29 Oct 2015

Young Somali men participate in a vocational training and education program in Burao, Somaliland. But as Africa’s population grows, the number of people escaping conflict in countries like Somalia will continue to rise. Photo: UNDP Somalia.
When you read news from Sicily and Calais and Greece, I hope you will remember Bashi*, a young African man among many currently in a migrants’ camp in Europe. I first met Bashi in 2011 in Kenya. He was self-assured and articulate. As I got to know him, I never thought that he would join the young Africans undertaking perilous journeys to seek new starts. Bashi’s story begins in Somalia. At age 14, he crossed the border into northern Kenya to get away from an intensifying conflict. He ended up in Dadaab, one of the largest refugee camps in Africa with more than 350,000 people. After a few years, Bashi made another audacious journey to Nairobi to seek work and education. It is illegal under Kenyan law for refugees to leave the camp, but Bashi “camouflaged” himself in the predominantly Somali neighbourhood Eastleigh. He became a waiter by day, and a student by night, keen to ensure that the circumstances of his birth did not imprison his future. 2014 was a good year for Bashi. He opened his own small shop, selling clothes and “advancing fashion in Nairobi.” Bashi was christened the hipster of Eastleigh with his fondness for tight jeans and oversized … Read more

The Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063: A comparative analysis

23 Oct 2015

Photo: UNDP
Two years ago, while Member States in the Open Working Group began to define the recently adopted universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa had already set its priorities for the next half a century. At the African Union (AU) Summit in May 2013, Heads of State and Government in their 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, laid down a vision for the Africa they want to see in the next half a century. The vision later became Agenda 2063, which aims for a peaceful, integrated and prosperous continent by 2063 and is “an endogenous plan for transformation.” Another decision of the AU Summit was to set up a High-Level Committee, tasked with developing a Common African Position to inform African Member States in the Open Working Group and negotiations on the upcoming post-2015 development agenda.  This past September, world leaders signed up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which the 17 SDGs are central, and which aims to address the three interconnected elements of sustainable development: economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.  In paragraph 42, UN Member States specified that they ‘[…] reaffirm the importance of supporting the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development … Read more

How are all countries rich and poor to define poverty?

18 Oct 2015

In Rwanda, a woman works in her tailoring shop. The World Bank recently updated the absolute poverty line to US$1.90 a day, reflecting changes in the average price of the goods and services people require in 15 developing countries, including Rwanda. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our new development compass. Its 17 goals and 169 targets provide countries – rich and poor – with the coordinates of the new ‘development north’, which more than 190 countries have committed to reach in the next 15 years. As of 1 January 2016, countries, like big vessels, will begin sailing towards this new development north from different harbors. But how will they calibrate their ‘navigation instruments’ to set their course? The 2030 Agenda is very clear in this respect. Paragraph 55 reads: ‘[…] Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each Government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.’ As an example, let us consider Sustainable Development Goal 1: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. First and foremost, countries, both rich and poor, will need poverty lines (not all countries have one) to set targets and measure progress towards this goal. Countries have different options and these largely depend on their respective level of development: Absolute poverty lines (option 1), including the recently updated World Bank global poverty line of US$1.90/day,  are widely used by developing countries, since large portions … Read more

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Africa 
Go to UNDP Global