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