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Gca Africa Launch – ‘Let’s Save the Planet’s Second Ecological Lung’

The regional office of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) was inaugurated on Wednesday in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The event was held via videoconference due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The African Development Bank will host GCA Africa, whose ambitious objectives seek to improve the effectiveness of climate adaption activities across Africa.

The event kicked off with a high-level launch, featuring leaders from all over Africa and the world, followed by a Partnership Forum.

A prestigious range of international organisations participated in both sessions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, IMF, NEPAD, the African Union, the World Commission on Adaptation, the African Agriculture Adaptation Initiative, and the Nordic Development Fund.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo, stressed the importance of partnership in safeguarding the continent’s resources and the issue of desertification.

“We are running out of time. The Congo Basin is the planet’s second ecological lung. Now is the time for action, and with this in mind, we welcome the creation of GCA Africa because it will enable us to raise funds,” said Soudan-Nonault, who is also coordinator of the AU Climate Commission for the Congo Basin.

The benefits of south-south cooperation were highlighted by Professor Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre on Climate Change and Development, Bangladesh, who called for enhanced cooperation between Asia and Africa, and for the exchange of experience on “community-based adaptation”. He also called for greater involvement of young people and their global networking on adaptation.

Speakers linked the current health crisis, which must be funded, to the need for more investment in adaptation in response to climate change, and food security for the people of Africa.

“African countries are facing twin crises: the health crisis and the crisis resulting from the negative effects of climate change,” said Hans Olav Ibrekk, political director at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The key objective is to fight hunger, to leave no one by the wayside. More natural solutions must be found. There is talent and leadership in Africa,” he added.

Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), stressed that the climate challenge was slowing progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We need to focus on four key actions: adaptation needs to be integrated into national policies, gender must be considered, early warning systems need to be put in place, and good responses to natural disasters can mitigate their effects.”

These words were supported by Pritha Mitra, the IMF’s Africa Department representative, stressing “a common idea: climate change resilience goes hand in hand with SDGs.”

According to Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director General of the African Risk Capacity (ARC), “We must be able to combine adaptation, mitigation, and resilience, because the most important thing is to protect and support people.”

Jamel Saghir, GCA Board member, welcomed the launch of the regional office: “This is an historic moment, a new impetus. We need to do more before we reach a point of no return,” he warned.

“GCA is a solutions broker. It represents the missing link in the structure of adaptation policies, between finance, solutions and policies. There is a need for more investment in adaptation, for more knowledge generation and sharing, for innovation and for working together harmoniously.”

These words were echoed by Peter Repinski, Acting CEO of the Global Water Partnership: “Today, more than ever, decisions are important to interconnect our actions.”

Joshua Amponsem and Nisreen Elsaim, African youth representatives at the virtual forum, reiterated the urgent need for effective action in Africa and around the world to ensure that the effects of climate change are not worsened for future generations and that young people do not pay the price for a lack of collective action.

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