'It's like being given a bike without tyres'

Lameez Omarjee - As the COP28 negotiations drew to a close, the Africa Group of Negotiators didn’t back down on demands on an ambitious Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and the financial means to achieve it.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday morning from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Collins Nzovu, Zambia's minister of green economy and environment and chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), stressed that the success of COP28 depended on the outcome of the GGA.

The GGA is based on the understanding that climate impacts are already occurring, so communities need to be able to adapt to impacts such as droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events. Clear targets have to be set for areas or themes like food, water, ecosystems and biodiversity, human settlements and infrastructure, health and livelihoods.

But so far, negotiations on the GGA have been dismal, especially when it comes to finance.

‘Cornerstone’

Nzovu told journalists that African countries have had to commit domestic resources to adapt to climate change, straining their budgets and increasing their debt burden. "... Only scaled-up, adequate and predictable international public finance can close the widening gap," he said.

The "means of implementation" such as finance, capacity building and technology transfer are a "cornerstone" of the GGA.

"Africa cannot accept a GGA framework without means of implementation from developed countries for developing countries, especially on the targets," he said.

Nzovu then likened a GGA without the means of implementation as being given a bike without tyres, adding: “You can't ride it ... you can't move without those tyres.”

Nzovu said that a GGA framework with ambitious and concrete targets was committed to at COP27, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and should be achieved at COP28. "[We are] demanding this. Without this, Africa is gone."

The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) 2023 Adaptation Gap report indicates the cost of adaptation for developing nations is between US$215 billion (about N$4 trillion) and US$387 billion annually until 2030. These adaptation finance requirements are 50% more than previously estimated, according to UNEP.

Don't hold your breath

Dhesigan Naidoo, climate adaptation lead to the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), said there are limited expectations for the GGA.

"Here is the bottom line – there is a limited expectation about what is going to come out of the hallowed halls of B1 [the venue where negotiations are taking place]. We want to be optimistic, but we also have to be realistic," he said.

Naidoo expressed more optimism that the next COP – to be hosted in Azerbaijan in 2024 - would deliver the GGA required.

Brian Mantlana of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and PCC commissioner, during a panel discussion, commented that the AGN had found a lot of resistance when it comes to the GGA and that it had been "diluted" over the past seven years of negotiations.

"[it is] mostly a framework; there is no direct link to funding," he said.

"I am curious to see what is going to come out of this cop with GGA, but I am not holding my breath because of the asymmetries of power at play within the process."

‘Vague’

Adaptation discussions at COPs are notorious for developed nations steamrolling developing nations.

The draft text of the GGA agreement released on Monday night has been "vague" on targets, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) analysis. "The draft's approach to finance is weak ... it lacks a specific finance target," the WWF said in a newsletter.

Similarly, Amy Gilliam Thorp, senior adaptation and resilience policy advisor at Nairobi-based think tank PowerShift Africa, found the text to be vague.

"The text makes a vague reference to but provides no concrete targets for the overarching global goal and means of implementation, such as finance, tech transfer, and capacity building.

"The dire lack of tangible targets directly undermines the resilience of developing nations, especially in Africa, while the stubborn resistance from developed nations like the US, UK, and EU to provide essential adaptation support to developing nations further fractures trust between the two," said Thorp. – Fin24

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