UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 highlights Africa's role in global climate action

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 highlights Africa's role in global climate action

NAIROBI, 6th September, 2023 (WAM) -- With COP28 just around the corner in November, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, is ramping up her global climate advocacy. This week, Al Mubarak is actively participating in Africa Climate Week. Her primary objective is to accelerate action on the preservation of Africa’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from marine and coastal areas to vast terrestrial landscapes, especially as the world transitions to renewable energy solutions.

Al Mubarak is committed to elevating the discussions on safeguarding Africa's vital natural resources. Through her engagement at Africa Climate Week, she aims to prioritise nature-based solutions in global climate action plans and promote the well-being of local communities in Africa.

Taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, the event is organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), under the patronage of government of Kenya and its President William Ruto, and is one of four regional weeks held to build momentum ahead of COP28 in the UAE in November.

“Africa's incredible biodiversity is not just a testament to the continent's natural wealth, but also to the stewardship of its communities. By partnering globally, we can amplify local efforts to protect these vital ecosystems for the benefit of all," said Al Mubarak, who is also the President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In her role as High-Level Champion, Al Mubarak is engaging with business leaders, representatives of financial institutions, local communities, cities and regions. These non-state actors play a crucial role in augmenting government efforts, making their involvement indispensable in the fight against climate change. One of Al Mubarak's key messages is the need to increase support for Nature-Based Solutions (NbS), steps like reversing deforestation, restoring ecosystems, and improving farm management. These NbS initiatives not only have the potential to preserve important habitats but also to support livelihoods and increase communities' resilience to negative climate change impacts.

The message is particularly relevant in Africa where it is hoped that economic development will help lift millions out of poverty. The continent is well-endowed with rare earth minerals which are crucial for electric vehicles and other green technologies. As the world seeks to move away from fossil-based energy generation, the importance of such minerals and the pressure of extractive industries will only increase. 

At the same time, African countries are among the worst-affected by climate change. Of the ten countries estimated by the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative Index to be both most vulnerable and least able to handle climate stressors, nine are in Africa: Chad, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, and Mali. This is the case even though the African continent has contributed no more than three percent of historical greenhouse emissions.

On 7th September, Al Mubarak joins local and international conservationists at the African NbS Implementation Dialogue Workshop, one of a series of regional dialogues to take place at regional climate weeks. Well ahead of the annual climate talks in the UAE, the workshops will inform a report for the COP28 Presidency and UNFCCC; this report's findings and recommendations on accelerating the implementation of nature-based solutions (NbS) will be discussed at a Ministerial-level roundtable.

“The Global Stocktake is more than a tally sheet; it's a moral ledger. We owe it to future generations to take the insights we gain from this process and turn them into actionable steps that can truly limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius," stated Al Mubarak.

Al Mubarak’s schedule also includes bilateral meetings with representatives of philanthropic organisations and several forums on the mechanisms to attract more finance for nature conservation in Africa. For example, one issue hindering projects to restore forests and peatlands is the low and unstable price of carbon emissions on voluntary carbon markets; these markets enable polluters to mitigate their impacts by supporting nature projects on a voluntary basis.

The Africa Climate Week is organised in parallel with the African Climate Summit, which Al Mubarak is also attending. On 5th September, she will address heads of state at an event on the blue economy, sustainable economic activities associated with the ocean and seas. 

“Our oceans hold the potential to be our greatest ally in the fight against climate change. A 21 percent emissions reduction isn't just a number: it's a lifeline for millions of people and countless species. That's why COP28 is calling on all nations to invest in Sustainable Ocean Plans," Al Mubarak  emphasised. The COP28 Presidency is also keen to supercharge two key initiatives to restore mangrove habitats and coral reefs, announced at COP27 in Sharm EL Sheikh last year. The Mangrove Breakthrough has a sustainable finance target of US$4 billion to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangrove forests. The Coral Reef Breakthrough will help governments and non-state actors scale actions and finance for the protection of coral reef systems.

At the same time, Al Mubarak announced that the Great Blue Wall, an initiative of Western Indian Ocean states, IUCN and other partners, has received US$100 million in funding in support of its goal to establish a network of marine and coastal protected areas.