Climate Change forum opens with calls for African leaders to move from rhetoric to action

Africa and Europe in Partnership Ethiopia’s President, Girma Wolde-Giorgis has called on African leaders to “close the gap between rhetoric and adaptation actions” in order to effectively address the impact of climate change across the continent. President Ato Girma made the call in his opening address at the ongoing seventh African Development Forum –ADF VII- whose theme is “Acting Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa.”

He outlined some of Africa’s devastating impacts of climate change, including severe drought, loss of livelihoods by pastoralists, farmers and the threat of the private sector from lack of sustainable energy. He also pointed out that the hard won gains in achieving poverty eradication, sustained growth stability, peace and security and ecosystem integrity constitute “the bedrock for sustainable development”, and should therefore be protected by African leaders. These gains, he said, are being severely undermined by the threat of climate change.

President Ato Giorgis also urged leaders attending the Forum to support the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), which is chaired by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenewi. The Conference “provides a united political voice, needed to achieve optimal results at the global level,” he said.

Mr. Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC) called for “influential environmental diplomacy”, as the means through which African countries could advance their decision-making and mitigate against the negative impact of climate change.

Ethiopia’s President, Girma Wolde-Giorgis has called on African leaders to “close the gap between rhetoric and adaptation actions” in order to effectively address the impact of climate change across the continent. President Ato Girma made the call in his opening address at the ongoing seventh African Development Forum –ADF VII- whose theme is “ Acting on climate change for sustainable development in Africa.”

He outlined some of Africa’s devastating impacts of climate change, including severe drought, loss of livelihoods by pastoralists, farmers and the threat of the private sector from lack of sustainable energy. He also pointed out that the hard won gains in achieving poverty eradication, sustained growth stability, peace and security and ecosystem integrity constitute “the bedrock for sustainable development”, and should therefore be protected by African leaders. These gains, he said, are being severely undermined by the threat of climate change.

President Ato Giorgis also urged leaders attending the Forum to support the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), which is chaired by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenewi. The Conference “provides a united political voice, needed to achieve optimal results at the global level,” he said.

Mr. Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission (AUC) called for “influential environmental diplomacy”, as the means through which African countries could advance their decision-making and mitigate against the negative impact of climate change.

For his part, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) urged the over 700 participants attending the Climate Change Forum to critically examine options for responding to the urgent threats posed by climate change and “put forth an implementable action agenda that will accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); foster sustained economic growth and development; and ensure environmental sustainability in Africa and the wider world.”

He also said that African countries should take “early and priority action that will lay a firm foundation to effectively engage in practical interventions on adaptation and mitigation” and to enable them make full use of the opportunities that are being created by the evolving international climate change negotiations.

Speaking on behalf of the Youth, Ms. Esther Agbarakwe, African Regional Coordinator UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and Coordinator/ Co-Founder, Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition (NYCC) emphasized the need for advocacy, behavior change and cultural transformation that she said would enable a shift towards a more sustainable world.

“Climate change is not a localized problem; it transcends national borders, hence the need for co-operation of intergovernmental agencies but also to include those young and vulnerable people,” she said.

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