By Busani Bafana
A united African position and tack could be Africa's decisive cards in unlocking finance for climate change adaptation in Lima, researchers and negotiators say.
Africa is one of the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change which touch food security and economic development. According to the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), projections are that under medium scenarios many areas in Africa will exceed a 2 degree Celsius increase by the last two decades of this century which will have big ramifications for agriculture and farmer livelihoods.
Being prepared and forging strategic alliances could help Africa make some gains in Lima where a draft text of a global climate treaty is expected to be shaped in time for the signing, hopefully, of a binding agreement in Paris 2015.
Going by pace of climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany, in October 2014, an agreement is not in sight. Negotiations have been marked by lack of commitments and weak political will towards deep cuts in global emissions to keep global temperature increases below the two degrees Celsius. This means a drastic shift from fossil fuels and an accelerated switch to green energy.
Veteran negotiator and former chair of the African Group on climate change negotiators, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, says a successful Lima is a precursor to a binding agreement in Paris 2015. African negotiators will play a key role if there are well prepared and act in unison.
"Our negotiators need more than diplomacy because the world has changed and so has the pattern of engagement," Mpanu Mpanu at the sidelines of the Fourth Climate Change Development in Africa (CCDA) conference held in Morocco in Oct. 2014.
"A successful Lima COP will be a successful Paris COP by establishing an inclusive and open process but on the road to Lima we need to shoot for common target and this means putting Africa's priorities on the table and pushing for them."
The focus of the 2014 CCDA was on how climate change is an opportunity for Africa to improve its food production by levering on the knowledge and best practices such as climate smart agriculture.
"Our negotiators are well qualified and we have plenty of expertise in the African group of negotiators including people who are in the meteorology services, hydrology, agriculture and forestry," says Fatima Denton, Director of Special Initiatives Division in the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). "Winning is part of everyone's responsibility as this is about a global compact. So to win this negotiators need to make sure their knowledge exposes many of the weaknesses in the negotiations and they also need knowledge about the processes of the negotiations and how we can impact that."
Africa is entering the UNFCCC process challenges among others by lack of institutional capacity, weak climate change adaptive capacity and coping ability and an absence of legislative framework to stimulate climate change strategies, says the African Climate Policy Centre based in Ethiopia.
Tara Shine, Head of Research and Development at the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice wants a binding agreement that is fair, ambitious and delivers on climate justice by sharing the benefits and burdens of responding climate change equitably. The quality of Africa's negotiating positions will be a game changer if the continent is to make a difference in the talks towards a binding climate change agreement.
"If Africa is organised, has good solid positions and works well with others in the progressive alliance and with LDCs and the small island states and some of the emerging progressive groups like the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, I am positive about Lima," said Shine, adding that, "The voice of Africa is super important is getting the right kind of agreement. If Africa looks at working as a progressive alliance of vulnerable countries and finds commonalities across all those groups that is a critical mass of countries that nobody can ignore, no matter how powerful they are, that is where the power lies in alliance between the different group of countries."
Climate justice, Shine said is all about bringing development, climate change and human rights together. It was happening but slowly urging for targeted approaches that will make a difference for the poor and marginalised people of the world.
A negotiator from Ghana, Yawu Osafu, says African needs to support its negotiators - many times operating under constraints - by ensuring they have adequate resources to participate in all critical meetings.
According to research by the ACPC, the cost of adaptation and putting Africa on a carbon growth path at $31 billion a year by 2015 and that climate proofing Africa could add 40 percent to the cost of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs).
Adaptation, costs could in time be met from Africa's own resources, argues Abdalla Hamdok, the deputy Executive Secretary of the ECA, pointing to the need for Africa to plug money lost to illicit financial flows estimated to be more than $50 billion a year.