By Nuru Ahmed

In a bid to accelerate adaptation in Africa, the regional office of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) has been launched in Côte d’Ivoire.

The launch was hosted by African Development Bank (ADB) at its headquarters in Abidjan the Ivorian capital. GCA Africa will work with partners across the continent to scale and accelerate adaptation action that protects African communities from the consequences of climate change.

GCA Africa will focus on programs and action, knowledge acceleration, capacity building and agenda-setting that respond to acute challenges from the changing climate facing African countries.

The GCA Africa programs include improving food security of one billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 through a program on rural well-being and food security. Other projects include giving support to communities through water for urban growth and resilience; using nature for more resilient infrastructure; adaptation finance and building youth leadership.

Ban Ki-moon, Co-Chair of the Board of the Global Center on Adaptation and 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations during the launch said: “This is a historic moment to accelerate adaptation in Africa. Nowhere is the challenge of achieving sustainable development in the face of a changing climate more acute. Our new regional office will support regional and national adaptation efforts by emphasizing and spreading existing best practices on the continent and ensuring their fully fledged integration into broader international adaptation efforts”.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the ADB noted that the Bank has committed to doubling its financing for climate to $25 billion by 2025, with over 50% devoted to climate adaptation.

“Africa must not be short-changed by global climate finance. We will partner with the GCA to mobilize more resources for climate adaptation in Africa,” he said.

Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon and Chair of the African Adaptation Initiative added that the devastating effects of climate change, including severe droughts, floods, reduced agricultural yields, sea-level rise, and other climate-related disasters, are on the rise.

“The launch of GCA Africa is a bold and innovative initiative to galvanize the support needed to significantly scale up adaptation on the continent, identify gaps and connect regional partners to find solutions,” he said.

According to Feike Sijbesma, Co-Chair of the Board of the GCA and Honorary Chairman of Royal DSM, millions of lives depend on Africa’s agricultural sector thus adapting and improving its resilience to climate change is there a must.

“By investing in African local food systems we catalyze sustainable value chains and support the vulnerable but small-scale often female producers,”Sijbesma said.

Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the GCA remarked that the impacts of climate change are already being felt across Africa and will only increase in magnitude.

“Adaptation is not a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. Through our role as a solutions broker, GCA Africa will work closely with partners in every sector to ensure the most effective adaptation measures are shared and scaled across the continent, responding to the growing demand for strengthening resilience to the impacts of our changing climate,” he said.

The launch of GCA Africa came shortly after the launch of its South Asian office in Dhaka by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in September 2020. Its first regional office was launched in Beijing by Premier Li Keqiang in June 2019.

In May 2020, GCA Africa published a GCA policy brief, with the African Adaptation Initiative and endorsed by 54 Heads of State and Government, which recommended focusing stimulus investment in Africa on resilient infrastructure and food security to overcome the COVID-climate crisis.

The GCA is the lead partner institution for the Climate Adaptation Summit in the Netherlands – the first major gathering of international leaders dedicated entirely to adaptation. The summit is to take place on 25 January 2021 and is to be hosted by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands. The GCA is also the Managing Partner to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers of Finance, a group of 48 developing countries highly vulnerable to climate change.