Alex Rose-Innes

Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank’s (WB) Vice President for West and Central Africa, in the WB’s latest blueprint, highlighted sustainable and innovative ideas to fast-track the fight against climate change.

The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan (NG-ACBP) aims to build on the original Climate Plan, which had already seen US $33 billion granted towards more than 300 projects since 2014. The Plan was led by Kanta Kumari Rigaud, lead environment specialist, who underscored the immense importance of ramping up climate action on both the resilience and clean energy fronts as “the last window of opportunity which is rapidly narrowing.”

The NG-ACBP would assist countries to grow climate resilience as a matter of urgency and while, reducing poverty, provide climate-friendly outcomes.

The WP document predicted that unless efforts to combat climate change are rapidly put in place, an additional 43 million sub-Saharan residents would join the ranks of millions already living in abject poverty. By 2015, that number had grown to 413 million and is now approaching 440 million.

The Plan calls for countries to seize the opportunity to scale-up climate resilience to grow their economies and reduce poverty by redoubling efforts to increase energy access across the region.  As the largest financier of climate action in Africa, the WB would use this new Climate Plan to build on its strong track record under the original plan in which more than 300 projects were supported at a cost of more than US$33 billion in financing over the past six years. 

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“The climate challenge cuts across every priority – poverty reduction, agriculture, job creation, women’s empowerment, fragility, and more,” Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for West and Central Africa

Over the next six years (2021–26), the World Bank would focus on five key areas in Africa; food security, clean energy, green and resilient cities, environmental stability and climate shocks.

The Plan sets ambitious goals pushing the boundaries of sustainable development in Africa, including training 10 million farmers on climate-smart agricultural approaches, expanding integrated landscape management over 60 million hectares in 20 countries, increasing renewable energy generation capacity from 28GW to 38GW to increase access to clean electricity and outfitting at least 3O cities with low carbon and compact urban planning approaches. 

Hafez Ghanem of the World Bank’s branch for East and southern Africa, said that the continent’s main challenge was to adapt to climate change by investing in more resilient agriculture and food systems, building infrastructure that could withstand extreme weather events, protecting its coastal cities and improving disaster preparedness systems.

The WB recommends that sub-Saharan African countries should not tarry to enact policy reforms recognising the realities of climate change in order to strengthen recovery and promote long-term growth. This included addressing the sizable infrastructure gap in a green and resilient manner, using less carbon-intensive materials and technologies while creating more competitive job opportunities.  

This Plan would be rolled out despite the COVID-19 pandemic, to build back better from one of the biggest setbacks in the region’s development in the last 25 years. 

(Source: Unicef)