Disasters and shocks — natural or manmade — have the potential to throw poor and marginal populations into crisis and wipe away hard-earned development gains. These disasters and shocks are occurring with greater frequency and intensity, making it difficult to build resilient communities, particularly in countries facing severe socio-economic challenges exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States and African countries reaffirmed their shared commitment to tackling together the challenges of climate change and poverty and to partnering to build resilience to these kinds of shocks. They also stressed their commitment to promoting low-carbon economic development and clean energy access on the African continent. Components of this cooperative approach include the following:
The Global Resilience Partnership: At the Summit, USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a $100 million Global Resilience Partnership to help protect the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people. Meaningful investments across sectors in preparedness, adaptation, and inclusive economic growth can help communities function better day-to-day and, when a crisis hits, realize a resilience dividend. The Partnership will focus its efforts in three regions with historically high vulnerability to recurrent shocks — the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia — and build on work already being done by USAID, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa, and Economic Community of West African States. Current efforts to build resilience have put many communities on the path to a more secure and sustainable future.
For example, in Ethiopia and Kenya, we have helped improve pastoralist populations’ resilience to climate variability and change by strengthening disaster early warning systems and improved responses to natural hazards. In the Sahel, we have integrated drought cycle management and climate-smart agriculture practices into multi-year national investment plans. As in the Horn, this support is complemented by U.S. government-supported programming to build resilience to recurrent crisis by expanding economic opportunities, strengthening natural resource, conflict, and disaster risk management and improving health and nutrition outcomes. But many more remain vulnerable as risks increase. Now is the time to enable resilience thinking and action on a wider scale. Building on these current efforts and identifying new opportunities the Resilience Partnership will operate through three global centers (including two in Africa) and will:
Increase the ability of people, communities, systems, and countries to forecast, manage, and adapt to a variety of risks, in part by fostering innovative resilience-building technologies and practices, such as index-based livestock and crop insurance and water harvesting.
Increase the capacity of critically important local, regional, and global institutions to build resilience.
Catalyze alliances across a broad range of private and public sector actors to leverage and scale resilience investments and innovations.
Working together to implement the Malabo Declaration: As part of the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security, leaders agreed in the Malabo Declaration to accelerate agricultural growth as the primary strategy to end poverty in Africa, to reduce vulnerability to climate and weather related risk, and to mainstream resilience and risk management. At the Summit this week, the African Union shared its roadmap to implement the declaration, and the United States announced several opportunities to partner with African nations in support of these objectives, including:
Our commitment to serve as founding members of the global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, slated for launch at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit on September 23, 2014;
Continued technical assistance to incorporate climate smart agriculture into national and regional plans and to use climate data, modeling, and training to assist countries in adopting climate smart approaches;
Sierra Leone, the Ghana Open Data Initiative, IBM, and Kellogg Company announced they would join the United States as partners in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative. GODAN supports global efforts to make agricultural and nutritional data available and accessible for unrestricted use worldwide; and
An investment in the World Bank’s Agricultural Insurance Development Program to provide analysis and technical assistance to countries to design and implement sustainable, cost-effective public-private partnerships in agricultural insurance in order to increase the financial resilience of rural households.
The President’s Global Climate Change Initiative: The United States will continue to support African countries through the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), whose aim is to help developing countries build resilience to the effects of climate change and chart a course for low-emission development. The GCCI has supported climate change solutions ranging from investing in climate information services in Uganda and Mali, to addressing the causes of deforestation in Zambia, to investing in clean energy solutions in Kenya, to improving management of climate-vulnerable water resources in trans-boundary river basins in southern Africa.
The United States invests additional GCCI funding in Africa through multilateral funds and global programs, including the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience. This multilateral assistance leverages funding from other governments, development partners, and the private sector; makes capital investment in infrastructure; and provides a range of tailored financial products across a wide range of African countries.
The GCCI also helps enable private sector investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency through targeted efforts, such as the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) Initiative, which complements the President’s Power Africa Initiative. At the Summit, the United States announced additional support for ACEF, which has already financed the development of more than 20 clean energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa in less than two years of operation.
In addition, the United States partners with several African countries to help them accelerate their transition to low emission development through investments in clean energy and improved land management. For example, through the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) program, the United States is partnering with 25 developing countries around the world, including five in Africa, that are working to reduce their long-term greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors as they grow their economies. EC-LEDS partners in Africa include Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia.
Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. The United States is working with our African partners to develop a new ambitious and effective international climate change agreement in 2015 that motivates ambitious action on the part of all countries consistent with their national circumstances and capabilities.