UNDP Country Director: Speech at the opening session of the African Group of Negotiators Meeting

Sep 30, 2015

Excellency, Mr. Hassan Abdelgadir Hilal, Minister of Environment, Forests and Physical Development

Excellency, representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme Regional office for Africa, The New Partnership for African’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union Commission (AUC)

Honorable guests, members of the African Group of Negotiators, representing all African countries


Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Climate Change has emerged as one of the most important issues facing the global community in the 21st century. This is an important year for taking action, with emergence of the new post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the post-Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction and the expected new global climate agreement at COP21 in Paris. Climate change poses a serious threat to development and livelihoods, and the effect will be felt most strongly by the poorest people in the least developed areas of the world, who rely on the natural environment for their livelihoods. As such the new climate agreement must place top priority on the needs of Africa, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

  • Within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) just adopted at the UN General Assembly in New York,  SDG 13 clearly states that countries would “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” and sets out a number of indicators to measure progress. Am ambitious climate agreement will be key to achieving SDG13 and in particular should serve as a foundation for scaled-up climate finance, towards the goal of $100billion per year of support from developed countries.

  • Beyond a mere donation, scaled up climate finance is meant to support goals of equity and justice for the poor and most vulnerable affected by climate change. The frequency and impact of severe drought and flooding around the world suggest that climate change is already impacting water and food security, and could well trigger a roll-back of human development gains by mid-century unless rapid action is taken. For example, in the Least Developed Countries in Africa almost half the rural population lacks access to improved sources of drinking water and recent food crises in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel are stark reminders of the impact of repeated severe drought on vulnerable populations.

  • UNDP’s Strategic Plan (2014-2017) includes a strong emphasis on the need to Manage Risks and Build Resilience of development results. Managing climate risks and building climate resilient development pathways is at the center of this mandate. UNDP supports countries to take concrete action to prepare for, and address, the impacts of climate change and put countries on the path toward low-emissions and climate-resilient development. UNDP’s on-the-ground presence for the past 50 years gives it unique experiences that can help to inform partners as they adapt development policies in an era of climate disruption.

  • For the past 25 years, UNDP has served as one of the UNs largest providers of country assistance in the area of climate change, energy and environment, with a current portfolio of over $ 1.3 billion of climate change and sustainable energy projects in over 140 countries.

  • Strengthening resilience of food and water security to climate change is a prominent part of UNDP’s work in the region. We work with countries to develop early warning systems, national adaptation plans, and ways to integrate climate and disaster risks into  agriculture and water management systems; strengthening social protection so that people can maintain access to livelihoods, income and natural assets needed in times of hardship.

  • In Sudan for instance, UNDP supports in partnership with GEF and development partners, a series of capacity development initiatives to help build innovative finance mechanisms for building climate resilience, including for example climate-indexed insurance schemes, as well as climate-resilient livelihoods in the agriculture and water sectors targeting vulnerable groups and communities across the country, and women in particular.

  • Equally important to adapting to climate risks is the challenge and opportunity of shifting to a more sustainable energy pathway. As expressed in Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy, expanded access to renewable energy and energy efficient solutions is at the core of today’s development challenges from social, economic, and environmental perspectives. This is nowhere more the case than for the African Region. Current energy systems are inadequate to meet the needs of rapidly growing economies and populations, and countries across Africa are in need of expanded access to reliable and efficient energy services. Across the world and in the region, the “Sustainable Energy for All” Initiative plays a key role in building new partnerships to expand access to sustainable energy, in supporting of broader goals for poverty reduction and inclusive growth. Working together, we can achieve a broad based transformation of global and regional energy pathways and build a more prosperous and safer world.

  • Issues of climate change, energy and environment have an important position in the new post-2015 development agenda, as these issues rise up national policy agendas and become serious risks to the long-term sustainability of development goals. We acknowledge the strong national commitment of the Sudanese Government towards climate change, energy and environment issues and we commit ourselves to continue our engagement and support to achieve our jointly stated goals.

  • As you are aware, the main objective of the annual Conference of Parties is “to review the Convention’s implementation”. Since the first COP took place in Berlin in 1995, a series of significant measures were adopted such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Road Map and most recently the launch of the Green Climate Fund. In 2014, COP20 was held in Lima and negotiators concluded talks with the “Lima Call for Climate Action”, a draft document that lays the foundations for a new global climate deal and scaled-up finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. The clock is now ticking towards CoP21 in Paris, in December 2015, to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

  • I hope that through this meeting you will be able to agree on key messages that you will deliver during COP21 to ensure that any global deal to address climate change will be fair, ambitious and enable African countries to achieve poverty reduction, food security and sustainable development.

    Thank you

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