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EARTH DAY: ‘We must not take our eyes off climate change threats as we battle COVID-19’- African Development Bank

22/04/2020

The African Development Bank joins the global community in celebrating 50 years of Earth Day on the theme “Climate Action”, notwithstanding the disruptions by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced climatic threats exacerbates Africa’s vulnerabilities and developmental challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown what a unified global community can do. Responding to the crisis, some developed countries have announced large-scale fiscal stimulus packages, collectively amounting to trillions of dollars and translating to between 10 -15% of GDP. While deploying huge resources and global support to address the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, we must simultaneously address climate threats as part of the measures to secure a successful post-COVID-19 recovery and ensure transformational growth. The desert locusts in East Africa are not on break and the impending hurricanes will not stay action until the COVID-19 subsides.

The African Development Bank views the shared global commitment to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement, as a huge opportunity for transformational development in Africa. In our commitment to transitioning Africa to green growth, the Bank is taking bold actions and making significant investments across all the major development sectors, responsibly and sustainably. The move towards a greener and more sustainable development pathway provides a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation. 

The Bank is leading a major push to build resilience to climate change in Africa. Its climate adaptation finance has exceeded its mitigation finance. The Bank has demonstrated that investing in resilience-building yields higher returns. Our investments are strengthening the capacities of Africa’s climate centres to generate good quality climate data and early-warning systems; enhancing access to innovative adaptation finance such as the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Facility, increasing energy security through renewables with the Desert-to-Power programme and supporting climate smart agriculture. The interventions are also protecting our oceans through our blue economy program and investing in our rapidly growing cities to position them as powerhouses for sustainable development. 

COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of our collective vulnerability to global human and environmental threats. The crisis should embolden us to “build back better” — by not going back to our old ways and to things that made us this vulnerable in the first place. COVID-19 has reinforced the need for disaster preparedness. If developed countries can curb their emissions and provide the magnitude of stimulus that has been committed to COVID-19 to tackle climate change, we are sure to build resilience and strengthen the institutions created to manage disasters and be prepared for the next big environmental disaster.