Francophone Africa Meets to Build Common Climate and Clean Air Capacity

by CCAC secretariat - 30 May, 2023
The collection of diverse French-speaking African nations are enthusiastic to take action on cross-border issues.

Despite the complex development challenges faced by many African nations, a growing number are taking action to combat the amorphous challenges of climate change and air pollution. Moreso, they are doing so in coordination with regional neighbours to multiply the efficiency and impacts of their actions. Most recently, in early May, 2023 Francophone states of North and West Africa enthusiastically joined a regional capacity building workshop in Abidjan, Cote d’IVoire.  
The workshop was designed to increase governmental and non-governmental capacity to plan and develop projects to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the participating countries. It was attended by 11 CCAC country partners – Bénin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Morocco, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Chad, and Togo. In addition, non-government bodies, finance institutions, technical partners and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also attended the workshop.  
Regional workshops focus on identifying regional policy and program priorities across regions and sub-regions while facilitating peer-peer learning between regional countries with different experiences. For example, at the May workshop Guinea – which is starting with national planning processes – was able to learn from Cote d’Ivoire’s decade of national planning experience. The results of those years of work saw Cote d'Ivoire launch its updated national short-lived climate pollutant plan at the workshop. The plan outlines 16 measures that could achieve a 59% reduction in black carbon emissions by 2030, and a 34% reduction in methane emissions, alongside reductions in other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.  

The participation of ECOWAS was also important to advance cooperation on the inherently regional issue of fuel standards and reducing black carbon emissions from transport. Participants in the workshop also used the opportunity to discuss the implementation of the recommendations of another significant development – the Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa. 
“Guinea is only just beginning this type of work, and we have great interest to learn from and receive the support of other countries which have already begun this work,” said Guinea’s National Expert on SLCPs Mamadou Lamarana Diallo, at the workshop.  

Workshop sessions also included knowledge sharing on how to access funding, how to strengthen intra-governmental cooperation, and how to develop projects, and a session on technical capacity building for emissions modelling led by the Stockholm Environment Institute.  
Throughout the workshop, waste emerged as a common priority for all participating states. As Africa’s population grows and has increasing access to modern consumer goods, waste is becoming a pressing concern affecting agriculture, human health, and land and marine ecosystems. Waste that is not worth anything in informal recycling markets is either left to rot in open dumps, producing methane, or openly burnt, producing black carbon and other toxic chemicals. Globally waste is responsible for 5% of black carbon emissions and around 18% of human-derived methane emissions.  
Many of the Francophone states are developing nations with limited waste infrastructure and public awareness of the impacts of improper waste management on ecosystems and the climate, so tackling an issue that takes place at a household level presents major communication and logistical challenges. In addition to the challenge of accessing remote populations unserved by waste collection of any kind, there are also significant numbers of people who live in informal housing directly in open waste dumps and who derive a living from collecting recyclable materials.  

“Cameroon has decided to work on two particular areas – agriculture and waste. We think that these high-emitting areas are very promising for our ability to develop more sustainable practices while integrating issues of productivity and profitability,” said John Gounes, the CCAC Focal Point for Cameroon. 
For all participant states national planning is still a high priority for raising the prioritisation of SLCP actions and for project development, with many states such as The Democratic Republic of Congo and Benin currently receiving CCAC support for planning activities on national SLCP action and specific sectors such as waste. This phase of SLCP action is highly necessary for establishing elements which support effective and efficient action such as data collection and coordination mechanisms, for engaging all relevant stakeholders across the polluting sectors. Some states however, such as Cote d’Ivoire and Central African Republic are already moving towards implementing SLCP projects such as on open burning in agriculture.  
All participants at the workshop highlighted however that there is a universal need to attract more finance for work on air pollution and climate change to scale-up action through larger projects. Integrated regional approaches are one way that climate finance can be attracted towards the broader health and development benefits of mitigating short-lived climate pollutants. These benefits include better crop productivity through reduced tropospheric ozone and black carbon pollution in agriculture and ecosystems, and lower health care costs from the reductions in chronic illnesses caused by tropospheric ozone and black carbon. 
CCAC Focal Point for Niger Ali Seydou Moussa summarised the spirit present at the workshop, saying “international cooperation is important, simply because air pollution knows no borders, so air pollutants produced in one country affect other countries also, so it is inevitable that we synergise our efforts.” 

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