Africa’s story is slowly changing from a region of poverty and disease to one with a proven track record of economic progress. It has been widely reported that 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world come from Africa. The 2012 Annual Development Effectiveness Report by the African Development Bank indicates that a third of Africa’s countries have recorded a GDP growth of more than 6%, and the percentage of the population living below poverty line dropped to 39% in 2012 from 51% in 2005.
With Africa’s economic growth, its cities are increasingly becoming hubs for both economic and socio-cultural development – with increased industrial production and urban population. Cities are increasingly consuming lots of energy and producing more waste that requires complex waste management systems.
Despite the continent’s progress, climate change continues to threaten Africa’s development gains and prospects, with most studies indicating that Africa will be the worst affected region globally. Economic growth is threatened because climate change impacts – if not managed – will alter the natural capital and systems on which Africa’s economic and social development depend.
In the 2011 Africa Mayors Climate Change Declaration, mayors agreed unanimously on the critical need to develop competencies, mandates, frameworks and resources to respond to climate change challenges, focusing on spatial planning, urban design and disaster risk reduction. Through C40, Africa mayors and their officials are becoming part of a global and robust platform for peer-to-peer exchange where groups of C40 Cities that share specific interests and challenges can come together to learn from each other and identify shared resource needs. C40 cities are being supported by experienced regional and local staff in finding implementable solutions to their climate change challenges.
Today, C40 cities in Africa – Addis Ababa, Cairo, Johannesburg and Lagos – are leading other cities in developing and implementing localized and long-term adaptation strategies as well as low-carbon development plans and actions. Johannesburg’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan(CCAP), for example, was recently one of only 29 projects globally nominated for the C40 & Siemens Climate Leadership Award. Guided by the CCAP, the city is mapping flood prone areas, developing early warning systems, and raising awareness in vulnerable communities. It has gone further to integrate the CCAP recommendations into both long-term city strategy and day-to-day operations.
Through large-scale, replicable projects, C40 cities in Africa have also led the way for other cities on the continent to develop sustainable transportation options. For example, the implementation of the Lagbus and Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the C40 cities of Lagos and Johannesburg respectively, was followed by MyCiti BRT system in Cape Town, South Africa; and further inspired the development of A Reyeng BRT system in the City of Tshwane in South Africa and another BRT system in the City of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The City of Kampala in Uganda plans to launch its BRT in 2014.
While the BRT systems are reducing the number of private cars on the streets and thereby reducing emissions, C40 cities are also taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills through integrated waste management. C40 and the Clinton Climate Initiative, with support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, are working with Lagos in developing the first landfill gas systems in Nigeria at the two closed landfills at Abule Egba and Solous. This project, also nominated for the C40 & Siemens Climate Leadership Awards, will prevent the emission of over 700,000 tonnes CO2e in the next 10 years and has been registered for carbon financing through the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism.
But there is much more to be done. Like so many cities around the world, African cities need to improve the standards and mechanisms for collecting and managing climate data in order to make informed decisions and monitor the impacts of their climate actions. C40 is working with international partners to support cities in Africa in their data management efforts to ensure measurable, reportable, verifiable climate action, including measuring emission reduction. As an example, next month C40, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, WRI and other international partners will host a convening of African cities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to provide training on the use of the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC). The Protocol will help cities to achieve standard emissions measurement and reporting processes and is currently being piloted by over 35 cities around the world.
In February 2014, City of Johannesburg will host the C40 Mayors Summit to be held – for the first time – in Africa. During the Summit, urban and climate change leaders will join mayors from the world’s largest cities to advance urban solutions for combatting the impact of climate change. As hosts, C40 cities in Africa will share with the world how cities in the region are leading the fight against climate change.
As the Regional Director for Africa, I feel motivated to further support the cities in Africa to share experience and information with other cities – and, in turn, their citizens – both regionally and across the global C4O network, so that the good work they are doing is sustained.
Hastings Chikoko is the Regional Director for Africa for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Prior to joining C40, Hastings had a long career with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) where he served as Director of IUCN Sub-Regional Office (Southern Africa) as well as Acting Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. While at IUCN, he also worked with City of Johannesburg on the Greening Soweto initiative and was involved in the implementation of the ICLEI’s Local Action for Biodiversity and the TEEB Initiatives. Hastings has also worked for the Royal Danish Embassy as a Component Programme Manager for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) on water management. Hastings has moderated high-level panel discussions on climate change on M-Net Television (Africa Magic Channel). He is one of the African Mentors for Policy think tanks in Africa, a member of the Regional Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership, and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Tshwane University of Technology. Hastings has post-graduate qualifications in Environmental Diplomacy from the University of Geneva, Switzerland (specializing on green economic growth) and in Management from Derby Business School, UK. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Malawi. He has had focused training in Climate Change Diplomacy and Bilateral Diplomacy at the Diplo Foundation, Switzerland.