Africa comes together in Burkina to talk about climate change

Oct 9, 2009

Last month’s floods in West Africa (here, in Ouagadougou) have led to thousands of casualties. (Photo UNDP).
Ouagadougou, 9 October - The Global Forum on Sustainable Development, to be held here from 9 to 11 October, will enable sub-Saharan Africa to continue to consolidate its views on climate change.
Two months before the Copenhagen conference which will aim to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a new international agreement on climate, the region will review the problems associated with climate change and make concerted efforts to implement a ‘New Green Deal for Africa’.
This pact will allow the African continent to gird itself against the consequences of climate change while supporting the development process and working to achieve the MDGs.
As evidenced by the floods and droughts of the last few weeks, the African continent—which is only marginally responsible for climate change given that African emits merely 4 percent of greenhouse gases—nonetheless is among the most vulnerable regions. Vagaries in climate are jeopardizing the living conditions of a continent already ravaged by poverty and harshly affected by the economic and financial crisis.
Of the more than 40 per cent of Africans living in a state of extreme poverty, 70 per cent live in rural areas or depend largely on subsistence agriculture. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that by 2020, 75 to 250 million Africans could face water shortages and 600 million could be suffering from food shortages by 2060.

Entitled ‘Climate Change: What Opportunities For Sustainable Development?’, the forum is being organized by the Government of Burkina Faso in partnership with the United Nations, including UNDP, and the African Union (AU).

The forum will bring together heads of state and key African dignitaries as well as economists, scientists and other experts. 
At this time of crisis, the participants will study the opportunities created by climate change for the region. Even as it underscores the specific commitments made by developed countries with regard to limiting carbon emissions and giving financial support to developing countries, the Forum will demonstrate in equal measure that African ideas and valued-added perspectives are essential to the success of the Copenhagen negotiations.

For example, Africa represents an important source of carbon thanks to its vast forest coverage and its soil: it is an essential destination for investments linked to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and especially to mobilizing carbon credits.
The Green Pact for Africa will be based on the following proposals:
  • Mainstreaming climate change adaptation strategies into development and poverty reduction plans;
  • Using renewable energy sources as a catalyst for development;
  • Developing low-carbon-emission technologies for stimulating economic growth and creating jobs;
  • Implementing new projects that can attract investment and innovative sources of financing;
  • Creating governance mechanisms that give Africans a meaningful say in the decision-making process. 
During the forum, UNDP will be promoting a ‘regional’ response to climate change. This will entail coordinating local, regional and national responses while involving local governments and encouraging decentralized cooperation. UNDP will also support the formulation of the Green Pact and organize a number of parallel meetings with African Environmental Ministers.
Ouagadougou: Distribution of buckets of water to victims of floods by United Nations volunteers (Photo: UNDP).
On the ground, UNDP is engaged in supporting capacity development for African policymakers while facilitating integrated planning for climate change issues by African national, regional, and local governments. UNDP is also committed to developing Africa’s potential in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as broadening access to renewable energy sources and harnessing the opportunities afforded by biofuels. Taken together, these activities aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries (UN-REDD, or the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), implementing viable policies for cheap carbon in Africa and supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

The Forum will consist of six thematic sessions, focusing inter alia on ‘Climate Change: Opportunities and Constraints on the Environmental, Social and Economic Levels’, ‘Health, Africa and Globalisation’, or even ‘Mobility and its Economic, Financial and Political Impact on Africa’.

Contact Information For more information, please contact Mahamadi Ouadraogo, UNDP Communications Officer in Ouagadougou:
Tel: +226-50-30-67-63

Forum website:
UNDP in Burkina Faso:
UNDP in Africa:

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