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UNDP’s CDM Capacity Development in Africa

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have launched a partnership to provide developing countries with assistance in reducing their vulnerability to climate change and in building their capacity to engage with, and derive the benefits from, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. The UNDP-UNEP Partnership on Climate Change forms a cornerstone of the Nairobi Framework, a multi-agency initiative to address climate change issues, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is often said that Africa has little to offer in the way of carbon trading and the CDM. After all, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for just 2% of global emissions and just 1% of the 3,000-plus projects in today’s CDM pipeline. But this ignores the fact that the CDM encompasses a far broader range of sectors and project-types than commonly imagined.

Waste management projects – in the form of mitigating biogas emissions from landfills, wastewater treatment plants and farms – offer immediate, and often very lucrative, CDM opportunities. Off-grid renewable energy projects, such as run-of-river hydro and wind power, can play a valuable role in bringing energy to rural communities and stimulating rural industries. CDM-financed forestry projects can support land rehabilitation, biodiversity and rural livelihoods. Fuel-switch projects can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and better utilise ‘waste’ resources. Energy efficiency can save individuals and organisations money and generate additional revenues in the form of CDM carbon credits.

The recent introduction of the programme of activities (PoA) under the CDM is expected to greatly enhance the opportunities for African countries to access the CDM. Programmatic CDM is designed to tap into the ‘long tail’ of small-scale, geographically dispersed activities that have been difficult to undertake as stand-alone CDM projects. Examples of PoA opportunities abound in Africa: the roll-out of fuel-efficient cookstoves and solar water heaters for domestic purposes, the installation of compact fluorescent lightbulbs in public sector offices, and fuel-substitution in the transport sector are just three exciting possibilities.

Although Africa has, to date, largely been by-passed by the CDM, there is growing awareness amongst the carbon-buyer community that Africa offers plenty of emissions-reduction opportunities. There is widespread recognition in the international community that – for reasons of equity, efficiency and sustainability – Africa has to be better integrated into the global carbon market.

This awareness and goodwill provide a strong foundation for building the capacity of African nations to access the Clean Development Mechanism.

UNDP-UNEP’s joint CDM capacity building programme for sub-Saharan Africa is integral to the two agencies’ attempts to catalyse the carbon sector in the region and open up the development opportunities offered by the CDM. Phase 1 of this programme is funded by the Governments of Spain, Sweden and Finland, and covers Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

The programme is explicitly designed to address the capacity and technical needs of CDM stakeholders. Whether you are a Designated National Authority, a government ministry, a state utility, a private sector company, a technical consultant, a community group or a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), UNDP and UNEP can offer you our joint support in helping to develop a flourishing carbon market in Africa.