Overview of the EU-OACPS Joint Side Event at COP26 (9th Nov 2021)
On 9 November, the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union, with the support of the Intra-ACP GCCA Programme,
co-organized the high-level event “The EU-OACPS Partnership: strengthened cooperation on climate action and the use of science-based information to build resilience”, in the framework of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26).
The objectives of this high-level event were notably to:
- Recall the importance of strong joint action to address climate adaptation in OACPS countries, which are amongst the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.
- Highlight and provide examples that showcase the strength of the EU and the OACPS cooperation in the context of climate action.
- Inform and give maximus visibility to EU-OACPS climate action programmes; and
- Engage with key stakeholders in the field of climate change active in the EU and in the OACPS.
This side event, which took place both virtually and in the COP26 EU Pavilion hosted in the Brussels Studio, was moderated by the OACPS Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for the Environment and Climate Action (ECA) Department, Ms Cristelle Pratt.
In his opening remarks, Mr Koen Doens, Director General of the directorate general of international partnerships DG INTPA, recalled that the EU has laid down a very concrete plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to cut 55 % of Carbon emissions by 2030, but that this plan requires collective global action in which the EU-OACPS partnership is paramount. He mentioned inter alia that “EU and OACPS concluded the negotiations on a new partnership framework and this new agreement will put greater emphasis to support our joint commitment to sustainable development and to climate action in line with SDGs and the Paris Agreement.” On the other hand, he confirmed that in the new EU external budget, recently approved for the period 2021-2027 and which amounts to 60 billion euros, “thirty-five percent of this amount will focus on climate action and it will have the capacity to leverage resources from other actors as development finance institutions, private sector, public investments, etc (…) so that we really get the biggest possible transformational impact in support of whatever partner countries want to do and therefore help deliver all the commitment we have to mobilize 100 billion a year for the most affected countries by 2025”.
Koen Doens concluded that this combination of a new partnership framework, political commitments and financial commitments will be the basis for much progress: “if we bring this together and we then unite Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific under that banner, we can again really make a difference and rally the rest of the international community behind this common global climate goals”.
OACPS Secretary-General H.E. Mr Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, on his part, underscored that the EU and the OACPS are longstanding partners in several fields. The OACPS-EU cooperation on climate action has proven the capacity to deliver tangible results, together: “We look forward to our continued collaboration with the European Union to support our 79 member states and six regions address their climate change challenges. The Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA)+ Programme, a €70 million initiative, and the Intra-ACP Climate Services and related applications Programme (ClimSA), a EUR 85 million initiative, both funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), provide technical assistance and capacity building to countries and regions of the OACPS to build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change while at the same time contributing to efforts at the regional and national levels to implement the Paris Agreement. Today, this high-level meeting shines a light on some concrete examples of support provided by the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Technical Assistance and the added value of the OACPS-EU partnership to showcase the collective strength of the EU and the OACPS’ cooperation in the context of climate action.”
Also taking the floor at this Joint side event, Mr Stanislav Rascan, State Secretary acting DEV Minister, Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU concurred that EU and OACPS are longstanding partners when it came to the issue of the environment. Their cooperation played an important role in the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015. “I believe we can do it again… On the side of the EU, the European Green deal is a crucial set of policy initiatives for energy transition and for tackling climate change. We are convinced that it will also inspire the EU and OACPS partnership. It is an internal commission roadmap as climate change knows no borders, we together with all our partners must ensure the green deal global impact. As many of the EU and the OACPS countries are encountering environmental challenges recently. Fighting climate change is one of the highest priorities in the political agenda of the EU as well as the OACPS. We need to follow successful examples of cooperation between the two long-standing partners and their capacity to deliver substantial results. We need to step together and contribute to a better greener and more sustainable world as well as a more just future for all.”
For Ambassador H.E. Mr Léon Raphaël MOKOKO, Ambassador of the Republic of Congo and Chair of the OACPS’ Subcommittee on Sustainable Development said, “the OACPS priorities as highlighted in the OACPS Leaders’ Statement for COP 26, released on 1st November during the opening stages of COP26, and the EU’s priorities for COP 26 are converging. This further echoes our common goals to achieve the Paris Agreement’s objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals and a testament to our strong relationship and cooperation for climate action.” He also pledges “for the OACPS to raise its voice on priority issues of concern, in order to urge immediate responses to the current Climate Crisis on the basis of solidarity, equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.”
Ms Myriam Ferran, Deputy Director General of DG INTPA in charge of three geographical directorates, elaborated on the type of actions that are being implemented or that will be jointly developed: “We are all fully aware of the climate change phenomena and we have many examples, some of them very recent, of the fact that most of our common regions are prone to hazards and getting more and more vulnerable, and the ACP countries are the most vulnerable. The partnership that we have established and the provisions on climate change are so important. This will be translated into concrete actions in partnership with governments through a wide range of programmes that we will adopt over the next years, on one hand, to implement mitigation measures but also support adaptation programmes. Most of them will be built around sustainable development models and economies, blue economy, and green economic programmes.”
After these introductory remarks, a panel discussion brought together the Ministers of Environment of Mauritius and Côte d’Ivoire, a representative from Isiolo County in Kenya, active in the implementation of climate change policies at the local level, and a Member of the UNSGs Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.
Hon. Mr Kavydass Ramano, Ministry of Environment of Mauritius outlined, firstly, the raft of initiatives that have been taken by his government including revised more ambitious NDCs. He gave a crucial reminder of the importance of the partnership between the European Union and the OACPS Members States: “Government of Mauritius is making tremendous effort to strengthen resilience and mitigate climate disaster risks. Despite all the goodwill, we will not be able to meet fully our requirements in terms of adaptation and mitigation unless we are able to access the technical and financial support from the international community”. In this respect, he pointed out that the EU Green Deal is a clear sign of the level of commitment demonstrated by the EU: “The EU Green deal will boost the efficiency of the resources by moving to a clean circular economy and reverse Biodiversity loss and cut pollution. I am convinced that the historical partnership of the EU and the OACPS countries will also be part of this visionary programme and will be highly anticipated paradigm shift to help accelerate resilience at OACPS country level”.
H.E. Mr Jean-Luc Assi, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ivory Coast, on his part highlighted the fact that it is important to look at strengthened institutional instruments and means of implementation: “Ivory Coast is highly vulnerable to climate change and is confronted with a number of challenges, each one as critical as the next, which are obstacles to effective and ambitious climate action. Among these challenges are two key elements: the strengthening of climate governance, which is one of the undeniable conditions for my ministerial department to provide leadership in climate action, and secondly the need to create a favorable context for public and private investments in mitigation and adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change. It is in this context that the OEACP-EU cooperation has enabled Ivory Coast to take a major step forward in strengthening its climate governance.”
Ms Josephine Eregae, Chief Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Environment and Climate change, Isiolo County, Kenya also shared her county’s experience in developing a legal and policy framework at the local level that has led to the development and implementation of climate action Plan: “Isiolo County in the northern part of Kenya is very severely or negatively affected by climate change. Isiolo is classified as an arid and semi-arid area in Kenya and we are affected by recurrent drought. This has led us to take swift action… In 2018, we passed the Climate Change Act for Isiolo County and in the process, we put in place climate change regulations, this was to facilitate the creation of a climate change fund which today accounts for 2% of the total county budget. We faced many challenges… We did not have a policy or legal framework to seek climate finance and to engage with different partners to mitigate the negative effects of climate change in the county. Thanks to the support of the GCCA+ Intra-ACP Programme and the European Development Fund, we are now able to develop the Isiolo County Action Plan based on a roadmap of how we will implement the policy activities through various stakeholders”.
Also participating in the panel discussion was Mr Ernest Gibson, member of the UNSGs Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and a Youth Pacific Leader. After pointing out, among other things, the importance of setting up a more relevant climate financing system, especially for adaptation, but also separate financing mechanisms for loss and damage for developing countries and in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS), he also underlined, with conviction, that young people need to be part of all the decision making processes on climate change and sustainable development: “About youth engaging mechanism, we talk about ensuring that young people have a place at the table and are involved in the decision making processes, but more importantly than this, it is ensuring that young people have the opportunity to drive change and to be included in the decision making processes in a clear level of equilibrium. (…) Without honest engagement including the youth in the process we lose an enormous resource base, and we are failing to address any kind of crisis in a holistical way.”
After thanking all the participants of this fruitful High-Level Event, Ms Cristelle Pratt, OACPS Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for the Environment and Climate Action (ECA) Department, delivered her closing remarks, wherein she pointed out that: “It is clear that our collective advocacy and engagement with others is becoming ever and ever more important and critical to ensure that pledges and promises, discussion and decisions are translated into actions. I am sure that we all agree that we cannot lose focus; we must remain committed. We must all move from words to actions that are more ambitious than those we are making now. We must lead by example, and we have “no excuse”. By “we” I mean the OACPS and EU, which equates to 106 states, parties to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement, for cooperation in the international arena on climate action; and this will continue to be ever critical as we moved forward.”