ECOWAS develops a long-term Regional Climate Strategy to strengthen coordination of climate action in West Africa
Coordinated regional action has more impact than the contribution of national policies alone. In this regard, ECOWAS has been working throughout 2021 to develop a Regional Climate Strategy in West Africa. This strategy aimed to strengthening the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate change, in particular through support for the implementation of the commitments made by its Member States under the Paris Agreement.
“The objectives of the future Regional Climate Strategy are based on the desire to build a West African community resilient to the impacts of climate change and which was able to leverage economic opportunities related to the fight against climate change in favour of long-term sustainable development for the region,” said Mr Sékou Sangaré, Commissioner in charge of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, at ECOWAS.
With the technical and financial support of the Intra-ACP GCCA+ West Africa project, implemented by Expertise France with financing from the European Union, the ECOWAS Commission created in 2021, its first Regional Advisory Group for International Climate Negotiations (RAG-CLIN). The goal was to reinforce the capacities of the climate negotiators of its Member States and build common positions in relation with its mandate for strengthening the unity and the West-African voice within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement and more globally in the context of international negotiations.
The COP26 in November 2021 was an opportunity to lay the foundation stone for common positions of ECOWAS member states. With the support of the RAG-CLIN group ECOWAS, CILSS and WAEMU were able to come up with a joint communication in Glasgow. In the margins of COP26 meetings, RAG-CLIN also prepared a series of background briefs for West African climate negotiators providing updates and brief analysis of the latest developments pertaining to ECOWAS priority issues.
To assist RAG-CLIN in the implementation of its activities during COP26, the Intra-ACP GCCA+ West Africa project supported the presence of the ECOWAS Commission in Glasgow by financing a dedicated workspace and facilitating the organisation of RAG-CLIN activities during the fifteen days of negotiations. A strategy for laying out and promoting the common positions of the region within the negotiation groups was defined and shared with the delegations of the ECOWAS Member States. RAG-CLIN accompanied each delegation that so wished throughout the day. At each major stage of the conference, the ECOWAS Commission also ensured that the common positions were updated in real-time.
For Honadia Mamadou, expert climate negotiator and member of RAG-CLIN, “ECOWAS must continue to strengthen the capacities of negotiators, who must master the discussion points through summaries that are made available to them to defend the common position of the West African region. Today, climate negotiators are more prepared to bring the priorities of the West African region to the heart of the African Negotiation Group.”
Validation and implementation of an ambitious regional climate strategy in 2022
Taking into account the increased ambitions of ECOWAS Member States through their recently revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the process will continue in 2022 and the Regional Climate Strategy will be finalised and validated by all institutional stakeholders in the first half of 2022, before its adoption by the Council of Ministers. It will constitute the framework for ECOWAS’ future action on climate-related issues.
West Africa was represented at COP26 inter alia through 2 side events
ECOWAS co-organised, with Expertise France, which implements the Intra-ACP GCCA+ West Africa project, a side-event entitled “Working at different scales of public policies in West Africa to meet the challenge of implementing the Paris Agreement” on Tuesday 2 November at the European Union pavilion.
They also co-organised a second side-event on Friday 5 November 2021 on the theme: “Importance of regional organisations in the fight against climate change and presentation of the process of developing the ECOWAS regional climate strategy“.