The annual conference organized by the UN on climate change is in full swing in Sharm-El-Sheik in Egypt until November 18, 2022. What are the stakes of this 27th edition, particularly for the countries of the South? An overview of the COP27 with Damien Kuhn, Director of International Operations at Kinomé and of the West Africa regional office.
1. What are the main stakes of this new COP, in particular for the so-called developing countries of the South?
It is an African COP where African countries are better prepared to make their voices heard. For example, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS; 15 member countries) is arriving with a well-developed Regional Climate Strategy. Each of the states has revised its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), with most of them increasing their GHG emission reduction targets and taking much more in-depth and budgeted adaptation measures for their populations and territories.
The question of climate justice will therefore be at the heart of the debates. Who should pay when an abnormally long drought destroys a significant part of a country’s agricultural production and leaves its inhabitants hungry?
Financing the adaptation of the most vulnerable countries to climate hazards has now become a priority, and that is good. Now, who will finance this adaptation?
At Kinomé, we have accompanied four countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Congo and Cameroon) in the definition of their climate strategy, and their contribution to the Paris Agreement. Between now and 2030, Guinea estimates that its financing needs to adapt to climate change are one billion US dollars, Côte d’Ivoire estimates it at 12 billion, etc. Is it fair [for these countries] to go into debt to finance this adaptation to a crisis whose main culprits are in the North?
The African climate negotiators are coming to the COP with these negotiation points, and they will really have to be in search of the “common ground”, without letting themselves be invaded by reaction, and being in this quest for fairness, to find an agreement on this issue.
2. The commitments submitted by the countries at COP26 pointed the planet towards a warming of +2.7° in 2100. What are the levers to be used to accelerate the planetary ecological transition?
The commitments are not enough to achieve our goals under the Paris Agreement. Almost all countries have revised their commitments and presented them at the previous COP in Glasgow. We are indeed reaching a global warming of 2.7° far from the objective of limiting global warming to well below 2°C (preferably 1.5 degrees), compared to the pre-industrial level. It should be noted, however, that some countries, particularly in Africa, have made truly ambitious commitments. Côte d’Ivoire, which is in full development, plans to reduce its GHG emissions by 30%.
In addition to governmental commitments (included in the NDCs), companies play a major role in achieving climate change objectives. The recent awareness of their leaders and, consequently, the strategic positioning of the climate is a very good development, to be followed closely in its realization.
3. Let’s go back to the topic of climate justice: how to find a solution acceptable to all? Climate justice has emerged as a major issue in international negotiations, driven by the countries of the South. What exactly is the situation?
The debate is often summarized as the 100 billion per year promised by rich countries – but not yet delivered – to help developing countries. At the heart of the matter is the trust between the 191 countries that have decided to sit around the table to solve the global crisis of climate change. In a collective project, we can only succeed with trust. And if this trust is damaged, it can jeopardize the common objective. Therefore, in order to succeed, the negotiators will have to be in search of “common ground” and not in a power struggle.
4. How can we concretely improve access to climate financing for the countries that need it most?
Train the field teams! I still hear too often “it’s too long, too complicated to get climate financing”. Let’s simplify the rules by being more pragmatic and let’s train the project leaders with long-term coaching. At Kinomé, we have trained 150 leaders in Côte d’Ivoire, Chad and Niger on both technical skills (setting up relevant and bankable projects) and human skills (leadership, ability to federate a group of actors in a climate project).
5. Considering Kinomé’s experience for more than 15 years in the South, from Africa to Latin America, what are the priority sectors regarding climate change?
Agriculture and forests in the tropics are the most vulnerable sectors and contributors of solutions to the fight against climate change. In these countries, the main challenge is to improve the resilience of their agriculture to ensure good food security, improve the income of farming families, and also develop the country’s wealth. We are seeing an increase in the duration of droughts and an increase in the intensity of rainfall creating floods. These climatic hazards directly affect unprepared farmers. We need to adapt agricultural systems, develop agroforestry, etc.
6. How does Kinomé intervene on these issues?
Kinomé intervenes on the whole climate value chain: we accompany governments and companies to build their climate strategy by taking into account the needs of the populations. This is the uniqueness of our approach: we start from the daily life of families to build strategies for companies or governments. We then develop roadmaps and investment plans to achieve these strategic objectives. We develop agricultural and forestry projects that contribute to mitigation and adaptation. For example, we recently designed projects to restore ecological corridors between national parks in Guinea Bissau, to deploy resilient agriculture in Forest Guinea, etc.
7. How does Kinomé engage its private clients in this common objective of climate preservation?
Kinomé accompanies companies on their strategy (for example, a supply of agricultural products that does not deforest and even becomes positive to the forest) and on the development of field projects that allow both sequestering carbon and reducing emissions due to deforestation. For example, we lead a collective of actors in West Africa for the protection and enhancement of mangroves.
8. How do you explain that despite repeated warnings and this summer’s climate disasters, the impetus for the climate remains insufficient compared to the urgency? What can a company like Kinomé do to contribute to the necessary collective commitment?
Awareness is the essential starting point for action. We must therefore continue to educate. Knowing our nature, the forests, and the state of deforestation in the world helps us to feel the stake and to act.
Our Forest&Life educational program aims to develop this awareness that we all have the potential to act for the forests here and now.