(WANJOHI KABUKURU ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA 11/OCTOBER/2010) The UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Abdoulie Janneh has urged African states to re-orient their strategies to cope with climate change and take the phenomenon as an ‘opportunity’.
“Rather than wring our hands in despair, we must see the challenge posed by climate change as an opportunity to re-orient Africa’s social, human and economic development.” Said Janneh.
Janneh was speaking in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa when he addressed close to 700 delegates drawn from across the continent during the 7th edition of African Development Forum.
The African Development Forum which is a multi-stakeholder cauldron where ideas are exchanged and debate encouraged to steer the continent’s development agenda. ADF came into being slightly over a decade ago in 1999 and has served as UNECA’s flagship biennial event.
This year’s theme is “Acting on Climate change for sustainable development in Africa.”
“This forum will provide the opportunity for a broad range of stakeholders to deliberate on the entire spectrum of issues that are interconnected with climate change and in addition provide insights for strengthening the African common position in international climate change negotiations.” Janneh said “A key desired outcome is the raising of awareness and consensus building among relevant stakeholders on Africa’s concerns and expectations for a post-2012 global climate change agreement.” Says Janneh.
The forum is expected to look at climate change linked challenges such as harnessing technology for adaptation and mitigation, building and enhancing capacity, governance, financing. All these are currently under discussion through plenary, parallel and high level discussions as the forum gets underway.
Speaking in the same forum Zimbabwe’s deputy minister for Women affairs, gender and community development Ms. Fungayi Jessie Majome saluted Africa’s downtrodden people, who have shown resilience in the maelstrom of adversities.
“Poverty and social exclusion is not new to modern day society; throughout time the poor and socially excluded have demonstrated resilience and found amazing ways do defy the roadblocks and pitfalls that life presents, in the face of what seems insurmountable odds. People have extraordinary ability to adapt to any environment in order to survive.” Said Majome.
Indeed Ms Majome urged the forum’s participants to learn from the continent’s poor who have demonstrated remarkable strength in their adaptation to climate change.
“There is no doubt then, that those suffering from poverty and marginalization already have adaptive capacity to face many challenges, including that of climate change. We are gathered here today – government officials, regional economic communities, civil society organizations, donors, experts and academics – not only to bring to light the human and social dimensions of climate change impacts, but also to talk about how we can create enabling environments to improve on this adaptive capacity and turn climate change into a benefit for our countries and our people.”