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African leaders lay out the vision for transparency to drive strong climate action

13 September 2022

First Africa Dialogue on Enhanced Transparency Framework took place in Gabon

For the first time, ministers, and other regional and international leaders met with policymakers at Africa Climate Week 2022 to advance the implementation of the new Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) of the Paris Agreement. 

Building on the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) process under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the new universal ETF foresees that all countries will biennially report transparent information on climate action and support, including implementation and achievement of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 

Above: Africa Dialogue opening with (from left to right) Mariana Castaño Cano, Bogolo Kenewendo, Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, Beatrice Atim Anywar, Ovais Sarmad, Henning Wuester, Jigme and Kavydass Ramano / Photo credit: UN Climate Change

The Africa Dialogue on the Enhanced Transparency Framework took place in Libreville, Gabon, on 31 August and 1 September. On the first day, ministers, and other regional and international leaders laid out their vision for ambitious implementation of the new transparency arrangements. They underlined that the ETF allows countries to not only comply with their international climate obligations but also to benefit from relevant data collected and reported under the UNFCCC and verification process. This will help them strengthen their mitigation and adaptation plans and be better equipped to mobilize financial support for their implementation.

On the second day, dozens of national policymakers and international experts exchanged experiences and perspectives about the challenges and opportunities for faster and stronger climate action offered by the ETF. They discussed various aspects of how transparency can foster the NDC process, including the monitoring and evaluation of adaptation and just transitions, tracking of climate finance and related capacity development.

With the negative impacts of the climate emergency accelerating everywhere, ministers underlined the urgency for nations to move forward in the implementation of their national climate plans while building robust transparency mechanisms.

“We take transparency seriously. At home, Uganda is accountable to its people, and we must be accountable to the global community as well. Transparency also enables countries to identify financial, technological development and transfers, and capacity building from different perspectives,” said Beatrice Atim Anywar, Minister of State for Environment, Uganda.

“The shared transparency data can be adequately used, and it also gives us an opportunity to have informed decision making as leaders. It also enhances the opportunity to access financial institutions and the capacity building that can support developing countries,” she added.

Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said“In light of the warnings of our scientists, strengthening our joint action against the adverse effects of climate change is no longer up for negotiation. This region of Africa and of the world is unique in its tropical forest ecosystems, and important projects are underway to provide sustainable solutions to the fight against climate change, including effective climate diplomacy.

“We need to strengthen our capacity for climate transparency. In this sense, the Regional Centre for Transparency, in partnership with ICAT, is a world first.”

The new Regional Climate Action Transparency Hub for Central Africa, hosted by the ECCAS with a centre in Douala, Cameroun, will support the 11 ECCAS member States.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville, underlined the importance of enhancing transparency and thanked ICAT for financing the new regional hub. 

The Congolese minister started by reminding participants of the importance of the Congo basin region for global climate stability. 

“The peatlands of the central Congo Basin alone capture 31 billion tonnes of CO2 30 times more than the Congo Basin forests; 20 times the annual emissions of the US; and three to four years of global greenhouse gas emissions. They are both a treasure for humanity and a time bomb. Hence the urgent need to break the lock on Africa’s access to carbon finance.”

Also speaking about the importance of climate finance, Lee White, Minister of Forests, Oceans, Environment and Climate Change, Gabon, urged for increased transparency to track the support from developed to developing countries.

“Not all developing countries have invested as much as Gabon, and need technical and capacity-building support from developed countries. We have a very clear policy of transparency in Gabon, some developed countries could be inspired by our position,” he said.

Kavydass Ramano, Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mauritius, also shared his vision for transparency underlining the need for tracking climate finance.

“We share everyone’s concern about the issue of the enhanced transparency framework, transparency both in terms of NDCs, and in terms of financing tools. The legal framework, the engagement of the right people, capacity building and knowledge sharing are key ingredients to make things happen,” he added.

Gilberto Silva, Minister for Agriculture and Environment, Cape Verde, explained 

“Africa has a great opportunity to develop while maintaining itself as a low-emissions continent.

“To strengthen transparency and implement the enhanced transparency framework at home, we have some needs but there are achievements at the administration level. We think this is a good time for the more consolidated construction of the enhanced transparency framework while taking advantage of the opportunity for capacity building,” he concluded.

Above: Ovais Sarmad (right) speaks at the opening of the Africa Dialogue /Photo credit: UN Climate Change

“Without transparency, the implementation of all actions, promises and commitments do not hold value,” said Ovais Sarmad, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary.

“What matters is not from where we start; but what matters is to take the steps that are necessary now. Special attention has to be placed on strengthening institutional arrangements and developing capacity and skills.”

Apart from reinforcing institutional capacities, governments need to engage all stakeholders in the implementation of their national climate plans. The importance of engaging the private sector was highlighted by Bogolo Kenewendo, Africa Director and Special Advisor to the High-Level Champions.

“The private sector is a very key requisite part of climate action in order to increase any ambition over time and reach any long-term goal that the continent has in relation to the Paris agreement.

“Africa has a share of only 0.4 per cent of the total world green bonds, we haven’t provided for private sector participation and mobilised climate finance on the continent.

“It is very key in reporting by African countries that there is a very strong reference and call towards an overall finance climate strategy that includes domestic and international private sector finance, and have those investment plans in the NDCs,” she said.

Strengthening the institutional arrangements and stakeholder engagement in the region was one of the topics discussed in a roundtable with top country officials, who also talked about the national social and economic benefits of building strong transparency systems. National policymakers and international experts exchanged about the needs and the existing opportunities to access financial and capacity-building support for transparency.

At the closing of the Africa Dialogue, Jigme, Manager of the Transparency Division at the UNFCCC said: “The high-level policy exchange has created a space for national experts to hear first-hand from ministers, senior policymakers, and regional and international leaders about their vision for implementing the ETF and the co-benefits that transparency can bring to their countries. This first Africa regional dialogue has set a clear policy direction for universal participation in the ETF, with the goal of all countries submitting their climate action reports by 31 December 2024, as per the deadline established in the Paris Agreement.”

Henning Wuester, ICAT Director, said: “This is the year for Africa in the climate change process. Transparency is the backbone of the Paris Agreement. So it bodes well for the future of the Paris Agreement that this topic is discussed here in the heart of Africa, in a manner that resonates at the highest political levels. Transparency is an enabler; it is a service that will allow policy development to turn NDCs into a useful tool,” he said.

Above: Henning Wuester / Photo credit: UN Climate Change

The Africa Dialogue kicked off a series of regional dialogues on the ETF, to be organized within the framework of the UNFCCC Regional Climate weeks. The UN Climate Change secretariat, the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with the support of regional organisations, such as COMESA and ECCAS, and PATPA, organised the first regional dialogue on the ETF during the 2022 Africa Climate Week. The next regional dialogues will take place at the 2023 MENA and Asia-Pacific Climate Weeks.

Above: Family photo of the participants at the end of the Africa Dialogue on the ETF / Photo credit: UN Climate Change

African leaders lay out the vision for transparency to drive strong climate action

More on the ETF

To learn more about the ETF, visit the UN Climate Change website and check the Enhanced Transparency Framework Handbook and Manual.