Climate: 2021 remains a crucial year to review the commitments of West African countries

Sub-Saharan Africa
Through the Adapt'Action facility, funded by AFD, and the GCCA+ West Africa project, funded by the European Union and implemented under the political leadership of ECOWAS in partnership with CILSS, Expertise France is supporting several of the most vulnerable States in the West African region to review the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) they defined in 2015, ahead of COP21 in Paris. This is a key process to prepare for COP26, which will take place in Glasgow (United Kingdom) in November 2021.

The signatory countries of the Paris Agreement had the opportunity to review their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020 to enhance their ambitions, but also to revisit a process carried out in 2015, which resulted in sometimes not very robust commitments for several developing countries.

COP26 was postponed to 2021 due to the health crisis and will be dedicated to communicating on these first revisions for most NDCs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic severely constrained consultation processes with stakeholders, which was initially an important area for improvement compared to the 2015 versions.

Expertise France is supporting several of the most vulnerable States in the West African region in the revision of their NDCs through two projects: the Adapt'Action facility, funded by AFD, and the GCCA+ West Africa project, funded by the European Union and implemented under the political leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in partnership with the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

Revision of NDCs: the starting point for increasing climate ambition

The adoption of the Paris Agreement binds each signatory state to commit to try and limit global warming under +1.5°C by 2100. However, the national commitments made through the NDCs in 2015 remain insufficient to meet this goal.

Thus, the revision of the NDCs initially planned for 2020 offers the opportunity for West African States to raise their commitments by defining more robust and realistic sectoral climate objectives, supported by implementation strategies. These commitments will be reviewed again in 5 years as part of the climate ambition mechanism of the Paris Agreement.

Their implementation will require a strong mobilisation of international financial resources, as the gap between the needs and financing capacities in West African countries is wide. The NDCs are an opportunity to present to the world these massive needs for financial and technical support.

The GCCA+ West Africa project mobilised in the revision of NDCs

NDCs are essential to achieve the climate ambitions of the countries that signed the Paris Agreement. According to François Kouablan, chief of staff of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d’Ivoire, the gaps identified during the first submission of NDCs in 2015, such as those related to "the non-inclusion of forestry in emissions, the lack of an investment plan and a monitoring and evaluation system" are all factors to be included in the revision processes of the NDCs currently underway. Likewise, for the NDCs document to be truly ambitious, it must take into account the integration of gender, the health sector, transport and waste management, etc. Thus, a growing number of countries in the region have declared that they want to integrate commitments on the forestry sector and they all wish to pay particular attention to the integration of gender issues.

As such, the GCCA+ WA project decoded the obligations that West African States have to meet as Parties to the Agreement, in the guide to implementation of the Paris Agreement for ECOWAS Member States, released in 2020. In addition, the project specifically supports 4 countries (Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Liberia and Sierra Leone) in the revision and implementation of their climate commitments, especially by analysing the trajectories of greenhouse gas emissions, estimating the costs of adaptation measures and adapting national commitments into local development plans.

In addition, the GCCA+ WA project supports the updating and capacity building for the management of national climate databases so as to use them in the revision and implementation of NDCs. At the regional level, it supports ECOWAS in the development of its regional climate change strategy in order to raise the level of climate ambition of its member states.

Adapt'Action’s support in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and Guinea

Christophe Buffet on Twitter: "La Facilité Adapt'Action de l'AFD recrute  ses 5 Coordinateurs Régionaux (Afrique, Petites Antilles, Océan Indien)…"In May 2017, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched Adapt'Action, a facility that aims to support the most vulnerable countries to climate change in defining and adopting low-carbon and climate-resilient development paths. Expertise France is in charge of implementing the first area of operation of the project, dedicated to the consolidation of partner States’ governance on climate issues.

Through Adapt'Action, Expertise France supports various West African countries in the revision and operationalisation of their NDCs. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, Expertise France was the first partner to assist the government in formulating the new version of its NDC. Since the summer of 2019, Expertise France has focused on the “adaptation” section of this strategy, which represents a major issue, and even a priority for a large majority of West African States. Many technical and financial partners – GIZ, FAO, UNDP, UN Environment, the African Development Bank, etc. – have since joined Expertise France in supporting the Ivorian authorities. The finalised version of the strategy is expected in March 2021.

At the same time, Expertise France launched, at the end of 2020, the creation of the monitoring-evaluation framework of this NDC. This mechanism will enable the Ivorian government to manage and control that planned interventions are properly implemented while providing it the means to report past and current achievements at any time.

Ghana, Niger and Senegal are also benefiting from Expertise France’s help in the setting up of a monitoring-evaluation system, again with Adapt'Action funding. Similarly, support is being provided to the Republic of Guinea in the political and technical coordination of climate issues, particularly those related to the NDC.


For further reading: Adapt'Action, addressing climate impacts together

Focus on the revision process in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. In order to make its NDC more robust and realistic, the GCCA+ WA project supports the country in collecting data which enable to make the initial diagnostic for the revision.

This assistance makes it possible to update the "initial situation" in order to set the targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adaptation for the period 2020-2030. This is the starting point to review the commitments, on the basis of the most reliable data available and to prepare better plans for investment and mobilization of funding.

To ensure the longevity of the project, GCCA+ WA also carried out a diagnostic of the needs in capacity building of Guinea Bissau, which is necessary for the implementation of the NDC and for the next revision cycles.

The diagnostic and methodology proposed by the project are the basis of intervention for other technical partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) or the African Development Bank (AfDB), who are supporting Guinea Bissau in the revision process. Complementary approaches are thus adopted by technical and financial partners.


Nationally Determined Contribution: What does that mean?

The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is an instrument of the Paris Agreement in which each signatory Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) records its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and to adapt to climate change by demonstrating that this is the highest level of ambition possible given the country's circumstances. The first round of NDCs enhancement cycle has begun in 2020. Each NDC improvement cycle, taking place every 5 years, will need to demonstrate increased ambition.

In 2015, the States which signed the Paris Agreement presented NDCs, sometimes in haste, making the commitments both insufficient to limit warming to + 2 ° C and sometimes not enough realistic and robust. The provisions of the Paris Agreement therefore opened up the possibility of a revision process for the 2015 commitments. 2020 should have been the year for the submission of revised NDCs. However, COVID-19 has largely constrained the climate agenda within countries. Thus, only 45 countries have submitted a revised NDC to date. Most of the remaining 118 countries will publish it during the first half of 2021. In the ECOWAS-CILSS region, only Senegal has published, to date, its revised NDC. The majority of the other West African states have indicated their willingness to deposit an updated NDC version in 2021.


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