Pursuing the NDCs that Africa wants

Posted on 26 September 2021

NDCs are an important tool for action in Africa, and allow countries to outline the support they need to respond to the climate crisis, writes Alice Ruhweza, WWF Africa Region Director.
Even as it begins to emerge from under the shadow of the Covid pandemic, Africa is on the front line of the crises in climate and nature. Despite the limited contribution the continent has made to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - less than 4% of global emissions, it faces some of the most worrying climate impacts, in terms of extreme weather, drought and the degradation of its natural ecosystems.

The ability of African governments to respond to climate change, by building resilience and adapting to the impacts we are already seeing, is limited. With government budgets already stretched, access to finance constrained, and with uneven capacity, it is proving difficult for countries on the continent to prepare for a climate-insecure future.

But the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that governments are required to revise ahead of this year’s COP26 climate talks provide an opportunity to seek international support to build that capacity. 

These NDCs allow developing countries to set out their financing, technology transfer and capacity-building requirements alongside their near-, medium- and long-term conditional and unconditional emission reduction pledges. The NDC drafting process enables governments to assess their needs and development pathways as they respond to climate change – and, crucially, it allows them to set out the international finance they will require supporting ambitious NDC implementation.

This is an important opportunity for African decision makers: governments across Africa face significant challenges in accessing climate finance. The funding landscape can be difficult to navigate, given the wide range of sources of finance and the differing criteria they have for eligibility and use.

A survey conducted during Africa Climate Week in 2019 found that more than half of countries in the region have faced problems mobilizing climate finance, while fewer than one in four had a financing strategy in place – despite the fact that two-thirds of countries were already starting to implement their (original) NDCs. Two years later, and amidst a global COVID-19 pandemic, many of these difficulties remain.

The good news is that the donor community is engaged on the issue, as are the multilateral development banks. Resources such as the NDC Partnership Economic Advisory Initiative, UNDP’s NDC Support Programme and the African Development Bank’s Africa NDC Hub can support governments on the continent in this endeavour. 

Our new report supports these efforts by setting out WWF’s guidance to decision makers on NDC enhancement using the criteria in our #NDCsWeWant checklist.

Evidently, considerable scope exists to address these issues; only twenty one countries of the 55 in Africa – have thus far submitted revised NDCs, nine of which we analyse in this report. By following the guidelines we set out in its pages, we hope decision makers in Africa can challenge the international community to support ambition in the NDCs to come ahead of COP 26.

The financing needs of climate-vulnerable countries in Africa and elsewhere are far from being met. There is an urgent need for donors to step up with the climate finance, the capacity and the technology transfer that they will need to meet the twin crises of climate and nature loss. It is vital that the opportunity is seized to advance the low-carbon transition. NDCs should set out a pathway to leapfrog to a low-carbon economy paradigm, with the environmental, human health and economic co-benefits that it offers. What’s next is for climate funders to step up to the plate to secure ambitious NDC implementation alongside green recovery across Africa.
An aerial view of Nambigirwa Bridge in Kampala, Uganda
© WWF / Arnold Mugasha
WWF's 'Africa NDCs: Recommendations for Decision-Makers' report
WWF's 'Africa NDCs: Recommendations for Decision-Makers' report
© WWF