Cities across Africa are collaborating to develop and implement ways to reduce their vulnerability to environmental disasters and to adapt to climate change. In Accra, city officials from nine African cities, including Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dakar, Durban, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi, and Tshwane, attended the C40 African Adaptation Forum, the first-ever regional workshop in Africa organised by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
The issue of climate change adaptation is extremely salient in Africa, as cities face numerous, severe and inter-dependent hazards such as flooding, drought, and heatwaves. Durban is one of the continent’s leaders on adaptation, and its role will be bolstered by the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF)’s support for its Sihlanzimvelo initiative, a programme of community-based management of thousands of kilometres of Durban’s watercourses that will help the city to cope with the increase in storms and heavy rainfall caused by climate change.
During the first day of the Forum, the CFF organised a panel discussion including representatives from the cities of Nairobi, Accra, and Durban, and from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development. The participants shared their experiences with financing infrastructure projects, and how to scale up interventions while acknowledging each city’s unique set of circumstances. For example, Accra explained how it financed projects around wastewater and storm-water capture to reduce its vulnerability following disastrous flooding in 2015.
City officials emphasised the need for easier access to international financing for municipal governments, the value of peer-to-peer exchanges, and their wish for external, technical support to focus on long-term goals rather than short-run projects. On the other hand, representatives from the World Bank and the AfDB explained the requirements for banks to provide loans (rather than grants) to technically and financially sound projects, and expressed their desire to see greater vertical integration between national and municipal governments and more detailed climate action plans from cities, akin to countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions.
A further interactive session on the third day of the Forum built on Durban’s experience with different adaptation projects, particularly its community-based approaches. Attendees discussed their experiences with both local (e.g. intergovernmental transfers, national banks, private sector, etc.) and international (e.g. multilateral development banks, international climate funds, etc.) sources of financing. Information remains limited around how to measure avoided costs and how to include in a business model, and how to navigate the different requirements and application windows of international climate funds.
The CFF is moving forward these discussions by developing, together with partners, a number of resources targeting these gaps in knowledge, building on its support to Durban for the Sihlanzimvelo initiative, which is expected to commence soon.