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FOCAC 2021: Positive gains towards Green Growth and tackling Climate Change in Africa

The just-concluded Dakar meeting of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2021 marks a significant step in fostering African countries’ ambition to develop a green economy and tackle climate change. However, stakeholders still call for the expansion of the FOCAC process.

Four key outcome documents, the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035,  Dakar Declaration of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Sino-African Declaration on Climate Change and the FOCAC Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024) --  have clearly articulated issues around the promotion of social and environmental sustainability principles, the green growth of Africa- including the need to fight illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade and promoting renewable energy.

 

As has been articulated in previous meetings, the overall scope of the China-Africa green development commitment articulated in the FOCAC (2022-2024) Action Plan covers ecological protection, maritime cooperation, desertification prevention and treatment, and the protection and effective management of wildlife. 

 

The two sides pledged to strengthen the capacity-building of wildlife conservation professionals and explore cooperation on wildlife protection demonstration projects. Furthermore, China and Africa agreed to work to raise public awareness, jointly combat illegal trade of wildlife, and incentivize those who have made impactful contributions in anti-poaching and combating the illegal trade of wildlife. 

 

China and Africa recognized that climate change is one of the most serious challenges in the world today and a threat to nature and eco-environment and social and economic development.

 

In Dakar, China and Africa pledged to deepen their cooperation by releasing a joint declaration on combating climate change in which they called on developed countries to fulfil their pledges made under multilateral frameworks to provide funding, technology and capacity-building support to help African countries enhance their capability and resilience to respond to climate change. 

 

The Dakar Ministerial meeting issued a specific Declaration on China-Africa Cooperation on Combating Climate Change that will play a positive role in improving energy development of African countries, upgrading industrial structure, building smart cities with advanced urban planning and good waste management, and achieving green, low-carbon, high-quality development.

 

On renewable energy, China promised to step up support for African countries in developing green and low-carbon energy and encourage Chinese businesses’ deepen cooperation with African countries in areas of clean and renewable energy. China reiterated its commitment to stop building new coal-power stations internationally, a commendable decision that augurs well for the environment. 

 

The joint declaration urged developed countries to earnestly strive to fill the gap with pledged US$100 billion per year by 2020 as soon as possible, noting that climate change and its negative impacts are an urgent problem facing humanity and that joint efforts are needed to tackle the issue.  

To help African countries combat climate change, China pledged to expand and strengthen areas of cooperation in clean energy, the use of aerospace and aviation technology in addressing climate change, agriculture, forest, ocean, low-carbon infrastructure development, meteorological monitoring, forecast and early warning, environment monitoring, disaster prevention and mitigation, and climate adaptation. Some of the cutting-edge technologies that China has offered to make available to Africa relate to addressing climate change-related issues. 

 

In addition, China also offered to support the implementation of African initiatives related to climate change including the Great Green Wall Initiative, the Initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture and the Initiative for the Adaptation of Africa.

 

The onus is on stakeholders and African countries to follow up on the need for an open monitoring and reporting system to ensure there is a clear process for tracking the effective implementation of agreed plans. While the two sides have agreed to hold a coordinators’ meeting on the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Dakar Conference in due course, stakeholders still call for the expansion of the FOCAC process to external stakeholders who play a critical role in supporting National Development Agenda through the establishment of an inclusive national stakeholder consultation processes by African governments.

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