31 August 2022
Africa Climate Week – Harnessing nature for transformative adaptation in Africa

Date: Wednesday 31 August 2022     Time: 05:00-6:30 EDT / 06:00-07:30 BRT / 11:00-12:30 GMT / 12:00-13:30 CAT

Location: Libreville, Gabon

Event Language: English                     Format: in-person event

Organized by: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with support from Gabon Republic

Event Description

There is growing recognition that the global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are strongly interlinked, with climate change representing a major driver of biodiversity loss. (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [IPBES] 2019). And, there are no quick fixes to solve the climate emergency and our over-exploitation of natural resources. But, we do have nature, which has a fundamental role in both mitigating climate change and enabling us to adapt to it with its immense restorative power and some of the most cost-effective climate solutions. By working with nature, humanity has the potential both to reduce emissions by more than a third of what is needed by 2030 and to build climate resilience. We need to explore and invest in what nature does best: self-healing. This is what we call nature-based solutions.

This session of the African Climate Week discusses the potential for NbS and its enabling environment in Africa, and will explore ways to nurture and advance NbS in Africa, notably in national planning. Country experiences from developing and implementing NbS through exchange of approaches such as rehabilitating or restoring critical ecosystems (e.g., wetlands or mangroves), enhancing ecosystem connectivity through corridors and hybrid combinations of green and grey infrastructure will be exchanged. Specific opportunities and challenges to adopting and applying NbS will be discussed, and awareness of relevant tools and approaches will be exchanged with participants.


Key outcomes:

  • In Africa, we are seeing a growing recognition of the value of nature-based solutions to build resilience to climate risks spanning from flooding, droughts, heat and soil erosion caused by extreme weather events, both at national and at urban level. But implementation is lagging.
  • NbS are very effective when co-produced with local communities. They brings solutions to urban challenges and can reduce climate risks, but existing approaches and knowledge needs to be decolonized, with new research approaches and methodologies. Local knowledge and traditional nature management approaches need to be better leveraged. Additionally, land-use changes and the use of resources needs to be documented at local level, to use it to develop and implement effective adaptation plans that use nature.
  • Implementing NbS solutions needs to be linked to the local communities’ interests. To catalyze effective NbS implementation, they should provide ecological services that local communities will benefit from.
  • In order to ensure NbS become more widely implemented, we need to explore and present their advantages, and the financial value they have against “grey” solutions. It is important that NbS are seen as effective solutions to bring services to the community and save money. This is important especially for local governments, where the delivery of basic services is the utmost priority.
  • To scale up NbS implementation and ongoing projects, we need to showcase already economically viable and sustainable projects, so to attract further investments.
  • NbS needs a localized African definition, so it can be widely shared among practitioners, but also so it can be adapted to local contexts, and make sense for local communities. The global term as it is vague, and this can hinder implementation and lead to under/over counting of what counts as effective NbS for the African context.
  • On top of effective financing models, widespread NbS implementation requires additional efforts in awareness rising, capacity building of relevant stakeholders, coordination between different layers of government and effective partnerships between public organizations, private stakeholders, and civil society
    To ensure long-term sustainability and a sense of ownership of NbS projects, the scaling of project should start with a locally-led projects, managed by local communities. Once the project is developed, it can be used to develop regional and national plans.


Key outcomes regarding city:

  • ICLEI is working on a three pathways strategy for NbS implementation in city contexts: First, they represent city in international contexts, and push for more involvement and commitments of cities against biodiversity crisis, in favor of SDGs implementation, but they still need to work on accountability of promised measures. Second, they believe planning and implementation need to be linked. By targeting very particular places in the city, with biodiversity interest for instance, they could prioritize implementation and then scale up projects. Finally, finance from private sector must help projects to shift to economically viability.
  • Cities are vulnerable, whenever it comes to poorly handled natural hazard. Cities need to gain they financial independence, so they can adapt to natural hazard they are facing, and build the infrastructure needed to adapt climate change. Infrastructure of cities, like sanitation or transportation, are basic needs in citizens’ life, and should not be overlooked, but managed by local administration in order to answer it as effectively as possible.
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