ACRIS IV, the Fourth Africa Climate Resilience Investment Summit, unfolded from 5 to 7 March 2019 in Johannesburg. Under the banner “Stepping Up Climate Action in Africa”, a series of high-level expert panels brought voices from governments, civil society, international financial organisations and the private sector together to showcase priority areas of climate resilient investments.
The panel discussions ranged across water, climate and other substantial topics like coastal and urban resilience, energy, and smallholder agriculture. Alongside key organising partners the African Union Commission, World Bank Group, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and African Development Bank, CRIDF attended to contribute forward thinking on the question of financing resilient water infrastructure.
CRIDF’s first panel appearance was in Session 2, Managing Land and Water Resources in the Face of Climate Change, chaired by World Bank Environment & Natural Resources Director Benoît Bosquet. CRIDF Chief Engineer Leonard Magara joined the group’s dialogue on the management and mismanagement of Africa’s abundant resources, and the challenges to the livelihoods of communities that come with this.
Immediately following Magara’s session, CRIDF Team Leader Dr. Charles Reeve chaired his own panel in Session 3, Climate Risk Management and Resilience: Stepping Up Our Game. He presided over a panel of experts including Burkina Faso’s Minister of Environment, Green Economy & Climate Change, Hon. Batio Bassiere; World Bank Lead Environment Specialist Kanta Kumari Rigaud; African Union Commission Senior Policy Officer Abderrahmane Khecha; Jean Mukumwa from Zambia’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience; and Prof. Barbara Evans, Co-director of the Centre for Global Development at the University of Leeds.
This group built on the views laid out in Session 2 to push the boundaries and understanding of climate resilience, including its often-overlooked wellbeing and humanitarian aspects. To answer these needs they brought with them many examples of best practices for the implementation of risk reduction measures in different sectors and across landscapes, from resilience assessments and action plans to innovative financing opportunities.
At the same time, both of these panels – and others throughout ACRIS IV – recognised that a widening climate finance gap remains a central obstacle to forging transformative action at scale. Magara’s panel reflected on how the focused investment seen in Africa’s transport and highways sector has not been afforded to water resource management. And this, they concluded, was evidence of an unmet need for need for climate leadership. In Magara’s words: “The call to action must start with appropriate leadership so that our politicians do what is best in the long term, not just what is expedient.”