COVID-19 has triggered the deepest economic recession in nearly a century and the impacts on Africa have been particularly stark. Food insecurity and debt has been rising, and hard-won development gains are being lost. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds in Africa, the situation remains fluid and rapidly evolving, with measures needed to ensure the trajectory of the recovery remains in line with the Paris agreement and the ambition of COP26. In a major response initiative, the African Union (AU) launched a new five-year continental Green Recovery Action Plan 2021-2027 on July 16, 2021.

Felix Tshisekedi, Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo officiated the launch of the Action Plan. The Plan presents a framework of recovery in context of the COVID challenges and mentions how the COVID-19 recovery can be clean, resilient, and inclusive, we do not need to start from scratch. Countries’ national or sectoral masterplans, climate change adaptation plans and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – as well as a host of other national plans – provide blueprints for action.

Within this context, the Green Recovery Action Plan will tackle the combined challenges of the COVID-19 recovery and climate change, by focusing on critical areas of joint priority, including climate finance, renewable energy, resilient agriculture, resilient cities, land use and biodiversity.

The Plan has the following objectives: 1) To strengthen collaboration on a broad range of shared priorities in support of the African Union’s objectives for the Continent’s sustainable and green recovery from COVID-19; and, 2) To support the realisation of a shared vision for a prosperous, secure, inclusive and innovative future for Africa.

The Plan identifies actions on the following five priority areas 1) Climate finance, including increasing flows, efficiency, and impact of funding; 2). Supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and national Just Transition programmes; 3) Nature-based solutions and focus on biodiversity through work on sustainable land management, forestry, oceans and ecotourism; 4) Resilient agriculture, by focusing on inclusive economic development and green jobs; and 5) Green and resilient cities, including a focus on water (flooding and water resources) and enhancing information, communication and technology. The Action Plan will contribute towards attaining the targets contained in Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want’ and to support the Continent to get back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Work on the Plan is already underway and will continue until 2027.

At the launch of the Plan, Felix Tshisekedi highlighted that a clean and resilient recovery in Africa will not only create jobs in the industries of the future but also overcome challenges related to public health, prosperity and climate change. He also emphasized that the challenges confronting us today are a reminder of the need to think of a recovery that is both inclusive and respectful of the environment and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking in his capacity as chair of the African Islands Climate Commission, Wavel Ramkalawan, President of the Republic of Seychelles, applauded the Recovery Action Plan as being complementary to the African Islands’ commitment and efforts to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors, build resilience in our communities and play a part in supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon emissions economy. “As chair of the African Islands Climate Commission, I look forward to working with all member States and partners to fulfil the objectives of the Green Recovery Action Plan” he added.

By bringing together champions from across the international community and the AU Member States, the initiative will utilise existing AU mechanisms to streamline and amplify green recovery action in partnership with Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) and regional stakeholders. During the launch, different stakeholders voiced their support to the implementation of the Action Plan.

The African Union’s Green Recovery Action Plan for Africa will help deliver a clean, sustainable recovery that builds a prosperous and secure future for all African nations, Alok Sharma, COP26 President Designate of the United Kingdom said. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP highlighted that, like all other economies, Africa’s economies have been hit hard by the pandemic. “As we call for solidarity and justice on vaccine access, so must we call for financing through traditional and innovative models. The United Nations Environment Programme strongly supports the AU Green Recovery Action Plan. Green recovery for Africa is in the best interests of all. International solidarity and support is essential to make this recovery a reality” she stated.

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