77th UN General Assembly meetings stress key AfDB priorities: climate finance, job creation, and food insecurity
The African Development Bank had several productive engagements around its strategic priorities at the just concluded 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meetings in New York.
Meeting highlights included an urgent call for increased financing to mitigate the effects of climate change and food insecurity.
African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina led the bank’s delegation to the meetings and played an active part in discussions leading to an international declaration to end malnutrition and stunting.
The bank’s engagements reflect its strategic priorities as African countries, which it supports, struggle with the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as food and fuel price spikes arising from Russia’s war in Ukraine, and climate change.
Climate change was a recurring theme in many of the bank’s UNGA discussions, especially the need for urgent financing for the countries most at risk from climate change.
Climate change has assumed greater urgency with the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) due to be held in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt in less than two months. COP 27 or “the African COP,” as it is being called, presents an unprecedented opportunity for a unified African voice to demand that the global community move beyond talk to concrete action on financing for climate adaptation and mitigation.
Speaking at the 2nd ministerial meeting on climate and development, Adesina joined US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and other participants in urging developed countries to deliver on the pledges they made at COP26 in Glasgow last year, and under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
John Kerry’s words were unambiguous: “We are late. We must act. I’m fed up with saying the same thing too many times in the same meetings. Business as usual is the collective enemy. It’s time for action,” he told the meeting.
Adesina echoed this call for urgent action. He warned: “Africa is suffering, Africa is choking, and is in serious financial distress for what it did not cause. There must be a greater sense of urgency, not in talking, but in doing and delivering resources that the continent needs very desperately.”
The African Development Bank Group joined the Global Leadership Council in a new initiative to scale up clean, reliable energy and address global warming.
The Global Leadership Council comprises global leaders, including the African Development Bank head, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa; United Nations Development ProgrammeAdministrator Achim Steiner; European Investment Bank. President Werner Hoyer; Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr; and the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, co-chair of the council.
As a first step, the Council will focus on efforts to break down barriers to just energy transitions in developing countries.
While developing countries are currently responsible for only 25% of global CO2 emissions, this share could grow to 75% by 2050, according to an analysis published by the Alliance. Developing countries currently receive only a fraction of financing to develop clean energy, despite representing nearly half of the world’s population.
The General Assembly allowed the African Development Bank Group to demonstrate particular leadership in efforts to end hunger, nutrition, and stunting across Africa.
Under the Presidential Dialogue Group on Nutrition, inspired by the African Union’s designation of 2022 as the “Year of Nutrition,” the African Development Bank Group head joined African presidents to sign a landmark commitment to stop childhood stunting.
According to the Global Nutrition Report— considered the most comprehensive accounting of the state of nutrition worldwide—more than 30% of children in Africa are stunted.
The Dialogue Group is an initiative of the African Development Bank’s African Leaders for Nutrition platform, the Ethiopian government, and Big Win, a philanthropic organization. In addition to Ethiopia, the platform counts the leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda among its members.
The African Development Bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility featured prominently at the Global Food Security Summit. Senegal’s President Macky Sall, chair of the African Union, commended the bank for its swift launch of the $1.5 billion facility to avert a looming food crisis. The program is facilitating the production of 38 million tons of food. This represents a $12 billion increase in output in just two years.
In furtherance of the African Development Bank’s Group’s Jobs for Youth in Africa program to create 25 million jobs by 2025 and related initiatives, the Bank president participated in a high-level session to discuss the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions (https://bit.ly/3SVfKTX) initiative.
Speaking at the session, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged governments across the world to quickly invest in quality job creation and the provision of social protection for those without coverage.
He told leaders to focus on concrete solutions to implement the initiative and warned, “the path of inaction leads to economic collapse and climate catastrophe, widening inequalities and escalating social unrest. This could leave billions trapped in vicious circles of poverty and destitution.”
The session was also addressed by various leaders from around the world including the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, Uganda’s Vice President Jessica Alupo, and Egypt’s Minister for Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said.
African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “We have to restructure our economies to be productive with education, infrastructure, energy and making sure we have productive sectors that can use people’s skills and absorb that into the economy.”
On the sidelines of the General Assembly, Adesina also led a bank delegation to the World Health Organization (WHO) for meetings. The two organizations agreed to work together on quality health care infrastructure, vaccines, essential medicines, nutrition, and the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated the African Development Bank for birthing the Africa Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, which he said: “could help in market shaping for pharmaceutical products.”
Adesina also held bilateral meetings with Kenya’s new president, William Ruto; American billionaire and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg; former US President Bill Clinton and former US Senator Hillary Clinton.
The President also met with Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s minister for international development who is also the African Development Bank’s governor. Ahead of the Global Citizen Festival, they discussed efforts to end hunger.
Norway is supporting the African Emergency Food Production Facility.
UNGA 77 brought together world leaders, civil society activists, private sector players, and young people from around the world for two weeks of in-person dialogue in New York City under the theme “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.”