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African Development Forum Focuses on Climate Change and Development

15 October 2010: The Seventh African Development Forum was held from 12-15 October 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme, "Acting on Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa."

The main objective of the Forum, which brought together over 700 participants, was to raise awareness of climate change and also promote effective mainstreaming of climate change concerns into development policies, strategies, programmes and practices in Africa. The Forum was convened by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Forum was preceded by several events, including a climate change training workshop for African journalists with the theme "Getting it Right: Reporting Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa." The Forum included a High Level Leadership Dialogue that identified key governance and leadership challenges that need to be addressed as part of the global response to the impacts of climate change. Plenary sessions were also held on: climate change impacts; climate change mitigation and adaptation; Africa and the international climate change negotiations; and private sector response to climate change. Other issues, such as food security, economic and human development, security and ecosystem sustainability, were also addressed.

During the Forum, Africa's vulnerability and determination to act were highlighted. Speaking at the conclusion of the Forum, Abdoulie Janneh, UNECA Executive Secretary, urged support for the region's adaptation efforts. He underlined that, "we are not contributing much to this phenomenon of climate change and therefore what we are saying is that those countries that have created this should really come up with the resources necessary."

Also addressing the Forum, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, expressed his suspicion that the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of 2010, and COP 17, scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2012, "will be a total flop." He cited disagreements between developed and developing countries, and a leadership crisis on environmental issues at the international level. He called on Africa's leadership "to prove its worth" and reach a satisfactory agreement for the continent in the current negotiations.

One of the outcomes of the Forum was the establishment of a partnership on Africa's options for a Green Economy, backed by the AU, the AfDB, the UNECA and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). One of the first activities of the partnership will be the organization of an Africa-wide conference on a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy, to take place in 2011, in response to the call by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The conference will showcase how smart policies and creative investments across sectors, ranging from agriculture and transport to fisheries and forests, can drive green and sustainable growth, job creation and enhanced livelihood in Africa. [UNECA Press Release on the Opening Plenary] [UNECA Press Release on the High-level Dialogue] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Forum Website] [ADF Today 14 October 2010] [Climate Change Policy & Practice Story on the Training Workshop for African Journalists]