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Climate Adaptation Summit 2021: “Whole systems” approach to public-private cooperation for climate-resilient infrastructure in Africa urged

Governments and the private sector must adopt a ‘whole systems approach’ to urgently deliver the climate-resilient and clean infrastructure that Africa needs, panelists at the 2021 Climate Adaptation Summit said on Tuesday.

Scaled up infrastructure, partnerships, integrating gender, de-risking and mobilizing private sector finance are all essential to long-term progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, participants heard.

Speaking on the summit’s infrastructure panel, the African Development Bank Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor, said: “African governments cannot afford replacement costs,  so it is best to build resilient and quality infrastructure from the onset, as well as implement adaptation improvements on existing infrastructure immediately.”

Quaynor added: “Overall, the African Development Bank has pledged to double current levels of climate finance from US$12.5 billion in aggregate from 2016-2020 to $25 billion during the period 2021-2025, to support low-carbon and climate-resilient development.”

The African Development Bank is supporting governments with investments in sustainable transport, waste and pollution management, energy, water, and other services that are climate proofed. This  guarantees sustainable urban development and fosters climate change resilience.

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, the Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands, reiterated the importance of partnerships to achieving resilient infrastructure, emphasizing the reality of climate change and its serious effects. “The good news,” she said, “is that adaptation will enhance growth and development, create business opportunities, reduce inequalities, and protect nature.”.

Other speakers, including Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Investor Association for Infrastructure, also shared views on the need for stronger partnerships to ensure that infrastructure is prepared for climate change impacts.

“From a financial point of view and from a business point of view, there’s a really strong case for making sure you are investing today in that resilient infrastructure,” Slade said.

Speaking earlier, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure Makhtar Diop stressed the need to catalyze private sector financing to develop climate-resilient infrastructure. “What we are trying to do at the World Bank is to de-risk as much as possible to make investments more attractive to the private sector in critical sectors,” he stressed. Diop added that the World Bank was also exploring the use of appropriate technologies to develop resilient infrastructure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the need for additional funding, including funding to support low-income countries’ needs to respond to climate change. European Investment Bank Vice President Ambroise Fayolle emphasized this, noting: “We must adopt a whole systems approach.” 

In her contribution, the Chief Director of Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation, Cynthia Asare Bediako,  stressed the importance of integrating gender issues in the construction of resilient infrastructure.

“That is why we are pleased to be pioneering an initiative in Ghana – to improve our understanding of how best to plan, invest and manage climate resilient infrastructure,” Bediako said. She added: “The first phase of this work is already revealing risky and promising areas for strengthening resilience. It is also showing the impact of climate change on different groups, particularly highlighting the importance of gender issues for resilient infrastructure.”

The annual Climate Adaptation Summit aims to respond to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for more concrete plans and goals from more countries and businesses to make the planet more resilient to climate change.

Listen to VP Quaynor:

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African Development Bank Group

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