Rallying for resilience: The Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda in Africa

Reflections from the session, co-hosted by GRP at Africa Climate Week focused on exploring and taking stock of the adaptation and resilience action on the ground across systems in Africa.

Written by: June Kimaiyo & David Gonzáles
GRP Areas of work: Policy Theme: Cities and urban resilience Finance and markets

The Sharm El-Sheik Adaptation Agenda (SAA) is a dynamic initiative focused on translating climate change rhetoric into concrete action supporting the achievement of the Paris Agreement. It serves as an implementation arm, bringing together countries, the private sector, and various stakeholders to advance the implementation of adaptation and resilience (A&R) solutions, enhancing the mobilisation of multiple enablers including finance to realise those solutions, and inform the baseline and tracking of progress for targets established under the SAA. During Africa Climate Week, GRP participated in a session that focused on exploring and taking stock of A&R actions on the ground across systems in Africa. A&R initiatives were highlighted across the session, showcasing some key aspects outlined below.

There are relevant A&R initiatives driving climate solutions in Africa

Examples of these initiatives include efforts from Sustainable Solutions for Africa to build an “ECOVERSE” that seeks to establish self-sustaining ecosystems in underserved regions of Africa. Their efforts encompass elements such as climate-resilient infrastructure, low-emission agricultural systems, education, and local climate finance. The ECOVERSE places a strong emphasis on long-term adaptation planning and engaging with local stakeholders. It also incorporates an inventive financial empowerment mechanism through local cooperatives. The initial model implemented in Togo includes various components designed for sustainability, including the use of solar power and alternative energy sources. 

Another example is DARAJA, an organisation operating in Africa’s bustling cities and informal settlements, which addresses the critical need for accessible early warning systems. DARAJA’s activities emerged as a response to the lack of reliable water-related disaster information in informal settlements and slums, leading to severe consequences for people. DARAJA’s collaborative project bridges this gap by empowering low-income communities with timely weather and climate information. Residents can now make informed decisions, evacuate their families, and protect their properties during disasters. This initiative aligns with global agendas like the Sharm El-Sheik Agenda, which aims to provide appropriate tools for vulnerable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change, e.g. by ensuring that 3 billion people have access to early warning systems by 2030. Despite challenges, including limited financial support and equipment shortages, projects across Africa are emerging to ramp-up action on climate adaptation. However, further efforts to support these initiatives are required if we aim to achieve global agreements as those established in the Paris Agenda.

Africa needs finance solutions to accompany adaptation action

Climate KIC is a project built in the understanding that systemic change is needed to achieve global objectives. It focuses on building dedicated innovation clusters for adaptation and resilience across Africa. These clusters aim to support innovation by providing frameworks, programs, and platforms for financing and technical assistance. Climate KIC is piloting this approach in Tanzania, collaborating with various stakeholders, including the public sector, academia, startups, and financiers. The goal is to scale up solutions, drive investments, and foster innovation in adaptation. 

In addition, the Adaptation Fund aligns with the objectives of the Sharm El-Sheik Agenda. The fund has been working for 15 years to support country-driven adaptation projects. They emphasise direct access to funding without intermediaries, benefiting over 40 million people across 100+ countries. The fund’s projects cover a wide spectrum of sectors, with a focus on addressing local adaptation needs. Their work aligns with the objectives of the Sharm El-Sheik Agenda, contributing to targets such as expanding early warning systems or supporting nature-based solutions. Mobilising finance for adaptation is complex due to its multi-sectoral nature and country-specific requirements. Bridging the gap between the private and public sectors and aligning financial institutions with national climate policies is imperative. Initiatives like the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and the Adaptation and Resilience Investors Collaborative aim to create a sustainable framework for adaptation financing, involving a diverse range of stakeholders.

Implementing the agenda

The implementation of the Sharm El-Sheik Adaptation Agenda will require strong efforts by all actors to create enabling conditions to drive adaptation action across contexts, particularly in the Global South. However, moving forward promoting solutions for the achievement of the targets set out in the agenda has the potential to support global efforts as set out in the Paris Agreement. As motioned by UN Climate Change High level Champion Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, climate action in the Africa region requires “considering the full context of the sustainable development agenda, poverty, hunger, employment and women empowerment, and mobilising the climate finance in Africa is crucial to create real progress in Africa.”  

In this context, with financial support and contextual considerations, adaptation and resilience initiatives serve as beacons of hope in the face of climate change challenges. They highlight the potential for collective action and innovation to make a meaningful impact. The insights from these initiatives remind us that while the challenges are significant, we have the knowledge and tools to navigate the climate challenge successfully. It’s now our responsibility to turn conversations into actions and build a resilient future for all.