By Moshi Israel
The European Union has been a key supporter of Africa’s fight against climate change. This support has ranged from climate resilience initiatives, sustainable development goals, and the transition to renewable energy on the entire African Continent. Many individual countries within the European Union have contributed immensely to this cause and Belgium has done an exceptional job of putting its hand where its mouth is when it comes to helping Africa tackle the issue of climate change. Alongside Europe’s economic heavyweights such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom (UK), Belgium has committed vast resources to aid sustainable development and green growth in African countries. Belgium has committed to increasing its climate finance contributions to 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) by 2030. A vast portion of this funding will go to Africa.
The overall assistance Belgium provides to Africa to fight against climate change aims at addressing three key issues; 1) Help Africa adapt to the effects of climate change. 2) Help African countries significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and, 3) help Africa build resilience to future climate change challenges. Belgian support has come in the form of, financial support, Capacity building, technical support, Research, and Knowledge sharing.
Financially, Belgium has committed to increasing its climate funding. It is estimated that the country’s climate funding will increase to at least 135 million euros annually from an average of 70-100 million euros in 2021. This funding is undertaken by the Belgian Development Co-operation. Belgian climate money is also mainly engineered towards climate change adaptation as desired by least developed and African countries. The funding will particularly benefit sustainable urban development initiatives with a focus on resilient and climate-smart agriculture. The latter is easily adaptable to climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Belgian climate funds are utilized through international initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund. In the Congo basin, Belgium has provided funds to the Central African Forest Initiative by addressing the causes of deforestation. The Congo basin will be protected by Conserving Biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and fighting poverty.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) runs an initiative called LoCAL to which Belgium pledged $ 13 million. The initiative is to help set up climate actions for rural communities in Mozambique and Uganda. An estimated 1.2 million people are set to benefit from the initiative.
Belgium has also significantly contributed to the Climate Promise initiative (CPI). This is the UNDPs flagship initiative and the world’s largest offer of support to developing nations to help them implement and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are at the core of the Paris Agreement and the realization of its long-term goals. It entails efforts by each country to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Belgium government availed 1.25 million euros to UNDP in support of countries transitioning to an Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) which the UNDP will implement through the CPI. This new round of support from Belgium aims to build on the efforts of the first round of support which enabled the UNDP to provide technical assistance on transparency requirements specifically to Lusophone and Francophone developing nations.
Consequently, UNDP was able to extend training to 35 countries and dedicated technical assistance to Mozambique, Niger, Cabo Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe. According to Jadwiga Massinga, the Climate Change Director of Mozambique; the country received tailored and technical assistance from the Climate Promise that resulted in the alignment of the country’s transparency and reporting instruments. The assistance played a vital role in the preparation of Mozambique’s delegation to COP27 and “…will serve to catalyze additional climate finance.”
Uganda’s cooperation with Belgium goes as far back as 1995 and Uganda is the 6th biggest beneficiary of Belgian development assistance in the world. Uganda’s sustainable development goals have been supported indirectly by Belgium through the UNDP and other EU programs. On the other hand, BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries), one of the 6 pillars through which Belgium implements its programs has greatly contributed to Uganda’s fight against climate change. In Uganda BIO supports, among others, areas of renewable energy, food, and Agriculture.
Enable, the development agency of the Belgium federal government that implements Belgium’s international development policy has worked hand in hand with Ugandan stakeholders to drive toward realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For example, with funding from the EU, Enable supports refugee-hosting districts like Yumbe to develop environmental policies, guidelines, and tools aimed at protecting the environment. This is because Uganda supports the largest number of refugees in Africa from the DRC, South Sudan, and Burundi. To survive, refugees and host communities increasingly cut trees for firewood to cook and charcoal for sale. Any community that hosts a huge number of people is likely to put a strain on the environment.
Belgium has also played a major role in mainstreaming climate change education in Uganda. This is perhaps the most important step because it equips Ugandan citizens with the knowledge to tackle climate change issues on their own. With support from the government of Belgium, Uganda has trained six Climate Change National Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) consultants.
Belgium has assisted Uganda in many more climate change initiatives through the European Union and United Nations Programs. However, this information is not available to many Ugandans and there needs to be a push toward creating awareness of these climate change initiatives. The future of Africa and the rest of the world depends on addressing this existential crisis. Uganda needs a public climate change campaign that reaches everyone down to the smallest village. We Can only hope that Belgium and the rest of the European Union keep up this support to the African continent. Uganda, on its part, needs to embrace these initiatives and seek to be Africa’s greenest country and set an example for the rest of the world.
Moshi Israel is a Research Fellow with DWC.