From 2018 to 2023, the ECOWAS Commission provided political leadership for the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus project, West Africa component (GCCA+ WA). With funding from the European Union (EU), co-financing from France and technical support from Expertise France, as well as collaboration with the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), this project has laid solid foundations for structuring fair, united, shared and ambitious regional climate action. As the project draws to a close, we take a look back at the results and progress achieved.
A regional response to the climate challenge
The climate emergency is here. Although the African continent is the world's lowest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is nonetheless suffering major impacts. In West Africa, the rise in temperature is 1.5 times higher than at global level. The negative impacts of climate change in West Africa are transboundary. Consequently, adaptation and low-carbon development measures in response to climate change require enhanced cooperation and solidarity across the region.
The project's major innovation: fostering regional cooperation on climate in West Africa
The challenge of the GCCA+ WA project was to amplify cooperation across the West African region to accelerate the response to climate change. The five years and the various activities carried out to meet this challenge have above all demonstrated the added value of the supranational level in implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.
In addition, as Mrs Massandje Touré-Litsé, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture at the ECOWAS Commission, explains: "the fight against climate change requires immediate, decisive and profoundly transformative action in all sectors and by all stakeholders - public, private and civil society - hence the need to decompartmentalize climate action to make it everyone's business. This is why ECOWAS is committed, through the GCCA+ WA project, to working alongside its member states and partners to structure climate cooperation at regional level". In concrete terms, the achievements of the GCCA+ WA project have been multidisciplinary, and rooted in the reality of needs thanks to a multi-stakeholder dynamic: member states, representatives of civil society, representatives of farmers' organizations, scientists, regional organizations, regional development banks, have all worked closely together in the service of ambitious, coherent and long-term climate action.
Focus on climate-smart agriculture
Agriculture is an essential part of the West African region's economy. Adapting the sector to climate change is a priority for the region's security.
Among the various activities carried out, the GCCA+ WA project has therefore focused strongly on supporting innovation for climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which helps to empower producers. 15 projects have been launched and supported, involving almost 7,700 households in 11 ECOWAS-CILSS countries, with a total budget of 3.2 million euros. The projects selected were chosen on the basis of their ability to spread, their innovative nature and the fact that they were supported by several players working in partnership. The choice of location enabled to cover the entire ECOWAS-CILSS area, thanks to synergies with pilot projects carried out within the framework of the Agroecology program of the ECOWAS Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (ARAA). The feedback and lessons learned from these agricultural projects are now shared in a series of guides and capitalization documents (to be found in the project review and on the ECOWAP and ARAA websites).
A Regional Climate Strategy to set an ambitious climate action framework for West Africa
Developed in a participatory manner and adopted at the highest level during the ECOWAS Council of Statutory Ministers in July 2022, the first ECOWAS Regional Climate Strategy sets regional climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives broken down by sector, and includes a vision for 2050 and an action plan for 2022-2030. The Regional Climate Strategy provides a solid basis for transformative action across the region in response to climate change. Its implementation by ECOWAS, alongside and in support of its member states, will ensure that all regional policies and projects are compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement and contribute to the region's resilience to the effects of climate change, which are already very present.
The process was matured and completed with the support of the GCCA+ WA project, mandated by the ECOWAS Commission for this purpose, which brought together all West African regional stakeholders for its elaboration.
The essential mobilization of climate finance to support regional development compatible with the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement
The GCCA+ WA project has worked to facilitate the scaling-up of climate finance in the region through several tools for monitoring and accessing climate finance (mapping of financial flows, capacity-building and training of executives in setting up climate projects, financing of innovative agricultural projects, access of several West African institutions to the Green Climate Fund, etc.).
In addition, to catalyze climate finance with ECOWAS and facilitate the implementation of the Regional Climate Strategy, the project supported the architecture of a roundtable of technical and financial partners of the ECOWAS Commission with a first meeting held in June 2023. The meeting had two main aims: to raise funds for the implementation of the Regional Climate Strategy's 2022-2030 action plan, with a regional funding requirement of 126.6 million USD, and to set up the "Climate Donors Group", a permanent coordination mechanism for donors working in the region. The presence of many technical and financial partners at this meeting marks their desire to better coordinate their programs and commitments at regional level in support of climate action.
Training, climate finance, regional coordination mechanisms...tangible results achieved between 2018 and 2023
The GCCA+ WA project has led to concrete results to be discovered in the project review, including:
- Elaboration and adoption of an ECOWAS Regional Climate Strategy containing an action plan to 2030 and a vision to 2050,
- Creation of the Climate Donors Group, an ECOWAS Commission donor coordination mechanism for climate action,
- Creation of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Environment (CIDE), a cross-sectoral coordination mechanism on climate within the ECOWAS Commission, in favor of a multi-sectoral and systematic integration of climate into the Commission's directions,
- Mapping of climate finance flows to the ECOWAS-CILSS zone, to provide member states with up-to-date information on available funding,
- 15 climate-smart agriculture (CSA) pilot projects in 11 West African countries, for a total budget of 3.2 million euros, with capitalization on a regional scale.
- Production of scientific reference data on carbon in representative ecosystems,
- An ECOWAS Guide to implementing the Paris Agreement published: to provide member states with decision-making tools on the mechanisms and policies to be introduced in application of the Paris Agreement,
- 4 member states assisted in revising or implementing their NDCs,
- Creation of an ECOWAS Regional Support Group for International Climate Negotiations (GRANIC) to promote the emergence of common West African positions to be taken to official negotiating groups,
- Strengthened West African regional presence during the COPs: publication of joint regional positions, West Africa Pavilion, GRANIC meetings,
- More than 500 public and private sector players trained in the 15 ECOWAS member states to set up climate projects,
- 50 West African executives trained through the Professional Master in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the AGRHYMET Regional Center (CRA).
Outlook: international cooperation must continue to support climate action in the West African region
All the achievements of the GCCA+ WA project will be perpetuated and institutionalized as part of the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Climate Strategy, which sets targets for 2030 and 2050, and will thus enable the operationalization of essential regional projects and federate the commitment of the region's stakeholders.
Other major ECOWAS initiatives such as the Agroecology Programme and the West African Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture are contributing to the implementation of the Climate Strategy. They will be part of the continued mobilisation of international cooperation for strengthened partnerships with ECOWAS Member States and other local and regional non-state actors.
While the project has made a major contribution to laying solid foundations for progress in regional climate action, with medium- and long-term prospects, the needs are still colossal if the challenges of climate change in the region are to be met. International cooperation must continue to work with West African regional institutions and Member States to support climate action in the region, through their participation in the Climate Donors group created at the invitation of ECOWAS to facilitate the financing of its Regional Climate Strategy.