The Pan-African Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress 2013 was opened today by Vice President of Tanzania, Dr Mohamed Ghalib Bilal, in Dar es Salaam.
Hosted by the City of Dar es Salaam and ‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – Africa’, the Vice President proudly welcomed over 400 delegates from across the African continent, local government and city Mayors, Governors and leaders, national government ministries, development partners, NGOs and the private sector to this prestigious event. In his opening speech, he “sincerely applauded the members of ICLEI for their continued commitment in providing the necessary leadership platform to ensure Africa’s effective participation in finding practical solutions in combating climate change”.
The Honourable Mayor of Dar es Salaam, and chairperson of the Association of Local Authorities in Tanzania (ALAT) Dr Didas Massaburi, and host of the Congress, said in his welcome address: “I hope that here we shall be networking with each other, but also finding solutions with a clear future for the African city.”
Rapid urban development strains services
This is the second Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress organised by ICLEI Africa, the first hosted by the City of Cape Town, South Africa in 2011. The Congress series is built upon the strengths of partnerships and collaborations, bringing multiple types of organisations together that have an interest in urban development challenges. A central theme of the congress, entitled ‘Africa transitioning: embracing urbanization, responding to change and harnessing opportunities’, is the challenge to urban development posed by climate change and extreme events in Africa. This year’s congress has a particular focus on the opportunities for building more resilient urban areas, for transformative green growth and innovative actions, such as exploring the inter-related challenges of water, energy and food security.
Across Africa, urbanisation presents multiple development challenges – but also new opportunities to transform towards productive and inclusive cities. Globally more than half of the world’s population resides in cities and urban areas, severely increasing pressure on essential services, infrastructure and the natural systems that underpin economies and social well-being.
Security and access issues pertaining to water, energy and food are being exacerbated by climate change, affecting the most vulnerable communities within society. These challenges call for innovative solutions, bold leadership and strong political commitment. By presenting examples of best practice and innovative thinking, and promoting knowledge sharing between cities, emerging urban solutions can be rapidly multiplied across Africa.
Solutions for our African cities
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, convening partner to the City of Dar es Salaam, is the world’s leading network of cities and local governments for sustainability, consisting of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities, 450 large and urban regions and 450 small and medium sized cities and towns. The aim of ICLEI’s Africa office at this congress is to facilitate, partner, and to co-design solutions, tools and scaled implementation actions with local governments and its wide range of partners across the continent.
ICLEI President David Cadman, provided a passionate challenge: “We are now in the 21st Century and this will determine the fate of the planet. Your challenge is to figure out how to be part of the solution. The solutions to the future of this planet are found in cities, and you are the leaders that can make it happen. We at ICLEI stand ready to assist in achieving this together. This was reiterated by Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General, of UCLG Africa who called for action and implementation at the local level, supported and enabled by national partners and the international community.
Local Climate Solutions for Africa, or LOCS 2013 for short, is a unique and accessible platform for African cities and local governments – to gain access to a gateway of solutions, share solutions, to promote scaled action, and to push for direct access to resources enabling the acceleration of climate action across Africa. By mobilising strong partnerships new and exciting initiatives can be harnessed. Already the congress has resulted: in a preview of the State of African Cities 2013 report, to be launched in 2013 by UN Habitat, ICLEI Africa and UCLG Africa; as well as the launch of a new urban Food-Water-Energy Nexus Project funded by GIZ in Tanzania and India.
As many of the opening plenary speakers iterated, there are both solutions and significant opportunities to be seized in addressing climate change. Richard Muyungi the Director for Climate Change under the Tanzanian Vice President’s office stated, “Local governments in Africa have plenty of cross-sectoral opportunities to address the reduction of Greenhouse Gases.
Over the duration of the next three days until Friday 1 November, Local Climate Solutions for Africa will provide a key platform to strengthen the sharing of global good practice and locally appropriate solutions and technologies towards accelerated climate action on the ground. In addition it will mobilise and showcase leadership from local governments by providing opportunities such as the Urban Leadership for Africa Sustainability (ULAS) high level dialogues, and the opportunity for leaders to sign both the Mexico City Pact and the Durban Adaptation Charter for Local Governments, committing them to measurable and accountable local climate action for addressing both mitigation and adaptation challenges.
The delegates will also have an opportunity to witness some of the climate related activities being undertaken by the City of Dar es Salaam upon closure of the congress.