We need more action to reform how climate finance is raised, directed and accessed in West Africa

Changing the way that climate finance is raised, directed and accessed in West Africa is long overdue. Here Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises (SPARC) shares what needs to be done.

Much noise has been made at COP27 around the disparity between the urgent need for climate financing and the lack of funding directed to the most vulnerable countries to support adaptation. SPARC research has highlighted this significant finance gap, exacerbated by systemic challenges in the countries that are most in need. These challenges include conflict, instability, low capacity and failing governance. SPARC recently extended this work to West Africa to understand the “climate finance gap” in one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.

At issue is a simple moral calculation: the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, UEMOA, in French) are some of the most exposed to climate impacts, while being among the fewest emitters - responsible for only 0.5% of CO2 global emissions and 7.4% of sub-Saharan Africa emissions. To make matters worse, seven out of the eight countries within the UEMOA region are categorised as Least Developed Countries by the United Nations: sharing severe structural constraints to sustainable development and limited capacities to deal with shocks, such as droughts and floods. Despite this, the UEMOA region receives only a small proportion of available climate finance.

Estimates of the cost of implementing Nationally Determined Contributions across the UEMOA region are high: USD 79.1 billion is needed between 2020 and 2030, almost equally distributed between adaptation and mitigation (48.4% and 49.9%), respectively, the remainder for dual benefit projects (1.7%). However, climate finance flows to the UEMOA region were only USD 3.5 billion (4% of what is required), leaving an enormous gap to be filled.

The small proportion of climate finance that is reaching the UEMOA region is largely in the form of repayable loans (75%), while grants represent only 25% of climate funds. This is problematic as debt adds to the growing budget deficit in the UEMOA region. Debt also tightens the availability of public funds to pay for other needs, such as healthcare, infrastructure, or investments in food security. Moreover, debt instruments place the burden of responsibility for climate mitigation and adaptation on developing countries; countries that have contributed the least to global warming, yet are hardest hit by its impacts...

Read the rest of the article on the SPARC website.