Tense climate talks, aid to Lake Chad region, and the African Green Revolution Forum: This week in development

A view of the plenary meeting at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by: UNFCCC / CC BY-NC-SA

Environment and energy delegates parse over climate change guidelines during talks in Bangkok, France unveils its new development strategy, and the United Nations praises donors’ “profoundly generous” contributions to the Lake Chad region. This week in development:

At climate talks in Bangkok this weekgovernment delegations are tasked with drafting clear guidelines to send to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poland this December. But progress toward the Katowice COP24 remains mired in questions of responsibility and fairness among developed and developing nations. The United States, Japan, and Australia presented a flexible approach in favor of dropping climate finance rules, which many experts fear will water down climate finance guidelines. The proposal “does not create any meaningful rules on how climate finance is accounted for, and instead it essentially says ‘countries should report what they want,’” Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns for ActionAid USA, told Devex. Developed countries are also touting the insurance sector as a critical tool in helping developing countries cope with climate change-induced weather. But the hyperfocus on insurance as the solution to climate impacts is too narrow, and discounts a host of other options to address the issue, according to Julie-Anne Richards, climate expert and co-author of new report “Not a Silver Bullet.” Follow Devex’s Kelli Rogers for more coverage at the conference this week.

Donors met in Berlin this week to raise funding for and find solutions to an escalating humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region. Donors pledged $2.17 billion in grants for the region, which the United Nations praised as “profoundly generous.” Donors called for more decentralized assistance and cross-border cooperation to help more than 17 million people across Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Chad — where a combination of extreme poverty, climate change, and conflict have left more than 2.4 million people displaced in the region, and more than 10 million requiring humanitarian assistance. The top donors for “2018 and beyond” were the United States ($420.13 million), Germany ($309.3 million), and the European Commission ($269.81 million). Organizers also welcomed 13 announcements of multiyear support, which will make it easier to plan and implement projects, plus an additional $467 million in concessional loans from the African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and World Bank.

The French government unveiled its 2018-2022 development strategy, with a focus on tackling climate change, education, and gender equality, better linkages with defense and diplomatic efforts, and working with non-state actors and new partners. The commitment to quadruple the budget for grants to €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2019 won praise from civil society. “This is definitely a step in the right direction … but we’re starting at a very low level,” said Friederike Röder, EU and France director with ONE. France committed to spending 0.55 percent of GNI on official development assistance by 2022, up from 0.38 percent in 2016. Röder said this puts France in an interesting position: “While it is still catching up because of low levels of ODA in the past, France is the G-7 country today that will have the biggest increases coming in. This means also the biggest room of maneuver to decide how to use that money and shape development policy even beyond France and the partner countries they work with.”

The African Green Revolution Forum is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, where African leaders and stakeholders are discussing how best to advance the green revolution and turn smallholder farmers into the agribusinesses of the future. A new report released at the forum found that with 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and a population that is expected to exceed 1.5 billion by 2050, the pressure to transform Africa’s agriculture sector to meet the continent’s food needs is ever more urgent. Officials and advocates say governments must go beyond talk of potential and focus on changing policies. “Doing business as usual without changing and making big decisions and big ideas, Africa will remain poor, remain importing food, remain vulnerable to climate change, won’t have enough seeds [and] fertilizer, and will continue producing substandardly to what people can eat,” said Boaz Keizire, head of policy and advocacy at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

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    Anne Paisley

    Anne Paisley is the Senior News Producer at Devex, where she oversees Devex’s newsletters, news website, and content management team. Prior to joining Devex in 2015, Anne was the managing editor at the Center for American Progress. She has previously held positions at CNN, the U.S. Department of State, and Cambridge Associates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, including a semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing.