Trump's Paris withdrawal, AfDB's capital boost, and South Sudan's fragile peace: This week in development

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina. Photo by: GCIS / CC BY-ND

Trump makes Paris withdrawal official, the African Development Bank’s shareholders approve a significant capital increase, and South Sudan looks for stability in a power-sharing agreement. This week in development:

The African Development Bank’s shareholders approved the largest-ever capital increase for the development financing institution — a 125% boost that brings the AfDB’s capital resources to $208 billion. Last week’s announcement at the fifth extraordinary meeting of the bank’s Board of Governors in Abidjan also represents a strong vote of confidence in President Akinwumi Adesina, who is currently running for a second term. Adesina said the board’s decision amounted to “a joyful day for Africa,” which will give the bank “greater stability for the future.” In addition to boosting the AfDB’s capital, shareholders endorsed the bank’s climate change strategy, which calls for doubling climate finance. In September, Adesina announced that the AfDB will no longer finance coal projects, and at last week’s meeting Adesina highlighted the institution’s Desert to Power initiative, which aims to develop solar energy production across the Sahel region. The bank’s last capital increase was in 2010, in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Climate advocates slammed President Donald Trump’s long-expected move to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on Monday — the first day that such a notification was possible under the rules of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "The United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is an indefensible, pointless and morally bankrupt capitulation that will only serve to weaken the global effort to combat the climate crisis at the very moment we should do everything we can to avert catastrophe,” Jesse Young, Oxfam America's climate change policy lead, said in a statement. While Trump has often given the impression that the U.S. has already pulled out of the accord, to which nearly 200 countries remain committed, the withdrawal will not actually take effect for another year, arriving within days of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Trump’s move follows in the wake of some hopeful news on the climate finance front. Despite the U.S. government’s decision not to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, which mobilizes finance for climate mitigation and adaptation in low- and middle-income countries, last month the GCF managed to secure a $9.8 billion replenishment, its largest ever.

The Asian Development Bank opened voting for its next president on Monday, after a one-month nomination period that produced only one candidate, Masatsugu Asakawa, currently special adviser to Japan’s prime minister and minister of finance. The leadership transition comes after current president, Takehiko Nakao, announced he would resign with two years remaining in his second term in office. Asakawa’s vision statement, which he laid out at the beginning of the nomination period, emphasizes maximizing the development impact of ADB’s operations and prioritizing the bank’s fragile and vulnerable members, as well as small-island developing states. Asakawa also called for innovative approaches to mobilizing finance, including “thematic bonds, local currency denominated bonds, partnerships with philanthropic funds and other international organizations, and further use of guarantees and Public-Private-Partnerships.”

Aid groups in South Sudan are watching closely as the country approaches a key milestone in its peace process: the formation of a coalition government meant to make good on the power-sharing agreement brokered between warring parties more than a year ago. The government is set to be formed on Nov. 12, despite opposition leader Riek Machar’s warning that moving forward with the plan could put the current cease-fire at risk. Relief organizations are warning that the appearance of calm should not be mistaken for real stability, and they are working to incorporate lessons from past failed peace processes into their current contingency planning. “I would suggest as a minimum retaining sufficient capacity to mobilize fast. In addition, recognize that parallel to the uncertain ‘main’ political processes, the conflict dynamics in the country remain fluid,” said Jeremy Taylor, East Africa analyst at the Norwegian Refugee Council.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.