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Stockholm+ 50: Statement on Behalf of the African by H.E. Leila Benali of the Kingdom of Morocco

Statement delivered by H.E. Minister Leila Benali of the Kingdom of Morocco on Behalf of the African Group at the International Meeting, “Stockholm+ 50: a Healthy Planet for the Prosperity of All – Our responsibility, Our opportunity”

2-3 June, 2022

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the African Group. The African Group aligns itself with the statement delivered by Pakistan on behalf of the G77 and China.

The Stockholm+50 International meeting is a historical moment to commemorate the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment and celebrates 50 years of collective global action. It is an opportunity for the world to reflect on progress, gaps, and challenges.

Stockholm+50 is timely while we are preparing for the COP27 in Egypt, in which we all aim to make drastic progress in international efforts towards addressing environmental challenges.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen

Over the past two years, Covid-19 has taught us critical lessons. One of them is that our future is as hopeful as the strength of our cooperation. The challenges of our time do not give us the luxury to walk in isolation. The post-pandemic era needs us to rise above our stark differences and fight for the common good of current and future generations.

We stepped into the Decade of Action with massive pandemic disruptions. We are running out of time to act on climate change and other pivotal development goals. It is time we rearrange our priorities, move strategically, and act urgently.

The Group emphasizes the need to ensure that all multilateral agreements and processes should strengthen systematic follow-up of action, commitments, and progress on multi-stakeholder pledges.

There is a need for greater overall accessibility, and efficiency of financial flows to address climate change in Africa, including both mitigation and adaptation. In this regard, The Group underlines the need for more efficient and less complex practices and application requirements for accessing climate finance from different bilateral and multilateral funders.

We need to strengthen cooperation and partnership to transform countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions into a pipeline of bankable projects, which have the potential to attract investment at scale from the private sector. This could include private capital investments catalyzed by improved fiscal policies that enable the flow of private climate financing.

The Group emphasizes the need to assign priority to national projects already identified in countries’ national or sectoral master plans, as well as climate change adaptation plans and the Nationally Determined Contributions of the Paris Agreement.

Together, we can strengthen UNEP to be the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, and to make it fit-for-purpose to respond to the environmental challenges we are facing today.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen

To secure the success of our endeavors, we need to increase investment in disaster risk reduction and resilience as well as a greater alignment of finance and recognition of the increasing risks posed by climate shocks. More lives can be saved through proactive planning and disaster risk management and reduction including through sustained investment in early warning, early action and preparedness, and mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in development processes.

The Group emphasizes the need for enhancing and supporting the implementation of Renewable Energy Initiatives including the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, the SDG7 Initiative for Africa to increase clean energy actions in NDC and support credit enhancement instruments to fast track and enhance investments for those actions

The Group underlines the need to provide support to African countries in their just transition plans and calls upon development partners, multilateral and private financiers to support a fair and just transition to secure workers’ rights, provide social protection for affected workers and communities, remove barriers for integrating fossil fuel workers into clean energy sectors, and build necessary workforce capacity to deliver clean energy networks and to ensure the provision of energy needed to fuel Africa’s economic transformation of and growth, and ultimately secure universal, reliable, affordable energy access for all in the continent.

There is a need to address critical gaps in technology transfer to promote the application and use of new technologies to support countries' development and implementation of new and updated Nationally Determined Contributions NDCs, Land Degradation Neutrality, and Long-Term Strategies.

The Group stresses the need to enhance commitment to provide adequate resources to address the drivers of desertification, land degradation, and drought and support existing programs such as the Great Green Wall for the Sahara, Sahel, and Southern Africa, strengthen the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative Sub-regional Action Programmes to combat desertification as well as the Southern Africa Initiatives.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen

Agriculture is the mainstay of Africa’s economy. It employs more than 60 percent of our Continent’s population while accounting for over 70 percent of domestic trade. However, despite having the largest agricultural land, crop yield, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa is 3 times less than the world’s average.

To close this gap, Africa needs to invest approximately 31 billion dollars a year to improve the quality of inputs and transform its supply chain infrastructure and raise the volume of Africa’s agricultural production to 880 billion dollars a year by 2030.

Domestic fiscal measures, however, aren’t sufficient to bridge the financial gap. That is why we need to leverage strategic partnerships through the private sector and international financial institutions to create a larger pool of funding for our smallholder farmers and agricultural SMEs.

The Group underscores the need to Scale-up financing for climate change adaptation in agriculture: the success of adaptation actions in agriculture relies not only on technological innovations, but also on supporting institutional, policy, and investment environments, which can help innovations reach scale rapidly. We need to adopt innovative financial models to support the scaling up of proven technological innovations.

If we narrow the digital connectivity gap, agricultural productivity will increase. This will create more opportunities for women and youth to engage in economic activities. Digital technologies will facilitate intra-Africa with the potential of lifting over 60 million people out of poverty.

Our response to Covid-19 and similar crisis mostly relied on our healthcare systems. Most of them being seriously inadequate in many respects. Technological innovations will transform healthcare delivery and the workforce to become responsive to the present challenges, and resilient to future crises.

The Stockholm +50 is a window of opportunity, and we should seize this opportunity, to reflect on how to bridge gaps, find consensus, keep ambition high, honor commitments, and act collectively to reach the future we want.

I thank you.

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