At the COP28 U.N. climate summit in Dubai, Henry David Bayoh, a student from Sierra Leone, stressed the need for communities to become more resilient and protect their livelihoods.
Bayoh underlined the struggles of farmers facing higher temperatures and urban areas like his hometown, Freetown’s low-lying Aberdeen community, suffering from rising sea levels, beach erosion, and flash floods.
He advocated for increased funding for community-led adaptation initiatives, such as those he supports through his work with the Irish aid agency Trocaire, which promotes nature-friendly farming methods.
Bayoh emphasized the existential threat of climate change and the urgency of adaptation efforts. Similarly, representatives from other vulnerable countries at COP28 are urging negotiators to define and fund a global adaptation goal, as established in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Zambia’s green economy and environment minister, Collins Nzovu, stressed at the summit that adaptation is crucial for Africa’s survival amid escalating weather extremes due to climate change. He called for new, predictable finance to aid African nations in their adaptation efforts.
However, discussions in Dubai regarding the adaptation goal have hit a snag over financial commitments. Developing nations are pressing wealthy countries to clarify how they will fulfill their promise to double adaptation finance by 2025 from 2019’s $20 billion.
As per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, adaptation finance in 2021 was just under $25 billion, a 14% decrease from 2020.
Rich countries have pledged about $170 million to the U.N.’s Adaptation Fund at COP28, falling short of the $300 million target for the year. This gap in adaptation funding could increase the demand for disaster aid or funds from the newly established “loss and damage” fund at the climate summit.
Mohamed Adow, director of Kenya-based think-tank Power Shift Africa, warned of a potential humanitarian crisis if adaptation funding doesn’t keep pace with rising emissions.
He noted that donor countries have been resistant to including more ambitious language on adaptation finance in the summit’s discussions.
Despite these challenges, development experts welcomed the set of resilience-building targets by 2030 in areas like water supply, agriculture, and health.
Claire Seaward from WaterAid emphasized the importance of access to clean water and sanitation in building community resilience, calling for stronger targets and accountability.
COP28 has become the largest UN climate summit to date, boasting an impressive registration of 80,000 participants.
Within this vast gathering, around 23,500 individuals represent official government teams, while an additional 27,208 include policy experts, academics, representatives from professional organizations, and senior executives from major oil companies.