Report on the Webinar on “The challenges of financing local climate action: what perspectives for CoM SSA signatory cities? CoM SSA Day at the Climate Chance Africa 2021 Summit

15 September 2021 from 09:00 to 10:30 am UTC


The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the need to reexamine the place of local authorities in the state's decision-making process and the urgency of a real paradigm shift in order to make communities and territories more resilient to future shocks. Indeed, local authorities, which by virtue of their strength, their anchorage and their proximity to the population, are called upon to play an essential role in the implementation of economic recovery plans that must be aligned with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as recommended by various bodies.

In this perspective, the efforts undertaken in this sense within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), an initiative launched by the European Union in November 2015 to support and sustain the efforts made by local authorities in the implementation of sustainable energy and climate policies, has made it possible to accompany the signatory cities of the Covenant in the elaboration of their Climate Plan and to identify a set of projects requiring financing for their implementation

The year 2021 is a year of truth for the climate, insofar as it has been marked by several actions highlighting the Marrakech partnership for action, notably through the mobilisation of climate finance and the consideration of the efforts of local and regional authorities to contribute to increasing ambition and strengthening resilience.

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UCLG Africa in partnership with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) organised, on 15 September 2021, in the margins of the Climate Chance Summit in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) day, a session under the theme « The challenges of financing local climate action: what perspectives for CoM SSA signatory cities ? ».

The webinar, moderated by Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, was attended by representatives of regional and local institutions, financial organisations and mayors of municipalities.

In her opening speech, Ms Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar, outlined that the urgent need today is to make territories more resilient to future shocks. The COVID 19 crisis has highlighted the need to reexamine the place of local authorities in the decision-making systems of States. Indeed, because of their strength, their anchorage and their proximity, they are called upon to play an essential role. Today the world is facing great hopes, in particular to put an end to the covid-19 pandemic. According to the Mayor, it is necessary to improve the mechanisms for accessing climate change financing. Without appropriate funding, local governments cannot develop large-scale projects and programmes and participate effectively in NDCs. To make local government contributions more effective, the challenges of accessing climate finance must be removed. Local governments are not so autonomous in accessing funding, quite often they have to go through the state and this makes it difficult for them. It is true that financing exists, but access to this financing for local authorities remains delicate.

According to the mayor, the cities must know the sources of financing, the access modalities, the eligibility criteria, the support of the State for the preparation of a good financing file, the understanding of the financing measures, the types of eligible projects, the anchoring structures but also the best way to fill in the forms. Therefore, the capacity of internal and external actors in cities on the opportunities offered by climate finance needs to be strengthened. In the framework of COM SSA, the city of Dakar has developed a territorial climate and energy plan with EU funding. This climate plan has enabled the city of Dakar to identify courses of action in the field of GHG mitigation, adaptation and reduction of the vulnerability of territories to climate change.

Ms Irène Mingasson, EU Ambassador to Senegal, underlined that the EU has put climate challenges at the heart of the partnership through the Green Pact for Europe in favour of climate, biodiversity and the environment, and it is widely observed that it is at the local level that people’s commitment is realised. This is why the European Union has been supporting the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) for the past 5 years, an initiative set up to support territories in the implementation of their territorial climate plans in order to encourage them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

European Union aims to stop GHG emissions by 2050, decouple economic growth from resource use. By 2027, the European Commission will devote at least 25% of its budget to climate and environment. This approach also guides the EU’s post-Covid strategy to be resilient, sustainable and equitable. Together with the European Investment Bank (EIB), 27 EU countries are also making strong commitments to reduce GHG emissions and preserve the environment. Since 2015, the EU has been running projects in Dakar and Pikine that have produced territorial climate and energy plans and a range of pilot projects, the common thread of which remains information and awareness-raising. In Dakar, more than 50 discussion groups bringing together more than 500 community actors from 19 communes of the city, i.e. 1 million people from Dakar, have been made aware of climate issues. In the city of Pikine, more than 20 local committees were set up in each of the twenty communes of the agglomeration, mobilising more than 1,000 community actors who took local action. These projects have made it possible to prepare for future large-scale investments, which are very convincing for the donors. Two projects have been launched in this sense, one financed by the Spanish cooperation and the other by the European Union. Other investments are also envisaged on the basis of the plans developed under COM SSA, in particular for the implementation of NDCs at local level. “The European Union will continue to provide support to local authorities,” concluded the EU Ambassador to Senegal.

According to Mr. Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR, everyone recognises today that the commitment of cities and territories is a key condition to fight climate change. However, the capacity given to cities to invest for the climate, to find financing, to have access to climate finance remains insufficient. He stressed the EU’s commitment to supporting cities in their fight against climate change for many years. For Mr Vallier, successful pilot projects must be generalised, but he called for the invention of a new development model led by all stakeholders, which would guarantee prosperity for citizens and be more sober than the model used in the past, whether in Europe, America or Asia. Mr Vallier added that “if we manage to mobilise as much money as possible to fight against covid 19 and its economic consequences in climate action, we will be able to take a big step in the fight against climate change. That life on the planet can only be preserved if we all act now”.

Ms Yaou Méry, representing the Togolese Ministry of the Environment, highlighted the problem of local authorities’ inaccessibility to funding. She then spoke about the regional Readiness programme which focuses on the implementation of climate action. The primary objective of Readiness, which focuses on strengthening the institutional capacities of local authorities in the UEMOA region, is to help UEMOA member states mobilise resources from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to finance adaptation and mitigation measures by local authorities and also to contribute to the territorialisation of NDCs. This objective is broken down into 3 specific objectives:

– Build the capacity of local institutions in the UEMOA zone to better understand the issue of climate change through technical assistance and training workshops,

– Promote access to climate finance at the local level,

– Strengthen local cooperation in the fight against climate change.

According to Mr. Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Ba, Managing Director of CDC Senegal, his institution has, through the legislative mechanism, invested in actions of general interest such as the financing of territorial development, the financing of payment, housing and strategic projects defined by the State, it is a companion of public policies, the CDC finances public policy projects, especially for local authorities. The CDC in Senegal is currently finalising a strategy to support local authorities in their expertise and financing.

According to Mr Seyni Nafo, “Climate finance is the engine, it is important at all levels, national and local. By 2030 we need 3,000 billion dollars for all actions to be carried out at all levels in Africa” that it has taken a long time for the international level to take into account that successful projects can only be implemented at the local and territorial level. The challenges to be taken up for the granting of financing are: the alignment and integration of territorial climate plans in the NDCs; the mutualisation of the climate plans of the local authorities to reach a critical volume and the identification of financial institutions capable of supporting these plans.

Ms. Kobie Brand, recalled that funding for climate action at the local level is not enough, that much more support and a common agenda are needed to achieve resilience and align climate change targets. The hazards of climate change are felt at the city level, and must be addressed at the city level. Ms Brand added that good practice must be capitalised on. She informed about ICLEI Africa’s support to local governments to fight climate change. “260 municipalities are supported in project conceptualisation and feasibility studies before moving on to the next steps”.

To conclude, Mr Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG-Africa « calls for the voice of local authorities to be heard in Glasgow at COP26 and for decentralised cooperation to be better financed, in particular through a better pooling of efforts between local authorities. »