Second Forum of Local Authorities: “From commitment to the implementation of adaptation and resilience measures “

On March 06, 2023, UCLG Africa organized the 2nd Forum of Local Authorities in Abidjan, in partnership with the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), UCLG World, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Union of Cities and Communes of Côte d’Ivoire (UVICOCI), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the West African Development Bank (BOAD).

The forum saw the participation of members of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, and about sixty mayors representing African cities and municipalities, as well as partners in the organization of the event.

The meeting served as a platform to discuss the different approaches used for multi-level governance with a view to strengthening the process of territorialization of NDCs. This forum was also an opportunity to initiate and structure the implementation framework for the projects initiated at COP27, namely: “The assessment of climate risks and the establishment of a territorial resilience plan in partnership with GCA and the “Elimination of Open Burning of Waste in Africa”, both projects being jointly piloted with the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

The opening session of the forum was devoted to the multi-level governance framework and the second part of the work concerned the implementation framework for two key themes, namely climate risk management and sustainable waste management.

The high-level opening session was held under the theme “Structured Dialogue for Multilevel Governance in Africa”. This session moderated by Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, saw the participation of H.E. Mr. Claude Paulin Danho, Minister of Sports, and President of the Union of Cities and Communes of Côte d’Ivoire (UVICOCI), who officially opened the Forum by welcoming on behalf of UVICOCI and all the municipalities of Côte d’Ivoire and wishing full success to its proceedings. The Minister highlighted the importance of this Forum in the process of territorialization of NDCs and the relevance of the key themes on the program.

For his part, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa pointed out that at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, it was agreed that Africa’s climate agenda is that of adaptation and this forum is part of the process of building a common position for Africa for COP28. The Secretary General highlighted the achievements concerning the adoption of a Fund relating to Loss and Damage and said that it is urgent to prepare the local authorities which are the first impacted, in order for these authorities to be equipped with resilience and adaptation plans. The voice of local authorities must be heard and respected, because they are legitimate partners in the implementation of the climate agenda. Côte d’Ivoire, by hosting this second forum of mayors, thus demonstrates its ambition to be one of the torchbearers of adaptation at the local level. Mr. Elong Mbassi also recalled the significant breakthrough of local authorities in terms of adaptation through the recognition by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) of the essential role of local governments in taking care of adaptation measures. In this regard, it was decided during the 18th meeting of AMCEN to house the African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) Technical Support Unit within the North Africa Regional Office (NARO) of UCLG Africa in Cairo. It is therefore a question of bringing this dynamic to the COP28 in Dubai, in order to integrate within the work of the Summit a forum of local authorities in the agenda of the climate conference. The Secretary General of UCLG Africa concluded that during the United States – Africa Forum in December 2022, UCLG Africa advocated for the establishment of a facility dedicated to local authorities to deal with climate disasters.

In his talk, the representative of the Minister of the Environment highlighted the governance model practiced at the country level and which combines bottom-up and top-down approaches which was adopted as part of the review of the Nationally Determined Contribution, which has made it possible to increase ambition and build resilience.

The representative of Kenya indicated for his part that the concrete experience of decent housing projects in informal settlements has shown that multi-level and multi-actor governance makes it possible to put in place innovative solutions in housing planning and development that can improve the well-being of populations.

For UNEP, and in order to strengthen this multi-level governance at the African level, local authorities must be present where joint decisions on the environment are taken, i.e. at AMCEN level. UCLG Africa was recognized by the Ministerial Conference as the partner for the implementation of AMCEN’s decisions at the local level. UCLG Africa will have to play a key role in the operationalization of environmental decisions in the continent.

Mr. Antony Nyong, Director, in charge of Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank (AfDB), speaking on behalf of the President of the African Development Bank, expressed his readiness to support UCLG Africa in the effort to localize the NDCs and also expressed his readiness to register UCLG Africa as a key actor in the implementation framework of the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).

In conclusion of this panel, the participants recognized that:

  • Adaptation to climate change and the management of climate risks and disasters can only be done according to a multilevel and multi-actor approach, by establishing consistency between national and territorial planning, and by involving the private sector and civil society ;
  • Based on the decision of AMCEN of making UCLG Africa an implementation platform, all the actors present confirmed their commitment to contribute to the operationalization of this platform.

Session 1: Planning and development for inclusive and climate-resilient cities

This session moderated by the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, recalled the strategic points of the partnership framework between GCA and UCLG Africa. This action-oriented partnership aims to provide cities with an approach to assess climate risks. This partnership will be backed by a territorial plan and a climate resilience roadmap.

Indeed, GCA and UCLG Africa entered into a partnership protocol in November 2021 to accelerate adaptation measures and strengthen resilience measures in African cities. To operationalize this framework, UCLG Africa and GCA signed during COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, a funding agreement of 1 million euros to develop pilot projects for climate risk management and for the development of Territorial Climate Resilience Plans (PCRPs) based on the best available scientific knowledge on climate, and based on Rapid Climate Risk Assessments (RCRA) with a view to identifying and prioritizing climate threats and solutions.

In his talk, Mr. Manuel de Araujo, Mayor of Quelimane in Mozambique, recalled that though Africa represents only 3 to 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it suffers the consequences of climate change in a disproportionate way at the level of cities and territories. The city of Quelimane is an example of this. Being located below sea level, and due to its vulnerability, it suffers from the devastating effects of cyclones and floods. It is therefore urgent at the level of African cities to propose concrete solutions to accelerate adaptation to climate change. To this end, the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) offers tools for profiling and assessing climate risks and proposes solutions via territorial resilience plans. These plans structured around priority actions are then linked to a financing framework aiming at having cities move from planning to implementation.

The Mayor of Quelimane recalled in his talk the importance of developing and strengthening peer learning mechanisms, particularly in the development of territorial climate resilience plans, as indicated by Mrs. Anju Sharma of GCA.

In this regard, it is necessary to take advantage of the experience already initiated within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoMSSA), an initiative set up by the European Union.

During their speeches, the President of the Association of Mayors of Togo, Ms. Yawa Kouigan, and the President of the Association of Mayors of Congo and Mayor of Brazzaville, Mr. Dieudonné Bantsimba, highlighted the vulnerability of their municipalities and indicated that efforts should be made to integrate local governments into climate planning and the development of the defined contributions. These cities are also pioneers in the implementation of disaster risk management actions at the local level, and in the fight against deforestation and erosion.

The representative of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire indicated for his part that 22 billion US dollars have been budgeted for adaptation and mitigation at the national level. At the local level, Agendas 21 will be drawn up in local authorities, as well as risk and disaster management plans. Côte d’Ivoire plans to create a climate agency, which will also support Local Governments in setting up their climate and risk and disaster management plans. In terms of financial mobilization for adaptation and resilience, it is imperative to adopt innovative financing tools such as the carbon market, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the Global Environment Fund, and the Adaptation Fund.

In conclusion of this panel, the participants recognized that:

  • The rapid assessment of climate risks, leading to the development of territorial resilience plans, is a necessary tool for planning and coping with climate risks and disasters;
  • Local authorities need to see their capacities strengthened in order to structure the various actions of resilience and the fight against disasters and climate change;
  • Local governments must be supported in the implementation of territorial climate resilience plans, because they do not always have technical and financial resources;
  • Territorial climate resilience plans must be an integral part of local development planning. The environment/climate aspect of these development plans can thus be strengthened.
  • The funding of actions or plans is a central element that will make it possible to move from planning to implementation. In this context, local governments advocate for direct access to the various windows and mechanisms of climate funding;
  • Climate planning is different depending on the country, and even depending on the cities and territories in the same country;
  • The principle of peer learning is necessary to exchange best practices in terms of risk and disaster management.
  • Adherence of all municipalities to the program of GCA and UCLG Africa on climate risk management.

In addition, participants called for:

  • The encouragement of financial subsidiarity, in order to make available to local authorities, who are the closest authorities to the populations, the resources necessary to fund public action in terms of resilience and management of climate risks and disasters, including during the implementation of establishment of regulatory frameworks for carbon market transactions;
  • Setting up a facility to intervene directly with local authorities in the event of climate disasters;
  • Giving local authorities direct access to the Green Climate Fund and to the Adaptation Fund;
  • Setting up a peer learning platform, so that best practices in terms of resilience and climate risk management, and in particular in terms of rapid climate risk assessment and territorial climate resilience plans, are exchanged and shared ;
  • Initiating pilot projects for rapid climate risk assessment and climate resilience planning at the territorial level, and sharing successes and lessons learned with other local authorities in Africa;
  • The pooling of the efforts of local authorities when possible, to initiate within the framework of inter-municipal cooperation, rapid assessments of climate risks and disasters and to plan resilience actions.

Session 2: Sustainable waste management

The session was devoted to setting up and strengthening the governance framework of the “Multi-Stakeholder Partnership for the Elimination of Open Burning of Waste in Africa”, and devoted also to the adoption of an action plan.

Mr. Elong Mbassi as moderator recalled the mandate given to UCLG Africa to deal with the problem of burning waste in the open air. Indeed, open burning of waste constitutes a major challenge insofar as it produces carbon which has a harmful impact on the environment and whose emissions represent between 2 and 10% of the global balance in terms of CO2. As was recalled at COP27, better waste management is a necessary for decoupling growth and pressure on resources. This priority issue, which is part of the process of implementing the national climate goals of African countries, requires the development of recycling among other solutions, which is a particularly effective lever for drastically reducing pollution and laying the foundations for a resilient circular economy within African local communities, a lever which could translate into multiple economic, social, and environmental benefits. The implementation of this circular economy calls for the implementation of urgent and innovative solutions for sustainable waste management.

Opening the session, Mr. Mohamed Atani, acting Head of UNEP’s Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, specified that it was necessary to operationalize this initiative by strengthening its governance framework and by initiating a roadmap for its implementation in accordance with the decision taken at the 18th Conference of Ministers in Dakar.

Waste management is a challenge affecting natural resources in Africa. It is important to turn these challenges into opportunities. It is therefore necessary to think about what can be done to combat open burning of waste in Africa, and also to think about what solutions can be considered to transform these problems into action.

In her introductory presentation, Ms. Andriannah Mbandi, United Nations Climate Change Champion (UNHCL), mentioned waste burning as a common problem in Africa. This situation is widespread due to: (i)    Multiple failures and lack of waste management infrastructure;(ii)  Lack of public awareness;(iii)                  Lack of reliable data on the quantities and nature of waste;(iv) Weak legal framework and inadequate governance frameworks for waste management. Thus, addressing these challenges would require actions at the following key levels of intervention, in an integrated manner: o   From the attitudinal point of view : changing the mentality of the general public and of political decision-makers on waste management and the harmful effects of burning waste in the open air ;o   From the institutional point of view : application of the contextual regulations prohibiting the dumping and incineration of waste in the open air and introduction of economic instruments encouraging the reduction of waste and its use as a secondary resource (circularity) ;o   From the infrastructural point of view : establishment of a set of efficient infrastructures with distributed networks which are based on the principles of integrated waste management ;o   From an operational point of view : implementation of the operational and technical skills necessary for the implementation of an integrated waste management hierarchy

It should be clarified that while the integrated implementation of the interventions proposed in the above four pillars is important, all interventions should be designed and implemented within the context of achieving across-the-board  systemic transformation of the consumption and production system. Promoting a circular economy through effective promotion of the reuse of waste as secondary resources would be an important vehicle for this transformation.

Thus, the governance framework of the initiative to eliminate open burning of waste in Africa is made up of various national and sub-national actors as shown in the diagram below.


The exchanges generated by this introductory presentation highlighted the fact that in Africa there is a lack of legal and regulatory framework for waste management. Furthermore, the responsibility of Local Governments remains very limited in most cases, as is the case in particular in Benin and Côte d’Ivoire, which have transferred waste management prerogatives to national companies or agencies created for this purpose.

At the end of this debate, all the Mayors and Presidents of Associations of local governments present pledged to be part of this initiative so that the “zero burning of waste” goal becomes a reality on the ground. The Mayors and Presidents of Associations of local authorities advocated, moreover, for an effective involvement of Local Authorities in waste management with accompanying measures in terms of capacity building, qualified human resources,  and financial resources.

In this context, a roadmap has been adopted, punctuated by the following key stages:

At the end of the session, the participants:

  • Validated and adhered to the Governance Framework of the Multi-Stakeholder Partnership for the Elimination of Open Burning of Waste in Africa.
  • Noted that the framework for collaboration, operation, and integration of the platform remains to be specified;
  • Gave instructions for an action plan to be drafted and to be worked on before the next meetings;
  • Raised the need to work in the future in synergy with the various framework conventions working on the issue of waste (and on environmental and climate issues in general), in order to make gains in terms of effectiveness and efficiency ;
  • Selected the year 2040 as the timeline for the elimination of open burning of waste in Africa while integrating as an intermediate stage the year 2030 which is the final year planned for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals ;
  • Recognized that local authorities must be trained: (i) in setting up bankable projects ; (ii) in setting up decision support tools, in order to have data on the characterization of waste and tools reporting and monitoring, allowing better traceability in the use of resources ; (iii) in the search for other funding mechanisms apart from those existing (Green Fund, Adaptation Fund) and other guarantee mechanisms.