Synthesis report of the Forum of Local Authorities of Cotonou, Benin

The forum of local authorities: “Territorialization as a lever to accelerate the implementation of ndcs in Africa: the contribution of associations of african local authorities for the mobilization of african cities in favor of climate action.” 

Cotonou, February 27-28, 2020

The second Pre-COP 26 Forum was held in Cotonou, Benin from February 27-28, 2020, with an audience of 200 representatives of cities, local and regional authorities and African non-state actors under the theme, “The contribution of associations of African local authorities in the mobilization of African cities in favor of climate action.”

I – Context and objectives 

The climate emergency, announced by the Secretary General of the United Nations in September 2019 at the Climate summit, calls for greater creativity in the mobilization of key players, in particular local communities, and supporting the collective effort to close the gap in the last special report of the IPCC in relation to the adaptation and mitigation goals formulated by the Paris agreement.

With this prospect in mind, the Initiative of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), launched in November 2015 by the European Union (DEVCO Directorate General), constitutes an appropriate platform to strengthen the bottom-up approach and raise the energy and climate challenges in Africa. An increasing number of local authorities in Africa, who wish to join the CoM SSA initiative, now provides proof that it is appropriate to include local authorities in the process of the implementation of NDCs in Africa.

Within this context and on the eve of COP 26 in Glasgow, the holding of this 2nd forum in Cotonou, Benin, rightly considered as a leading country at the regional level in the commitment to face the challenges of the climate emergency, comes at a timely moment to provide an answer to the following questions: How can associations of local authorities in Africa mobilize cities to meet the challenges of the climate emergency and seize the opportunities that present themselves; and what must be done to achieve such a goal?     

The main objective of this forum is to: 

  • mobilize and formalize local climate action through the adhesion of all the municipalities of Benin to the initiative of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA); 
  • strengthen vertical coordination by signing a memorandum between the central and local levels;    
  • launch the accreditation of UCLG Africa with the Green Climate Fund and the adoption of a local government program for the implementation of NDCs in the WAEMU area.
  • II- The course of proceedings and the conclusions reached

    With the participation of more than 120 people, including 90 mayors representing the municipalities and cities of the WAEMU area in particular, the opening session was chaired by Mr. Abdoulaye BIO CHANE, Beninese Minister of State in charge of Planning and Development, in the presence of Mr. Alassane SEIDOU, Beninese Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance, Mr. Luc SETONDJI ATROKPO, President of the National Association of Municipalities of Benin (ANCB), Mr. Jean Pierre ELONG MBASSI, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mrs. Véronique JANSEN, Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union in Benin, and Mr. Bouri SANHOUIDI, Permanent Representative of UNDP in Benin.

    During the session, speeches emphasized the leadership of Benin, which is hosting the Forum of Local Authorities on the Climate Agenda for the second time. Speakers underlined the importance of this forum on the eve of the COP 26 and the role of local authorities in the implementation of actions to meet the challenges of climate emergency and seize the opportunities offered to them, particularly in terms of financing.

    At the end of the opening session, the President of the ANCB signed the accession on behalf of all the municipalities of Benin to the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa CoM SSA. To strengthen vertical coordination, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development, the ANCB and UCLG Africa on the territorialization of the NDCs and access to climate finance. These two signing ceremonies confirmed Benin’s desire to be at the forefront of the territorialization of the NDCs.

    To meet the goals of this forum, sessions were organized around five themes, namely: 

  • The governance framework:  Identifying governance tools and mechanisms that need to be developed in order to strengthen the role of African Local Authorities in the mobilization of African cities in favor of climate action that is aligned with national commitments.
  • The strategic framework: Identifying advocacy strategies to be put in place to position the National Association of Mayors as a key partner in the implementation of NDCs. 
  • The operational framework: Experiences to be shared as part of the implementation of tools and instruments strengthening the bottom-up approach (development of SEACAP process).
  • The financing framework: How to mobilize and further accelerate the financing of energy and climate plans at the territorial level. 
  • The cooperation framework: How to further structure cooperation around the implementation of NDCs in Africa.
  • The following recommendations resulted from these debates:

  • Improve the institutional and regulatory framework governing the decentralization process;
  • Ensure a multi-level governance framework that promotes the consistency of territorial climate action with national programs and NDCs;
  • Strengthen the bottom- up approach starting from the Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs), by taking advantage of the ongoing revision of the NDCs;
  • Support the accreditation of UCLG Africa by the countries of the WAEMU region with the Green Climate Fund; 
  • Strengthen the data collection, monitoring, reporting and verification framework for the implementation of the Climate agenda in our territories;
  • Subscribe to the establishment of a Readiness Africa program targeting local and regional governments with a view to initiating the transition to sustainable and resilient local development. 

    Photo Album of the forum of local authorities of Africa, Cotonou here

    Cotonou Declaration

    Forum of Municipal Elected Officials and Presidents of Local Governments Associations 
    Associations of Local Governments, Cities and Territories, key players in the implementation
    of the International Climate Agenda
    Cotonou, Benin, February 27-28, 2020

    We, Presidents of National Associations of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa gathered on February 27 and 28, 2020 in Cotonou with a view to structuring cooperation between communities within the framework of the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
    Conscious of the urgency of climate action at the local , national and global levels given the disastrous effects of extreme weather events on our cities and territories,
    Convinced of the need to make Climate Action everyone’s business, requiring in particular the awareness, involvement and contribution of all local actors mobilized around local and subnational elected officials ; 
    Alerted by the conclusions of the recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), who consider that the effective implementation of all the Contributions Determined at the National level by the States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will nevertheless lead to an increase in the temperature of the planet of the order of 3 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era if the current trend is maintained; 
    Taking into account that 2020 is the year of the start of the process of revision the Nationally Determined Contributions proposed by the States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in preparation for COP 26 in Glasgow ; 

    see declaration here
    see the video of the declaration here

    UCLG Africa President, Mr. Léandre Nzué visits the organization’s headquarters in Rabat

    On Wednesday 23 October, 2019, Mr. Léandre Nzué, Mayor of Libreville (Gabon) and President of UCLG Africa, made a working visit to the organization’s headquarters in Rabat (Morocco). President Nzué’s delegation was composed of Mr. Eric Joel Bekalé, diplomatic adviser to the Mayor of Libreville and Mr. Jean Bruno Mipinda, Adviser to the Mayor of Libreville. This was an opportunity for Mr. Nzué to exchange with the staff of the secretariat and lead a working session, to which he was welcomed by the Secretary General, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi.

    After a brief introduction made by Mr. Mbassi, the heads of departments presented the main ongoing projects and requested the support of the President for their success. President Léandre Nzue reassured all of his commitment to lead the advocacy on behalf of African local authorities at the national and international levels.  He was, then, invited by the African Local Governments Academy (ALGA) to support advocacy for the consideration of human capital capacity building at the local level.

    The Membership and External Relations Department presented the program on transparency and integrity at the local level and requested the President’s input to involve major African capitals in joining UCLG Africa and ministries as associate members. For the program management, the current major project is the establishment of the Africa Territorial Agency, which is a financial vehicle that will enable local authorities to have access to the financial market. The launch meeting of the AAT founding club is scheduled for 11 November, 2019 in Durban (South Africa), as part of the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders to be held from 11-15 November, 2019. The city of Libreville intends to be part of the member cities of the founding club.

    The Climate Task Force received an assurance from Mr. Nzué to take the concept of locally determined conditions (CDLs), initiated by African local authorities, into the negotiations for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In the direction of COP 25, a hearing with the Gabonese Head of State will be requested so that he can defend this concept to the States, Gabon being the next country to chair the African group in terms of negotiations.

    The Network of Locally Elected Women in Africa (REFELA requested the support of the Mayor of Libreville to raise awareness among national associations of local authorities to set up national chapters of REFELA.  To date, 24 countries have REFELA national chapters.

    The migration program and the African Capitals of Culture program were supported by the President. Libreville City Hall has been invited to sign the Charter of local and subnational governments of Africa on Migration.

    President Nzué also gave assurances concerning the headquarters of UCLG Africa’s Central Africa regional office, which will be located in the city of Libreville.

    Climate Chance Summit Africa 2019 Accra, Ghana, 16 – 18 October 2019 (DECLARATION)

    We, representatives of the African local and regional governments and non-state actors gathered in ACCRA at the 2nd African Climate Chance Summit, organized from 16 to 18 October 2019 under the Distinguished Patronage of His Excellency NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of the Republic of Ghana,

    and in the presence of His Excellency John KUFOUR, former President of the Republic of Ghana, Acknowledging that the Climate Chance Summit in Accra is the first major African climate event that took place after the UN Secretary General Climate Summit in September 2019 in New York that alerted on the climate emergency;

    Taking into account recent scientific reports (IPBES 7 – IPCC special report on climate change and Landuse – IPCC 1.5 report) that warned that life is from now on at risk on our Planet, in which environment, biodiversity and ecosystems are, more than ever, endangered by our collective incapacity to act and transform our model of development in order to protect and restore nature;

    Considering that in this global context, as a region of the world already home to nearly half of the earth’s human population below the age of 18, and that will become the most populated region of the world before the end of the 21st century. Being also the continent least embedded in the fossil energy dependent economy, Africa has the responsibility to pave the way to the transition towards low carbon economy;

    Highlighting the fact that Africa is the region of the world with the lowest access to energy and the least equipped to face extreme climate events brought about by climate change;

    Recognizing that the full implementation of the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) subscribed for the implementation of the Paris Agreement will not be sufficient to close the ‘ambition gap’ to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrialization era;

    Conscious of the fact that the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities and other sub national governments, and that this battle will certainly not be won if climate action does not become everybody’s business at all levels of government as quickly as possible;

    Given the efforts that Ghana has put to champion the sustainable development goals and the climate agenda in Africa and the world over, which lead to the appointment of the President of the Republic of Ghana as Co-Chair of SDGs Advocates;

    Read more here

    Rooting Climate Action at the Local Level

    25th September, Bilateral Meetings, UCLG Africa – New York.

    United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) played host to several bilateral meetings as part of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, starting with a High Level Side Event that paved the way for several meetings with African ministers throughout the week.
    After the signing of an MoU between UCLG Africa’s Climate Task Force and The West African Development Bank, the Vice President of UCLG Africa for the North Africa Region, Dr Mohamed Boudra, stated in his introductory remarks that, “the fight against climate change will be lost or won in cities and territories.” This was echoed by many of the cities and regional governments, partners and networks throughout the week.
    The MOU sets out the main objectives of each partner which includes

    For UCLG Africa
    – Promoting decentralization where sub national and local governments are legally recognised with financial autonomy
    – Enhancing the capacity of local government so that they are able to provide better and more resilient services to the population, that drives climate action from the grassroots up
    and for the West African Development Bank
    – To contribute to the economic development by financing priority projects for rural development, the environment and basic infrastructure that complements the objectives of climate action and reducing global temperature rises.

    UCLG Africa’s Climate Task Force is part of a wider family, known as the Global Task Force, that showcases the ways in which local governments are leading from the bottom-up. It is these members, made up of local and regional governments, that have been able to create the only UN non-state stakeholder mechanism to develop and coordinate inputs into policy.
    The High Level Meeting heard commitments from the West African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank to fund bankable projects from local governments. Anthony Okon Nyong, Director of Climate Change and Green Growth from the African Development Bank, stated, “we will address challenges and make sure local governments and sub-national entities have access to climate finance.”

    The UN Climate Action Summit had expectations of more concrete promises from countries around the world. Africa needs to take bold and ambitious steps to implement climate action. It is these actions which need to be localised and which can only be realised with access to climate finance.
    The signing of the MOU marks the beginning of the process to support sub national and local governments engage in the vertical integration of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs). This will be followed by the development of bankable African solutions that seriously address our climate challenges and can impact on the targets set out by climate experts in a concrete and tangible way.

    One of the innovations includes a contractual process between the national government and local and regional governments for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This represents a significant step forward in monitoring the implementation of the NDCs compared to the simple “shame and blame” procedure adopted in the Paris Agreement in the event of non-compliance by any state party with the commitments it has undertaken, as pointed out by the UCLG Africa Secretary General. It has now been largely accepted that better involvement of local and regional governments in climate action is essential to win this race and in this respect, it has been proposed that this revision start with the (LDCs). Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa states that, “This bottom-up approach is likely to promote greater ownership and harmonization of the climate agenda at all levels of governance.”

    Meeting with countries from across Africa will continue throughout the year and UCLG Africa will advocate for starting the revision of NDCs with the elaboration of LDCs. The next steps for UCLG Africa and partners include the Conference of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub Saharan Africa CoM SSA, featuring at the Climate Chance Summit – Africa 2019, in Accra, Ghana from the 16th – 18th October. This will showcase the work being done with cities and local and regional governments as key stakeholders in climate action. The Summit in Accra will look at the foundations of a bottom up approach that has been built to fight against climate change and will also look at lessons learned from the CoM SSA pilot, we will also address the role of non-state actors within the climate ecosystem and the importance of national associations of local and regional governments as implementing partners for all climate finance mechanisms and institutions including the GEF, the Adaptation Facility and the Green Climate Fund.

    For more information:

    Contact: Em Ekong – +44 7801 701 675/+233 509 333 000,

    Registration for Climate Chance Summit – Africa 2019

    The first Climate Chance Summit – Africa in 2018 gathered the actors around operational road maps, to prepare the specific messages of the African continent, to show engagement, and to specify the demands and proposals of the local actors who are fighting against climate change in Africa. The African position was presented during different international climate events, notably during the Global Climate Action Summit in California, as well as it has contributed to the Talanoa Dialogue in COP24.

    The second edition of the Climate Chance Summit – Africa in 2019 will insure the continuity of the first edition et will be spread on three days. For a second time, it will gather the subnational governments and climate non-state actors in Africa, eventually proposing a call for proposals that will reinforce the African sectoral coalitions hosted and supported by Climate Chance and that will feed our cartography of actions in Africa. It will also allow to work more thoroughly on the sectoral and operational roadmaps that were established in June 2018 in Abidjan and to reinforce the adopted engagements.

    Local governments, busineses, NGOs, trade unions, scientists, representatives from agricultural, youth, women and indigenous organisations, citizens, are invited to take part in the Climate Chance Africa Summit 2019 to show the progress of their actions across Africa, to deepen the analysis of successes and difficulties, to promote the pooling of experiences and innovations, to point out solutions for a more significant scale and highlight the opportunities for new initiatives emerging from climate action in the African continent. By promoting these exchanges between stakeholders from different families, this resolutely action-oriented summit will make it possible to:

    • Stimulate the operational mobilization of non-state actors that must accelerate the implementation of the commitments made by States at COP21.
    • Consolidate the dynamics of cooperation between non-state actors who are still working in isolation.
    • Dialogue between non-state actors that have an international influence with actors more focused on their local issues in Africa to allow an adequate articulation between local issues and global issues.

    Register for free here

    4 formats

    • Plenary sessions with key people from the climate action in Africa.
    • Workshops of the African Coalitions, reinforced by a call for contributions, to work on the advancement and the development of the sectoral and thematic African road maps (energy, mobility, agriculture, adaptation and water, access to finance, urban planning, circular economy etc.)
    • Focus sessions to follow-up on the important initiatives in Africa.
    • Side-Events dedicated to the activites of our partners : CoMSSA, UCLG Africa, IFDD, etc.

    9 themes

    • Access to climate finance in Africa
    • Developing African cities in a sustainable way
    • Agriculture, food and reforestation in Africa
    • Renewable energy and energy efficiency in Africa
    • Mobility and sustainable transport in Africa
    • Adaptation and Water in Africa
    • Sustainable Building and Construction in Africa
    • Education and Training on Climate Change in Africa
    • Circular economy in Africa

    Organisation of the themed workshops

    These workshops will be the occasion to gather the subnational and non-state actors in their diversity in order to :

    • Present 2 or 3 good inspiring practices from the call for proposals launched during the Africa Climate Week.
    • Do the follow-up (evaluation after a year) on the sectoral road maps that were defined during the first edition of the Climate Chance Summit Africa 2018

    Each workshop should lead collectively to the development of the sectoral and operational roadmaps, that are meant to create a favorable environment to action, to spread the strategic information and to reinforce the climate action in Africa. It would be thus important to take stock at the defined objectives in each road map, and at the indicators of the action’s advancement, etc

    Abidjan Declaration : 1st Structured Dialogue “For the Territorialization of NDCs And Access to Climate Finance for African Cities and local Governments”

    We UCLG Africa Climate Task Force:

    1. Express our deep concern over the findings in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1,5°C (SR1.5), unequivocally confirming, that current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not sufficient to meet the long-term climate goals of the Paris Agreement;

    2. The recently published IPBES 7 report also assesses the state of the environment and the Planet from a biodiversity and ecosystem perspective and indicates very clearly that the health and integrity of ecosystems which all life on the planet depend on, is deteriorating more rapidly than ever and this deterioration and the unprecedented pace of species extinction is human-induced. It states that climate action needs to be accelerated in harmony with transformative action to protect and restore nature. We hereby recognize the inextricable linkages between biodiversity and climate change and commit to, and call for urgent climate action in, and for, Africa that will simultaneously end the deterioration of, and restore, our ecosystems and turn around the loss of biodiversity. We are deeply concerned about the loss of biodiversity accelerated by climate change as we recognize the direct impact affect this has on our livelihoods, our culture, health, wellbeing, economy and the sustainability of infrastructure, also along our coastlines;

    3. The Paris Agreement invited all Parties to engage in the revision process of the NDCs by 2020 with the first global stock take due to take place in 2023. By then, the multilateral process must be able to conclude that aggregate efforts by Parties and non‐Party stakeholders, including local and other subnational governments, will be on track to
    limiting global warming to 1.5°C;

    4. The Katowice climate package, has enabled the Climate Taskforce to provide a set of guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, covering the transparency framework, global balance sheet, NDC accounting, adaptation, financial goals and more. In addition, it endorses the Talanoa Call for Action presented at COP24;

    5. It is essential for all African countries to ensure alignment of the NDCs with national development policies, and to ensure the appropriate mobilization of resources, for both national, subnational and local levels of government, allowing for the acceleration of implementation on the ground;

    6. We note the resolution taken by the African Committee of Heads of State on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) in its meeting on the 9 February 2019 that encourages the implementation of the NDCs at the local level, and which mentions UCLG Africa among the leading institutions to support the development of “Locally Determined Contributions”

    7. The Climate Task Force invites all parties to the Paris agreement to present their progress and ambitions at the UN Climate Summit in 2019 and sees it as an important opportunity to foster the implementation of the Paris Agreement goals;

    We reaffirm the following:

    1. African subnational and local governments and their networks should from now on be recognized as critical partners to better support national government efforts to enhance the ambition and accelerate the implementation of the NDCs;

    Read More.


    UCLG Africa’s Climate Task Force Cements Partnerships at Africa Climate Week

    ACCRA, Ghana. 18 March marked the start of structured dialogue around Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at Africa Climate Week hosted by the Ghana Government. Delegates from all over the world gathered in Accra to, “discuss climate change actions and to strengthen stakeholders’ engagement in key sectors including energy, agriculture and human settlements. This very important event highlights Africa’s commitment to the implementation of NDCs in the lead up to the United Nations Summit for Climate in New York later in the year. The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLG Africa) Climate Task Force are playing a critical role during Africa Climate Week where UNFCCC asked the Task Force to co-ordinate and lead on Policy Block 2 promoting Cities and Local Action. In this context the structure is a perfect platform of exchange on the common challenges and opportunities faced by all African stakeholders. Building strong strategic partnerships is at the heart of The Climate Task Force, that also hosts the Covenant of Mayors for Sub Sahara Africa’s (CoM SSA) ‘Help Desk’ based in UCLG Africa’s Regional Office in Accra. With the recent appointment of the Mayor of Accra on to the Executive Board of the Global Covenant of Mayors, Africa Climate Week provides a great opportunity to cement Accra as a strategic climate hub and bring cities and local governments into the process of the Paris Agreement.

    Day 2 – Tuesday, 19 March saw the launch of a new strategic partnership agreement between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability-Africa (ICLEI Africa), and United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), where they cemented their partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement at the ‘Pitch Hub’, during the United Nations Climate Week in Accra, Ghana. The Memorandum of Agreement strengthens an existing collaboration to accelerate the implementation of global and African development goals at subnational level in Africa. This new partnership is fundamental within the Framework of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force and brings together all interested parties to strengthen and empower subnational and local governments to play a key role in the climate change and sustainability agenda. UCLG Africa providing political advocacy and the voice of Local Africa which is backed by the technical support of ICLEI – Africa.

    The collaboration between ICLEI Africa and UCLG Africa will come on the heels of a side event at the Climate Week, led by the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force, to facilitate an agreement between states and local authorities for the territorialization of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). On Thursday 21st March in Committee Room 1 a session, led by the Secretary General Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, will facilitate a roundtable discussion and a Davos style structured dialogue with Ministers and Mayors including the Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister For Local Government & Rural Development of GHANA; and Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra. Partners, CoM SSA and ICLEI Africa, will illustrate how African Mayors can properly understand their roles and responsibilities in taking action on climate change issues, as well as how to access technical support for the development of climate actions at a local level. Such robust partnerships within countries and internationally also provides a mechanism for stakeholders to share experiences and data on climate change issues and action in Africa. This session will be Followed by a Press Briefing on Cities and Local Action at 13.30 – 14.00 with the Secretary General, UCLG Africa Mr Elong-Mbassi, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Mayor of Accra, in Committee Room 1.

    This bold step to deepen the existing partnership between UCLG Africa and ICLEI Africa, in further support of local action to implement the NDCs, strongly resonates with the strategy and mandate of the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa that provides much needed access to practical support for cities across the continent.

    Media Contacts:

    For further information, please contact:

    Em Ekong:

    United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa)

    Tel: + 44 7801 701 675 or +233 50 933 3000


    Click here to download the Press Release