African negotiators at COP28 climate talks say developed countries is all talk and no action


December 11, 2023

Negotiators from African countries at COP28 are concerned about the slow pace of negotiations, especially on finance and adaptation, driven by the Western countries.

“We note a historic and positive start to this conference where the Loss and Damage Fund was operationalized and initial financial commitments worth millions of dollars made within minutes, but we are concerned about the lack of progress on various issues of importance to our group, particularly on finance and adaptation,” said Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s Minister for Green Economy and Environment, at a press conference by Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN).

“We reiterate that adaptation is a key priority for Africa and a critical component in the implementation of the Paris Agreement,” said the minister on behalf of Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, the AGN chair. “Adaptation is a matter of survival for us in Africa.”

This comes after different groups attending COP28  expressed their dissatisfaction with the pledges made by the developed nations for adaptation finance at the negotiations, terming them as ‘well below what is needed.’

Must commit substantially more money’

“Pledges on finance to support countries to adapt to climate change are barely half of what they should be, and there’s concern that some of these funds could be pledges to the new Loss and Damage Fund that are being double-counted,” said Ebony Holland, Policy Lead for Nature and Climate for the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

“Leaders at COP28 must commit substantially more money in the form of grants, not loans, to support vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” Holland said in a statement released to the press during the first week of the negotiations.

Last month, the UN Environment Programme published its Adaptation Gap Report, which revealed the scale of the problem –  a widening gap between the adaptation needs of vulnerable countries and the funding made available.

The report has revealed that the gap is 50 percent larger than previously thought and that the adaptation needs are now ten to 18 times as great as the flows of international public finance.

“We wish to agree with the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who said: ‘Lives and livelihoods are being lost and destroyed, with the vulnerable suffering the most. We are in an adaptation emergency. We must act like it. And take steps to close the adaptation gap,'” said Nzovu.

Another team that has expressed concerns about the slow pace of negotiations is the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), representing 37 African networks and organizations with a constituency of 200 million smallholder farmers in Africa.

Climate action in agriculture and food security

“We acknowledge the initial positive steps made at COP28, but as we enter the decision-making phase, we express our profound disappointment and concern regarding the stalled negotiations on the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on the implementation of climate action in agriculture and food security,” said Kirubel Teshome of AFSA.

The four-year Sharm El-Sheik Joint Work (SSJW) on implementation of agriculture and food security (SSJW) was adopted at COP27, taking off from the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), which was established in 2017 at COP23 held in Bonn, Germany.

The SSJW recognizes the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change. It highlights the role of farmers, including smallholders and pastoralists, as key agents of change, recognizing that solutions are context-specific and consider national circumstances.

A critical component of the negotiations

“Despite the critical importance of these issues, the SSJW negotiations at COP28 have reached a stalemate, continuing the lack of progress witnessed at the Subsidiary Body SB58 meeting in Bonn in June this year,” said Teshome.

The AGN noted that finance is the most critical component of the negotiations for implementing the convention and the Paris Agreement. “Africa has, and continues to suffer the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change and has not received the required multilateral support to face the climate challenge,” said Nzovu, noting that many African countries require access to scaled-up levels of new and additional and predictable grant and concessional finance for climate action.

So far, since the enactment of the Paris Agreement in 2015, developed countries have not met the 100 billion dollar per year mobilization goal by 2020. According to the AGN, the goal of doubling adaptation finance from 2019 levels by 2025 is an undertaking on paper only.

“We have now reached the final leg of the consideration of the output phase, and it’s important that the outcome (of COP 28) is practical and one that all parties can effectively implement,” said Nzovu.


Isaiah Esipisu is an independent journalist and a media consultant. He is the continental Coordinator for the Pan Africa Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC).