African leaders call for climate change support; Dutch orgs. demand nature restoration
African leaders are in Rotterdam to seek support for their plans to make Africa more resilient to the effects of climate change. On Monday morning, President Macky Sall of Senegal and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi arrived at a conference in the Global Center on Adaption (GCA), a floating knowledge center close to the Erasmus Bridge. Later in the day, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, will also participate in the conference. Also, on Monday, 64 Dutch organizations urged the Cabinet to restore nature. “We can’t do without nature.”
President Macky Sall, who also speaks on behalf of other African countries as president of the African Union, made clear immediately upon arrival that he expects more efforts from the industrialized countries. These countries should not see it as charity but rather “compensation” for the greenhouse gas emissions with which they have contributed to global warming for years. The timing is significant as his home country’s capital, Dakar, is experiencing extreme flooding.
The African Union president was not very pleased with the turnout of Western leaders. “It was easier for them to get here, but where are they?” he wondered. “I have to be honest: I’m a little disappointed by that.”
“Africa only contributes 3 percent to climate change, but it is experiencing the greatest consequences,” said Patrick Verkooijen, the Dutch chairman of the GCA. He emphasized that billions in investments will be needed to cope with, for example, increasing drought and rising sea levels. “That is also in our own interest,” he added. Verkooijen pointed out that climate change will lead to greater refugee flows to Europe. The Dutch asylum system is already cracking at the seams, as the chaos in Ter Apel showed in recent weeks.
To make infrastructure and agriculture more climate-proof, African countries want to raise about 25 billion euros in investments by 2025. In addition to foreign investments, Africa is also investing itself, for example, through the African Development Bank.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutlaeb of Rotterdam pointed out before the start of the summit that the Netherlands “has a lot to offer the world” in the field of climate adaption. He also sees opportunities for the business world. Ban Ki-moon, the former UN chief who is also on the board of the adaption center, added that that developed countries should “double their efforts.”
Also, on Monday, 64 organizations urged the Dutch Cabinet to do more to restore nature. “We can’t do without nature,” organizations like Milieudefensie, Natuur & Milieu, Natuur en Milieufederaties, Natuurmonumenten, World Wildlife Fund, Vogelbsechermining, the ANWB, Ballast Nedam, banks like Triodos Bank and ASN Banks, churches, farmers, and scientists said in an appeal in several national newspapers. “Let’s get on with the implementation of the coalition agreement.”
In the press release, the authors said that nature is essential for the health and safety of humans and animals. “For example, well-functioning peat swamps and forests help reduce climate change. Keeping the soil wet prevents the subsidence of homes, buildings, and infrastructure. Healthy soil is also a precondition for clean water. Trees and plants produce oxygen and provide everyone on earth with air to live. In addition, they provide cooling during a heatwave. Insects are vital as pollinators for agricultural crops. Birds help suppress pest insects.”
The signatories said they speak on behalf of millions of Netherlands residents.
Reporting by ANP