Messages from Dakar – What Africa’s Transport Community is bringing to COP27

How the Sustainable Mobility and Climate Week in Dakar (3–7 October 2022) Prefigures COP27

From 6 to 18 November the global community is convening at the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. As a major driver of global climate change, the transport sector is naturally on the agenda at COP27. At the same time, the climate negotiations in Egypt are being touted as an “African COP”, as they will spotlight the needs of African countries and their position in the global climate crisis.

The African transport community is well prepared for Egypt. Just one month ago, some 1000 practitioners and experts met for the Sustainable Mobility and Climate Week in Dakar, Senegal. Organised by CODATU, CETUD and Climate Chance, the event was described as a “pre-COP” for transport in Africa. Given the conference location and organisers, a focus was placed on French-speaking Africa. However, interpretators enabled the participation of several English-speaking experts and organisations in the discussions.

What are the messages that will be brought from Dakar to Sharm el-Sheikh?

The topics addressed during the week were manifold, yet focused on those issues that are most pressing for mobility in African countries, including informal transport, city planning, support for active mobility, the financing of transport infrastructure, the effective use of data, and resilience and adaptation to climate change through nature-based solutions, including a “Great Green Wall” for biodiversity in Africa.

The Dakar Declaration, which was presented at the close of the conference, sums up important aspects of these discussions, which featured African local and regional authorities as well as non-state actors. The declaration highlights issues sure to inform the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.

  • Striking the right balance between financing for adaptation and mitigation (with a particular focus on loss and damage), while taking responsibility for climate change and national capabilities into account
  • The importance of a just transition – that is, of ensuring “the right of all people, everywhere, to sustainable mobility”
  • Improving and reassessing access to various financing opportunities (including green finance)
  • Strengthening capacity development activities (particularly in relation to project engineering and access to finance)
  • Accelerating the energy transition
  • Ending conflicts and respect for the UN Charter as prerequisites for the success of Paris Agreement

With the aim of achieving synergies with previous conferences and declarations while also advancing the above goals, the Dakar Declaration draws attention to 12 action areas:

  1. The absolute urgency of the fight against climate change, including the need for adherence to IPCC recommendations.
  2. Africa’s particular vulnerability to climate change impacts, and the need to prioritise finance for mitigation and adaptation in emitting countries.
  3. Social justice and intersectionality in climate action, respect for the human right to a clean environment, and increased coherence between the SDGs and climate agenda.
  4. Financing to preserve biodiversity, prevent desertification, and expand climate protection at a local level.
  5. Local capacity building, decentralisation, and coherent mobility policy for sustainable urban development in anticipation of rapid African urbanisation.
  6. Local access to funding and training in rural regions to develop sustainable agriculture, improve access to water and power, and improve conditions for women and youth.
  7. Access to finance for action by accrediting more entities for local climate projects through the Green Climate Fund.
  8. Ensuring vigilance against misuse of carbon offset financing for emission reduction relief in offsetting sectors. Offset projects must improve local conditions for indigenous people, local populations, and biodiversity.
  9. Call for local empowerment and inclusion of local actors in NDCs.
  10. Improved flow of information to international decision-makers regarding impacts of local action (qualitative and quantitative).
  11. Strengthening the exchange of best practice via decentralised South–South and North–South cooperation as well as collaboration for capacity building at the local level.
  12. Recognizing stability, an end to conflicts, and universal respect for the United Nations Charter as preconditions for successful climate policy.

Fostering stakeholder exchange at the city level to strengthen international discussion

Representatives from civil society organisations, multinational development banks, and international agencies engaged in fruitful exchange during the conference sessions and workshops. In addition, the MobiliseYourCity Partnership and the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative brought together representatives from their African member and partner cities.

On the final conference day, more than 20 cities participated in a discussion round titled “World Café – Bringing African Voices to COP27”, which addressed how international institutions can support decarbonisation and climate resilience in their cities. Many aspects of the Dakar Declaration reflected concerns that emerged from this discussion, including:

  • Call for more equitable financial support (e.g. fair loan conditions, grants) and adequate consideration for the historical responsibility of the Global North for climate change in funding policies (e.g. through compensation or depth waivers)
  • Request for more peer-to-peer learning among transport practitioners in Africa and increased engagement in activities that strengthen local capacities
  • Recognition of the relevance of the African transport sector and its particularities at the international level
  • Support of private enterprises in the transport sector, acknowledging the potential of sustainable transport for economic development
  • The urgent need to move forward with adaptation strategies

And now? Sustainable Transport in Africa at COP27

The Dakar conference generated a number of clear messages and insights. Furthermore, the urgency of the climate crisis is particularly evident in Africa given its already significant impacts. The extent to which the Dakar conference shapes the proceedings in Sharm el-Sheikh remains to be seen, however. If you are interested in the conference’s outcomes, be sure to follow the SLOCAT Summary of Transport Community Engagement at COP27. The webpage additionally profiles SLOCAT activities that focus on the African context. Make sure to listen-in for the Slocat Transport Day on November 15th, taking place at the Multilevel Action Pavillion. The programme will include the screening of short statement videos from city representatives who engaged in the World Café discussion in Dakar.

The Advancing Transport Climate Strategies (TraCS) project supported the World Café session organised by MobiliseYourCity in Dakar and was present throughout the conference. TraCS is implemented by GIZ and funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUV).


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