Count Down To COP26: Putting Africa at the heart of COP26 Conference
12 August 2021
Author: Doreen Othero
Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

The BUILD Program (Building Capacity for Integrated Family Planning/Reproductive Health and Population, Environment and Development Action), led by the Panafrican Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), held a side event at the #CountDownToGlasgow: Putting Africa at the heart of COP26 and COVID-19 Recovery conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on 14th July 2021. The side event aimed at profiling the integrated Family Planning (FP)/Reproductive Health (RH) and Population, Environment and Development (PED) model for climate change action and advocate for inclusion of this agenda in climate change response planning.

Specifically, the event sought to:

  1. Foster dialogue on the needs that are of priority to Africa in respect to reproductive health and the environment.
  2. Sensitize African policymakers and stakeholders on the nexus between FP/RH and climate change.
  3. Advocate for incorporation of FP/ RH issues into the African Civil Society Organizations (CSO) position ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

The 6-hour event attracted an audience of 72 in-person participants and 34 online participants including the Advisor to the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on Climate Change. Most of the participants were from Civil Society Organizations and the private sector with a few from government ministries. The countries represented were: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, United Republic of Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.

The event was officially opened by the PACJA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mithika Mwenda and Dr. Garba Sadiq of the Division of Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria. The opening ceremony was followed by a presentation on the event background and objectives and an overview of the BUILD program made by the BUILD Project Director, Dr. Doreen Othero. This was followed by a keynote address entitled “Building the nexus between Climate Change, Family Planning (FP), Reproductive Health (RH) and Population, Environment & Development (PED)” by the BUILD PED Director, Dr Bernard Onyango. The presentation highlighted trends in population growth in Low and Middle-income Countries (LMICs) and the effect of rapid population growth on the environment, biodiversity, climate change and the development agenda. It also amplified the value add of the PED approach and the need for heightened advocacy, policy, communication and negotiation in order to build the capacity of policy and decision-makers to make evidence-informed decisions.

Four panellists led discussions following the keynote address. These included a member of the BUILD Consortium from LEAD SEA ( Leadership for Environment and Development Southern and Eastern Africa), a youth advocate from the Kenya Platform on Climate Governance and a senior government officer from the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria.

Panel discussions resonated around the following topics:

  1. Gender, Youth and Climate Change- By Meryne Warah (Kenya Platform on Climate Governance)
  2. Ecosystem approach for building resilience to climate change – By Sosten Chiotha (LEADSEA)
  3. Role of policymakers in fostering cross-sectoral approaches for climate change – By Garba Sadiq- Division of Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria

The key issues that were discussed included:

  1. Empowering women, men and youth to participate in climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives including policy reviews, planning and programming.
  2. Linkage of rapid population growth, adverse climate change risks and resilience
  3. Engaging a broad cadre of policymakers to support policy reforms on the integration of family planning into climate change initiatives
  4. Measures to be taken to review climate change, population and development policies to embrace cross-sectoral approaches
  5. Championing an integrated approach to build community and ecosystem resilience to climate change using the Systems Thinking approach.

Plenary discussions

The panel presentations were followed by a plenary session with questions from the audience to the panel members and the keynote address speaker.

It was clear that the audience was, which was dominated by actors from the climate change sector, had divergent positions on the importance of family planning for environment and climate change. A number of them presented very pronatalist views while pointing out that the adverse effects of climate change disproportionately affect those in LMICs who have contributed the least to it. This gave the participants from BUILD a good platform to reiterate the PED linkages and why these are important for climate change action and sustainable development.

Overall, the event was very successful in meeting its three objectives and provided a good platform for BUILD to network and understand the position of a section CSOs actors in the climate change sector and also to sensitize these actors on PED and the systems thinking approach.

The main deliverable of the side event was a Communique that was written based on the presentations and plenary discussions. The Communique will be part of the main conference report that will be submitted to the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN). The latter are putting together a document on the African position to be presented at COP 26. The Communique is hereto attached.

Communique of the delegates attending the BUILD Program side event at the #CountDownToCOP26: Putting Africa at the heart of COP26 Conference

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