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FEATURE: Africa LEDS Platform eyes opportunities for 2016

The Africa Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) platform, coordinated by CDKN, met recently in Paris to explore some of the big issues and opportunities ahead in 2016. Leo Roberts reports; with additional writing by Mairi Dupar.

Given the UNFCCC’s encouragement for all willing Parties to come up with national climate mitigation action plans (known as INDCs) in advance of the COP21, low emission planning was much on delegates’ minds.

At the Africa LEDS-sponsored side event in Paris, delegates were joined by Marta Torres, an expert from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, who has spearheaded an initiative over the past three years to bring the Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (‘MAPS’) methodology, first developed in South Africa, to Latin America. This South-South learning initiative has spurred low emission development plans (and has helped lay the groundwork for INDCs) in Chile, Colombia and Peru. Ms Torres reviewed the lessons learned from those processes, with a view to testing the appetite for similar processes in other parts of Africa.

“MAPS processes have really been focused on building the capacity for analysis [in Latin American countries] to provide robust information to decision makers,” Ms Torres said. “This has not been through a ‘normal’ capacity building approach, but through learning by doing.” Ms Torres explained that in Latin America, professional teams led the process of establishing the baseline greenhouse gas emissions for each economic sector, with the diverse input of relevant stakeholders, and this eventually led to the production of different mitigation options for government policy-makers to consider. “We [experts] co-produced knowledge with local stakeholders – research teams of 30-100 people were meeting hundreds of stakeholders from government, civil society, labour unions and so on.”

What emerged from this consultative process was “a new data set, which was much more accurate and tailored” she said, “Models were developed from scratch – and eventually the country teams were left alone to get on with it! These processes inadvertently became the foundations for INDCs, because the stakeholder engagement process meant everyone involved in INDC was already invested.”

Participants in the Africa LEDS Platform dialogue asked: ‘Could the MAPS experience offer useful lessons for other African countries?’ and ‘Given the formulation of INDCs by so many African countries in the run-up to the Paris COP, what would be the next, critical steps for implementing INDCs?’ Discussants concluded that they and other African stakeholders would have to pay special attention to:

Development. African countries are among the lowest per capita emitters in the world and have pressing development needs, so low emission development strategies will not gain traction unless they are development-led. For instance, a discussant from the Democratic Republic of Congo said, his country’s overarching development goal is a ‘per capita income explosion’ so any effort to drive forward a LEDS must happen in this context. We need to frame LEDS with the Sustainable Development Goals and their targets. These include gender impacts and opportunities for women to benefit from LEDS, and how they fit into LEDS or broader planning.

Gender and social inclusion. Ana Rojas of IUCN’s Global Gender Office (known as the GECCO program) explained that her team aims to increase women’s share in the benefits associated with mitigation actions. Climate Change Interaction Plans support governments to identify the major gaps regarding gender impacts, and how these can be addressed through LEDS or broader development planning.

Resilience. Africa is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Activities to boost climate resilience to existing impacts as well as future climate variability must form a substantial focus of LEDS. “The link between mitigation and resilience is essential,” said Webster Whande, a CDKN analyst based in South Africa, who advises the Africa Group of Negotiators to the UNFCCC. Stephen King’uyu, Kenya’s national climate change coordinator and the Co-Chair of the LEDS Global Partnership, said, “We need to think outside the box because of levels underdevelopment in Africa. We need LEDS, however we need resilience-building more.”

The potential and limits of modeling. There is a role for modeling different LEDS scenarios at country level (and here the MAPS program has important lessons to share) but models need to be strongly ground-truthed by stakeholders to check their feasibility and lay the groundwork for implementation – the African LEDS Platform will shortly embark on a project to model LEDS opportunities in African countries and should follow this principle. “The models must be built on the needs of the common man,” added Stephen King’uyu, “…bringing top down knowledge and expertise, but ultimately always being focused on responding to bottom-up needs.”

Finance and technology. As well as modelling, the availability of technology and climate finance will be fundamental to progressing LEDS in African countries. One participant noted that his country had 33 NAMA ideas – and how to prioritise them? To some extent, prioritising mitigation actions could be a government’s choice, but it may also be driven by the availability of technology and financial support.

Join the Africa LEDS Platform to explore these issues in depth

These questions and more will be debated by the Africa LEDS Platform in its full, busy year ahead. In 2016, there will be many partnership opportunities on offer for members of the Platform; specifically, members can:

    • Join a broad spectrum of policy-makers and practitioners working on LEDS in Africa;
    • Get involved in exchanging knowledge and best practices with others;
    • Access a wealth of materials;
    • Take part in activities such as African and LEDS Global Partnership annual events;
    • Access a world class technical assistance service – the REAL service – which provides 40 hours of pro bono assistance from international experts according to developing country governments’ requests;
    • Training and development of LEDS capacity-building networks.

To join the LEDS GP (and as part of the joining process, to opt into the Africa LEDS Platform), click on For more information on the Africa LEDS Platform, visit


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