Climate change is one of the most critical development challenges facing developing countries, yet they are still quite poorly equipped to deal with its undeniable and increasingly profound impacts. The most recent scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a potential rise of 4°C in global surface temperature by the end of the 21st century with devastating impacts leading to inundation of coastal cities, persistent drying of arid and semi-arid lands, unprecedented heat waves, exacerbated water scarcity, declining food productivity leading to hunger and higher malnutrition, and irreversible loss of biodiversity, among others.

This prompted international responses for coordinated action to meet the Paris Agreement renewed ambition of net zero emissions by 2050. The implementation of this global climate change commitment requires economic, social, and investment transformation of climate-resilient development strategies as aligned with the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) of respective countries. Recognizing the critical need, members of national parliaments from West African countries convened to develop and establish a strong system to drive the delivery of the desired national and international climate commitments through legislative measures.

The African Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES) in partnership with the Parliament of Nigeria, the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), the National Climate Change Council (NCCC), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and other partners, convened the Inaugural West Africa Regional Parliamentary Capacity Strengthening Meeting on Climate Change, held from 22 – 24, May 2023 in Lagos, Nigeria. The purpose was to strengthen the capacity of the Parliamentarians towards stronger legislative support for climate action through advocacy for more funding to implement climate-resilient interventions.

The regional meeting sensitized parliamentarians about their pivotal role in supporting domestic financing contributions to implement climate change policies indicated in their NDCs through their legislative functions, representation, and oversight mandates for budgetary provisions and approvals at all levels. The meeting highlighted the extent of progress which has been made from comprehensive consultations, close coordination with stakeholders, and unwavering commitment to enacting the Climate Change Act of 2021 in Nigeria, despite challenges.

The key outcomes included a heightened understanding of the parliamentary role in international and national climate commitments, insights into climate change legislation from a country-specific perspective, and the identification of avenues for mainstreaming climate change into parliamentary structures and calendars. The parliamentarians renewed their dedication to confront the climate crisis by addressing limited funding, bureaucratic hurdles, and slow cross-sector coordination identified as obstacles in implementing climate change legislation in the region. They also underscored the importance of establishing and strengthening sub-regional consultations, creating platforms for sharing best practices and investing in capacity-building initiatives.

The event attracted active participation from 107 delegates of national parliaments, parliamentary staffs, and UNFCCC National Focal Points representing 14 West African countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

As Africa prepares for forthcoming significant regional and global climate events, especially the Africa Climate Summit/Africa Climate Week on 4–8, 2023, and the UNFCCC COP28 on 30th, November – 12th, December 2023, the insights from the regional meeting will significantly contribute to the region’s and Africa’s discussions, engagements, and negotiation strategies with a common position in canvassing more adaptation funding for the African Continent.

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