CENTRAL AFRICA: has sustainable finance been relegated to a rhetorical exercise?

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AFRIQUE CENTRALE : la finance durable est-elle reléguée au rang des discours ?©Beac

The Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) and its partners organised an international forum on sustainable finance from 8 to 9 May 2023 in Douala, Cameroon. But apart from declarations and presentations on the theme, no commitments were made, despite the urgent need to act. The forum noted that the effects of climate change are affecting nearly 130 million people around the world. Greenpeace Africa believes that Central African leaders should give priority to local and indigenous populations in the deployment of green finance.

On 8 and 9 May 2023 in Douala, Cameroon, nearly 300 leading figures from the finance sector took part in the first international forum on sustainable finance, organised by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Sustainable Banking and Finance Network (SBFN). Under the theme “Trajectories towards sustainable finance”, the forum aims to lay the foundations for sustainable finance within the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC).

“We need to protect our environment, we need more financial inclusion, and we also need to attract external investment and green financing for our economies. I think that this is absolutely beneficial for our States”, says Abbas Mahamat Tolli, Governor of the BEAC. Continuing in the same vein, Martine Valcin, the IFC’s Global Head of ESG Advisory, emphasises green bonds, which make it possible to “raise funds to build hydroelectric dams, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”.

Focus on local communities

The Douala forum on sustainable finance was intended to lay the foundations for sustainable finance in the CEMAC zone. But apart from presentations and speeches, the event failed to produce any noteworthy commitments in terms of translating words into action. Yet the urgency for action is clear. According to BEAC, the repercussions of climate change and Covid-19 have reduced economic growth in the sub-region to 2.9% in 2020. The financial institution also indicates that 11 million people are suffering from food insecurity in Central Africa.

The initiative by BEAC and its partners has been welcomed by the environmental organisation Greenpeace Afrique, which is also calling on Central African leaders to give priority to local and indigenous populations in the deployment of green finance.

Read also-CENTRAL AFRICA: BEAC guides its member states towards sustainable finance

Local communities play a fundamental role in preserving forests, particularly in the Congo Basin, thanks to their customary approach to managing forest resources. “Unfortunately, they are at the bottom of the ladder and often do not benefit directly from green finance, or do so only to a very limited extent. We therefore need to think about creating specific access mechanisms for these groups, and in particular the creation of specific, simplified windows for local and indigenous communities at the various financial institutions”, says Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, head of the forest campaign at Greenpeace Africa.

Boris Ngounou

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