Your excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I am sorry not to be able to join you in person, but delighted to send this message as a contribution to the Policy Action Lab on the new GCF Urban Strategy in Africa.
As the world’s largest climate fund, 37% of our portfolio or USD 3.3 billion are invested in Africa – spread across 70 approved projects including multiregional projects. We have also 22 national or sub-national Entities accredited to directly access our resources in the continent.
This event is a timely opportunity to focus on the potential – and challenges – of urban growth in Africa.
GCF plays an essential role in financing resilient urban infrastructure, addressing not only today’s challenges but also tomorrow’s.
This matters because more than two thirds of the global population are expected to live in cities by 2050 – presenting both opportunities and risks to the global response to climate change.
Cities produce at least 58% of direct global emissions and represent at least 21% of direct global emissions reduction potential.
Africa has the fastest rate of urban growth in the world. The number of people living in the continent’s cities has doubled in the last 20 years and will double again by 2045 reaching over one billion.
Rural to urban migration – as young people seeking work and education – is an opportunity to harvest this unique demographic dividend to propel the economy of the continent but also a challenge that will only intensify pressures on cities and infrastructure.
Yet despite the urgent needs, municipal governments face significant barriers in accessing funding for resilient infrastructure – with less than 4% of the largest 500 cities in developing countries considered creditworthy in international markets and less than 20% in local financial markets.
GCF’s urban strategy seeks to address these challenges through catalysing investment in four key areas, which have strong potential to deliver high-impact, cost-effective climate benefits at scale alongside local benefits. These areas are decarbonizing urban energy systems; creating greater energy efficiency and climate resilience in building stocks; promoting compact and resilient urban development; and enabling circular urban economies.
For example, the Sub-national Climate Fund Global (SnCF Global) managed by Pegasus Capital Advisors leverages $150 million in first loss equity investment from the GCF to mobilize $600 million of senior private equity for renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate resilient buildings and waste management at the municipal level. 17 African countries participate in this programme.
As a second illustration, we helped the Development Bank of Southern Africa establish a dedicated climate investment facility and will assist them to issue the first municipal bonds for recycled water to foster a circular economy and greater resilience to climate change in South Africa.
This shows just a fraction of what is possible if together we can break down the barriers to climate friendly investment and unlock the potential of urban development to foster prosperity and sustainability. I look forward to hearing your views on our Urban Strategy for Africa.