Heads of World’s Development Banks focus on Sustainable Recovery for Africa

Heads of public development banks on Wednesday underlined the critical need to build resilience for fragile countries and to boost African countries’ capacity to tackle global emissions in a sustainable manner.

Stressing the need to forge even stronger cooperation, they said the third Finance in Common(link is external) Summit, held for the first time in Africa, would be proof of commitment to reducing poverty and “future proofing” the planet.

The summit which opened in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, comes amid overlapping global crises: Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and the Russia-Ukraine war. These crises are severely affecting many parts of the world, particularly Africa.

The summit is being held with less than a month to the UN climate conference, COP27, to be held in the Egyptian town of Sharm el Sheikh.

The African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are co-organizing the summit under the theme Green and Just Transition for a Sustainable Recovery. The summit is highlighting the role of public development banks in supporting the transformation of economies and financial systems towards sustainability.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Patrick Achi of Côte d’Ivoire said he had “huge expectations” for Africa and his country, which is the world’s largest producer of cocoa used in the multibillion-dollar chocolate industry. He recognized socio-economic recovery and progress had been made in recent years in his country.

Prime Minister Achi said the coalition of public development banks should do more to support the private sector and for the development of renewable energy. He urged the Finance in Common organizers to ensure that the meeting in Abidjan was “not just another summit,” but rather one to meaningfully deliver firm commitments.

African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said a continent beset by capital flight from emerging markets, increasing debt service costs, and which is also home to nine out of the world’s ten most vulnerable countries to climate change needed its backers to “go further.” These fragile states depend on the African Development Fund, the concessional lending window of the African Development Bank Group.

“That’s why together as Finance in Common, we need to do more to pool our resources and leverage the pools of capital in the private sector for climate finance… We must do all possible to ensure energy transitions, while recognizing the specific needs of developing countries,” Adesina said.

The African Development Bank has introduced the Climate Action Window for the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund. This window will mobilize up to $13 billion over time for Africa’s low-income countries. “We must leverage. We must tilt private financing to complement all our efforts,” Adesina emphasized.

European Investment Bank president Werner Hoyer said public development banks, which currently handle over $23 trillion in assets between them, had a special role to play in championing forward-looking assets to “future proof” the planet. “We need to go the extra mile,” he said, and called for “global solutions, schemes and initiatives that protect the most vulnerable.”

Calls by Adesina and Hoyer were echoed by Chairman of Finance in Common and Chief Executive Officer of the Agence Française de Développement Remy Rioux, Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank Carlo Monticelli and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Alvaro Lario.

Rioux said it was no coincidence that the Finance in Common movement was born in the middle of a global crisis. Public development banks were at the frontline of providing solutions to the current global crises and mobilizing financing to ensure that no one is left behind.”

“I dream of a global and seamless architecture of all public financial institutions…clearly guided by the twin mandate of financing the most vulnerable and mobilizing as many actors and financial actors for sustainable development,” Rioux said.

Lario said the current global conditions spelled a “clear call” for action. “We cannot continue drifting from crisis to crisis. This has to start with small producers who are the heart of the world’s food systems,” he said. He stressed that the coalition’s support for investment in food and agriculture was of prime importance.

Monticelli said public development banks needed to “join forces to multiply impact,” while making the Sustainable Development Goals their common objective.

Chief Executive Officer of the Global Center on Adaptation Patrick Verkooijen, addressed the urgent need to continue mobilizing financing for Africa’s adaptation efforts. “The international community is at a crossroads. If all fails, all the gains of COP26 will be lost.”

Attendees at the opening plenary also heard video messages from Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohammed and Islamic Development Bank President Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser. “MDBs need deeper, systemic reforms,” Mohammed said, calling on the coalition to join forces to multiply impact and work together to align their mandates to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris agreement.

Nine events of the summit address the financing in common of resilience and adaptation, green and quality infrastructure, health, and social protection.

The Finance in Common coalition comprises over 520 public development banks across the world. The summit has brought together their representatives as well as international and regional organizations, private sector corporates, philanthropies, civil society, and members of the academic community.