The Africa-Europe platform for sustainable development thinkers
The Ukȧmȧ platform aims at building an informal dialogue process between a diversity of African and European experts bringing together perspectives of the Europe-Africa cooperation, including Climate, Sustainable Development, Economic transformation, International Cooperation, Finance and Trade to facilitate the emergence of such shared expectations. The main objective of the platform is to convene critical thinkers to help set out the themes and issues that are relevant for shared sense of prosperity for Africa and Europe, how is it working well, as well as where it is not working well. What are the obstacles and how they can be removed for more symmetry and prosperity on both sides ?
By developing a network of African and European experts (from think tanks and universities) mobilised in favour of sustainable recovery and economic transformation in Africa that come together regularly to discuss and reflect independently on the Europe-Africa relationship and co-build value propositions for a renewed cooperation between the two continents, it aims, in the long run at bringing fresh ideas to the table to overcome misunderstandings and foster collaboration. It also aims at mending the relationship by bringing together new empirical analyses: knowledge is key to change the relationship!
The Ukȧmȧ platform is co-chaired by Chukwumerije Okereke (Professor at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo; Director Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD)), and Sébastien Treyer (Director, IDDRI) and guided by a steering committee including the following members: Ann Kingiri, Senior Research Fellow (ACTS), Kenya; Fatima Denton, Director of the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa at the United Nations University, Ghana; Chantal Naidoo, Founder Rabia Transitions, South Africa; Youba Sokona, Vice President IPCC; San Bilal, Associate director - sustainable African economies and climate action (ECDPM); Christine Hackenesch, Coordinator Africa Group & Senior researcher, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS).
In 2015, the AU clearly defined in the Agenda 2063 its strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development. The AU has pointed out main priorities for partnership with the EU in this context: Economic growth, trade, investment, Peace and security, Migration and mobility, Climate change, Health Security, and Toward enhanced governance of the Continent-to-Continent partnership. It is no longer security but economic transformation that comes first in Africa’s strategies with strong expectative on The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is now at the centre of the continent-to-continent partnership.
In March 2020, the European Commission and European External Action Service presented a joint communication for a comprehensive strategy with Africa in five key areas: green transition and energy access, digital transformation, sustainable growth and jobs, peace, security and governance, and migration and mobility. The EU has put a “low-carbon, resource efficient and climate-resilient future” in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as the key priority in its strategy proposal . It also intends to support African efforts towards the goals and priority areas defined in Agenda 2063, on climate change mitigation and resilience as well as adequate adaptation measures, while carefully monitoring the social implications. The Paris Agreement adopted in the same year than the Agenda 2063, unites both continents in the overall ambition to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, along with pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degree.
Thus, a first look at the agendas set by EU and AU respectively demonstrates important overlaps and priority areas of enhanced cooperation in the area of low-carbon structural economic transformations. However, these overlaps and shared agendas should not hide that an actual agenda of cooperation requires overcoming some possible divergences or misunderstandings on these areas of common interest. Conceptual frameworks, as well as operational tools and decisions are all at stake, as illustrated by different examples. The EU proposes the use of its European Green Deal as a framework for cooperation. However, this proposal is questioned by the AU, which estimates that there is a risk of engaging with a yet undefined process . The concept of “sustainable and just transition” itself seems quite commonly agreed on in Europe to designate a common challenge and a process of industrial redeployment for all EU member states, despite the heterogeneity of their economic, social and political situation. But it might not be sufficient to describe the challenges faced by African countries where the issue of “structural economic transformation” is paramount, even if the endpoint is also sustainability (a low carbon resilient prosperity for all). Last example, different options for the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, developed by the European Union as a dimension of the internal deal to make the transition feasible, have also been designed in order to prevent African countries to be impacted by such a mechanism. But least developed and middle-income countries in Africa continue to raise concerns over the overall trade context, including CBAM.
Given the historic asymmetries, there is a need for a balanced approach to the partnership between Europe and Africa, highlighting some of the potential divergences from both sides and addressing openly these potential divergences between the two groups regarding their strategic priorities for the collaboration.
In this regard, it seems key to strengthen the understanding from Europe side of African expectations regarding sustainable recovery and green transformation and opportunities and their implications for strategic partnership.
- 2 November 2022: Workshop - African perspectives on the concept of Just Energy Transition Partnerships
- 24 January 2022: Workshop - Innovation for the energy transition - how can it ensure shared prosperity between Africa and Europe?
- 25 November 2021: Launch event of Ukȧmȧ: the Africa-Europe platform for Sustainable Development thinkers, with experts and Chukwumerije Okereke (Professor at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo; Director Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD)), and Sébastien Treyer (Director, IDDRI)