Conference on Climate Change and Structural Transformation in Southern Africa-AU-SARO Official Speech


Statement delivered by the African Union Regional Delegate to Southern Africa, SADC and COMESA Secretariate, Dr Leopold-Auguste Ngomo, during the occasion of the official opening of Regional Conference on Climate Change and Structural Transformation in Southern Africa, Mahe, Seychelles, 21-23 November, 2018.


  • Honorable Wallace COSGROW, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Republic of Seychelles, The Guest of Honor
  • Excellences and Cabinet Ministers here present;
  • Excellences and high government officials
  • Wills Agricole, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Republic of Seychelles
  • All the Permanent Secretary from Southern Africa Member States
  • Professor Said Adejumobi, Regional Director of UNECA Southern Africa Regional Office
  • Members of diplomatic corps and international organization;
  • All Heads of Climate Change and Environmental Bureau
  • Distinguished guests;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • All protocols observed;


At the outset, I wish to express, on behalf of the African Union Commission, our heartfelt appreciation to H.E. Mister Danny Faure, the President of the Republic of Seychelles, and the Members of his Government as well as the Seychellois people for the hospitality and the cordial reception given to ours delegates since our arrival in Mahe, lovely capital of the Republic of Seychelles.

Without your strong support, this critical conference would not have had the chance to be held today in Seychelles. Please convey our sincere thanks to H.E. Danny Faure President of the Republic of Seychelles who just, last week, was assigned, at the 11th AU Extraordinary summit by all the African presidents, Champion for the Blue Economy in Africa. As a prosperous African nation and experienced country in this topic, AU believes that the Republic of Seychelles can lead all the continent to this new frontier of prosperity.

Allow me also not only to welcome all of you dear participants and experts but also to thank all you for accepting to join us for this extraordinary exchange and discussion that we will have concerning the impacts of climate change in our southern Africa region

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

According to the global NGO, Planetoscope, every day around the world and in Africa we lose 72 animal and vegetable species. At the end of this conference, ladies and gentlemen 216 species will have disappeared forever from the face of the earth. And 26,280 at the end of the year. The consequences of climate change will not be felt tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but they are already being felt today. Here we are.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

A lot has been done over the last few years since the adoption of Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted in December 2015. We were, with difficulties, preparing ourselves to address one of the huge challenges that the humanity is now confronted when the United States of America decided to withdraw from this engagement. This attitude show us clearly that the situation is more complex than expected and the national interests of our partners can at any time overcome the common universal interests of saving the planet and at the end save the humanity.

The translation of political engagements to concrete actions by the international community is also very slow and leave us, Africans, in an expectant attitude. When we are still waiting for their massive financial and technical assistance and solutions, on a daily basis, our population are starting to feel badly the impacts of climate change. While we are expecting to have a global work to stop or to reduce the CO2 rejection, in reality, some countries have already started to work on this critical agenda by building strong resilience at all level: human, infrastructures, economy, habits….

It therefore becomes extremely urgent for us African countries in southern Africa, to meet once again around this theme, no longer to try to understand the phenomenon but rather to appreciate our current situation and to explore the different African solutions proposed by African experts. Climate change will have direct impacts on our way of life and all human activities: economic, political, security, health, humanitarian, cultural, housing … During the various presentations that will be made, we must ask ourselves each time: Are we ready to face the recurring disasters that are coming up? Are we preparing enough? Are our leaders fully aware of the storm that is raging on us and so the first winds are already licking our countries?

Climate change, which is slowly advancing through micro changes, is not always an immediate visual booming phenomenon. But it is already gradually changing our environment. And unfortunately, day after day their impact will be more and more important. We can already feel them through the erosions on our coasts, the disappearance of the corals, and the decrease of the catch levels of the fishers. We can already see it through the drying out of some of our rivers, through the changing seasons disturbing our agricultural cycles and some parts of our economies.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

Why we are able to, intellectually, understand the consequences and the negative impacts of climate change but we are so slow to take strong preparation measures (like for example specific taxation, general and specific resilience policies across all the activities of the society or the set-up regional operational service: like environmental rangers, Regional humanitarian corps…). All measures which will prepare our countries and our populations to face the storm that inexorably advances to us. When this storm will fully embrace all the world, and creating dramatic changes to all the world, it will be challenging for our classical partners to come to help us when they will themselves face the same dramatic challenges at home.

Some international experts have already given us the reasons of our slow actions:

  • Living all in our city, mainly in our capital city, we are enjoying a special artificial ecosystem (the city) which really spare us from the direct impacts of the climate change: we still have clean water in our tap, we still have electricity with sometime breakdown but we have it, we still have access to food through shops and supermarkets. This artificial reality push us the relativized the climate chocks already presents.
  • The climate and environmental change variations are too minimal, slow and really at micro level. This situation makes us to not immediately perceive their dangerousness (it is not always a tsunami or a flood or an earthquake)
  • Climate change being a world challenge, we, Africans, feeling not responsible for the pollution of the planet, are considering that the solution will be global and our partners will assist us with huge amount of funds, technology and concrete solutions. We are almost in an expectative mode. It is true that our partners have already took some engagements but let us not forget that they will also face the same climate change challenges and their primary duty will be to protect their country and their own population.

By all means available, Africans should build our own resilience and our own adaptation system not only at national level but also at regional and continental level. Some actions are ongoing but we should really accelerate the RHYTHM. Joint forces, mutualize our own means and strategies and enjoy the advantages of collective efforts and protection. To finance, in sustainable way, this resilience strategy, we should be able to create new tax.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

The impacts of climate change, if not mastered or at least contained, will surely be sources of tension, precariousness, insecurity, instability for our states. These situations will lead to increasingly serious humanitarian crises, internal refugees, rural exoduses will increase massively. Without preparation now, we will have to steer large swathes of our national budgets towards short-term actions. Feed our populations urgently to the detriment of education; strengthen the security budget to the detriment of health or development. If we do not organize ourselves collectively now, we will be reduced to reactionary policies and especially to be more and more spectators of the decline of our nations.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude, allow me to say something about AU SARO which stands for African Union Southern Africa Regional Office

This regional office was created by Member States in 2001 and became operational in 2002

Our mandate is to Represent AU in the 16 southern Africa region states, SADC and COMESA secretariat

Our core mission is:

  • DOMESTICATION of AU legal instrument and Programs
  • ALIGNMENT between AU and keys partners (SADC, COMESA, UNECA, AfDB)
  • PROMOTION AND COMMUNICATION about AU and its Agenda, programs and the Pan Africanism

As I conclude, my very short opening remarks, allow me to quote one Afro-American leader, Malcom X and I quote: “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

We were not here for the glorious fight for our independence and decolonization, we were not here for the fight against the apartheid, but today we are here for a more bigger fight: the survival of our continent and the next generation of Africans.

If the saw called destiny put leaders like Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Krumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Nasser, Kaunda, Muammar Gaddafi and others on our path for the total independence of Africa, today this same destiny put all of you in the managerial and senior positions for the fight against this terrible catastrophe which is coming straight to us. And like in the past time, once again together we will overcome these difficulties.

Let’s remind ourselves, that if we don’t contain or fix properly these challenges, it will be hard to implement our continental agenda like Agenda 2063 and the UN sustainable Development goals.

African Union is fully convinced that we can do it and secure the future of our continent.

God bless Africa, God bless you

I thank you for your attention!

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