How Posts can advance a climate-resilient future

The postal sector can play a key role in helping raise awareness in rural populations in Africa about the need to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future and the technologies required, according to Gareth Phillips, Climate and Environment Finance Manager at the African Development Bank (AfDB). 

Phillips featured in the latest episode of the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) Voice Mail podcast, discussing how AfDB and other entities are helping to build climate resilience in Africa – a region which currently only receives about 3.5-4% of total global climate finance, amounting to approximately US$ 20 billion.

“Africa benefits very little in global terms from climate finance,” he said. “This is especially concerning given that the continent is home to nine out of ten of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change. Most of the funding currently goes towards mitigation activities, which is good, but Africa’s main need is to adapt to climate change.”

The AfDB’s role is to contribute to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the least developed African countries by providing concessional funding for projects and programmes, as well as technical assistance for studies and capacity-building activities.

“Increasingly, we have seen a greater focus on climate change and providing finance that addresses this,” Phillips continued. “In fact, we currently have a goal where 40% of all our investments need to be classed as climate finance.”

Africa contributes the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions among all the world’s regions – around 3-4%. Phillips, however, believes emissions reduction is still important across the continent, as is climate resilience. Alongside raising awareness of climate impacts, Posts also must become “Paris aligned,” noted Phillips, and adopt policies that will help them meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement to be net zero by 2050. 

“First, they should look at their own activities and see how they can be made more climate friendly, such as using more fuel-efficient vehicles and recycling,” he continued. “They should also be exploring how they can use renewable energy, such as solar power, which has great potential in Africa. Posts could also get more involved in climate resilient activities, such as providing insurance for farmers, and information systems on weather. The agricultural industry in Africa is especially vulnerable to climate change – if there is no rain, then income is impacted.”

Phillips also noted that if more organizations, like posts, invest in renewable energy then they are also contributing to the bigger picture – the production of green hydrogen, which has great potential in Africa in decarbonising hard-to-abate industrial sectors. According to a 2022 report from the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance, green hydrogen could sustainably industrialize Africa and boost GDP by 6 to 12% in six key countries.

Phillips, who also manages AfDB’s Africa Climate Change Fund, notes that there are funds available to help Posts develop climate resilient initiatives. “The Green Climate Fund is the main funding mechanism,” he explained. “These funds can be accessed through accredited entities, such as the AfDB, which is an international accredited entity that can apply for funds to support projects across the continent. There are also direct access entities at the country-level. This would be the most appropriate route for a post in a specific country. 

“Posts would need to come up with a project proposal that demonstrates how they are going to reduce emissions and become more climate resilient. This would then be submitted to the Green Climate Fund to seek grants or concessional loans,” Phillips concluded. 

To listen to the full podcast featuring Phillips, visit Voice Mail: Building climate resilience in Africa. The UPU will also hold a climate-focused webinar in April 2023 as part of its Voice Mail Exchanges series, which will build on this discussion. The next podcast will feature the UN Road Safety Fund and focus on the Post’s role in raising awareness and leading by example to support important causes.