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Financing Climate-Smart Investment in Africa

At a time when climate change is making catastrophic weather events more common, boosting resilience in developing countries has become imperative. Success will depend largely on mobilizing private investment in climate-smart projects.

WASHINGTON, DC – On the evening of March 14, tropical cyclone Idai slammed into the southeastern coast of Africa. On the same day, some 1,700 miles due north, I gathered with global leaders and climate experts at the third One Planet Summit (OPS) in Nairobi, Kenya. The two scenes could not have been more different – or more closely linked.

The humanitarian emergency triggered by Idai continues to unfold. Beira, Mozambique, with its 500,000-plus residents, bore the brunt of the cyclone’s impact. But the consequences extend much further, not least because Beira is home to the main port for some of its regional neighbors, including landlocked Malawi and Zimbabwe. An inland lake the size of Luxembourg is now displacing hundreds of thousands of people across all three countries.

At a time when climate change is making catastrophic weather events more common, Idai amounts to a stark reminder of our collective responsibility to boost resilience, especially in the most vulnerable areas. After all, as Beira’s severely strained budget makes clear, the costs of waiting for disaster to strike are much higher. According to Lloyd’s City Risk Index, even in a conservative scenario, climate-related risks could cost cities $123 billion annually, on average, in lost GDP.

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