Forging an Africa-Europe Climate Alliance: green transition, sustainable energy and agriculture

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Forging an Africa-Europe Climate Alliance: green transition, sustainable energy and agriculture


The 4th Meeting of the High-Level Group of Personalities will focus on the potential for an Africa-Europe Climate Alliance as a central plank of the two regions’ efforts to renew and reset their relations. The meeting will identify key areas of convergence and divergence in the two continents’ approach to climate change and sectoral cooperation on Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Energy, with a strategic focus on the rethink required today for long-term development.

Given the current context, are policy-makers right to talk about a “green recovery” or a more holistic transformative climate change-development nexus? What are the areas of convergence and divergence when it comes to an Africa-Europe Strategic Climate Alliance? In which way can Africa and Europe enhance its economic, social and environmental resilience through sustainable energy and agri-food systems, and what are the catalytic and transformative initiatives which could define Africa-Europe cooperation in these domains? The output of the High-Level Group Meeting will help shape the preparation of the AU-EU Summit planned for the end of October 2020 including the preparation of a new report with a thematic focus on the green agenda, sustainable energy and agriculture to be finalised in the leadup to the Summit.

Members of the High Level Group will be joined by guests including Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Amani Abou- Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Saliem Fakir, Executive Director of the African Climate Foundation, and Sara Mbago-Bhunu, Director for East and Southern Africa Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD – among many others.

The EU-Africa High-Level Group of personalities is a joint initiative launched by Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the ONE Campaign in 2018. Meeting twice a year, once in Africa and once in Europe, the group explores mutually beneficial ways for the two continents to work together effectively across core policy areas, including development cooperation, trade, investments, entrepreneurship, digital, migration flows, security, and climate change.

The selected EU and African personalities are high-level experts and much-respected thinkers who can provide honest opinions and ideas, not afraid to speak truth to power. The high-level group helps craft a new narrative for a modernised and prospect-oriented Africa-Europe relationship. Their suggestions and recommendations not only feed into the strategies of upcoming political discussions in Africa and the EU but also ensure concrete actions.

This event is exclusively for members of the EU-Africa High-Level Group and invited guests.

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PHOTO CREDIT: European space agency (ESA)



Building a sustainable EU-Africa climate alliance Expand Building a sustainable EU-Africa climate alliance

Introductory remarks by Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Founding Member of the EU-Africa High-Level Group of Personalities, and Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.

Scene setting by Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of United Nations-Energy, and Chief Executive Officer of SEforALL, and Kandeh Yumkella, Special Advisor on leading African energy initiatives and agricultural economist. This will be followed by an open debate.

Institutional perspectives will be provided by both Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and Amani Abou- Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, with Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), providing insights from the African Ministerial Roundtable the day before.

The final part of the meeting will focus on the upcoming strategic milestones for Africa-Europe cooperation and orientations for the HLG report on the green agenda, sustainable sustainable energy and agriculture.

End of meeting
Participating Members

Participating Members

Fatih Birol
Fatih Birol

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

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Fatih Birol took office as Executive Director of the IEA in September 2015, twenty years after first joining the agency. He previously held the positions of Chief Economist and Director of Global Energy Economics, with responsibilities that included directing the flagship World Energy Outlook publication. Dr. Birol has been named by Forbes Magazine among the most powerful people in terms of influence on the world’s energy scene.

Etienne Davignon
Etienne Davignon

Belgian Minister of State and former vice-president of the European Commission

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Etienne (Stevy) is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.

Photo of Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe
Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe

Former prime minister of Ethiopia and former president of the African Union

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Hailemariam served as 14th Prime Minister of Ethiopia and as Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, from 2012 to 2018. He also previously served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. His politics builds on that of his predecessor Zenawi, contributing to making Ethiopia a bastion of stability, inhabited by over 100 million people. Hailemariam also served as the chairperson of the African Union during his time as prime minister.

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Mo Ibrahim

Chair and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

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Sudanese-born Mo Ibrahim built his fortune in telecommunications, landing him a place on the Forbes 2011 Billionaire list. One of his many successful ventures was Celtel International, operating as one of Africa’s leading mobile telephone companies which pioneered mobile services in the continent. In 2006, he established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in order to support good governance and exceptional leadership on the African continent. His approach is two-fold: to reward responsible leaders through the annual Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, and to highlight countries with good governance through the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). In shedding light on democracy and human rights in African nations, Ibrahim aims to re-brand Africa and change the perceptions many have of the continent.

Photo of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former president of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate

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Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the world’s first elected black female president and Africa’s first elected female head of state. Ellen began her political career in William Tolbert’s government as Deputy Minister of Finance in 1971. After Samuel Doe seized power in a coup d’état, Ellen fled to the United States. Returning to Liberia, she won the 2005 presidential election and remained in office until 2018. In 2016, she was elected as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), making her the first woman to hold the position since it was created. In 2011, Ellen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

Ramtane Lamamra

African Union Commission High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa, former African Union commissioner for peace and security, and former minister of foreign affairs of Algeria

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Photo of Pascal Lamy
Pascal Lamy

Honorary President of Notre Europe - Jacques Delors Institute, former director general of the World Trade Organisation, and former European commissioner for trade

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Pascal is a French politician and author. As a Member of the French Socialist party, he was Chief of Staff for the President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors. Afterwards, he returned to Brussels to become the European Trade Commissioner and then served for two consecutive terms as General Director of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In a 2014 poll cast by the British magazine Prospect, he was named as one of the world’s top 50 leading thinkers.

Photo of Carlos Moedas
Carlos Moedas

Member of the Board of Trustees of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and former European commissioner for research, science, and innovation, and former Portuguese undersecretary of state

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