Ranked as 141 out of 182 countries on the ND-GAIN Index , Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, due to its geographical location, its economic structure, and its poor readiness to deal with the adverse effects of climate change . Côte d'Ivoire has already experienced a temperature increase of 0.5°C - 0.8°C, between 1970 and 2000 , . In addition, historical climate trends show that rainfall has decreased in the country , but there has been an increase in the frequency of extreme rainfall events .
Côte d'Ivoire's climate is expected to continue to change. Projections estimate, that by 2050, Côte d’Ivoire will face greater variability in rainfall, combined with hotter average temperatures . By 2050, temperature is expected to increase by 1.5°C – 3°C , with higher temperatures and more temperature extremes projected for the north of Côte d'Ivoire. At the same time, extreme weather events including heavy precipitation and severe droughts are expected to intensify . Sea level is also expected to rise (+30 cm) and if no action is taken, sea levels could even rise to 1.2 meters in the Greater Bassam and Abidjan areas. This will likely result in more flooded areas, leading to heavy loss of life and the forced relocation of families and economic activity . The damage costs of a 20 cm rise in sea level by 2050 in the city of Abidjan alone, assessed under the WACA program, has been estimated at around 460 billion FCFA per year . Due to the adverse impacts of climate change, by 2030, 2 to 6% more households could slide into extreme poverty, pushing an additional 1 million people in the country into poverty .
Climate risks are recognised in several important sectors of Côte d'Ivoire’s economy: coastal fisheries could see a 26% reduction by 2050, due to rising air temperatures there could be a substantial loss in surface area suitable for cocoa cultivation, and water vulnerability or stress, increased coastal erosion and loss of forest cover are also likely. Estimates from the World Bank suggest that Côte d’Ivoire could incur losses of CFAF 380 to 770 billion due to climate change between 2040-2100, with the agriculture sector, human capital, and infrastructure being impacted the most .
Agriculture, accounting for around quarter of the country’s GDP  and more than 75% of exports, is the primary source of employment and income for two-thirds of the nation’s households . The agricultural sector is mainly rain-fed and hence particularly vulnerable to climate change . The expected changes in temperature and rainfall patterns are expected to result in reduced vegetation and decreased ecosystem productivity in Côte d'Ivoire, due to soil degradation, reductions in water availability and droughts , , with negative repercussions on agricultural productivity and more generally on food security . Because of rising temperatures, some crop-growing areas are expected to become less suitable or even unsuitable for production, forcing farmers to shift to other crops or production areas, creating uncertainty and potentially risking their livelihoods. For cocoa, yields may start to already decline by 2030 and production in the lowlands—where the major cocoa-producing areas of Agneby, Moyen-Comoe, and SudComoe are located—could decline substantially . As the world’s top exporter of cocoa , this would deprive farmers of their major source of income and the government of a major source of foreign currency. Given its importance for Côte d’Ivoire’s economy and its climate dependency, the agriculture sector presents key challenges for increasing the country’s resilience .
Côte d’Ivoire is one of the world’s lowest emitters of GHG emissions. However, according to the country’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), GHG emissions in Côte d’Ivoire have been increasing. Between 1990 and 2012, GHG emissions rose by 8% .
In Côte d’Ivoire, 2012 is the most recent year used for the development of GHG inventories . The largest emitter in 2012 was the Energy sector (60.8%), followed by the Agriculture (32.2%), Waste (8.7%), Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) (1.2%) and the Land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) (-3%) sectors. For the Energy sector, in 2012, GHG emissions were mainly owing to energy of industries (40%); followed by transport (25%) and by residential (23%) .
Though the LULUCF sector was a net carbon sink in 2012, absorbing more CO2 than it emitted, this sector has since become the subject of greater attention at the national and international levels. This is because Côte d’Ivoire has based its development on agricultural expansion, which is the primary factor behind the loss of three quarters of the country’s forests. In 2015, the country had 3,401,146 hectares of forests remaining, down from 16 million hectares in 1900. Given that the most recent GHG inventory data for the country dates from 2012, a more up-to-date assessment is needed .
Key policies and governance approach
Côte d’Ivoire ratified the UNFCCC in 1994 and its protocols, in particular the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and the Paris Agreement in 2016. Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the framework for climate action in Côte d'Ivoire took a decisive turn with the creation of a Central Directorate in charge of the Fight against Climate Change (DLCC) to coordinate climate action. In compliance with its obligations to the convention, Côte d'Ivoire has already submitted 3 National Communications on climate change (2000, 2010 and 2017), as well as its first Biennial Update Report (BUR1: 2018). The country’s Fourth National Communication (QCN) is currently being drafted . Additionally, in 2015, Côte d'Ivoire submitted its first Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC with the objective to reduce its GHG emissions by 28% compared to a business as usual (BAU) reference scenario by 2030 , . However, due to the lack of precise data and measurement difficulties, emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) were not specifically included in the low carbon scenario .
In 2022, Côte d’Ivoire submitted its revised NDC for the period 2021-2030, in which it raised its climate ambition to 30.41% corresponding to a reduction of 37 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in GHG emissions by all sectors, including Forestry and other Land Uses, by 2030 compared to the new reference scenario. The country pledges to reduce its national GHG emissions by 10.5% by 2030 (compared to the reference scenario) through the implementation of measures in the energy, waste, and agriculture sectors, and an additional 19.6%, resulting from the implementation of measures in the Forestry and other Land Uses sector. Côte d'Ivoire could further increase its ambition in terms of mitigation, provided it receives additional financial support from the international community. The mitigation component of the NDC includes 38 measures (27 unconditional and 11 conditional), and implementation is estimated at approximately 10 billion USD .
The adaptation component of the NDC aims to achieve a reduction in high vulnerability by 2030 and to increase the resilience of priority sectors (water resources; agriculture, livestock, and aquaculture; forestry and land use; health; and coastal areas), with implementation estimated at around 12 billion USD. Further, beyond the mitigation and adaptation components, the revision of the NDC also considers cross-cutting aspects such as green jobs and just transition, gender, local authorities, and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), where a reduction could make it possible to avoid more than 7,000 premature deaths per year by 2030 .
Several other key climate related policies and strategies exist in Côte d'Ivoire including the National Development Plan (PND) 2021-2025 which has devoted one if its 6 priority areas to the fight against climate change (axis 5); the National Gender and Climate Change Strategy (2020-2024) aiming to make sure gender issues are considered in all climate actions; the National REDD+ Strategy (2017); the National Strategy for Climate-Smart Agriculture (SNAIC) 2018 - 2025; and the National strategy for reducing short-lived air pollutants with an impact on climate (SLCPs), among others , .
Successes and remaining challenges
One success in Côte d’Ivoire is the existence of strong political will for climate action, evidenced, for instance, by the inclusion of the fight against climate change as a priority area in the country’s National Development Plan (PND) 2021-2025 , . Further, the National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP) reported a strong interest from government officials in the country to understand and integrate adaptation strategies into their policies, as well as encouragement from government stakeholders to involve the private sector in adaptation efforts. In fact, Côte d’Ivoire is seen as a regional leader in influencing adaptation efforts in West Africa .
Despite this strong political will, much remains to be done both in terms of mobilizing public and private actors and in terms of operationalizing policies and strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. For instance, implementation of the NDC will require significant investments that exceed the capacity of the Ivorian State. Therefore, enhanced cooperation is needed between the Ivorian State, the private sector, and international financial institutions, including new climate finance mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the financial instruments of multilateral development banks . Concerning the private sector, though they are a key partner, Côte d’Ivoire’s private sector can still be hesitant to invest in climate initiatives due to large upfront costs, long payback times, and a general lack of awareness of how climate risks impact them .
Implementation of the country’s climate strategies and policies also face several other challenges, including: the country’s restricted technical capacity to produce and use climate information or scientific studies due to lack of research and development at the national level, ineffective climate change technology transfer, and limited national trainings on climate change; a lack of coordination between national and sub-national levels; insufficient mainstreaming of climate change in sectoral policies ; and the duplication of adaptation and mitigation efforts, due to the increasing number and variety of new climate initiatives in the country .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Côte d'Ivoire joined the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in 2005, the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Mechanism in 2011, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in 2013. In 2015, the country also embarked on the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process .
Since 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has participated in REDD+, supported by bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank. With financial support from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Côte d’Ivoire has received assistance in preparing a national REDD+ strategy and policy framework, establishing an emissions baseline, and setting up a system for measuring, reporting, and verifying emission reductions . The country’s National REDD+ Strategy seeks to reduce deforestation in protected forests and areas by 80% and to restore 5 million hectares of degraded land by introducing trees to agricultural and rural landscapes , . Given the country’s progress in the readiness process, a $230.5 million Emissions Reduction Program planned for the Taï National Park in the southwest is a first step in implementing the strategy. The country will thus be able to receive performance-based payments for future emission reductions .
Additionally, Côte d’Ivoire participates in the Forest Investment Program of the Strategic Climate Fund, which mobilizes financing for readiness reforms and leverages public and private investment to support REDD+ efforts, while also supporting climate change adaptation and other development efforts. Côte d’Ivoire’s Forest Investment Plan, supported by the Forest Investment Program with $80 million in 2016, supports a vision to balance economic interests with sustainable forest management and to promote action in sectors that drive deforestation. The government is also working with the private sector through the Cocoa and Forest Initiative to reduce the overall production of cocoa while raising productivity and formalization .
Further, since February 2019, the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) project “Strengthening climate change adaptation integration into development planning in Côte d’Ivoire”, is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the GCF. This project is building linkages with various climate initiatives to capitalize on the different expertise available and maximize the use of resources. Most recently, it was decided that a platform for private sector engagement in climate change adaptation would be set up in partnership with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and that a platform on Gender and climate change will be established to provide a framework for discussion with the main actors in this field. In addition, the project team is now involved with the implementation of the Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through NDCs and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) programme which focuses on cocoa value chains in the country.
Importantly, the project intends to build a structure facilitating synergies across climate adaptation initiatives beyond its own timeframe. One key deliverable in this regard is the creation of a National Commission for Climate Change to improve the efficiency of funds allocation in the country and track the implementation of projects in this field .
Goals and Ambitions
According to the country’s Voluntary National Review, Côte d'Ivoire intends to restore nearly 3,000,000 ha of forest by 2030, which will enable the sequestration of 94,162.248 tonnes CO2 eq., in order to significantly reduce GHG emissions in the Forestry, Agriculture and Land Use sector .
- Côte d'Ivoire should put in place a framework for sustainable socio-economic development which integrates the challenge of climate change in all sectors .
- There is a need for stronger cooperation between the national and sub-national levels on climate change .
- Strengthen the advocacy process for the systematic integration of the gender and climate nexus in sectoral plans, strategies, and policy documents at the national level .
- For mobilizing climate finance, Côte d'Ivoire should enhance cooperation between the Ivorian State, the private sector, and international financial institutions, including new climate finance mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the financial instruments of multilateral development banks .
- The establishment of market and non-market mechanisms is considered essential by Côte d'Ivoire to promote cooperation between countries .
- Create a National Commission for Climate Change to improve the efficiency of funds allocation in the country and track the implementation of projects in this field .
- Maintaining and strengthening the support from Côte d'Ivoire’s technical and financial partners is necessary .
- Côte d'Ivoire needs to set up a monitoring and evaluation framework for the implementation of the NDC, with the involvement of actors at all 3 levels: the political level, the technical level, and the administrative level .
- Collaborate with Côte d'Ivoire’s universities and research centres. The promotion of national level and localized research and development could facilitate international technology transfers and the development of domestic technologies. Local-level data generation practices, analyses, and dissemination will also encourage researchers and practitioners to produce rigorous research, and policy makers to apply it in decision making .
- There is a strong need for continued capacity building . Opportunities include (i) providing national entities with appropriate equipment; (ii) training and supervising the staff of national entities; (iii) improving and consolidating the synergy of national entities; and (iv) supporting monitoring and early warning systems in the country .
- Promote renewable energies and improve energy efficiency, including in the field of mobility and transport .
- Encourage research on crop varieties that can withstand higher temperatures and cope with changes in precipitation, as well as technological innovations that can intensify production and compensate for climate change .
- Farmers will require support in accessing new markets, improving agricultural practices, and reducing risk from crop failure through income diversification, microcredits, and insurance systems. These areas may benefit from promoting cooperatives for smallholders. Climate and carbon finance instruments could provide incentives for sustainable landscape management .
- To reduce deforestation and stabilize forest cover, the government should continue to implement its existing strategies and policies, including the Forest Strategy, and build on the lessons learned under the REDD+ process .
- Achieving zero-deforestation agriculture will be key. But this will require establishing standards for sustainable cocoa production, which will then limit deforestation and protect the incomes of the people working in the cocoa value chain. Such standards could also boost international private investment in the cocoa sector by allowing companies to honour their corporate commitments to purchase deforestation-free cocoa .
- Implementing agroforestry in current cocoa growing areas alone in Côte d'Ivoire could potentially help to store an extra 120 million metric tons of carbon .
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