As the world’s top exporter of cocoa and raw cashew nuts, a net exporter of oil, and with a significant manufacturing sector, Côte d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) . The lower-middle-income country  is experiencing one of the fastest sustained economic growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa in nearly a decade. Between 2012 and 2019, Côte d'Ivoire recorded an average real GDP growth rate of 8.2% .
Much of Côte d’Ivoire’s recent economic progress has been based on its natural resource base . But the foundation of natural resources underpinning the country’s economic performance is diminishing. Between 1990 and 2014, the country’s natural capital per person fell by 26% , due to factors including deforestation, the depletion of water reserves, and coastal erosion , . If left unchecked, this unrestrained use of natural capital could impede economic growth in the long run and increase the country’s vulnerability to climatic and economic shocks , .
Côte d’Ivoire is highly vulnerable to climate change, as its economy is dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, and energy . According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change could reduce GDP across Africa by 2–4% by 2040; for Côte d’Ivoire, this would correspond to a loss of CFAF 380 billion to 770 billion (US$0.66–1.34 billion) in 2040 . Further, 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. Thus, the country must take immediate action to build resilience to environmental and climate change risks .
Particularly vulnerable assets are the country’s forests . Over the last 60 years, 90% of the forest cover has disappeared , making soils more vulnerable to climate change and reducing the ecosystem’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire is caused to a large extent by the rapid development of agriculture, with cocoa being the main driver of deforestation in the country .
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. Deforestation reduces the productivity of agriculture by depleting nutrient sources, changing rainfall patterns, and decreasing biodiversity. Climate change is expected to aggravate this challenge. For cocoa, yields may already start to decline by 2030, and if temperatures rise by 2.3 degrees Celsius by 2050, production in major cocoa-producing areas could fall substantially. As the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa, this would deprive farmers of their major source of income and the government of a major source of foreign currency .
Côte d’Ivoire’s coast is also highly vulnerable . Almost 7.5 million people live along the coastline and this region contributes close to 80% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) . But erosion affects two-thirds of Côte d’Ivoire’s coastline, threatening people, their livelihoods, and key economic assets. Already, the economic cost of flooding on the coast is estimated at 2.9% of GDP for 2017. If this is combined with the costs of other types of environmental degradation in the coastal zone, it increases to 4.9% of GDP. Sea level rise is expected to further aggravate this situation .
Key policies and governance approach
The government of Côte d’Ivoire has expressed strong political will to adopt the concepts of green growth and sustainable development , evidenced by the creation of a Ministry in charge of the environment and sustainable development and the adoption of Law No. 2014-390 of the June 20, 2014, Guidance for Development. In addition to this law, the legal instruments of certain ministries have undergone modifications with a view to integrating the principles of sustainable development, including the electricity code, the mining code, the public procurement code, the investment code, etc. . Notably, in 2016, Côte d’Ivoire embarked on a pathway toward green growth after the ratification of the Paris Agreement and adoption of the SDGs .
In accordance with the Paris Agreement, the State of Côte d'Ivoire revised its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2022, by updating its efforts to reduce GHGs. Côte d'Ivoire's updated overall objective represents a reduction in GHG emissions across its economy of 30.41% in 2030 compared to the reference scenario, using national means, and a conditional reduction of 98.95% by 2030 compared to the reference scenario, subject to appropriate international financial support. Implementation of the country’s mitigation target (30.41%), which is estimated at 10 billion US$, could create approximately 34,800 jobs in all sectors. Additionally, adaptation is a priority for Côte d'Ivoire given its great vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The cost of implementing adaptation programs in the most affected sectors is estimated at nearly US$12 billion. The priority sectors concerned are water resources, agriculture including livestock and aquaculture, forestry and land use, health and coastal zones. Adaptation measures could create 580,000 to 870,000 jobs .
In addition, the NDC considers cross-cutting aspects such as gender, the territorialisation of climate action, green jobs, and health and air pollution, which will generate significant co-benefits. For instance, taking gender into account can significantly improve climate governance, particularly in rural areas. With regards to green jobs, the country aims to reduce unemployment, while developing an economic model that is more respectful of the environment and human beings .
The preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change has also been strengthened in the country’s national planning. Côte d'Ivoire’s National Development Plan 2021-2025 (PND), which constitutes the main national benchmark for development policy, aims to achieve the economic, cultural, and social transformation necessary to raise Côte d'Ivoire, by 2030, to the rank of upper middle-income country. The plan revolves around six strategic development goals, namely: (i) acceleration of the structural transformation of the economy through industrialization and cluster development; (ii) human capital development and promotion of employment; (iii) development of the private sector and investment; (iv) strengthening of inclusion, national solidarity and social action; (v) balanced regional development, preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change; and (vi) strengthening of governance, modernization of the state and cultural transformation .
Successes and remaining challenges
The performance of green growth implementation has been tracked in Côte d’Ivoire using the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Green Growth Index with a series of indicators across the four dimensions of green growth (1. Efficient and Sustainable Resource Use, 2. Natural Capital Protection, 3. Green Economic Opportunities, and 4. Social Inclusion). Currently, there is a lack of data for Sustainable Land Use, Green Jobs, and Green Innovation, which is being discussed with the government of Cote d’Ivoire under a project to develop a more specific Green Growth Index for Africa. But overall, Côte d'Ivoire is performing better within Efficient and Sustainable Resource Use and Natural Capital Protection, with a weaker performance in Social Inclusion, and with a current lack of data to draw meaningful conclusions for Green Economic Opportunities .
Access to green finance and climate finance remains a high priority for Côte d'Ivoire to support implementation of the country’s NDC . The financing of the updated NDC, at a cost of about $22 billion, requires resources from climate funds and the private sector . An increase in green investment at local and national levels is also essential to sustain the structural transformation of the national economy and establish a framework conducive to the country’s green growth. However, mobilizing climate finance and green investments in Côte d'Ivoire is challenged by an inadequate regulatory framework in the country that prevents financial institutions from creating green credit lines or promoting the development of greener bankable projects; a lack of national direct access entities that can access the Green Climate Fund; difficulties for national entrepreneurs and private sector companies to develop solid green business models; and an absence of national financial institutional capacities to evaluate green business models or projects .
In addition, there are several barriers that prevent the country from reaching improved coordinated climate action, including inefficient measures to assess the country’s efforts to mitigate climate change; difficulty in mainstreaming and materializing the notion of green growth into projects, programs, policies, and regulations; a lack of harmonization in sectoral policies, which hinders national planning of climate activities; the absence of a long-term low-emission development strategy (LEDS) to support and guide actions; and lack of coordination between the initiatives, obstructing the follow-up and evaluation of the impact of the actions .
Initiatives and Development Plans
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will mobilize 25 billion dollars to finance climate change adaptation and green growth projects in Côte d’Ivoire by 2025. Several sectors are concerned by this initiative, including renewable energy, green mobility and smart agriculture, which will create at least 500,000 jobs in the country .
Additionally, the World Bank will provide significant financial support to back reforms aimed at strengthening public and private investment, human capital, and the sustainable use of natural resources in Côte d’Ivoire. The $400 million First Investment for Growth Development Policy Financing is a budget support operation that will support Côte d'Ivoire's ambitious goal of doubling average individual income and reducing the current poverty rate from 39.5% to 20% by 2030. Specifically, this funding will help the government implement policies to lay the foundation for sustainable and inclusive private sector-led growth. For the sustainable management of natural resources, the measures envisaged will support traceable and sustainable cocoa production, to ensure continued access to the European Union market and guarantee the livelihoods of rural populations, as well as strengthen the environmental regulatory framework, with particular attention to climate-vulnerable coastal areas .
In August 2021, Emergence Plaza, owner of the Cosmos Yopougon shopping mall in Abidjan, issued a corporate green bond at a value of $18.1m. This demonstrated a new type of financing that could boost sustainable construction across the country. Emergence Plaza sold the bond to Benin-headquartered Société Ouest Africaine de Gestion d’Actifs to improve its cash position. It was issued at a rate of 7.5% over eight years. Cosmos Yopougon also achieved green status in 2019, by way of the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification from the International Finance Corporation. According to Emergence Plaza, the shopping mall used the EDGE system to reduce its carbon emissions by 44% in 2020. This marks the first example of green bonds issued in francophone West Africa, as commercial banks typically do not issue climate financing – meaning companies rely on capital markets to connect them with buyers .
- Strengthen policy planning, regulatory frameworks, and institutional capacity to achieve green growth .
- Increase access to knowledge sharing, technical assistance, and innovative green financing mechanisms and solutions in order for public and private sectors to unlock green growth potential .
- 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 .
- Establish a national entity accredited by the Green Climate Fund as an innovative national financing instrument for climate change and green growth projects .
- Build stakeholder capacity in developing bankable projects and programs that can be funded by climate finance .
- Establish of a national measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system for NDC implementation .
- Mainstream green growth into all sectoral projects and programs for implementation .
- Develop a national long-term low-emission development strategy (LEDS), which aims to decouple economic growth and social development from GHG emissions growth .
- Create a national regulatory framework to enhance governance and the coordination between existing and upcoming climate initiatives .
- The agriculture sector needs to adapt to the projected impacts of climate change. Research will be necessary into resilient crop varieties and technological innovations. Farmers will require support in accessing new markets, improving agricultural practices, and reducing risks from crop failure .
- To stabilize the forest cover, the country’s Forest Strategy will need to be rigorously implemented and achieving zero-deforestation agriculture is key in this regard. Concrete activities may include developing and implementing forest management plans, strengthening sustainable forest management techniques, and improving coordination between government agencies .
- Increasing coastal resilience will require a joint effort with other countries in the region given the transborder challenges. Investment will be needed particularly in hotspots and should build on the experiences from pilot projects under implementation .
- Innovative business models and dynamic capital markets can harness the power of private investment to promote climate-smart industries including renewable energy, urban transport, and green buildings in emerging economies .
- A greener Côte d’Ivoire can be realized by strengthening resilience to environmental risks. Land use planning and infrastructure investments can integrate assessments of flooding and climate change risks into city planning. An integrated approach to planning storm water drainage and green spaces can increase resilience. Reducing emissions by linking people to jobs through mixed land use planning and mass transport systems wherever density is sufficiently high, and linking goods to markets through improved freight logistics are other aspects of this activity .
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