WRI Africa works to create an enabling environment to realize Africa’s potential for people-centered inclusive transformation by influencing policies and institutional environments to support economic transformation and inclusive, green and resilient development. Leveraging on our economics, climate and governance centers, we strive to fill key gaps in institutional capacity for integrated development planning at national and sub-national levels; support natural resource accounting and resource use planning; policy implementation and transparent monitoring and enforcement; and the design and implementation of efficient, effective and equitable policy instruments.

Mainstreaming Africa’s Climate Resilience in Development Planning

WRI Africa works with governments, leaders and other stakeholders to support the integration of climate and development objectives to create a climate resilient green economy in Africa.

The risk of climate change is increasing year after year. The last 19 years saw 18 of the warmest years on record, worsening food and water security risks, and increasing frequency and severity of hazards like wildfires and floods. Weather and climate-related disasters were responsible for thousands of deaths and $320 billion in losses in 2017 alone. While climate action can unlock powerful social and economic benefits, the pace of change is still too slow. Without urgent action, climate change will continue to pose harm to the planet and future economic growth.

Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is further aggravated by low levels of economic development and adaptive capacity, limited basic infrastructure coverage and services, and weak institutional structures. Two-thirds of the continent’s cities are at extreme risk of climate-related shocks, and the increasing incidence of drought and flooding is exacerbating poverty. To face these converging crises, Africa must address climate change and adopt a green economic model.




New Climate Economy

New Climate Economy (NCE) is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, comprised of former heads of government, finance ministers, and leaders in the fields of economics and business. Through economic modeling, policy analysis and strategic communications and engagement, NCE gives countries the evidence they need to protect their ecosystems, invest in sustainable infrastructure and transform their energy systems.

WRI Africa is implementing NCE in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

NCE Ethiopia: Integrating Climate Resilience into Ethiopia’s Development Planning

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia introduced the Mainstreaming Adaptation in Finance and Planning

There is a big gap in the understanding of how to plan for adaptation and mitigation of climate risks in most ministries. This is a major impediment for countries to make efficient climate-related decisions.

Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) initiative aimed at diminishing the adverse effects of climate change and building a green economy that will help achieve the country’s goal of meeting middle income status by 2050. However, Ethiopia has a long way to go to integrate the CRGE into future development plans. NCE in Ethiopia also supports the fast-tracking of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution to accelerate the transition to a green economy.

WRI works closely with Ethiopia’s National Planning and Development Commission to develop economic modeling that links climate, the environment and socio-economic considerations to inform development policies. We do this by developing tools and methods to identify and prioritize policies that can contribute to the attainment of climate and socio-economic goals, enhance the capacity of local institutions and promote understanding of how climate action can support sustainable development policies.

NCE Nigeria: Promoting an Inclusive Green Economic Transition

Nigeria faces an economic challenge with low oil prices, high inflation and rising unemployment. These challenges are exacerbated by climate change and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria recognizes that a well-targeted COVID-19 stimulus package coupled with climate action could help boost sustainable economic growth in the country. Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) is focused on taking ambitious climate action that will foster a low-carbon economy, sustainable development and climate resilience.

The NCE’s work in Nigeria will inform national or subnational policy planning to support action toward building an inclusive green economy with a special focus on poverty alleviation, job creation, gender equity, and opportunities to protect vulnerable populations.WRI supports the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its NDC targets through economic analysis to identify inclusive green recovery and transition opportunities in Nigeria with a focus on the energy and agricultural sectors. The two sectors employ the majority of the Nigerian workforce, contribute a significant amount to the country’s GDP, and are major greenhouse gas emitters.


Resilience and Adaptation Mainstreaming Program (RAMP)

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, RAMP is devoted to improving university teaching and building government capacity across a range of economic and financial topics related to the macro, fiscal, and financial risks associated with climate change. The program leverages local universities and technical partners to improve their core knowledge and planning capacities of governments to better align economic development with climate change risks. RAMP is implemented in six African countries by WRI in partnership with SOAS University of London. For more information about RAMP, visit: Resilience and Adaptation Mainstreaming Program.

What are the development issues RAMP addresses? Developing and vulnerable countries face multiple challenges in adapting to climate change. They are on the frontlines of experiencing impacts yet are not able to invest in adaptation measures to the scale needed. Developing countries are often fiscally constrained and debt-burdened, and often have low levels of capacity within government and supporting institutions to proactively understand, plan for, and address their adaptation needs.

What are the expected results of RAMP? As a result of this capacity building, developing country governments will be better able to align economic development with climate change risks. They will be better positioned to articulate needs for and access to climate finance. And countries will have higher capacity to make decisions on managing climate finance in alignment with national development priorities.


Scaling up Support for Locally Led Adaptation

Local communities are on the frontlines of climate change, yet often don’t have a say when it comes to making important decisions and implementing projects designed to help them. However, endorsement for locally led adaptation is increasing globally. In January 2021, more than 40 organizations endorsed the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation. In addition, the COP 26 Presidency stressed the importance of locally led adaptation in the Climate and Development Ministerial Summary, as has the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers communique. This support brings huge opportunities to strengthen adaptation action led by local communities.

WRI is working with partners to ensure that local actors are at the heart of decision-making in the design, finance, implementation and measurement of adaptation interventions. This project aims to put the principles of locally led adaptation into practice by encouraging political and financial support to enable communities to equitably participate in driving locally led adaptation.

Read more about WRI’s work on locally led adaptation.


Nature-based Solutions for Water and Heat Resilience

Cities around the world are increasingly facing climate-related disasters. Impacts from these disasters are costly and disproportionately affect already disadvantaged communities. While nature plays a critical role in responding to climate risks and provides additional benefits, these benefits are not always considered while identifying interventions to mitigate climate risks.

WRI supports the design, development, financing and implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address climate resilience in cities through a strategic planning process that helps identify, select and prioritize solutions that address specific risks and needs. This work helps cities assess their heat and water risks and map their natural, human and built assets by identifying data and knowledge that will help city governments understand their NBS options. The project is active in three countries in Africa: Ethiopia, South Africa and Rwanda. The city level strategic planning work is being implemented in Kigali and Addis Ababa.

Read more on WRI’s work on nature-based solutions.


Tracking and Strengthening Climate Action

Tracking climate action is critical to account for and report on progress toward meeting climate goals, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). With the recent adoption of the enhanced transparency network under the Paris Agreement, it is now especially important for countries to establish credible systems that accurately track climate action and inform stronger commitments.

WRI's Tracking and Strengthening Climate Action (TASCA) initiative supports governments to monitor the implementation and impact of their NDCs and the underlying policies that support them. The project also helps countries identify opportunities for countries to further curb emissions, enabling them to take on more ambitious climate commitments over time. The TASCA project works in Ethiopia and South Africa, among other countries, to strengthen systems to track progress toward tackling climate change.

Read more on WRI's work on tracking and strengthening climate action.


Building a Clean Energy Future for Africa

The global transition to clean energy cannot happen without addressing the challenges that prevent affordable, reliable energy access. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80% of the population depends on biomass fuels for their energy needs because alternatives are unavailable or unaffordable. Globally, 3.8 million people die every year of illness linked with cooking fuel. Most of them are women and children in Africa.

Access to clean energy can deliver huge economic and human health benefits. Universal access to clean cooking alone could avoid 1.8 million premature deaths annually by 2030, free up billions of hours spent cooking or collecting fuelwood and improve livelihoods for hundreds of millions of women.

WRI provides tools and data to support planning, coordination and decision-making in the energy sector to accelerate Africa’s transition to clean energy. We support policy reforms that incentivize investment in clean energy, job creation and capacity-building of the energy workforce. At the same time, we work to shape the research agenda on just energy transitions and elevate African perspectives on national, regional and global platforms.




Accelerating Access to Clean Energy in Kenya

In 2019, the Government of Kenya passed the Kenya Energy Act, which requires each of the 47 county governments to develop energy plans for their respective counties. The county energy plans focus on increasing the adoption of renewable energy technologies and sustainable use of biomass resources and will later inform the Integrated National Energy Plan. However, many counties have not yet developed their plans due to lack of geospatial data and technical capacity to undertake an integrated plan at the sub-national level.

In partnership with the Kenya Ministry of Energy, County Government of Narok, UKPACT and other stakeholders, WRI is supporting Narok County to develop a data-driven energy plan by developing GIS toolkits, such as the Energy Access Explorer, that will generate data at the sub-national level. The partnership also aims to enhance the capacity of county policy planners.


African Voices and Leadership to Ensure a Just Transition

Africa’s role in the global energy transition is unique as the least electrified yet fastest growing continent on the globe, crucially in need of resilience investments. According to the International Energy Agency, delivering prosperity to this growing population through pathways proofed against climate impacts will require at least a quadrupling of power supply by 2040. Thus, major attention must be paid to the continent’s energy systems, which are underdeveloped and severely under-resourced today.

Africa’s energy transitions and the role of domestic fuels such as gas have become a timely and polarizing debate given the immense difficulty of securing investment from the international finance community to further expand renewables in Africa. The very real and practical challenges of delivering mass amounts of reliable power entirely through intermittent renewable resources, bringing full sectors such as transportation onto weak grids, and the continent’s growing industrialization agenda which requires feedstocks that do not yet have economically viable commercial substitutes are all part of this debate.

WRI Africa’s energy program is engaged in research and engagement work delivered in partnership with the Energy Transition Commission and a host of local institutions. Our program synthesizes available data and evidence and provides stakeholders the tools to understand country-level transition pathway options and trade-offs for African energy systems, as well as what will be required to deliver these pathways, including the scale of energy system investment and finance required. These insights are directly delivered into dialogue and institutional initiatives, with the goal of facilitating the development of Africa energy transition plans and pledges. This work is supported by the European Climate Foundation and other strategic donors.


Linking Energy and Development

The 2019 Tracking Report by Sustainable Energy for All showed that the number of unelectrified households globally dropped below one billion for the first time. Even so, the world is not on track to meet the energy access targets set for 2030. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa, where 570 million people do not have access to electricity.

Energy services are highly interconnected with socio-economic development and human well-being, as critical services like health care and agriculture cannot thrive without reliable energy access. Linking energy with development goals and expanding energy access requires an integrated energy planning approach.

WRI partners with institutions in the health, agriculture and livelihood sectors to create broad-based solutions by producing tools and data to catalyze transformative solutions. WRI implements this project in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia to support the integration of clean energy in the health and agriculture sectors, inform planning and finance for adequate investment in clean energy, and enhance the capacity of local institutions.