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Opportunities for climate philanthropy engagement in Africa

By Dalberg Advisors and ClimateWorks Foundation

In 2019, ClimateWorks Foundation and Good Energies Foundation commissioned new research and analysis to help the philanthropic community better understand climate change mitigation opportunities in Africa that would also deliver strong development co-benefits. This research identifies a range of opportunities based on a broad assessment of potentially high-emitting regions and sectors as well as the current and potential philanthropic funding landscape. The results of this work are intended to be a resource for the philanthropic field, but not a specific roadmap for individual funders.

Four large structural transformations across the African continent are driving emissions growth — electrification, urbanization, land use change, and industrialization. These major trends  will shape both the economic development and climate impacts from Africa in the coming decades.

While the world is trying to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, total emissions across Africa are projected to increase by over 2.5 times by 2050 to roughly 7.7 GtCO2e, based on a reference scenario. Although climate adaptation will continue to be a focus in Africa, these projections indicate that mitigation is increasingly important. However, Africa currently receives less than 3% of global climate philanthropic funding for mitigation. Climate philanthropy can play a key role in catalyzing financing to support broader mitigation efforts with the potential to boost economic and/or social development by increasing productivity or reducing poverty, unemployment, and inequality.

There is an immediate window in the coming three to five years for philanthropy to support climate mitigation efforts, as African countries develop implementation plans for their Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the Paris Climate Agreement and mobilize resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Philanthropy can help reduce emissions growth driven by the four structural transformations in three ways that also contribute to low-carbon economic development:

  • Opportunities to shape systemic transformations
  • Sector-specific opportunities to drive change
  • Cross-cutting opportunities


Within these three categories, the report identifies 17 opportunity areas for philanthropy to shape critical systems, transform key sectors, and support cross-cutting investments to support mitigation efforts in Africa.

For more information on the study, contact Casey Cronin (ClimateWorks Foundation) or Oren Ahoobim (Dalberg Advisors).

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Published February 24, 2020