How the IMF Can Support African Countries Deal with Climate Change

Evidence suggests that Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change. While African countries contribute relatively little to global emissions, they remain significantly vulnerable to the devastating economic effects of this phenomenon. This paper reviews IMF activities and explores how best the IMF could support efforts by African countries to cope with macroeconomic policy and structural challenges associated with climate change. To this end, while recognizing the relative significance of the overall IMF contribution to addressing this global challenge, we make several recommendations about potential ways to strengthen the role of IMF surveillance, capacity development and financing.

First, IMF staff should ensure that policy advice in the context of global, regional and country surveillance fit specific circumstances and institutional capacity of African countries as well as their economic vulnerabilities to climate change. To enable timely response to climate-related crises, staff teams should also be prepared to provide advice on a flexible basis, without being tied to formal periodic work schedules. Additionally, the IMF could facilitate adaptation and mitigation by engaging in intensive outreach activities about the economic impact of climate change.

Second, there is merit in developing comprehensive IMF capacity development strategies in close collaboration with the authorities in climate-vulnerable countries. For effective implementation, the IMF will need to identify and actively seek adequate financing for capacity development activities on climate issues.

Finally, while the Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) is a welcome addition to the IMF toolkit and represents a potentially significant source of financing for some sub-Saharan African countries, specific amendments could be considered notably with a view to limiting the potential cost for low-income borrowers to access its resources. Moreover, successful operationalization of the RST hinges on careful and flexible design of conditionality and how programs under the new facility will be linked to concurrent upper-credit tranche programs.


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