Africa is a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger. I’m at #TICAD7 in Japan to call on the international community to scale up its partnership with Africa for its peace and sustainable development efforts. pic.twitter.com/AYRoMz4fSM— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) August 28, 2019
The Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), co-hosted by the Government of Japan, United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and African Union Commision (AUC), was held from 27 to 30 August 2019 in Yokohama City, with this year’s theme of “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Japan for the three-day conference alongside world leaders and innovators, taking part in meetings focusing on sustainable growth, peace and security in Africa.
At the opening session, Secretary-General Guterres remarked, “I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger.” Here, we reflect on the Secretary-General’s visit to Japan.
The full transcript of the Secretary General’s opening remarks at the session can be found here.
Secretary-General Acknowledges Japan’s Significant Role in African Development
On the morning of August 28 and as a starter to the three-day period, the Secretary-General held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During their meeting ahead of September’s United Nations Climate Action Summit, he expressed his deep appreciation for Japan’s continued cooperation with Africa, particularly through TICAD, which he stated was an important milestone for Africa to achieve the SDGs.
Secretary-General Urges for Climate Action
Speaking at the thematic session “Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction”, held on August 29, the Secretary-General stated, “as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit by climate impacts. That is why, as well as tackling the causes of climate change, we must leave nobody behind when dealing with its consequences.” He further warned attendees, “little undermines development like disaster. Decades of sustainable development gains can be wiped out overnight.”
The full transcript of the Secretary-General's remarks at the thematic session can be found here.
At the subsequent press stakeout, the Secretary-General further urged both Japan and members of the international community to commit to significant climate action, commenting that, “for Africa, climate change is not a remote prospective – it is a crisis now. I myself visited Mozambique and saw the consequences of Cyclone Idai. I’ve been in the Sahel and saw the drought progressing, and with it, the disappearance of livelihoods for populations, people forced to move and the fact that conflict and terrorism were spreading, largely accelerated by climate change.” The Secretary-General’s statements were a timely reminder of the devastating impact of climate-induced disaster in impeding development in Africa.
The full transcript of the press stakeout can be found here.
The Secretary-General reiterated in an exclusive interview with NHK the gravity of climate change’s effect on escalating natural disasters and the consequent humanitarian impacts, such as forced displacement. He continued by highlighting the influence that young people have in pushing for climate action, such as 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Secretary-General Guterres in an exclusive interview with NHK
Secretary-General Guterres Discusses the Future of Development in Africa
During his visit to Japan, the Secretary-General held meetings with leaders from African countries.
Additionally, the Secretary-General met with numerous attendees, including heads of UN agencies and key persons who are actively involved in peace, security and development efforts in Africa.
TICAD from Another Angle
Between Tuesday 27 and Friday 30, UNIC Tokyo interns visited an array of TICAD7 side events and booths that covered topics ranging from medicine, sanitation and hygiene, to climate and gender. These unique presentations and booths offered numerous insights into the potential avenues of development in Africa, as well as the Japanese individuals and organisations involved in African partnerships.
Reflections on the Secretary-General’s Visit to TICAD7 in Japan
TICAD7 facilitated high-level discussions between governments on the potential opportunities and challenges facing the African continent, while also providing an opportunity for the general public to engage with the side-booths and events organized by various NGOs, companies, and government organizations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also reflected on the success of TICAD7 during his address at the 74th UN General Assembly held in September 2019.
The Secretary-General reaffirmed the importance of development in Africa, while insisting on the urgency of climate change measures. He noted that Africa is on the frontline of suffering the consequences of climate change, despite contributing minimally to global warming. He called for increased investment to bolster adaptation and resilience measures, reiterating that for Africa, “climate change is not a remote prospective,” but a reality.
TICAD7 concluded after three days packed with innovative side-events and high-profile meetings. For further details about the conference and to learn more about international partnerships with Africa, visit the official TICAD7 page here.