Alok Sharma visits Ethiopia in first foreign visit since his full-time appointment as COP26 President

1 Feb 2021

COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, visited Addis Ababa and Gabon last month to discuss how the UK can work with Ethiopia to address climate change challenges.

In his first overseas visit since becoming full-time COP26 President, Mr. Sharma met leaders from government and civil society, stressing the need for urgent climate action ahead of the important UN climate change summit the UK is hosting in November 2021, COP26.

His visit to Addis reaffirmed the UK–Ethiopia climate partnership signed by the UK Foreign Secretary, during his recent visit, which will step-up cooperation ahead of COP26.

Following high-level talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, and other senior ministers, Mr. Sharma launched Ethiopia’s ‘Enfluencers’ (Ethiopia, Environment, Earth, Education, and Entertainment) Network, a group of young environmental activists and influencers who are working to raise awareness and build support for climate action.

Speaking at the end of his visit, Mr. Sharma said:

“Globally, we must go further and faster to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change, and climate-vulnerable countries should be at the heart of that process.”

I have been impressed by the ambition and determination I have seen on this visit, particularly from inspiring young people in Ethiopia. I will continue to work closely with my friends in Ethiopia and Gabon and hope that both countries will continue to show leadership on climate action, which has such a vital role to play in the COP26 process.

British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Alastair McPhail, said:

“I’m glad that COP26 President Alok Sharma has recognised Ethiopia’s importance in the fight against climate change, in choosing it as the site of his first overseas visit in the role full-time. Ethiopia is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, but it is also a country with an admirable and ambitious green agenda.”

While in Ethiopia, Mr. Sharma also met the Minister of Agriculture, Oumar Hussein; Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shide; Mr. Mensur Dessie and Mr. Abdeta Debella from the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, and Mr. Gebru Jember to discuss Ethiopia’s negotiating priorities for COP26; and Ambassador Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

This year, the UK will host the UN climate change conference COP26, in Glasgow with partners, Italy.

This will provide an opportunity for the world to come together and commit to urgent action.

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