Speaking at the opening of the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels on Tuesday, the Italian MEP also called for a “true Marshall Plan” for Africa.
This year’s event will focus this year on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The two-day gathering is the EU’s showpiece event for development aid.
In a keynote address on the first day, Tajani said, “We have to work with our African partners to address the root causes of migration flows. A true Marshall Plan needs to be part of the next EU budget in order to attract investment, infrastructure and to develop an industrial base while creating hope and prospects for the next generations.
“Investing in the empowerment of girls and women by promoting their access to education, finance, jobs, political and social leadership are essential levers for both economic growth and the fight against abuse and social exclusion. By galvanising population segments most affected by climate change, the foundations for a more fair and equitable society will be laid.”
On the margins of the event, Tajani will also hold bilateral meetings at the European Parliament with several African leaders including the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and the President of Liberia, George Weah, a former footballer.
Meanwhile, a group of civil society organisations has said that EU countries must “step up” to implement gender-responsive climate change policies.
The message was also timed to coincide with World Environment Day on Tuesday.
The call was made by six groups: CARE International, CIDSE, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, ACT Alliance EU, WWF and GenderCC-Women for Climate Justice.
They all urged the European Union to “step up its ambition” in climate action, highlighting the need to pursue the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
The groups say this is in line with this year’s EDD’s theme, ‘Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development’.
A statement issued on the eve of EDD said, “Achieving this goal, globally, would substantially reduce harmful climate change impacts which exacerbate gender inequality and cause huge economic losses, impeding sustainable development efforts.
“Transforming existing power structures is key to effectively combatting climate change and to entering a gender- and climate-just future.”
The six organisations said, “Climate change impacts, such as droughts, floods, and heat waves, already exacerbate poverty and gender inequality, with millions of women and girls suffering despite current action to cope with these impacts. The present EU emission reduction targets are insufficient to prevent a temperature rise above 1.5°C.
“Additionally, current solutions, such as the rapid acceleration of renewable energy use and protecting ecosystems, must be gender-responsive and deliver substantial sustainable development benefits, particularly for the poorest people.
“We urge the political leaders of the EU and its member states in their ministerial and leaders’ meetings in June to commit to move beyond the current target of 40 per cent CO2 reductions by 2030.
“Leaders must also nationally implement the recently adopted UNFCCC gender action plan and increase financial support in developing countries for women and girls’ efforts to adapt to and mitigate harmful climate change impacts.”