2022 marked a milestone year for the Africa-Europe Foundation (AEF), moving from the inception phase of AEF to the preparation of our first triennial programming phase (2023-25).
The Charter of the Foundation, launched on the eve of 2022, outlined how Africa and Europe can work together to achieve a more equal, prosperous and sustainable shared future, and provided the operational blueprint for AEF’s strategic programming: from addressing the future of work and youth economic inclusion to working at the nexus of climate, development and health.
Promoted in the lead-up to February 2022’s EU-AU Summit, our Charter also outlined the need for new mechanisms to ensure “continuous follow-up and effective monitoring of commitments”, creating space for multistakeholders to facilitate practical areas of implementation. This recommendation was adopted in the conclusions of the Summit and ‘commitment tracking’ will be embedded as a central pillar of AEF’s triennial programming.
Yet despite the Summit marking an important milestone in new partnership commitments, Africa-Europe relations arguably worsened during 2022 and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (one week after the Summit). Our inception phase has exposed how relations have been impacted by fault lines that have emerged since 2020, among them the inequitable responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and the failure to deliver on climate finance highlighting the clear economic and power imbalances between our two continents. As our Charter underlined, any prospect of a transformative partnership “must acknowledge the prevailing power dynamics and inequalities of where we stand, build a strategic vision for where we want to go, and make sure that commitments made are implemented (…)”.
It is in this context that the Africa-Europe Foundation was created and finds its central purpose. Our #ReimagineAfricaEurope campaign and consultations during 2022 have evidenced that despite strained relations at the political level, there remains a strong appetite for exchange among the citizens and civil societies of both continents, and an enhanced recognition of the importance of a common approach to tackle shared challenges. This appetite for real partnership is not only the basis for our long-term programming but is already showing results: from catalysing cross-continental cooperation in new domains such as Ocean and Blue Economy to driving fresh thinking for international policymaking introducing impactful research on climate adaptation and global health.
Our Impact Report 2022 captures these results through three main chapters: ‘Transformative Dialogue’, representing our unique niche and the backbone of our action; ‘Focus and Foresight’, highlighting how the strategic domains of our work are resonating at regional and cross-continental level; and ‘Our Global Impact’, focused on the reach of our action and role as a network of networks. This impact is the result of our people and partnerships, providing the basis for a transformative phase of programming to come.