Blog of Mary Muia, SI UNEA Representative Nairobi Centre
The first African Climate Summit marked a pivotal moment in the collective resolve of African nations to address the formidable challenge of climate change. African leaders seem to have united with a shared commitment to take the lead in finding sustainable solutions despite the controversies and challenges that persist. During the summit, President William Ruto of Kenya noted in his opening speech that Africa, despite being a mild contributor to pollution, is experiencing the most severe impacts of global warming.
In synergy with the spirit of the summit and to inspire the younger generation to be at the forefront of climate action, 300 trees were planted at the State house Nursery Day School grounds on the 4 September 2023. Soroptimist International club of Nairobi Central adopted and committed to care for the trees as a part of the club’s Greening Nairobi City Project.
Climate change poses significant risks to the global community, with physical effects causing substantial economic losses. Over the past decade, storms, wildfires, and floods have resulted in substantial GDP losses. Africa, in particular, faces severe climate-related challenges, including drought, desertification, and increasing cyclones, leading to displacement, migration, and food crises; the continent has been grappling with the consequences of climate change.
Africa is also disproportionately affected by the global temperature rise and is projected to experience escalating physical climate risks. Additionally, African governments’ limited ability to respond to the climate crisis due to debt-distress and economic shocks necessitates urgent action to provide debt relief and increased liquidity.
During the summit, African leaders in attendance agreed to lead the way in finding sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.
The leaders who were present at the summit included Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Sassou Nguesso (Congo), Mostafa Madbouly (Egypt), Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana), Mohamed Younis Menfi (Libya), Julius Maada (Sierra Leone), Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia), Brahim Ghali (Sahrawi), Azali Assoumani (Comoros), Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea) and Macky Sall (Senegal) along with the host, Kenya’s President William Ruto.
The Africa Climate Summit 2023 was convened under the theme: “Driving Green Growth & Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and Beyond”. The #AfricaClimateSummit23 #ACS23 was not just a forum for dialogue, but an epicentre of action and solutions. The summit was an unparalleled avenue for Africa. The week-long summit covered four main focus areas namely; Climate Action Financing, Green Growth Agenda for Africa, Climate Action and Economic Development and Global Capital Optimisation.
The summit’s framework of action brought together governments, private sector organisations, international organisations, foundations and philanthropists to make and profile their forward-looking commitments to climate action. Leaders were especially encouraged to outline their initiatives, projects or policies and financial commitments. The collection of the commitments would set a new Africa led surge of action against climate change.
Unique side events held compelling dialogues that ranged from Sustainable Blue Economy Transformation Africa Agenda hosted by Government of Kenya in Partnership with UNEP, Ghana that highlighted the importance of blue economy in the continent. Africa boasts of 70% of oceans and seas territorial cover that is a potential to a vibrant blue economy engagement.
An impressive moment of the summit was when the Africa leaders committed to a Nairobi Declaration ten-point Call to Action that:
- Call upon world leaders to appreciate that decarbonising the global economy is also an opportunity to contribute to equality and shared prosperity;
- Invite Development Partners from both the global south and north to align and coordinate their technical and financial resources directed toward Africa to promote sustainable utilisation of Africa’s natural assets for the continent’s progression toward low carbon development, and contributing to global decarbonisation;
- Call acceleration of the on-going initiatives to reform the multilateral financial system and global financial architecture including the Bridgetown Initiative, the Accra-Marrakech Agenda, the UN Secretary General’s SDG Stimulus Proposal and the Paris Agenda for People and the Planet;
- Urge the efforts to refine the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments, but remain concerned that these efforts lack both adequacy and timeliness;
- Call for a comprehensive and systemic response to the incipient debt crisis outside of default frameworks to create the fiscal space that all developing countries’ need to finance development and climate action;
- Propose for a global tax regime to finance climate action at scale by crowding in and de-risking private capital, including but not limited to financial transactions tax (FTT) and emission levies;
- Propose to establish a new financing architecture that is responsive to Africa’s needs including debt restructuring and relief, including the development of a new Global Climate Finance Charter through UNGA and COP processes by 2025;
- Decide to establish the Africa Climate Summit as a biennial event convened by African Union and hosted by AU Member States, to set the continent’s new vision taking into consideration emerging global climate and development issues;
- Decide also that this Declaration will serve as a basis for Africa’s common position in the global climate change process to COP 28 and beyond;
- Request African Union Commission to develop an implementation framework and roadmap for this Declaration and to make Climate Change an AU theme for the Year 2025 or 2026
As we move forward, let us remember the importance of collective action and sustained efforts to secure a sustainable future for Africa and the world.