Written by Edna Chepkurui
On September 4th-6th, Kenya hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Summit. The Summit brought together several African heads of state, governments, and other world leaders who pledged their support to position the continent at the centre of the action against climate change.
The 3-day event also brought together representation from NGOs, civil society organisations and hundreds of African youth, women and special groups to discuss ways to deliver innovative green growth and financing solutions.
Unique challenges and opportunities for Africa's Climate Road Map
Africa is a continent at a crossroads in matters of global affairs:
The paradox of a continent that contributes only 3% of global emissions but suffers the most devastating effects of climate change
Having the most youthful population(about 70% of the people are below the age of 30) in the world that is highly unemployed
It possesses the largest arable landmass and vast sources of renewable energy and other valuable natural resources but faces severe food insecurity; about 600 million people need to be connected to power.
These realities formed the backdrop on which discussions at the climate summit were built in a bid to change the trajectory and place the continent on a level to better negotiate for her populace.
Kenya's President William Ruto said,
"Africa's youthfulness is precisely the attribute that has inspired African leaders to imagine a future where Africa steps on to the stage as an economic and industrial power, an effective and positive actor in the global arena.
Africa is the continent with 60% of the continent's renewable energy assets, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. We also have two-thirds of the world's uncultivated arable land that can transform smart agriculture into the production store of the world and the largest carbon sequestration infrastructure in the world."
Unmet $100 billion promise
African leaders were emphatic in their demand for developed economies to deliver on their promise to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance. They also called for radical reforms of global financial architecture.
Echoing the sentiments, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Africans bore the brunt of the worst effects of climate change despite having produced negligible carbon emissions. He stressed that developed countries must present a clear and credible roadmap to double adaptation finance by 2025 as a first step toward devoting half of all climate finance to adaptation. Referencing the Climate Solidarity Pact and Climate Action Acceleration Agenda.
The UN chief urged participants to think big.
"First, we need far greater climate ambition, with countries hitting fast forward and massively accelerating action to limit temperature rises and impacts. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Adaptation 'v' mitigation strategies
Past climate investments in Africa have mainly focused on mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. However, the Summit seems to have been a start towards investment in adaptation, which is viewed as long-term and a way to unlock more green investments in the continent.
The African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said,
"The global climate financial architecture must be changed to prioritise the needs of Africa, "He added that "at the national level, we must accelerate actions on climate adaptation."
The bank committed to providing $25 billion towards climate financing by 2025.
Additionally, Dr Adesina told the Summit that Africa must revalue its wealth by accounting for the proper valuation of its abundant natural resources, including its vast forests that sequester carbon.
"Africa can't be nature rich and cash poor."
New Global Commitment to Green Financing
Global leaders used the Climate Summit to unveil new commitments to finance green growth and sustainable development. Notable among them are :
AfDB implementation of $20 billion initiative, Desert to Power, to harness solar energy and deliver electricity to 250 million people across Africa,
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Etihad Credit Insurance, Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Company and AMEA Power to join Africa50 as strategic partners to develop 15Gw of clean power by 2030,
Biden administration pledged $3 billion annually for adaptation for the $12 billion program as part of the PREPARE Action Plan - https://www.whitehouse.gov/prepare, an additional $ 30 million to bolster climate-resilient food security across Africa,
European Commission pledged to be Africa's ally in efforts to close the continent's climate investment gaps. This will be done through efforts to create local value chains and creating jobs locally by investing in skills in order for Europe to diversify supply chains towards Africa.
The Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action
The Summit culminated in a joint document, The Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action, to set out the continent's position on climate adaptation, financing and green growth.
The declaration is also expected to call for the establishment of a global carbon tax system as a path to expand climate finance and incentivise countries to cut emissions.
The Summit also provided an opportunity to consolidate the achievements from COP27 held in Egypt last year, close the gaps that have arisen from the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan (https://unfccc.int/documents/624444) and provide the continent's road map towards COP28 to be held in the UAE, in November this year.