In a world grappling with the relentless specter of climate change, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya, from September 4 to 6, 2023, stood as a watershed moment in the global battle for a sustainable future. This monumental event brought together an eclectic mix of stakeholders: over 30 African Heads of State and Government, distinguished leaders from the United States and Europe, UN envoys, development partners, private sector contributors, devoted civil society organizations, eminent researchers, and the academia fraternity. Their common mission? to confront the critical issues spawned by climate change in Africa, advocate for climate financing, and push for African-driven solutions to the forefront of the global climate stage.
The Urgent Call for Climate Financing
At the heart of this Summit was an imperative theme — an immediate and transparent escalation of climate financing for African nations. Despite Africa bearing the brunt of climate change, it has received a meager share of global climate funds. The Africa Climate Summit echoed a resounding plea for countries to honor the commitments made during previous climate conferences, particularly the long-awaited $100 billion pledge for climate funding in developing countries.
Africa: A Beacon of Climate Action
The Africa Climate Summit resounded with a single message — Africa refuses to be a passive victim of climate change. It has embraced an active role in crafting innovative solutions to address the formidable climate challenges. From sustainable housing and resilient food systems to biomass energy and green traffic management, African nations are pioneering approaches that benefit not only the continent but also the entire globe.
With this in mind, the private sector plays a pivotal role in propelling climate innovation and financing in Africa. The Summit also ignited the unprecedented support for private sector involvement in climate initiatives. Discussions ranged from risk management in climate financing and Africa’s potential in renewable energy.
UNDP: A Catalyst for Change
In the backdrop of this monumental gathering, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) played a pivotal role. UNDP’s Administrator, Achim Steiner and UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) Director, Ahunna Eziakonwa spearheaded the charge, advocating for key priorities that will sculpt Africa’s climate destiny:
- Increased Climate Funding: UNDP called for augmented and transparent climate financing for African countries. This encompassed reasserting commitments to deliver the much anticipated $100 billion in climate funding for developing nations and upholding the commitment to elevate adaptation funding to $40 billion, as initially agreed upon during COP26 and COP27. These commitments, while substantial, now appear as droplets in the ocean of the escalating climate crisis.
- Private Sector Engagement: UNDP underscored the central role of the private sector in climate finance. It called for unwavering support for African financial and private sector ventures, emphasizing the transformation of climate challenges into opportunities while prudently mitigating associated risks. UNDP also urged the global community to lend a receptive ear to the African financial sector’s voice in the global discourse on climate risk management and climate finance.
- Innovative Financing Mechanisms: To expedite climate action, UNDP accentuated the imperative need for innovative financing mechanisms. These include the exploration of green and blue bonds, carbon markets, and debt relief tailored for climate action. Of equal significance was the fortification of domestic resource mobilization for climate finance within Africa, fostering self-reliance.
- Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance: UNDP emphasized the profound significance of Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance (DRFI) solutions in enhancing resilience, particularly in vulnerable countries. The call was unequivocal — provide financial support to make these solutions more accessible and affordable.
A Summit of Promise: Shaping Africa’s Climate Destiny
This Summit transcended the realms of a mere gathering; it was a confluence of determination and hope. It galvanized African leaders and partners to pledge their commitment to tackle climate challenges head-on. The outcomes bore testimony to their resolute dedication to a sustainable Africa:
- The African Leaders Nairobi Declaration: A potent symbol of Africa’s unwavering commitment to green growth and climate finance solutions. It stands as an affirmation of the continent’s resolve to combat climate change while championing sustainable development.
- Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA): An audacious partnership involving Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe, backed by Denmark, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates, is poised to catalyze the swift adoption of renewable energy across the continent.
- The Moroni Declaration Partner Countries: African leaders inaugurated the Great Blue Wall Initiative, an ambitious venture aimed at mobilizing a minimum of $15 billion by 2030. These funds will bolster ocean conservation, job creation, and CO2 sequestration.
- Global Carbon Tax Proposal: African Heads of State boldly presented a global carbon tax regime, calling upon major polluters to allocate more resources to support climate action in impoverished nations. This proposal is set to underpin negotiations at COP28.
Africa’s Promise for a Sustainable Future
In summary, the Summit marked a turning point in Africa’s battle against climate change. It underscored the paramount importance of climate financing, private sector engagement, and indigenous African solutions. While substantial commitments were made, the Summit also underscored the urgent need for systemic changes and a renewed emphasis on adaptation and resilience.
The Summit illuminated Africa’s unwavering determination to assume a leadership role in the global fight against climate change. It offered a glimpse into the continent’s vast potential to evolve into a renewable energy powerhouse. Africa’s wealth of resources and inventive spirit can make monumental contributions to global climate objectives and propel sustainable development for all
Although Africa holds 40% of the word’s renewable energy resources and 30% of its mineral reserves, financing will be key to unlock Africa’s true potential to become a green superpower. Africa is not a continent seeking assistance; it is a continent teeming with opportunities, investments, and solutions. The Nairobi Declaration and the Summit’s outcomes serve as an unequivocal testament — Africa stands poised to carve a greener, more resilient future, both for itself and for the entire planet.
Article by: Martin Namasaka
Contributors: Eve Sabbagh, Christabel Chanda Ginsberg & Sheila Kimani.