As the inaugural Africa Climate Summit kicks off on Monday in Nairobi, Kenya, President Bola Tinubu, and former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are some of the African leaders expected to grace the event to address key issues around climate change including green growth, carbon pricing, climate financing, climate adaptation, renewable and clean energy, among others.
Hosted by Kenyan President William Ruto, who doubles as the Chairman of the Committee of Heads of State of the African Union on Climate Change, the summit is themed: “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,” the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) 2023, kicks off on Monday, in Nairobi, Kenya, “with the crucial objective of delivering green growth and climate finance solutions, for Africa.”
Throughout the event, heads of state are expected to join forces to develop a united “stance on vital issues such as adaptation and resilience, renewable energy, sustainable development, food and water security, and financing for climate action on the African continent,” the organisers said.
The discussions are expected to serve as vital preparations leading to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 28, scheduled for November in the United Arab Emirates.
Ruto’s speech raises hope
Welcoming the delegates and every participant to the summit, the Kenyan President, William Ruto, acknowledged that the challenges posed by climate change are real but he insisted that they are not insurmountable.
He said though Africa’s carbon footprint is small, the human toll of climate change is disproportionately high. “The urgency to address loss and damage, and to configure appropriate financial mechanisms for resilience grows with each extreme weather event and each bout of climate-induced insecurity. A complex interplay of needs and responsibilities is a daily challenge, but it should not lead to a deadlock.”
He urged the participants to see the challenges as windows of opportunity to grow and lead the world into prosperity.
He said; “Delivering prosperity and well-being for Africa’s growing population without pushing the world deeper into climate disaster is not an abstract proposition or mere wishful thinking, it is a real possibility proven by science and affirmed by emerging experience. An opportunity-oriented focus on climate action is the engine for propelling Africa into a realm of stability and prosperity, elevating us to middle-income status and beyond.
“This context is precisely what sets this Climate Summit apart from others. It aims to unite us– across neighbourhoods, across sectors and institutions, across country borders, across continents and generations. It is because we all have a shared stake in the Earth’s ability to sustain life, that we must envision together a future that embraces the values of equality, human security, and shared prosperity.”
Mr Ruto said Africa possesses all the necessary conditions to realise the future so much desired, describing its vast population of young and growing workforce as the continent’s biggest asset.
He said the workforce is not only young but also educated, skilled, and motivated to pursue industry, innovation, and enterprise.
He added; “We have ample renewable energy potential, and the natural assets and resources to green our own consumption, and meaningfully contribute to decarbonisation of the global economy. We must see in green growth not just a climate imperative, but also a fountain of multi-billion-dollar economic opportunities that Africa and the World are primed to capitalise on.
“We are brought together by a clear understanding and deep concern about the inadequacy of our present means, in terms of institutions and available finances, to deal effectively with the magnitude of our collective threats and challenges. But we will not shy away from the difficult conversations and uncomfortable realities that must be faced to achieve meaningful change. Policy, regulation, taxation, trade, and climate justice will all be scrutinised, in national, regional and global contexts. Yet the way we frame these discussions matters. I invite all to adopt an “opportunity lens” as we navigate these complex dialogues.”
Though it is not clear if Nigeria’s President will be available for the summit, he is expected on Tuesday to feature alongside other African leaders at a plenary session tagged; “Chatting a Vision: Investment Opportunities for Green Growth.”
The session, which is expected to be moderated by another Nigerian, United Nations Representative of the Secretary-General/CEO of the Energy for All, Damilola Ogunbiyi, is expected to feature other panellists including the host President of Kenya, William Ruto; Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister, and the President of Senegal, Macky Sall.
Meanwhile, on his part, Mr Osinbajo is expected on Monday to be part of a panel discussion on the topic: “Carbon Markets in the Global South.”
AU, UNFCC, others speak
Meanwhile, during the opening session, representatives of various organisations including the African Union Commission, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Indigenous People of Africa, among other groups.
Representing the AU Commission, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, Josefa Sacko, described the summit as an unwavering commitment to rebuilding Africa as a continent filled with huge resources.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, Simon Stiell, urged African leaders to empower local transformation so that Africa can be at the COP28 well-prepared and united in their position to advance conversations around climate change.
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