The first Africa Climate Summit was launched Monday in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, with delegates seeking to establish a unified stance ahead of upcoming global climate conferences and to explore strategies for financing the continent’s pressing environmental priorities, Reuters reported.
The main goal is to showcase Africa as an attractive destination for climate investments rather than merely portraying it as a victim of climate-related challenges such as floods, droughts, and famine.
Organizers have high hopes for the three-day event, expecting to announce deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Africa Climate Summit, which started with discussions involving environment ministers, business leaders, and climate advocates, is set to tackle critical issues such as the expansion of climate finance and carbon markets, increased investments in adapting to rising temperatures, and the transformation of food systems.
From Tuesday onwards, over 20 presidents and heads of government are expected to participate in the summit, their objective being to draft a declaration outlining the continent’s position ahead of the United Nations (UN) Climate Ambition Summit, to be held on September 20 in New York, and the COP28 Climate Change Conference, scheduled for late November in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In her opening remarks, Kenya’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, Roselinda Soipan Tuya, underscored the urgency of the moment, emphasizing that the climate change discussion had entered a new era: it is now perceived not solely as an environmental or developmental issue but as an imperative matter of climate justice.
“If we do not develop adequate response measures to deal with the climate change crisis, it will destroy us,” Tuya warned.
In view of delayed funding from wealthy nations African leaders have been advocating for market-based financing mechanisms like carbon credits to mobilize investments.
Nevertheless, the summit’s approach to climate finance has faced opposition from some African campaigners who see it as prioritizing Western interests over those of the continent.
They argue that carbon credits and other financing instruments merely provide an excuse for wealthier countries and corporations to continue polluting, insisting that African nations should hold donors accountable for previously pledged financial commitments.
“Africa needs funding from countries that have got rich off our suffering. They owe a climate debt,” Mohamed Adow, founder and director of the Power Shift Africa think tank, said.
According to figures by the UN, African nations contribute only about 3% of global carbon emissions; however, they are increasingly vulnerable to the repercussions of extreme weather events associated with climate change.