The Nairobi Declaration: Africa’s Stand in the Face of Climate Change

Reading Time: 3 minutes
World leaders attending the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya (Image credit: ADB)

The recent catastrophic floods in Derna, Libya, as discussed in a previous article, have drawn global attention to the potential role of climate change in this disaster. These events are just one example of the extreme weather events that have been affecting African nations in recent years. The Africa Climate Summit, held in Nairobi, Kenya, last week, aimed to find local solutions to enhance the adaptive capacity of African countries in the face of the climate crisis. Over 10,000 delegates participated in approximately 24 sessions, culminating in the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration. The question now is whether this marks a turning point in addressing the climate crisis on the continent.

The summit’s central themes revolved around climate action financing, a green growth agenda for Africa, climate change’s relationship with economic development, and optimizing global capital. These themes formed the basis for discussions, speeches, and interactions aimed at providing practical solutions to the climate crisis.

Keynote speakers included the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who emphasized the need for urgent action, stating, “Africa contributes less than 4% of global emissions, yet it suffers the worst effects of rising global temperatures.” He went on to say, “The G20 countries, responsible for 80% of emissions, will be meeting this week in Delhi. Assume your responsibilities.” Kenyan President, Dr. William Samoei Ruto, added that “Africa holds the key to global decarbonization based on its untapped potential.” The summit unanimously adopted the Nairobi Declaration, shaping the continent’s approach to climate change in the future.

The declaration calls upon the global community to uphold the Paris Agreement by reducing carbon emissions and providing $100 billion annually for climate finance, as agreed upon in Copenhagen in 2009 during COP 15. Developed economies had pledged to mobilize funds annually to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Today, 14 years later, we are witnessing an increasing frequency of climate-related disasters further emphasizing the urgency for action.

The summit also reinvigorated the concept of climate justice, with Africa presenting its justifications for claiming these funds. Arguments included having the largest carbon sinks, such as the Congo Basin, and abundant renewable energy resources. For instance, Kenya’s energy mix consists of 80% renewable energy, primarily from geothermal sources. Remarkably, this resource currently produces around 863 MW of power, with an estimated capacity of 10,000 MW, making Africa an attractive investment destination for companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Furthermore, the declaration linked the issue of climate finance to debt management and sustainability, including access to concessional capital from multilateral development institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). African countries also advocated for “debt pause clauses” and incentives to encourage climate-aligned investments.

However, some environmental organizations and activists have raised concerns about the declaration. They argue that it places too much emphasis on Africa’s role in decarbonization rather than adaptation. Africa, they contend, should prioritize a combination of indigenous and modern knowledge to promote adaptation and resilience across various sectors, including agriculture, water management, and urbanization. Additionally, the absence of leaders from major African nations like Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt may have impacted the declaration’s impact and acceptance.

Overall, the inaugural summit has initiated a global conversation on the impact of climate change on the global south. The real test will be whether these nations can present a unified stance at COP 28, scheduled for December this year. The urgency of taking action to prevent significant losses and damage from climate-related disasters cannot be overstated.

Written by Gathieri Kahuko

Share this:

You may also like...