Transparency issues arise as Nairobi loses bid for Climate Network headquarters

Left-Right: Nicholas Abuya, global programme resilience adviser Christian Aid, Obed Koringo Climate policy adviser Care International and Charles Mwangi, head of programmes and research at Panafrican Climate Justice Alliance(PACJA) address the press on 28 March, 2024. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Climate civil society organisations have rejected the move by Santiago Network On Loss and Damage advisory board to deny Nairobi to be the headquarters of the network and instead chose Geneva, Switzerland.

They termed the decision “opaque, non-transparent, not inclusive and non-consultative”.

In January this year, the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) identified Nairobi as the right location for the Santiago network secretariat head office.

The official report by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) recommended Nairobi saying: “Based on the outcome of the analysis and considering all criteria relevant to the location assessment, Nairobi, Kenya has been identified as the optimal location for the Santiago Network for The Loss and Damage Secretariat Head office as it offers many advantages.”

This was based on the results of an analysis and criteria relevant to location assessment. Speaking in Nairobi on Thursday under the umbrella of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), they said the decision was an injustice, not just to Kenya, but to Africa.

This, they said, is because Africa suffers the most from impacts of climate change yet contribute only less than 4 percent of greenhouse emissions.

“Such a decision is an epitome of global injustice and the power-wielding tactics of the Global North to control all the decision making processes for responding to climate change globally,” said Edith Nasieku, chief executive officer of Nalala Tree Foundation, who read the statement on behalf of PACJA. 

She added, “We are aggrieved that the hosting right for a platform which embodies the struggles of the communities at the frontline of climate crisis, and whose location should symbolise the very palpable rationale of tackling Loss and Damage, has once again been unjustly snatched from a deserving developing country through a clandestinely nefarious process of manipulation, carrot-dangling and intimidation."

According to Nicholas Abuya, the Global Programme resilience advisor at Christian Aid, Nairobi scored 4.10 per cent out of the total 5 points, followed by Bonn (Germany) at 3.85 percent, while Geneva and Brussels (Belgium) tied at 3.75 percent as Addis Ababa scored 3.25 percent.

He wondered why Nairobi was shortchanged in place of Geneva without any reasons yet the latter did not rank highly in the contest. “The question is, on what basis did the advisory board use to settle on Geneva and not Nairobi or better still, why not Brussels because they had the same score?” wondered Abuya. 

According to Charles Mwangi, Head of Programmes and research at PACJA, the solution now is in the hands of Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN) and African Heads of State on Climate Crisis (CAHOSCC), whose chairman is President William Ruto.

"The parties to Paris Agreement can also take advantage of the upcoming meeting of parties in Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB58) in early June to push for the rescinding of the decision," he said.

According to Obed Koringo, policy advisor at Care International, the hosting of the secretariat may compromise its independence as it’s required to be independent. 

“The fact that Nairobi hosts various United Nations organisations makes us believe the decision was ill-advised and was not done in good faith and we reject this decision all together and call upon the advisory board to rescind it and call upon Kenyan government to come strong on this decision and Africa to refuse this,” he added.