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Explainer: Are Africa Climate Week and Africa Climate Summit the same thing?

 President William Ruto with AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki during the Africa Climate Summit at KICC on September 5, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

One of the high-level events and highlights of the first Africa Climate Summit (AWC) is Africa Climate Week (ACW), which will run on September 8, two days after the closure of the AWC on September 6.

ACW offers a platform for policymakers, practitioners, business and civil society representatives to deliberate with a view to providing region-focussed contributions to inform the global stocktake on energy systems, industry, cities, urban, rural settlements, infrastructure, transport, land, ocean, food, water, societies, health, livelihoods, and economies. 

The ACW is running in parallel with the Summit, as a supportive tool to provide a platform for policymakers, practitioners, businesses, and civil society to deliberate and share ideas centred on climate solutions, barriers to overcome, and opportunities realised in different regions, leading to the first global stocktake concluding at COP28 in UAE in December this year. 

While opening the ACW, the first of the four regional climate weeks, scheduled for 2023, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, said that both the ACS and the ACW events were unique in that they were tailor-made for Africa by Africa and would help the continent to tackle the climate crises

“The stocktake offers a unique opportunity to call for decisive change, and urgently respond to the need to accelerate progress by collectively embarking on a swift and profound transformation of our economic and social systems,” said Stiell. He said using the platform, participants will deliberate on what needs to be done to stabilise the climate and to build resilient societies, in Africa and throughout the world. 

The former Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment, Grenada, a developing country, further said that as the world grapples with the urgent challenges posed by climate change, ACW was tasked with addressing this pressing crisis through cooperation and forward-thinking initiatives to drive transformative change. 

“Every day this week, we will be putting our heads together to discuss how to build resilience to climate risks, transition to a low-emission economy and collaborate on solutions that can transform our economies through a just transition that benefits all sectors of society,” he said. 

He termed Africa an equal partner in the endeavour, which he said was offering its huge potential, even as he lauded the Continent for its outstanding performance in innovation. However, for Africa to take the lead, he said, finance must be viewed in the context of mitigation and adaptation in addition to other things. 

At one of the plenary sessions of a side event at the ACW, participants heard that climate change poses significant risks to the global community, with physical effects causing substantial economic losses. 

“Over the past decade, storms, wildfires, and floods have resulted in substantial GDP losses, and Africa, in particular, faces severe climate-related challenges, including drought, desertification, and increasing cyclones, leading to displacement, migration, and food crises,” said one member of a plenary. 

The participants further heard that the continent is also disproportionately affected by the global temperature rise and is projected to experience escalating physical climate risks. Further, African governments' limited ability to respond to the climate crisis due to debt distress and economic shocks, necessitates urgent action to provide debt relief and increased liquidity. 

In recognising all these challenges, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary said that the Secretariat would work with stakeholders working within the Climate Change space to identify opportunities for Africa and facilitate the solution. 

He said the discussions taking place here will inform the global stocktake about the challenges, barriers, solutions, and opportunities for climate action and support within the context of Africa. 

“Our response to the findings from ACW is a key opportunity to course-correct towards a sustainable future – how we respond to those impacts we know cannot be averted through our approach to loss and damage and operationalising the fund and funding arrangements at forthcoming COP28,” said the Executive Secretary. 

Some of the side events that have so far happened include

Regional training on Article 6 and Regional dialogues on carbon, climate innovation in agriculture, African voices on climate change: In pursuit of climate justice, deferred grazing approach for rangeland management in Turkana County, Kenya, roots of change: Youth-led climate action at the grassroots level with global insights, electric railways development in Africa – an opportunity for climate finance. 

Others are Solar-Electric Cooking Partnerships: Transitioning households across refugee-hosting countries in Africa by 2027, investing in Africa’s Youth for Exponential Climate Action, AB Testing for Farming - Unlocking Transformation of Smallholder Livelihoods in Africa, Charting a new paradigm for future adaptation finance among others. 

At the end of the ACW, leaders are expected to make ambitious pledges and commitments through a comprehensive "Pledging and Commitment Framework" that will guide future climate change working groups. 

“By embracing ambitious ideas and making bold commitments, we have the opportunity to turn the tide on climate change, not only in Africa but also globally,” said the UNFCCC boss. 

The partners for the ACW include the Government of Kenya, African Unions, ECA, AFDB, UNDP, UNEP, UNCC, and World Bank.

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