Africa Climate Summit will consolidate continent's voice ahead COP28

Environment CS Soipan Tuya. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

In a major break from the past, Africa will go to the 28th annual United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) meeting in the United Arab Emirates this year with a united position courtesy of the first ever Africa Climate Summit that is being co-hosted by Kenya and the African Union.

The Heads of State and Government high-level meeting is being held alongside the annual Africa Climate Week. Two weeks ago, jointly with the African Union and partners led by the United Nations Office in Nairobi and the Embassy of Denmark, we unveiled the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week Secretariat Office and announced the venue and theme as well as the roadmap towards the successful hosting of the two events.

Kenya was picked to host the Africa Climate Summit by the African Union in February this year during the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kenya's unanimous selection followed President William Ruto's offer to host the Summit in his capacity as the current Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change.

It is indeed a great honour for Kenya to host the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. The successful hosting of the Summit will add to Kenya's glittering profile as a global leader in climate action, underscored largely by our country's impressive trajectory in green energy transition, and global exploits by our conservation heroes led by Nobel Laureate, the late Prof Wangari Maathai.

Climate change is one of the three foremost ecological crises of our time, alongside biodiversity loss and pollution, all of which affect Africa more severely than other regions of the world.

We can no longer second guess or doubt the severity of the climate crisis in Kenya, Africa and the entire world. As a country, we are emerging from the worst drought in our nation's and region's history. The recent drought savagely destroyed our livelihoods leading to acute food and water shortages, severe destruction of ecosystems, and a reported loss of close to three million livestock.

Successive reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including the latest 6th assessment report, indicate that despite Africa being the least emitter of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, the continent suffers its worst effects.

Therefore, any delayed action by the continent and its backers in the international community, will continue to stagnate Africa's progress in terms of 
lost economic productivity. The continent's underlying vulnerabilities including socioeconomic and political challenges make the situation even worse.

Africa's prospects of attaining global development goals including Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Africa Union's Agenda 2063 will remain a pipe dream if climate action is not at the core of the continent's development agenda.

It is for this reason that President William Ruto made it clear that the time for changing Africa’s narrative on climate change is now. Kenya's position is that Africa should rise from the perception of being a mere victim of climate change to becoming a source of solutions to the crisis, out of the recognition that the future of the continent is highly dependent on its collective climate action.

We are grateful to partners who have come forward to assist with planning for the successful hosting of both the Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week led by the Government of Denmark which donated 1 million USD to support setting up of the Secretariat Office.