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Africa Climate Summit: Mixed reactions as Nairobi gathering gets underway

The Africa Climate Summit (ACS), taking place from September 4–6, 2023, in Nairobi, Kenya, has attracted mixed reactions from climate change activists who say it dominated by the Global North. 

The event, scheduled to run under the theme ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,” provides an opportunity for an African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions. It is expected to also act as a call to action for African Union Member States and supporting partners to champion its delivery.

While the summit is expected to be more African and seek answers to questions arising from challenges affecting the continent, some say it is dominated by the global North.

Mr Adow Mohammed, the Director at Power Shift Africa, a group that aims to mobilise climate action in Africa, says a large number of side events are being dominated by groups from the West instead of letting Africans be at the forefront as the most vulnerable and least responsible for the changing global climate.

“The so-called “Africa” Climate Summit kicks off on September 4th , but more than half of the side events, in fact 62%, are being hosted by organisations from the Global North. Africa is at the forefront of the crisis. We need African-led solutions!” said Mr. Adow.

Mr Adow explains that the move by the Global North to take over an event looking for solutions to the African climate crisis is unacceptable and shows how the they are trying to capture the discussion around Africa’s climate future.

“We must reject this neocolonialism. The disregard and greed of the Global North are what caused this climate crisis. We need African leadership to fix it. We thought this was an African summit for us to assert our climate vision at home. Of course, it was open to our partners from outside Africa, but for them to witness it, not for them to take it over! Let’s say no to the ACS takeover!” he stressed.

Mr Adow believes that the summit has an opportunity to become a place where the resilience of African peoples is prioritised and promoted.

The summit seeks to launch a new ambition for Africa and invite partnerships with the rest of the world. The platform also serves to showcase progress, exchange perspectives, and begin to converge on common priorities for global discussions, including at the United Nations General Assembly, G20, World Bank Group, and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings, COP 28, and others.

Mr Jibril Semakura Owomugisha, Uganda’s Representative to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–30 Platform, said the summit is a space for stakeholders to share ideas on strategic issues and link problems such as poverty, health, the environment, and trade together by creating global debate and publicising sustainability issues.

“Policy making, implementation, and evaluation are usually done through reporting by specific institution heads at these conferences. The summit assesses the health impacts of climate change, promotes potential health benefits of climate change mitigation actions, and fosters the connection between air pollution, climate change, and other environmental health determinants, such as biodiversity loss,” he told the Monitor. 

Ms Ireen Twongirwe, a green economy champion and Executive Director at Women for Green Economy Movement Uganda, told Monitor on September 1 that the summit makes sense as a space for activists to seek answers on massive natural resource exploitation that has left Africa in the face of climate change catastrophes.

The summit will be attended by African Heads of States and governments, global leaders, development partners, civil society organizations, researchers, academia, and relevant stakeholders, among others.

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