Two months to the 28th UN Climate Change Conference COP28 set for Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) late November, Kenya’s President William Ruto has called the developed countries to increase financing climate action and technology transfer to help Africa sustainably manage her climate-threatened economies and societies.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Africa Climate Week 2023 (ACW) on Monday in Nairobi, Ruto said in the face of the profound challenges posed by climate change in Africa, commitment to confront this existential threat to all of humanity must not waver.
“Africa’s abundance of wind and solar energy can power our development, creating jobs, protecting local economies, and accelerating the sustainable industrialization of the continent. But for us, finance and technology must be provided to our developing countries. As we come together at the Africa Climate Summit and the Africa Climate Week, we aim to weave a single, resounding African voice that will carry the outcomes of these crucial events to COP28 and beyond,” said Ruto.
While Africa’s per capita emissions are significantly lower than the global average, the continent is disproportionately affected by rising global temperatures and escalating climate consequences. Drought, desertification, and cyclones, among others, are causing food shortages, displacement, and migration.
At the same time, the continent is rich in resources like renewable energy, minerals, agriculture, and natural capital, standing ready to drive its own green growth.
“Africa accounts for just four percent of global emissions. Yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures: The people of Africa — and people everywhere — need action to respond to deadly climate extremes. I’m convinced that Africa can be at the heart of a renewable future. Now is the time for all countries to stand as one in defence of our only home,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
African countries have the potential to be the frontrunners in renewable energy, sustainable land use and innovative technologies, attracting investment, facilitating technology transfer, and positioning African nations as leaders in the global transition to green development.
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “The world is asking a lot: Develop, but don’t do it in the carbon intensive way that we did. It is a global responsibility to collectively work out how we do that. And that’s exactly what we’re here to do. So that African nations can come to COP28 leading in action and ambition. 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. The UNFCCC Secretariat can work with you to identify the solutions to attain those opportunities.”
The Africa Climate Week provides a timely opportunity ahead of COP28 for regional stakeholders to exchange on barriers overcome and opportunities realized in different countries, showcasing how Africa’s industrial growth can be aligned with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and drive economic progress while curbing environmental impacts.
COP28 will mark the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, an opportunity to critically assess where the world stands on climate action and to chart the course forward through increased ambition and action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Scaling up climate finance, adaptation support and operationalizing the fund for loss and damage will also be key priorities in the UAE.
“Africa Climate Week must be the place where we accelerate climate action across the African continent and finance a just transition to a climate-resilient future – a transition that empowers Africa to take control of its own destiny and become a green leader and economic powerhouse,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme, stressed: “Climate change is reshaping economies and impacting lives and livelihoods. The Africa Climate Week will show the implications of climate change for Africa, but also the solutions emerging from across the continent. Enhanced collaboration can drive progress by integrating climate considerations into economic and development planning, ensuring inclusive, sustainable growth through low-emissions pathways.”
Opportunities abound for strengthened cooperation across African borders, sectors, and disciplines, but effective climate action requires active engagement from all sectors. Governments and multilateral institutions hold central roles, yet civil society, academia, local communities, and the private sector are crucial contributors as well.
“The Africa climate story is about solutions for sustainable growth, and about innovation and opportunities to bring people out of poverty,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, Senior Managing Director of the World Bank. “Clean energy is key to this story. It lifts underserved communities; powers businesses, schools and hospitals; and creates jobs for young Africans. There is much to be done to get financing flowing and help countries leapfrog to low-carbon and clean energy opportunities. Africa is part of the new climate economy in action.”
ACW will amplify the voices of Parties from the African continent, bringing their collective voice to the negotiation table at COP28 and pushing for positive outcomes that drive meaningful shifts on both regional and global scales.
ACW is the first of four Regional Climate Weeks in 2023. The events provide a platform for governments, businesses, practitioners, and civil society to showcase ongoing projects, policies, and practices that are already effecting positive change, inspiring others to follow suit.