Africa Climate Summit 2023 – Nairobi: Resource page
Climate change and global warming pose significant risks to the global community. Its effects are felt in the physical environment in the form of increasing droughts, floods, wildfires, desertification and rising greenhouse gas emissions, among other things, but importantly also significant economic losses. The impact of climate change is evident in increasing displacement, mass migration, conflict and instability, environmental degradation, and food crises. Urgent action is required by the global community to curb climate-related risks and improve resilience to its effects. It is for this reason that 'Climate action' is included as Goal 13 of the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda
Africa is disproportionally affected by the global rise in temperatures and escalating climate-related risks. Unfortunately, many African governments have shown limited ability to respond to the climate crisis and economic shocks it has caused.
Africa Climate Summit 2023
Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world
The inaugural Africa Climate Summit, championed by H.E. President Ruto of Kenya, took place from 4-6 September 2023 in Nairobi, focused on delivering climate-positive growth and finance solutions for Africa and the world. It sought to address the increasing exposure to climate change and global warming, and its associated costs, both globally and particularly in Africa.
The Summit focused on the following thematic areas:
Climate action financing
Green growth agenda for Africa
Climate action and economic development
Global capital optimisation
Alongside the official programme, several side events were organised by African and international organisations, including AUDA-NEPAD, UNECA, the African Development Bank, World Resources Institute, WWF, IEA, various UN agencies as well as development partners.
Visit the official website here.
Leaders at the Summit were called upon to make ambitious pledges and commitments, as well as present a framework to guide these actions. The Summit produced an outcome document – the Nairobi Declaration of 6 September 2023.
Select extracts from the Declaration:
The Leaders made the following commitments:
We commit to:
21. Developing and implementing policies, regulations and incentives aimed at attracting local, regional and global investment in green growth and inclusive economies;
22. Propelling Africa's economic growth and job creation in a manner that not only limits our own emissions but also aids global decarbonization efforts, by leapfrogging traditional industrial development and fostering green production and supply chains on a global scale;
23. Focusing our economic development plans on climate-positive growth, including expansion of just energy transitions and renewable energy generation for industrial activity, climate-aware and restorative agricultural practices, and essential protection and enhancement of nature and biodiversity;
24. Strengthen actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, desertification, as well to restore degraded lands to achieve land degradation neutrality;
25. Strengthening continental collaboration, which is essential to enabling and advancing green growth, including but not limited to regional and continental grid interconnectivity, and further accelerating the operationalization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement;
26. Advancing green industrialization across the Continent by prioritizing energy-intense industries to trigger a virtuous cycle of renewable energy deployment and economic activity, with a special emphasis on adding value to Africa's natural endowments;
27. Redoubling our efforts to boost agricultural yields through sustainable agricultural practices, to enhance food security while minimizing negative environmental impacts;
28. Taking the lead in the development of global standards, metrics, and market mechanisms to accurately value and compensate for the protection of nature, biodiversity, socio-economic co-benefits, and the provision of climate services;
29. Finalising and implementing the draft African Union Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with the view to realizing the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature;
30. Integrate climate, biodiversity and ocean agendas and instruments at national plans and processes to assure their full potential to support sustainable development is realized and support nature-based ocean solutions for climate, livelihoods and sustainability objectives, that support and increase the resilience of local communities, coastal areas and national economies;
31. Supporting smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, and local communities in the green economic transition given their key role in ecosystems stewardship;
32. Identify, prioritize and mainstream adaptation into development policy-making and planning, including in the context of national plans and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs);
33. Building effective partnership between Africa and other regions, to meet the needs for financial, technical and technological support, and knowledge sharing for climate change adaptation;
34. Promoting investments in urban infrastructure including through upgrading informal settlements and slum areas to build climate resilient cities and urban centres.
35. Strengthening early warning systems and climate information services, as well as taking early action to protect lives, livelihoods and assets and inform long-term decision-making related to climate change risks. We emphasise the importance of embracing indigenous knowledge and citizen science in both adaptation strategies and early warning systems;
36. Accelerating implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032)
Reactions from civil society and related organisations
Real Africa Summit 2023
The first African Climate Summit ends with Global North interference, but ignites African grassroots and peoples movements
The first ever African Climate Summit ended with a weak and inadequate declaration and clear that old colonial attitudes from Global North continue to dictate Africa’s climate policy, imposing failed and dangerous carbon markets on the continent, according to the People’s Press Release. The debates around the summit have however also brought some tangible benefits. It has boosted awareness of the climate crisis and exposed the vested interests in play.
A selection of responses to the outcome of the Africa Climate Summit are available here.
The African People’s Climate and Development Declaration 2023
Prior to the Summit, more than 300 organisations from across Africa petitioned President William Ruto of Kenya on the credibility of the Africa Climate Summit and ask him to take charge of the Africa Climate Summit whose agenda has been hijacked by foreign interests.
In a demand letter, the civil society organisations (CSOs) called for a reset of the focus and narrative being advanced by the Africa Climate Summit Secretariat which they argue has been hijacked by Western governments, consultancy companies, Global North think tanks and philanthropy organisations/foundations.
The Declaration outlined what Africa needs to pursue moving forward, it outlines what we as peoples need/commit to strive for, and what we demand our governments to do both domestically and in multilateral spaces such as COP28, IMF-WB meetings etc.
The CSOs recognised that if Africa doesn’t have a plan for our own destiny and future, we will continue be the subject of others’ plans, with continued exploitation, extraction and colonisation.
This People’s Declaration is a living document that seeks to voice aspirations and concerns of a wide diversity of movements and organisations, across all kinds of themes and constituencies. It conveys a subset of the many struggles and themes we are involved with.
Intergenerational Dialogue: Africa Driving Climate Adaptation Solutions
Young People Demand Global Leaders Double Adaptation Finance by 2025 to Secure Africa’s Future
Young people from 135 countries around the world are calling on leaders to urgently scale up adaptation finance and include young people in adaptation decisions and action, according to a press release. The Youth4Adaptation Communiqué presented at the Intergenerational Dialogue: Africa driving climate adaptation solutions & jobs convened by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and the Wangari Maathai Institute (WMI) during the Africa Climate Summit, presents the views of young people from 51 African countries. Their message to decision-makers is clear: Young people are critical partners in adapting our world, a vision that can only become a reality by doubling adaptation finance by 2025.
Speaking during the event, Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary General and Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation emphasized the global importance of Africa’s youth climate leadership: “When young people are given negotiating muscle and real influence in the world, they will create a better future for all of us. Young people are forced to bear the brunt of climate change. They should be given the chance to successfully adapt.”
African Leaders joined top representatives of global and regional institutions during the Africa Climate Summit to guide a resilient transformation for Africa in light of the climate emergency fallout on the region. Leaders highlighted the following key messages in the Leaders Communiqué:
Accelerating adaptation action at speed and at scale is Africa’s number one climate priority – A climate secure Africa benefits the whole globe
Doubling down on adaptation means turbo-charging the flagship Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, unlocking private finance and boosting grant-based funding for adaptation
AAAP Compacts cement domestic and international commitments towards the delivery of highly strategic and comprehensive adaptation responses country-by-country
Civil society reaction to the Declaration of Nairobi:
“The Declaration insists that Africa has a chance to be part of the solution with its renewable energy potential. African civil society has known this and has been demanding a 100% renewable future for Africa. At the same time, we see that Africa has been and is currently still being used as an extraction hub for gas and other fossils to close energy gaps in the Global North. The Declaration also mentions biodiversity hotspots, but these areas are not being spared in the quest for more oil and gas by the fossil fuel industry. Deltas in Namibia and Senegal are set to become regions of environmental degradation and human rights violations just like the Niger Delta after it was pummelled by oil extraction. Additionally, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is cutting through transboundary protected sites.”
Civil society criticizes African Climate Summit for promoting false solutions, not fossil fuel phaseout (Oil Change International)
“Suggestions of solutions mean little without any mention of phasing out ALL fossil fuels, not just coal. Any solution that allows business as usual from the fossil fuel industry and that emphasizes clean-up instead of closing sources of dirty energy is bound to fail and cause even more havoc on the environment and communities. The African Union needs to be bold and discuss decolonising Africa’s energy sector instead. We need strong and clear calls for reparations and system change in this critical moment instead of lukewarm self-contradicting statements. It is time that world leaders and financial institutions put in the work and money to ensure that Africa has a just transition to renewable energy instead of being locked into more fossil fuels.” – Thuli Makama, Africa Senior Advisor, Oil Change International.
The summit has showcased the leadership and agency of citizens across the continent. This summit was not about a vision for the future, it was about action that is happening right now, and GEAPP is determined to do what it takes to unlock barriers and speed up progress with new technologies, flexible financing, and new green jobs that power business and progress with the continent’s abundant renewable energy sources.
As an organisation built around collaboration, we applaud the diverse range of organisations joining together determined to drive urgent action that scales investment and expands opportunity.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Global Advisor to GEAPP said: “The past three days at the Africa Climate Summit have shown the commanding role Africa can play in the climate crisis that impacts us all. The Nairobi Declaration published today reflects many hours of debate and discussion, as people from across the continent have spoken up and shared not only the challenges they face day to day, but the ideas, innovation and technologies that will carry the world forward. This is only the beginning of what needs to be done and we resolve to take all we have learnt into the global meeting series of the next few months, culminating in COP28. For the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, that means continuing our work to accelerate the green energy transition on behalf of the 3.6 billion people on earth who currently lack clean, reliable, affordable electricity.”
The Africa Climate Summit-Non-State Actors’ Committee (NSAC) welcomes the Declaration of the Africa Climate Summit, issued by the Heads of States on September 6, 2023, as a positive step towards a more ambitious, fair, equitable, ecologically just and inclusive global response to the climate crisis.
We recognise the pressing need for the global community to decrease emissions, decarbonise economies and align with the Paris Agreement, and appreciate the Declaration for reaffirming the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity, which are vital for a just and efficient global response.
We also commend the Declaration for acknowledging the problem of loss and damage caused by climate change, which is already affecting several African communities. We urge the international community to put into effect the Loss and Damage Facility established during COP27 and to provide sufficient and consistent assistance to the countries and individuals who are most vulnerable.
We express our disappointment that the Declaration does not prioritize adaptation as a critical concern for Africa and leaves it a mere peripheral issue. We would like to remind the Heads of States that adaptation is not only crucial for survival but also a matter of justice. Africa is one of the regions that are most affected by climate change, even though it contributes the least to its causes. Therefore, we urge the authorities to accord equal attention and resources to both adaptation and mitigation in their national and international actions. Additionally, we demand that adaptation strategies are designed-based on local knowledge, needs, capacities, and human rights principles.
Chikondi Chabvuta, Regional Advocacy Advisor, Southern Africa, CARE International: “We called on [African leaders] to listen to the voices of their people, especially the youth, women, and other vulnerable groups, who have been hit the most by the consequences of climate change. However, it was disappointing to witness most of the discussions throughout the summit, including the final declaration, focusing heavily on business and investments in carbon trading, while negating the interests of the most vulnerable populations.”
In the points of the declaration that addressed climate finance – funding to support mitigation or adaptation to climate change impacts – CARE’s Climate Policy Advisor Obed Koringo, applauded the pressure for increased international support. However, Koringo stressed there were key missing issues to guarantee urgent support to all people impacted by the climate emergency:
“The summit missed a golden opportunity to call for enhanced, flexible, new and additional finance for adaptation, and lacked the commitment to put in place what is needed to channel adaptation finance to the local level, where it is required the most.”
How Africa can help drive global climate change solutions (ONE Campaign)
Climate change poses an existential threat to life on earth. Hotter temperatures, persistent droughts, historic floods, and failed crops are happening with greater frequency. More than 3 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change.
“Climate change isn’t an abstract or future threat to the African continent. Having neither caused nor benefited from causing climate change, African countries now bear the brunt of its impacts.” – ONE Campaign
But with the right support, investments, and policies, Africa could become a driver of climate solutions not just for itself but for the whole world. Given its significant reserves of critical minerals used to produce renewable energy, significant solar generation potential, and ecosystems capable of sequestering significant amounts of carbon, the African continent could become a green energy powerhouse.
To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we need global collective action on three fronts: Limiting global warming; Reducing environmental degradation; and Supporting communities to adapt to the present and future impacts of climate change.
Africa and the Caribbean share deep historical and people-to-people ties. Indeed, the African Union has identified the Caribbean as Africa’s sixth region. The shared experience of the climate emergency has created another commonality, and one that presents an existential threat to both regions, particularly for small states.
African governments, similar to their Caribbean counterparts, have limited capacity to respond to the climate crisis due to debt distress and economic shocks, necessitating urgent action including debt relief and increased liquidity.
Building on Bridgetown 2.0 and the Paris Pact, the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) in September can help advance a transformational agenda to reset and reshape trade and investment relationships to build climate resilience.
However, we need to move swiftly from high-level policy discourse to tangible actions, where it matters on the ground. The private sector must be a central driver of this transformation, supported by appropriate policy frameworks. Whilst commitments at the highest levels must be secured, direct business-to-business engagement is imperative, particularly in deepening South–South trade and investment relationships. – Deodat Maharaj, Executive Director, Caribbean Export Development Agency
UNFAIR SHARE: Unequal climate finance to East Africa’s hunger crisis (Oxfam International)
The stark reality of climate change has highlighted the financial obligations rich polluting nations, especially in the global North, owe communities and countries most impacted and now unprepared to deal with the unavoidable cost of the climate crisis. East Africa is one of the world’s worst-hit regions by climate change and is now experiencing its worst climate-induced extreme weather, fuelling an alarming hunger crisis, despite contributing almost nothing to global carbon emissions. Over 31.5 million people are currently facing acute hunger across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan.
The global climate crisis, caused in large part by greenhouse emissions because of human reliance on fossil fuels for energy and manufacturing, has led to a 1.1-degree Celsius increase in average temperature worldwide. This has resulted in extreme weather patterns, leading to food insecurity and hunger for vulnerable populations, including for 31.5 million people in East Africa who are currently experiencing crisis levels or worse of hunger due to drought and flooding. Despite contributing the least to climate change, these countries are suffering the extreme hardship and economic losses which they can ill-afford. The paper argues for greater accountability from polluters to cover the costs of averting environmental and human damages and to support long-term development efforts to build climate resilience in affected communities.
This roadmap proposes key actions towards realizing an ambition of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022–2032) to “Enhance coordination between the Regional Economic Communities and Member States in addressing and managing transboundary and cascading climate risks”.
The Africa Carbon Markets Initiative: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (Power Shift Africa)
Carbon credits are, essentially, pollution permits – an imaginary commodity created to benefit the wealthy, not the climate. They are a financialisaton of African nature and the climate crisis, dealing in an imaginary commodity of tonnes of carbon ‘saved’. Africa Carbon Markets Initiative claims its purpose is to create a market for a ‘high-value export commodity’. In truth, however, there are two biggest winners from carbon markets. Firstly, fossil fuel companies. The scheme allows oil and gas companies across the world to continue to burn their polluting products with impunity for profits. Secondly, financial brokers. These buy and sell the credits with huge markups. Even so, their obscene profits never trickle down to communal and even individual owners of land.
Accelerating Adaptation Finance – Africa and Global Perspectives (Global Center on Adaptation)
In the context of the Africa Climate Summit, this policy brief highlights the need to dramatically increase the amount and efficacy of adaptation financing to Africa. This brief also spotlights the persistent challenges related to adaptation finance flows in Africa, and highlights priority actions for the global finance community to undertake to address them.
Strategy and Planning to Redouble Adaptation in Africa: A Review (Global Center on Adaptation)
This study provides a detailed review of the national strategic adaptation documents prepared by governments in the African continent. It examines the main characteristics of these strategic adaptation plans, their depth and coverage, and the degree to which these documents demonstrate a supportive environment to implement the most critical adaptation programs at scale for each country.
A selection of news items covering the Africa Climate Summit 2023 is available below:
Inaugural Africa Climate Summit dominated by debt and finance – Eco-Business, 13 October
Climate efforts enable Africa to transform into global green hub – China Daily, 26 September
Themes of the Africa Climate (Finance) Summit: Loans, Taxes, Credits – tralac, 20 September
A Time To Change Africa’s Climate Narrative – Africa.com, 14 September
Southern Africa to benefit from big oil and gas deposits in Namibia – IOL, 14 September
The Africa Climate Summit promised the Earth, but delivered very little – Daily Maverick, 13 September
Nairobi declaration is a resounding victory for African countries – The Standard, 10 September
Africa refines its demands for the climate: financing, debt and taxes – Africanews, 8 September
A New Financing Pact for Climate-Vulnerable Countries – Project Syndicate, 8 September
Africa Climate Summit: Nairobi Declaration makes strong push for accelerated climate action and financing mechanisms – UN Africa Renewal, 8 September
Africa Climate Summit 2023 ends with ‘Nairobi Declaration’, but not everyone is happy – Down to Earth, 7 September
$23 billion pledged at Africa Climate Summit, but leaders warn of need ‘to act with urgency’ – CNN Connecting Africa, 7 September
Africa Climate Summit ends with call for action and pledge of $23bn in investment – Daily Maverick, 6 September
Africa Climate Summit 2023: Invest in resilient, efficient and sustainable food system, leaders urge – Down to Earth, 6 September
African leaders skirt over fossil fuels in climate summit declaration – Climate Home News, 6 September
Cross-border electricity trade key to universal access in Africa – ESI-Africa, 5 September
Africa Can Be ‘at Heart of a Renewable Future’, Says Secretary-General in Remarks to Nairobi Climate Summit – United Nations, 5 September
A battery swap scheme is turning Africa’s roads electric – CNN, 4 September
Africa Climate Summit to Kick off In Nairobi on 4th September – African Union, 3 September
Africa’s intensifying heatwaves show urgent need for finance – China Dialogue, 1 September
Resource-rich countries facing a double transition – Engineering News, 1 September