The inaugural Africa Climate Summit, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from September 4 – 6, 2023, marked a pivotal moment in addressing the urgent challenges posed by climate change, not only in Africa but also globally. Under the theme ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,’ the summit convened an exceptionally diverse group of participants, including African heads of state, global leaders, intergovernmental organizations, Regional Economic Communities, United Nations agencies, representatives from the private sector, children, youth, and scholars.
The summit began by acknowledging the severe impact of climate change on Africa. The continent has experienced an alarming increase in the frequency and severity of climate-related disasters, including devastating droughts, floods, and cyclones. These events have far-reaching consequences, affecting agriculture and food security and causing the displacement of vulnerable populations. In particular, regions like Northern Kenya have borne the brunt of unpredictable weather patterns, exemplifying the urgent need for immediate climate action.
The active participation of African heads of state and government alongside global leaders underscored a strong commitment to addressing climate change at the highest levels of governance. This collaborative responsibility is pivotal in driving substantive change and garnering international support for climate initiatives.
Throughout the summit, climate change campaigners played a pivotal role in advocating for climate action and raising awareness about the urgency of the issue. Their presence served as a catalyst for mobilizing public and political support for climate initiatives.
The summit provided a unique platform for African countries to collaborate on climate-related initiatives, share best practices, and strengthen regional cooperation in addressing shared challenges. Regional economic blocs, such as the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), played instrumental roles in fostering regional climate resilience.
While the primary focus of the summit was on Africa, its discussions and outcomes hold broader global significance. It emphasized that climate change is a global issue, and Africa’s proactive efforts can significantly contribute to the global climate action agenda. The summit demonstrated the continent’s potential as a key player in the fight against climate change.
Despite the summit’s significance, challenges persist, especially in mobilizing adequate financial resources for climate adaptation and mitigation in Africa. Leaders highlighted the need for essential reforms in global financial systems to alleviate the burden on African countries.
The Summit echoed the Catholic Church’s current advocacy role through Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ on climate change mitigation, an encyclical in which Pope Francis addresses comprehensively and critically environmental issues, emphasizing the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and economic issues. In this regard, the Church has been actively engaging in an ongoing dialogue with the global community, emphasizing the moral imperative of addressing climate change and protecting our planet. ‘Laudato Si’ serves as a significant call to action, urging individuals and communities to recognize their responsibility for environmental stewardship
In conclusion, the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi in September 2023 was a landmark event that underscored the urgency of addressing climate change in Africa and the world. It emphasized the need for tangible actions and commitments from African nations and the international community. Ongoing dialogue, cooperation, and communication are paramount to combat climate change, promote sustainable development, and heal our planet. The summit will serve as a cornerstone for Africa’s common position in the global climate change process, leading up to COP 28 and future climate conferences, and will leave a lasting echo in the global effort to address the climate crisis.
Iyo Daquin Iyan OMI