Bridging the Gap – Insights from Africa Climate Week 2023

by Alais Ole Morindat and Dora Okeyo

Climate change is an increasing threat to Africa. Although it is affecting the whole continent, it is not affecting regions the same way. The most unfair fact about the whole situation is that Africa contributes less than 4% of carbon emissions while the major polluters contribute more than half, yet Africa is hard hit and vulnerable to these drastic changes. 

The rising temperatures and rising sea levels all lead to severe health, economic, cultural and food security impacts. In light of all this, factoring the Carbon budget and collective action towards reducing carbon emissions, Africa Climate Week was held in Nairobi to rally policy makers, world leaders, organizations, and individuals to lead the agenda on well-informed and structured action.

Africa Climate Week (ACW) is one of four regional climate weeks held ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28 in Dubai to discuss climate solutions. Africa Climate Week (ACW) ran in parallel to the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) set for 4th to 6th September 2023. The events were hosted by the Kenyan Government with support from global and regional partners.

The event considered four major systems-based tracks:

  1. Energy systems and industry
  2. Cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure and transport
  3. Land, ocean, food and water
  4. Societies, health, livelihoods and economies
Objective of Africa Climate Week

The theme of the Africa Climate Summit 2023 was “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World.” The overall objective for both the ACW and ACS was to highlight the commitment of African nations to spearhead initiatives in renewable energy, sustainable land use, and innovative climate technologies.

The outcome of the ACS was the Nairobi Declaration, a collective stance by African leaders with regard to the continent’s role and stance on climate change on a global scale. 

On our level: Connecting with the Programs Director of Earth4All and Club of Rome- Till Kellerhoff and connecting with their key partner in Kenya, Partnership for Economic Policy was insightful. It was also thanks to his support and presence, that Dora got an access pass into the event.

Lessons learned
  • The location, time frame of the event and participants present was a good investment.
  • The venue offered a high quality setting of presentations, technology used in facilitation  was advanced and even accessing the venue was easy for foreigners.
  • The content presented by the various speakers/panelists was very informative and aligned to the event, with professionalism upheld in the facilitation. 
  • There was limited time for Q&A in most of the sessions- this could have enhanced the quality of sessions for both speakers and participants.
  • ACW also had a variety of policy makers, leaders, organizations and groups setting the stage for a hub of idea exchange with regard to climate change.
  • All target groups were included in the event, women, children (there was a tent exclusive for children with sessions on climate change through story-telling, art, cycling), PWDs.
  • One area of dissatisfaction was the high level security at the main KICC halls, where the African leaders were having discussions or attending sessions and this area was off limits for participants. Next time- in the event of such an activity, perhaps setting a screen in the garden would enable other participants within the grounds to listen in on the talks.
On the accreditation process
  • From Dora’s personal experience: there ought to have been better coordination of accreditation and provision of access passes to Kenyans. It was disheartening to spend the first two days queuing for hours to access the accreditation center only to be denied an access pass. Most Kenyans and some foreigners were turned back, due to system generated emails and poor preparation from the team. It’s a huge call to the Ministry of Environment to improve on.
Conclusion

Like most summits, it is yet to be seen what milestones would be achieved, because although the declarations were made, the action steps, work plan, structure of transparency, and accountability were not laid out to enable African citizens to track the performance of institutions and leaders.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Global Partners for Development, for sponsoring our participation in the ACW/ACS event and we look forward to sharing insights, knowledge  and experiences learned with our respective communities and look forward to further engagement with Earth4All and PEP. 

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