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Charting a Greener Future: Unpacking the African Climate Summit 2023

The world's first Africa Climate Summit, hosted by Kenya and co-organized with the African Union, took place from September 4-6, 2023, offering a forum for Africa's diverse views on climate solutions. The summit's goal was to highlight Africa's leadership and ingenuity in dealing with the climate problem, as well as to rally political and financial support for the continent's adaptation and mitigation initiatives. Here are some of the most important lessons from the historic occasion.

A Pledging and Commitment Framework for Africa

One of the main outcomes of the summit was the adoption of a “Pledging and Commitment Framework” which outlines a set of concrete actions and targets for African countries and their partners to accelerate climate action in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The framework covers four priority areas: energy transition, nature-based solutions, resilience and adaptation, and finance and investment. Some of the highlights include:

  • A pledge to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 for all African countries, with an interim target of 50% by 2030.

  • A commitment to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).

  • A goal to increase the climate resilience of at least 300 million people by 2030, through scaling up early warning systems, social protection, and disaster risk reduction.

  • A call for mobilizing at least $100 billion per year by 2025 for climate finance in Africa, with a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.

  • The framework also emphasizes the need for enhanced cooperation and solidarity among African countries and regions, as well as with the international community, to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the commitments.

A Showcase of African Leadership and Innovation

The summit also served as a platform for African leaders and innovators to showcase their achievements and initiatives in addressing the climate challenge. Some of the examples include:

  • The launch of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), which aims to install 10 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020 and 300 gigawatts by 2030, with a focus on decentralized and community-based solutions.

  • The announcement of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), which aims to scale up adaptation action across Africa, with a target of reaching 600 million people by 20303. The program is jointly led by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), with support from various partners.

  • The presentation of the Africa Green Stimulus Program (AGSP), aims to leverage green recovery opportunities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on creating green jobs, enhancing food security, and promoting circular economy4. The program is spearheaded by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), with support from various partners.

The summit also featured several thematic sessions, dialogues, and exhibitions that highlighted the diverse perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders, such as youth, women, indigenous peoples, civil society, private sector, academia, and media.

A Call for Global Action and Solidarity

The summit concluded with a strong message from African leaders and representatives to the rest of the world: Africa is ready to lead on climate action, but it needs more support and solidarity from its global partners. The message was echoed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who urged developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments, deliver on their emission reduction pledges, and enhance their support for adaptation and loss and damage in Africa. He also called for a global coalition for net-zero emissions by mid-century, with no new coal plants after 2023.

The summit also issued a Nairobi Declaration, which reaffirms Africa’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and calls for urgent action from all parties to raise their ambition and deliver on their promises. The declaration also expresses Africa’s expectations for the upcoming COP28 in Dubai, where it hopes to see a balanced outcome that reflects the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities.

The African Climate Summit 2023 was a historic milestone for Africa’s climate leadership and action. It demonstrated that Africa is not only a victim of climate change but also a source of solutions and inspiration. It also showed that Africa is not alone in its fight against climate change, but has many allies and partners who share its vision and values. Together, we can chart a greener future for Africa and the world.

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