By Kayeli Ian. More about the author
“Climate action is not a Global North issue or a Global South issue. It is our collective challenge, and it affects all of us. We need to come together to find common, global solutions.” – President Ruto
The climate issue is not just a regional concern; it’s a global challenge that demands a united front. Hence, the African Climate Summit (ACS) comes at a crucial time. ACS is a multi-stakeholder gathering with a singular goal: to ignite tangible actions addressing climate change in Africa. This summit is not just a meeting; it’s a platform that informs, shapes, and influences commitments, pledges, and outcomes, ultimately leading to the development of the pivotal Nairobi Declaration.
In 2023, the spotlight of ACS shines brightly in Nairobi, Kenya. This nation has emerged as a formidable force in the battle against the climate crisis. As the proud host of ACS 2023, the Government of Kenya sets the stage for a remarkable event. It’s not only a symbol of Kenya’s unwavering commitment to environmental conservation but also a beacon of hope illuminating a path towards a greener, more sustainable future.
In a stirring speech delivered in Paris, President Ruto emphasized Kenya’s unwavering dedication to combatting climate change. He acknowledged the grim reality facing not only Kenya but the entire world, where the climate crisis is causing the loss of lives and livelihoods due to droughts, flash floods, heatwaves, cyclones, and wildfires. However, President Ruto also offered a glimmer of hope by asserting that the power to make a difference rests firmly in our hands.
Kenya, under President Ruto’s leadership, has been making substantial strides in the fight against climate change, reinforcing his words with concrete actions.
One of Kenya’s standout achievements is its commitment to clean energy. The country has rapidly expanded its renewable energy sector, with a primary focus on geothermal, wind, and solar power. Kenya’s largest geothermal power plant, Olkaria, has become a shining example of harnessing the Earth’s natural heat to produce electricity sustainably. This venture not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also provides affordable, reliable energy to millions of Kenyans.
Understanding the critical role forests play in addressing climate change, Kenya has embarked on ambitious afforestation and reforestation initiatives. These programs have a twofold objective: countering deforestation, expanding forested areas, and promoting biodiversity. Moreover, the government has introduced policies aimed at fostering sustainable forest management. Notably, Kenya had recently reversed its prior stance on a controversial law designed to curb illegal logging, a move that initially faced significant opposition from climate activists. Fortunately, this decision was ultimately overturned by the judiciary, safeguarding essential carbon storage areas that benefit both Kenya and the global environment.
Kenya’s dedication to environmental sustainability also encompasses effective waste management strategies. The country has initiated inventive projects aimed at diminishing plastic pollution, including the prohibition of single-use plastics within national parks and reserves. Moreover, Kenya has taken a decisive step by implementing a complete ban on the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, recognizing their adverse impact on the climate.
Amidst the formidable challenges posed by a changing climate, Kenya has assumed a pioneering role in the initiative titled “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.” As the inaugural summit of its kind, this event offers the African continent a unique platform to not only showcase its progress but also to engage in a vital exchange of perspectives. It marks the beginning of a process where nations can converge on common priorities, setting the stage for influential global discussions, including those at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the G20, World Bank Group (WBG) and IMF Annual Meetings, COP28, and beyond.
This summit carries the potential to empower African nations in shaping comprehensive plans and devising the necessary tools and investments. It further facilitates their involvement in advocating for reforms within the international financial architecture. The event is a forum for sharing innovative solutions, knowledge, and practical experiences, all aimed at deepening and broadening the understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by the climate crisis.
Crucially, this gathering enables Africa to rejuvenate its vision and adopt a more assertive stance in pursuing a climate and development agenda. Through a unified approach, African countries can stand shoulder to shoulder in the pursuit of a sustainable future, leveraging the power of collaboration to address the pressing issues of our time.
ACS 2023 is a testament to the power of collaboration and collective action. It reminds us that addressing climate change isn’t the responsibility of one region or one nation alone; it’s a global imperative.