NAIROBI, Kenya - The Africa Climate Week 2023 (ACW) is set to convene policymakers, practitioners, business leaders, and civil society representatives from September 4 to 8, 2023, in Nairobi. This event runs in parallel with the Africa Climate Summit scheduled for September 4-6, both hosted by the Government of Kenya. As the world grapples with the urgent challenges of climate change, ACW aims to address this pressing crisis through cooperation and forward-thinking initiatives, fostering transformative change.
ACW also plays a pivotal role in building momentum towards the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) later this year. COP28 represents a milestone as it concludes the inaugural Global Stocktake, offering an opportunity to critically assess the world's progress on climate action. The objective is to chart a course forward, emphasizing increased ambition and action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Key priorities in the UAE include scaling up climate finance, enhancing adaptation support, and operationalizing the fund for loss and damage.
"In the face of the profound challenges posed by climate change in Africa, we stand unwavering in our commitment to confront this existential threat to all of humanity," declared President William Ruto of Kenya. "Africa’s abundance of wind and solar energy can power our development, creating jobs, protecting local economies, and accelerating the sustainable industrialization of the continent. But for us to lead the way toward a sustainable and prosperous future for our continent and the world, finance and technology must be provided to our developing countries. As we come together at the Africa Climate Summit and the Africa Climate Week, we aim to weave a single, resounding African voice that will carry the outcomes of these crucial events to COP28 and beyond."
Despite Africa's per capita emissions being significantly lower than the global average, the continent bears a disproportionate burden of rising global temperatures and escalating climate consequences. Drought, desertification, and cyclones, among other issues, are causing food shortages, displacement, and migration.
Simultaneously, Africa boasts abundant resources such as renewable energy, minerals, agriculture, and natural capital, positioning it to lead its green growth.
"Africa accounts for just four percent of global emissions. Yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures: The people of Africa — and people everywhere — need action to respond to deadly climate extremes. I’m convinced that Africa can be at the heart of a renewable future. Now is the time for all countries to stand as one in defense of our only home," emphasized UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
African nations have the potential to become pioneers in renewable energy, sustainable land use, and innovative technologies. This entails attracting investment, facilitating technology transfer, and establishing themselves as leaders in the global transition to green development.
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, articulated, "The world is asking a lot: Develop, but don’t do it in the carbon-intensive way that we did. It is a global responsibility to collectively work out how we do that. And that’s exactly what we’re here to do. So that African nations can come to COP28 leading in action and ambition. The discussions taking place here will inform the global stocktake about the challenges, barriers, solutions, and opportunities for climate action and support within the context of Africa. The UNFCCC Secretariat can work with you to identify the solutions to attain those opportunities."
Africa Climate Week presents a timely opportunity ahead of COP28 for regional stakeholders to exchange experiences regarding challenges overcome and opportunities realized in different countries. This showcases how Africa's industrial growth can align with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, driving economic progress while mitigating environmental impacts.
"Africa Climate Week must be the place where we accelerate climate action across the African continent and finance a just transition to a climate-resilient future – a transition that empowers Africa to take control of its own destiny and become a green leader and economic powerhouse," asserted Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme, stressed the importance of addressing climate change, saying, "Climate change is reshaping economies and impacting lives and livelihoods. The Africa Climate Week will show the implications of climate change for Africa, but also the solutions emerging from across the continent. Enhanced collaboration can drive progress by integrating climate considerations into economic and development planning, ensuring inclusive, sustainable growth through low-emissions pathways."
While opportunities for cooperation across African borders, sectors, and disciplines are abundant, effective climate action requires active engagement from all sectors. Governments and multilateral institutions hold central roles, yet civil society, academia, local communities, and the private sector are crucial contributors as well.
"The Africa climate story is about solutions for sustainable growth, and about innovation and opportunities to bring people out of poverty," highlighted Axel van Trotsenburg, Senior Managing Director of the World Bank. "Clean energy is key to this story. It lifts underserved communities; powers businesses, schools, and hospitals; and creates jobs for young Africans. There is much to be done to get financing flowing and help countries leapfrog to low-carbon and clean energy opportunities. Africa is part of the new climate economy in action."
ACW is poised to amplify the voices of African Parties, bringing their collective voice to the negotiation table at COP28 and pushing for positive outcomes that drive meaningful shifts on both regional and global scales.
ACW is the first of four Regional Climate Weeks in 2023. These events provide a platform for governments, businesses, practitioners, and civil society to showcase ongoing projects, policies, and practices that are already effecting positive change, inspiring others to follow suit.