NAIROBI, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The just-concluded Africa Climate Summit, held this week in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, reaffirmed the urgency of securing a just, green and resilient future for the continent that bears the brunt of the devastating impacts of planetary warming.
Hosted by Kenya in partnership with the African Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sept. 4-6 summit that ran parallel with Africa Climate Week showcased the continent's determination to chart a low-emission growth trajectory, subject to the availability of funding, cleaner technologies, know-how, and innovations.
In his opening remarks at the summit on Monday, Kenyan President William Ruto said the continent is ripe for a green transition, but financing bottlenecks and shifting goalposts by Western lenders stood in the way. According to Ruto, Africa was receiving a partly 3 percent of global climate finance, yet the continent suffered most from global warming as evidenced by mounting hunger, water stress, and fragility of vital ecosystems.
More than 20,000 delegates, including a dozen heads of state and government, ministers, industry leaders, innovators, campaigners, and researchers, attended the Africa Climate Summit held under the theme "Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World." Heavy on the call for robust financing, the three-day summit generated over 26 billion U.S. dollars in pledges from public and private sector entities, multilateral lenders, and philanthropies to help implement climate resilience projects in Africa.
The Nairobi Declaration, which was read by Ruto during the summit's closing on Wednesday, called for a carbon tax, reform of the global financial system, and debt relief to boost Africa's response to the climate crisis. In addition, African leaders, in their declaration, challenged major emitters in the Industrial North to honor the 100-billion-dollar pledge they made in 2009 to help developing countries deal with climate-induced catastrophes.
During the three-day Africa climate summit, delegates made a strong case for innovative financing to catalyze green energy transition, establish resilient cities and transport systems, and enhance the health of natural habitats.
African countries are spending an average of 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to respond to climate emergencies including floods, droughts, wildfires and cyclones, noted Josefa Sacko, commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment at the AU Commission.
Stressing that a green transition is imperative to sustain economic growth, health and well-being of local communities, Sacko said Africa must explore innovative financing instruments and implement community-centered adaptation projects.
While lauding ambitious and bold resolutions that were adopted at the Africa climate summit, campaigners insisted the journey ahead is laden with pitfalls unless governments make deliberate efforts to bridge the financing gap.
Mithika Mwenda, executive director of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, noted that the continent required 160 to 240 billion dollars to support climate adaptation by 2030. To unlock climate financing, Mwenda said, African governments should incentivize institutional investors and green start-ups through friendly taxation and abolishing cumbersome regulations.
Olufunso Somorin, a regional principal officer at the African Development Bank, said realizing a green and just transition in the continent is feasible once governments prioritize policy reforms to attract nature-positive investments. ■