The event took place in Kenya at the Kenya International Conference Centre. It was a six day summit which involved leaders from and beyond Africa. The President of Kenya addressed delegates at the opening of the summit.The theme of the event was driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world.
The event was to address Africa’s increasing exposure to climate change and its associated costs on the continent, to bring leaders and investors together to share their experience and solutions for a sustainable and resilient Africa. To address issues on how they can promote greenhouse gas emission reduction. To strengthen ties with African partners by uniting and having one voice on matters of climate change, challenges and opportunities.
The President of Kenya gave a brief speech on climate change pointing out, I quote: “Earth is all we have, and we have no other home to run to other than Earth. This implies we cannot approach the climate crisis and human development in a disconnected or adversarial way. Neither can global warming be mitigated by air conditioning our little pockets”.
He went ahead and said that Africans have a lot of resources which include 60% of the continent’s renewable energy assets but we are the ones suffering more. He urged Africans to engage by saying it’s our time to unlock the resources we have to be useful. He also added that the continent has 40% mineral energy transition and it’s the continent with highest investment potential having two thirds of the African lands uncultivated.
Lastly, the amount of carbon emitted by Africa is 2-3% in the world but it has been the continent mostly affected by global warming, which can be solved by effective land planning to avoid forest degradation and by developing renewable energy.
He further explained that all their endeavours have been limited by high debts due to high interest rates, which is 5 times higher than other continents. The only way to achieve this is to implement a fair finance system and also to introduce carbon tax, which is a larger subject yet to be discussed.
The President added that climate change has caused Kenya to incur even more debts which have forced our country to divert resources which would have been used for development growth, e.g. the school feeding budget, and convert it towards tackling the climate crisis. It has negatively affected our biodiversity too which has led to more frequent and more intense droughts, storms, earthquakes, floods, el Niño and so on which leads to deeper poverty, more joblessness, increased disease, hunger and so forth.
He said that to achieve rapid growth we need to work on our speed, skills and affordability.
The president concluded by welcoming Mr John Kerry who is the Special Presidential Envoy for the Climate.
Mr John Kerry asked leaders to act on what the President from Kenya said in his statements. Mr Kerry added that there is a clear path ahead for Africans if they act accordingly on the President’s speech. He mentioned that most of the problems we are facing are human-made e.g. pollution. He added that the decisions we make determine our future. When we make the right choices our future will be affected positively and vice versa.
He asked those countries producing 80% of the world’s carbon need to take responsibility, his country being an example. He added that the United States is going to fund Africa to assist with adaptation resilience plans for development e.g. the creation of jobs, food and saving lives.
They are going to create a fund of $300 billion annually to adapt to the crisis. In addition $30 million will be added, with $20 million being invested in agriculture and $10 million will go to climate resilience adaptation finance and technology transfer facility.
He concluded by saying that we can only win the battle if we make fundamental decisions. He ended his speech by quoting the philosopher, Immanuel Kant: “Science is organised knowledge and wisdom is organised life”.
Soipan Tuya is the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Forestry in Kenya. She pointed out that Africans can decarbonise and steer low carbon emission if strategies are put in place. She added this is 20 years down the line but little has been put in place to make it happen now. Soipan requested the respective Heads of State come together to find more immediate solutions on climate change which has become a threat to the world. She gave an example of a hurricane in Malawi which led to loss of more than 200,000 lives and massive destruction of property.
Mr Azali Assoumani, Chairperson of the African Union, also talked about intensifying our actions on the African continent, urging that there are many policies and strategies to work on so as to come up with solutions. In his country, Comoros, he has carried out programs to do adaptation and mitigation on energy by using renewable energy, air energy, photovoltaic energy in order to produce electricity and reduce the use of firewood in industries and homes with focus on adaptation of sustainable agriculture methods protecting our resources.
Mr Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, asked leaders to unite, prioritise and take responsibility for their actions. Quoting that in the years 2022 and 2023 they had experienced a prolonged drought and devastating floods which caused a great deal of disaster. Climate change has spared no sector. He added that most of the African countries have devoted less funds to climate challenges. He finalised his speech by asking African leaders to come up with concrete proposals to be implemented without delay.
I conclude by saying that this summit was held at the right time. Africa has the resources and the ability to solve the climate crisis, if not, mitigate its effects greatly but the problem remains that we talk a lot and act less. More consideration from other governmental departments and funds need to be given to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry.
At Word Forest, we are preparing to scale up our operations for reforestation and we also want to implement new teaching programmes to do two things: help the communities understand why we’re focusing on reforestation and help them increase their food and water security by understanding more about permaculture, organic growing and by unlocking many different ways they can generate an income through an honest living. Our work is critical if we are going to get everyone on the same page. I am confident that Word Forest has the right recipe to make this all happen, at scale.
Human activities across the planet have contributed a lot to climate change and we need to undo those harmful activities to take good care of our biodiversity.
It’s time for Africa to go green. Everyone at Word Forest is ready to play our part.
Juliet Anyanzwa and Team Kenya