Africa Climate Summit: Activists Decry Missed Opportunity For Africa

The Africa Climate Summit concluded its three-day session with the release of the ‘Nairobi declaration.’.

But it was far from a celebratory moment for a group of impassioned activists who saw it as a missed opportunity for the African continent to take the reins in addressing the escalating climate crises driven by climate change.

These activists squarely placed the blame on the summit’s organizers, accusing them of allowing affluent nations and corporate interests to influence the summit’s outcomes.

Dean Bhebhe, a vocal climate activist, lamented the lost potential, saying that Africa had a unique chance to shape climate policies tailored to its specific needs and governed by its people.

“Instead, all they did was acknowledge the need to operationalize a fund. That was neither authentic nor considerate. The moment slipped through our fingers, and the opportunity is gone,” Bhebhe regretfully remarked.

Hardy Yakubu emphasized that an African climate summit should have seen leaders representing the interests of African nations, rather than capitulating to those responsible for the initial climate crisis.

Yakubu singled out figures like John Kerry, the United States’ climate envoy, stating, “There’s no entity more responsible for the climate change crisis than the United States of America.”

Non-state actors involved in climate advocacy expressed grave concerns about the summit’s outcomes, casting a shadow of doubt over Africa’s ability to secure meaningful results at the upcoming 28th United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP28) meeting later in the year.

They decried the continued imbalance in influence between the Global North and Africa, particularly pointing to the allocation of special drawing rights.

Africa received the lowest allocation despite enduring the brunt of the climate change crisis. Joab Okanda questioned the fairness of the distribution, saying, “The declaration is silent about reforming the system, the structures that allocated only 33 billion dollars to an entire continent comprising 55 countries, while one country, the US, visible in this summit, received 118 billion dollars’ worth of SDRs.”

In Bhebhe’s perspective, Africa has long been ailing due to climate change, and the summit presented a chance to seek treatment. Regrettably, what they received was akin to painkillers—a temporary fix that falls far short of addressing the continent’s pressing climate concerns.

As the curtains drew to a close on the inaugural climate summit, attention now shifts to COP 28 in Dubai, where Kenya and the broader African community will strive to establish a unified stance on climate policy and advocacy.