Kenya welcomed delegates from across the African continent and around the world to Nairobi for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit Ministerial Conference.
The event taking place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) marks a significant moment in the fight against climate change.
President William Ruto delivered a compelling opening address, emphasizing the importance of unity and ambitious action in addressing climate change.
President Ruto’s markets Nairobi as a Unique City
President Ruto began his address by highlighting Nairobi’s unique position as a city that boasts both a national wildlife park and a closed canopy forest. He also underscored Nairobi’s status as the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme, reinforcing its credentials as Africa’s Green City in the Sun.
President Ruto called for sober Conversations
President Ruto set the tone for the conference by emphasizing that this was not an ordinary summit focused solely on discussing climate change in traditional ways. He urged attendees to move beyond divisive discussions of north versus south, developed versus developing, and polluters versus victims. Instead, he called for a collaborative approach that recognizes the interplay between economic development and environmental stewardship.
Africa’s Carbon Footprint and Urgent Needs
Acknowledging Africa’s relatively small carbon footprint, President Ruto stressed the region’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. He called for urgent action to address loss and damage and develop financial mechanisms to build resilience. President Ruto emphasized the need to avoid getting bogged down in discussions of needs and responsibilities, instead focusing on the bigger picture.
Prosperity through Climate Action
President Ruto outlined the opportunity for Africa to achieve prosperity while addressing climate change. He described climate action as the engine for propelling Africa into stability and prosperity, elevating the continent to middle-income status and beyond.
Uniting for a Sustainable Future
This Climate Summit aimed to unite attendees across sectors, institutions, borders, continents, and generations. President Ruto highlighted Africa’s assets, including a young and motivated workforce, abundant renewable energy potential, and natural resources that can contribute to decarbonizing the global economy.
The President also outlined several key opportunities:
- Food Security
President Ruto stressed the importance of restorative agriculture, combining indigenous knowledge with modern techniques to improve agricultural productivity while protecting natural carbon sinks.
- Renewable Energy
Africa has the potential to become entirely self-sufficient in energy production through renewable resources. President Ruto cited Kenya’s example of aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2030 and a 100 Giga Watt renewable energy grid by 2040.
- Green Industrial Hub
Africa’s proximity to essential minerals for the global energy transition positions the continent as a potential global hub for green industrial supply chains. President Ruto encouraged value-added activities like refining minerals and producing electric vehicles to unlock economic potential.
- Job Creation
Africa needs to generate approximately 30 million new jobs each year to accommodate its growing workforce. These jobs can be created through climate-proof avenues of growth, such as renewable energy and green industries.
President Ruto acknowledged the challenges, including high infrastructure costs and the cost of capital in Africa. He called for effective policies and regulations to attract investment and entrepreneurship, transforming Africa’s resource wealth into real opportunities.
President Ruto called on all attendees to work together and prioritize African interests. He expressed confidence that this summit would result in the Nairobi Declaration on a Green Growth and Climate Finance Agenda, committing to a climate-positive path for Africa’s economy and job creation while limiting emissions.
The inaugural Africa Climate Summit Ministerial Conference marks a significant step toward a sustainable and prosperous future for the continent, guided by Kenya’s vision for a climate-resilient Africa that leads the way in green growth and innovation.
As the conference progresses, delegates from across the globe will engage in dynamic discussions and exploration of opportunities to shape a climate-proof future for Africa and the world.