NAIROBI – While Africa is responsible for merely 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 65 percent of the continent’s estimated population of 1, 3 billion people is considered to be directly impacted by climate change.
It is against the backdrop of this irony that global leaders, entrepreneurs, international organizations, and civil society meet in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday next week to help accelerate focus and attention on climate investments in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.
The stakeholders will meet under the auspices of the One Planet Summit (OPS), which also focuses on promoting renewable energies, fostering resilience and adaptation and protecting biodiversity in the continent.
“OPS, which is in its third edition, is the French initiative to engage states and global ministers to implement climate policies,” said Mr Lõhmus.
Nairobi will be the first regional host of the OPS.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights of the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) running from March 11-15.
Ado Lohmus, a UNEA special envoy, this week confirmed Macron will be in the East African country next week.
“On the 14th, he (Macron) will open the OPS, which will also be meeting here in Kenya alongside UNEA,” Lohmus said in Nairobi this week.
More than 2000 delegates from around the world have registered to attend UNEA-4 and are to be a key part of OPS proceedings.
OPS is one in a series of some climate events this year leading up to the UN 2019 Climate Summit and to the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In December 2018, the World Bank Group announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action.
Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions
The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.
Ahead of the OPS, Kenya government officials assured preparations for the OPS were progressing well, with the country having previously held international events of this nature.
Last year, Kenya co-hosted the first-ever global conference on the sustainable blue economy, alongside Canada.
OPS is held following the realization that resources and solutions for renewable energy already exist in Africa but there is a need to speed their financing and mainstream their development.
Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Ambassador to France, and French State Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson, recently held meetings to finalise plans for the OPS and UNEA-4.
Macron has previously spoken of his government’s goal to be a strategic partner to Africa in the field of climate change adaptation.
France is the largest financial contributor to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), alongside Germany and followed by the Council of the European Union.
At the Africa-France Summit held in Mali in 2017, the French president announced that financing for renewable energy in Africa would be increased from €2 billion to €3 billion, implemented by the Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) over the 2016-2020 period.
“Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions. It can succeed where Europe has not always been able to,” Macron prominently said during a state visit to Burkina Faso in late 2017.
This week, the World Bank, a partner for the OPS, stated cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nairobi, could inform global action on climate change.
Nairobi already has a strong private sector presence as the eighth most attractive city in Africa for foreign direct investment, according to the global institution.
“As such, it can share important lessons learned with other cities in the region and around the world. The One Planet Summit provides the perfect space to do just that by actively inviting new partners to collaborate and launch new initiatives,” the World Bank stated.