Non-state actors dismiss Nairobi Declaration as a let-down, missed opportunity for Africa

President of Kenya William Ruto (C) surrounded by other African leaders delivers his closing speech during the closure of the Africa Climate Summit 2023 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on September 6, 2023. (Photo by Luis Tato / AFP)

As the three-day Africa Climate Summit culminated with the ‘Nairobi declaration’, a group of activists registered their displeasure with what they term as a missed opportunity for the African continent to forge climate policies that would address the rapidly escalating climatic disasters induced by climate change.

The activists have blamed the conveners of the summit for allowing the rich countries and corporate interests to dictate the outcome of the summit. 

Dean Bhebhe, a climate activist on Wednesday said Africa had an opportunity to define what that fundamentally looks like for Africa and by Africans governed by our needs.

“Now, all they did was acknowledge we need to operationalise that fund. That was not authentic and mindful. The moment was not seized and that opportunity is lost,” said Bhebhe.

Hardy Yakubu noted that when there is an African climate summit, the expectation was leaders would to speak the African that represents our people, “not to sell out and give the summit to people who are responsible for this climate in the first place.”

“If you ask who are those people, you saw them. You saw John Kerry there, the climate envoy of the United States of America. There is no one more responsible for the climate change crisis than the United States of America,” Yakubu said.

The non-state actors say the outcome of the summit has cast serious doubts on Africa’s ability to receive any meaningful result from the 28th United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP28) meeting later in the year.

They said the Global North continues to have an unfair advantage on African matters, and questioned the allocation of the special drawing rights, where Africa has received the lowest allocation, yet it continues to bear the brunt of the climate change crisis.

“The declaration is silent about reforming the system, the structures, that made a whole continent, 55 countries get only 33 billion dollars, yet one country whose presence was very visible in this summit, the US got 118 billion dollars’ worth of SDRs,” Joab Okanda said.

In Bhebhe’s view, Africa ‘has been sick’ for a long time as a result of climate change and the summit was an opportunity to ‘visit the doctor’ and be treated.

“When we did, no prescription was given, we only got painkillers as a temporary fix and here we are again.  We missed that opportunity,” the activist said.

As curtains close on the first-ever climate summit, the focus now shifts to COP 28 in Dubai, where Kenya and Africa in general will seek to forge a collective position.  

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