Green growth should be seen not only as climate necessity but also as source of multibillion-dollar economic opportunities, Ruto says in his opening speech at Africa Summit on Climate
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
Kenya’s President William Ruto on Monday urged African leaders to view climate challenges as opportunities to attract substantial monetary investment and revolutionize food systems.
President Ruto said in his opening speech at the three-day Africa Summit on Climate in Nairobi that green growth should be viewed not only as a climate necessity but also as a source of multibillion-dollar economic opportunities.
“For a very long time, we have looked at this as a problem. It is time we flipped it and looked at it from the other side,” Ruto said in the event in Kenya’s capital attended by world leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders from Africa and around the world to address pressing climate concerns.
While Africa’s carbon footprint is small, the impact of climate change disproportionately affects the continent, he said, stressing the urgency of addressing loss and damage and establishing appropriate financial mechanisms for resilience.
The summit’s main focus is on market-driven financing mechanisms, including carbon credits, with the goal of mobilizing funding that has been slow to arrive from wealthier nations.
However, this approach faced resistance from some African campaigners who argued that it prioritized Western interests over the continent’s needs.
“You have entered the future, a future driven by global partnerships committed to African prosperity, inclusive growth, and a livable planet for all of us,” Ruto said.
Despite the concerns, the summit maintains an ambitious agenda, with discussions on strategies to boost climate finance and revolutionize food systems.
Over 20 presidents and heads of government are expected to attend, with the aim of articulating Africa’s position ahead of the upcoming UN climate conference and COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.
During the first day of the summit, private entities announced investments such as Rawbank and Vitol’s $20 million investment in renewable energy, clean cooking, and forest conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the UK’s pledge of £49 million ($62 million) in support of UK-backed projects.
African nations are actively seeking debt relief in order to allocate more resources to renewable energy, conservation, and climate adaptation.
According to a working paper published by the Debt Relief for Green and Inclusive Recovery Project, Sub-Saharan African countries face annual debt servicing costs that are nearly equal to their climate finance requirements.
While advocating for renewable energy, many African governments considered developing hydrocarbon resources, particularly natural gas, to expedite development without significantly contributing to global carbon emissions.
However, this approach faced criticism from protesters who viewed it as harmful to the environment and a continuation of colonial resource exploitation.
President Ruto underscored Africa’s pivotal role in addressing climate change and urged global cooperation to accelerate climate action as Africa hosted the historic climate summit.
The summit aimed to culminate in the Nairobi Declaration, a significant step towards a decarbonized, sustainable, and resilient world economy, driven by Africa’s untapped potential and renewable resources.