‘Extremely untrue’, Officials deny Africa climate summit agenda hijack claims

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya [left] with Josefa Sacko, African Union commissioner for agriculture, rural development blue economy and sustainable environment. PHOTO | Courtesy

Kenyan government has rubbished claims by a group of African civil society organizations alleging hijack of the upcoming Africa Climate Summit agenda by global think tanks pushing pro-West interests.

The much-awaited inaugural summit to be held in Nairobi from 4-6 September is hoped to advance interests and position of the continent on critical climate issues, and for this to happen activists say that everything that goes into it from planning, concept note, themes and the aspirations ought to be pitched by and for the benefit of the continent.

However, a group of 360 African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) expressed concerns that this is not the case, arguing that the summit agenda was unduly influenced by McKinsey and Company, US-based consultancy firm seen as pushing agenda of Western powers and corporations it represents.

They further indicate that the summit has been seized by Western governments, consultancy companies and philanthropic organisations bent on pushing a pro-West agenda and interests (…), and Africa’s stated priorities are conspicuously missing, as a result.

“This is extremely far from the truth. As we have said, this is an African Climate Summit,” Soipan Tuya, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Forestry, told a press briefing Wednesday where officials shared updates on state of preparedness for the upcoming summit.

She was reacting to the CSOs’ claims contained in a letter addressed to Kenya’s President William Ruto with African Heads of State and Governments, and African Union top officials in copy.

Kenya spearheads coordination of the summit activities with support of other participating countries, the African Union and partners.

In their letter, the watchdogs expressed concern about the direction the Africa Climate Summit is taking, and demanded withdrawal of the control and influence of Mckinsey in its organisation, among key changes.

While Mrs. Tuya confirmed the involvement of partners who include civil society organizations and consultancy firms that have input and suggestions to share due to the global nature of the issues to be discussed at the summit, she did not state the extent of their involvement.

“I can confirm to the world that this is the African position that we are projecting we have a draft declaration that has been circulated to all Heads of State for input and we are going to have it read out jointly in Nairobi, and that is the African agenda,” she said.

Some 13,000 delegates from 126 countries have so far been registered and accredited for the summit, according to the organizers, while 15 African Heads of State and Governments confirmed attendance.

Outcomes of the summit will inform Africa’s position in global climate discourse at UN general assembly, upcoming UN climate negotiations (COP28) and other international forums, officials said.

Africa bears the greatest burden of climate change despite current and historical emission levels of greenhouse gases being insignificant.

Climate activists expect leaders to use the upcoming summit as an avenue to, among other things, ‘tell off’ industrialised world over unmet commitments at annual international climate fora, and highlight its bearing on the continent’s climate adaptation and mitigation ability.

Also read: Rwanda floods: The not-so-visible hand of wealthy nations 

They also seek officials to reiterate demand for new climate change financial architecture, as well as consideration of the climate change and debt nexus, as debt-ridden countries on the continent are unable to engage in proper adaptation and mitigation activities.

At upcoming Africa climate summit the debt distress situation of countries, which leaves little to no capital to engage in climate change related action is also one of the major issues expected to dominate the discussions and likely feature in the declaration leaders will issue at the end with call to action.

“Debt stress has been compounded by the impact of Covid-19, climate change and unfair international monetary system which tend to be biased against Africa. Our access to those funds, even the Climate Fund is really an issue. We want to drive a green growth and climate finance solution for Africa,” said Josefa Sacko, African Union commissioner for agriculture, rural development blue economy and sustainable environment.

Also read: Africa eyes green bonds, COP27 partnerships to plug infrastructure gaps

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