Nairobi – Sunset over the rooftops

PRB at the Africa Climate Summit 2023

September 4-6, 2023
Nairobi, Kenya

Day 1 Highlights

Session: A Round Table on Climate Finance and Human Mobility

10:30–11:30 a.m.


  • The Africa Climate Summit is the opportunity for a call to expand the historic Kampala Ministerial Declaration on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change from the 15 member states who signed on to it in July 2022 to reach across the continent in acknowledgement of the deep intersections between climate, fragility, and mobility.
  • This session was a call to action for development partners to work with the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration on these linkages.

Session: African Women and Girls Leading Climate Action

12:30–1:30 p.m.

Youth Panel:

  • Fatou Jeng (moderator), youth advisory group to UN Secretary General on Climate Change, the Gambia
    • “There is opportunity to improve the integration of sexual and reproductive health in climate action, but not if our policies only see us as vulnerable.”
  • Vanessa Nakate, UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Uganda:
    • “As we discuss gender transformative climate action, we need to see women and girls as advocates, lawyers, journalists—it has to start with us and how we see ourselves.”
  • Ineza Umuhoza Grace, founder, The Green Protector, Rwanda:
    • “Women and girls are not just vulnerable, we are leaders. When women and girls are included in climate action, they have a chance to shine.”
  • Laurel Kivuyo, Tanzanian climate youth activist:
    • “How can we sustain young leaders? Make sure we can replicate them. Make a conscious commitment on education, training, knowledge transfer, from up to down.”


  • Omar Abdi, UNICEF Assistant Secretary General:
    • “It’s impossible to ignore that the climate crisis is a girl’s rights crisis.”
  • Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of Ghana:
    • “Empowering women and girls means advancing climate action, breaking down barriers to access to resources, to land, credit, decision-making power.”
  • Honorable Harriette Chiggai, Office of the President of Kenya, Women’s Rights Advisor (event host):
    • “There is no climate financing without data—data is never complete if it is not gender-disaggregated.”
    • Climate change and sexual and reproductive health are increasingly understood as interlinked, but data remain very scarce—call for more and better data on this linkage.
    • Climate change is known to impact the unpaid care work carried out by women and girls.
    • “Gender data must be the bedrock of climate action.”
    • Call to make better use of existing data, which too often sits unused. Opportunity to harness other types of data—geospatial data, satellite data, mobile phone and social media data, financial transaction data.

Session: Investing in South-Led Science and Innovation for a Just and Equitable Climate Finance Framework

1:30–2:30 p.m.
  • Kate Hampton, CEO, CIFF:
    • The ACS is an opportunity for rethinking how the global multilateral financial system works. Having a whole-of-Africa conversation will change how people perceive investment in Africa.

Session: Building Climate-Resilient Health SystemsUnlocking Financing for Health Adaptation

3:30–4:30 p.m.

Session featured two female Ministers of Health (Malawi, Liberia)

  • Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health, Malawi:
    • Ministers of Health will leave the summit with ample political will to engage on climate policy with their governments and show how when climate disasters happen in their countries, people end up in the health system and so they must be implicated from the beginning.

Session: Resilient Sustainable Urbanization Through Integrated Disaster Risk Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation

4:30–5:30 p.m.
  • Rohey Malick Lowe, mayor of Banjul, the Gambia:
    • Local government is really the province of women, who are unsung heroes in this domain. COVID-19 brought more attention to the importance of local government and mayors, but they need to be recognized as important stakeholders even outside of times of crisis.

Day 2 Highlights

Major Themes

  • Youth: Africa’s demographics make the large youth population a key opportunity and a key measure of accountability for Africa’s climate action – but they need meaningful channels for investment, access to capital, and entrepreneurship to create green jobs
  • Climate Finance: Public finance is not enough, massive private finance is needed to meet targets and the global financial infrastructure must be completely re-worked to make it equitable and accessible for investment in Africa with lower debt burdens, more acceptance of risk
  • Changing the Narrative: President Ruto of Kenya set the stage of this inaugural African Climate Summit in calling to abolish the notion of “Global North/Global South” and abandoning grievance politics that inscribe Africa in a narrative of vulnerability–and rather choose to see climate change as an opportunity for Africa to lead in developing through climate action, not in spite of it.

Session: Catalyzing Momentum for Institutionalizing Health Negotiations Within UNFCCC at COP28

8:00–9:00 a.m.
  • Acting Deputy Director General of Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ouma Ogwell:
    • “Health as a point of discussion is a priority with in the climate summit…and we will bring that priority to the COP28.”

Session: Advancing Locally Led Adaptation in Africa: A Case of Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda

9:00–10:00 a.m.


  • Gender-transformative approaches are essential for meaningfully addressing structural inequalities.
  • We must look at a whole-ecosystem approach for local solutions, reaching the last mile as stakeholders instead of merely beneficiaries.
  • Various avenues for communities to be involved in the design of decision-making that concerns them–need more participatory research on co-creation of climate solutions.

Statement by Heads of State and Key Dignitaries, Plenary

10:00–12:15 p.m.
  • Ursula von der Leyen, President of European Commission:
    • “Climate action can be the main driver of growth in Africa.”
  • President William Ruto of Kenya:
    • “Africa’s youthfulness is precisely the attribute that has inspired African leaders to imagine a future where Africa finally steps into the stage as an economic and industrial power, an effective and positive actor on a global arena.”
  • John Kerry, special envoy for climate change, United States:
    • Africa presents some of the greatest opportunities in the world.
    • Adaptation has moved to the fore in climate discussions.

Session: Unlocking Finance and Creating an Enabling Environment for Youth Entrepreneurs and Innovators in Climate Action

10:00–12:15 p.m.
  • African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina:
    • The greatest challenge to Africa’s development is missing the opportunity of harnessing its youth.

Session: Unlocking Investments in Climate Adaptation

3:30–4:30 p.m.


  • Climate change adaptation is increasingly integrated into the development agenda, but needs continued priority and private sector funding, which has provided little funding to date.
  • Adaptation projects are riskier, with longer project horizons, and hazier definitions of success than mitigation – this scares off investment.
  • We need reliable data on climate risk and better means to measure adaptation success.

Day 3 Highlights

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit concluded today, September 6, with the unanimous adoption of the Nairobi Declaration, organizing Africa’s leaders behind a climate consensus position going into the next COP28 negotiations, starting this November in Dubai.

The Nairobi Declaration contextualizes Africa’s role in climate action along several key points:

  • Acknowledging the pressing challenges across sectors, including health, education, peace, security, economics, and others.
  • Noting that Africa is rapidly urbanizing and its population is rapidly growing, especially noting the large youth population of the continent, and the impacts of these trends both on Africa’s vulnerability but also its potential.
  • Noting the important role of preserving Africa’s natural ecosystems as carbon sinks on the continent with the capability of storing carbon from the atmosphere, including the Congo basin peatlands and other essential habitats such as mangroves and grasslands.
  • Finally, noting Africa’s lack of contribution to the driving causes of climate change but its disproportionate impacts on the continent, which threaten progress towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In light of these factors, the Nairobi Declaration positions the African continent to rise to the challenge of climate change through embracing the opportunity for climate action to forward sustainable, green development and lead the world in a just and equitable transition away from a carbon-based development model. The Declaration strategically combines the climate and development agendas in Africa for a new era of green growth and just transition, with unified leadership by President Ruto of Kenya to leverage the vast potential of Africa, including its potential to provide 60% of the world’s renewable energy.

The Nairobi Declaration contains the following priorities, among others:

  • Calls to the world’s high-emitting nations to keep their climate promises–notably, the unfulfilled pledge made 14 years ago for $100 billion USD annually to developing nations for climate finance, as well as commitments made at previous COPs including the operationalization of the Loss and Damage facility promised at COP27.
  • Calls for climate-positive investments to accelerate global decarbonization in Africa to allow African countries to achieve middle-income status by 2050.
  • Set in place a measurable Global Goal for Adaptation with indicators and targets to assess progress against negative climate impacts.
  • Calls for wide-ranging reform to the multilateral financial system.
  • Accelerating the energy transition, job creation, and green growth across Africa through enabling policy environments, investments, and prioritizing climate-positive growth.
  • Supporting smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, and local communities in ecosystems stewardship and the green economic transition.
  • Embracing indigenous knowledge and citizen science in adaptation strategies and early warning systems.
  • Establishing the Africa Climate Summit as a biennial event convened by the African Union to set the continent’s collective climate vision.

What is missing from the Nairobi Declaration?

While the Nairobi Declaration takes a strong stance on Africa’s potential to turn climate action into economic development, with the support of improved financial investment and reduction of debt burdens, the Declaration leaves out several important elements. Notably, the Declaration does not include the role of empowering women and youth and the role of demographic transition in supporting economic development and climate adaptation and resilience on the continent.