- East Africa
President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Thursday inaugurated as the Global Champion for the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), an initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) which aims to raise 25 billion US dollars for investment in Africa’s climate adaptation initiatives.
The President was, at the event held at the University of Nairobi’s Taifa Hall in Nairobi City County, also feted by GCA for his leading role in advocacy and resource mobilization for climate change adaptation in Africa and globally.
The recognition was given to the Head of State by GCA CEO Patrick van Verkooijen who commended President Kenyatta for his sterling efforts in tackling the climate change challenge.
In his acceptance speech, President Kenyatta noted that most of the socio-economic challenges facing Africa are attributable to climate change and pledged his full commitment to advancing the continent’s adaptation agenda.
“As an adaptation champion, I will be the voice of all voiceless Africans who are crying out for a climate-resilient and prosperous future,” President Kenyatta said adding that climate change had become an existential threat to every country in Africa.
The President noted that the Horn of Africa was facing its worst drought in over 40 years as a direct consequence of climate change.
“What does this mean in human terms for my fellow Kenyans, and our neighbours in Ethiopia and Somalia? Harvests have failed and 3 million cows are dead. People in drought-stricken areas are facing severe water shortages and cases of inter- community fighting, over pasture are, on the increase.
“As we speak, over four million Kenyans are in need of food assistance and close to one million children under 2 years, are malnourished. Across the Horn of Africa, twenty million people – and six million of them are children – are severely food insecure,” the President said.
He said climate induced extreme weather conditions including devastating floods in Southern Africa and Southern Sudan, will retard Africa’s progress.
“Such crises precipitate huge economic loses, estimated at 3% of GDP for the continent in the medium term. They also threaten peaceful coexistence, leading to inter-community conflict as well as displacement, as people relocate in search of food and pasture,” the President said.
The Head of State said the situation is likely to have negative impacts on generations to come as children face malnutrition due to food insecurity, which in turn undermines their health and productivity.
“This deadly toxic cocktail of Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russian war and the climate change related emergency, grows more deadly by the day,” he said.
Once again, the President urged developed nations to fulfill their financial pledges towards Africa’s adaptation agenda.
“We have no choice. We must act and do so fast, because the window of opportunity is closing on us. This means we must waste no time; and we must prioritise and invest massively in adaptation and resilience,” the President urged.
He said AAAP is a bold and creative platform that lays a broad and firm foundation for economic growth while at the same time containing the impact of climate shocks.
“And it is timely. Because while Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is rising, so too is the gap between the available finance for adaptation and the needs in terms of hard cash. In stark terms indications are that US $33 billion is the quantum of financing currently required for adaptation annually; but only a fraction of that – just US $6 billion – is available.
“Therefore, today, as I assume my role as an adaptation champion, I repeat my call to our development partners to urgently support Africa by making good on their pledges. The US $100bn annual amount pledged to help developing countries tackle climate change by 2020, is yet to be honoured.
“And now, in the absence of that promised one hundred billion US Dollars a year, we have another promise pending – the promise made at COP26 in Glasgow to double adaptation finance,” the President said.
He added: “We must shift gear and move from commitments to action. To achieve the Paris Agreement, there must be a paradigm-shift. When African leaders arrive in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November for COP27, we expect to see the many climate change commitments translate into funded programmes”.
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko said through President Kenyatta’s efforts the country had grown its forest cover to 12.3 percent forest cover.
“Your Excellency, you mobilised the entire country into tree planting campaign. Our constitution requires a tree cover of a minimum of 10 percent, but Your Excellency with your leadership our tree cover now is now 12.13percent,” he said.
Other speakers at the auspicious event through pre-recorded messages were former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, WTO Director General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and African Development Bank AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina.