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President Ruto: Africa Climate Summit no ordinary summit

The three-day inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) being held in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi is the first of its kind that seeks to be a panacea to environmental challenges that have plagued the world for years. 

President William Ruto says unlike other summits, ACS is one that seeks to imagine, design and then build a future of prosperity for Africa and the world.

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“You have not just stepped into a conference hall; you have entered the future—a future ripe with potential, driven by global partnerships, committed to African prosperity, inclusive growth, and a liveable planet for all,” he told a gathering of about 30,000 delegates drawn from all over the world as he officially opened the Africa Climate Summit 2023 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, KICC.

“We are not here just to talk about Africa or climate change in the usual way, which often accentuates our divisions—north versus south, developed versus developing, polluters versus the victims. And even within our own governments, economic development, so badly needed for us to achieve stable and dignified livelihoods, is often cast as a trade off with environmental stewardship as if they are mutually exclusive, when in fact they must be positively reinforcing.”

President Ruto says science and emerging experience have proven that it is possible to catalyze Africa’s prosperity while ensuring the wellbeing of her citizens without pushing the world deeper into climate disaster.

This, he contends, can only be attained through the birthing of an opportunity-oriented focus on climate action which he termed a key driver needed to propel the continent into a realm of stability and prosperity, thus elevating it into middle-income status and beyond.

“This context is precisely what sets this Climate Summit apart from others. It aims to unite us – across neighborhoods, across sectors and institutions, across country borders, across continents and across generations. It is because we all have a shared stake in the Earth’s ability to sustain life, that we must envision together a future that embraces the values of equality, human security, and shared prosperity.”

As they explore ways of fixing challenges brought about by climate change, President Ruto, himself a scientist by training, urged the delegates to prioritize the urgency to address loss and damage, and to configure appropriate financial mechanisms for resilience grows with each extreme weather event and each bout of climate-induced insecurity.

Aware that similar summits have ended without any meaningful outcomes, the Head of State implored the participants not to allow what he called “a complex interplay of needs and responsibilities” which he noted is a daily challenge to result in a deadlock.

“We must be alert to the fact that they can sometimes blind us to the bigger picture.”

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