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Where Nairobi climate summit failed

Where Nairobi climate summit failed

Where Nairobi climate summit failed


President William Ruto takes a group photo with delegates at KICC, Nairobi on September 4, 2023 during the Africa Climate Summit 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

“Opportunities are meant to be grabbed not given”, so goes the saying. Last week, President Ruto did exactly that: he grabbed a chance to host the first African Climate Summit (ACS23).

Undoubtedly, the coming of about 15 Heads of State, plus their entourage must have enabled some Kenyan businessmen in travel, hospitality, logistics and other industries to pay some bills – a real reprieve.

In this sense, and in terms of conferencing and PR, it was a great success for Kenya.

Read: Clashing agendas at the Nairobi climate summit

Other Heads of State also achieved good PR by forcing their local media houses to go live while they were addressing the summit, even if the declaration at the end was so different that it appeared to have been drafted by other persons not present at the event, determined the persons to attend and those not to attend, and set the agenda in the first place.

But how successful was it for Mother Africa and mother Earth?

In their statement, the African Climate Summit Non-State Actors (ACS-NSA), who from the beginning were seeking to participate in the summit, expressed deep concern and disappointment over both the preparation for and the agenda pointing out organisational lapses, apparent civil society exclusion and Western interest dominance.

Even as the confusion was being sorted out too late, ACS-NSA claimed summit organisers had deliberately failed to ensure adequate participation and consultation of non-State actors, especially those from the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, in the planning and implementation of the summit.

But that is not the only concerned group in terms of participation. The African parliamentarians were more conspicuously missing in the consultation process, yet their representation, legislation and oversight role is apparent in processes such as the ACS.

Besides the exclusion of important groups from adequate participation, the event’s agenda remained too inclined to promote market-based solutions and transnational corporations’ involvement while neglecting the people’s and the planet’s needs and rights.

For this, it failed to take the Triple Helix and the Triple Bottom-line approach. The Triple Helix model refers to a set of interactions between academia (the university), industry and government, in fostering economic and social development, which is one of the foundations of the Solomonic economic model.

The Triple bottom-line approach, on the other hand, expands conventional business success metrics to include an organisation’s contributions to social well-being, environmental health and a just economy. These bottom-line categories are often referred to as the three “P’s”: People, Planet, and Prosperity.

For the ACS23 to miss these tried and tested models of transformation, it means that something must have gone very wrong.

To the extent that ACS23 excluded health from the agenda despite its extricable link to climate change, ACS23 failed terribly.

To make such meetings effective and efficient, African leaders could learn from their European, American and Asian developed Nations counterparts.

First, they follow the 40-20-40 rule. The success of a summit is determined by how much effort is put into what happens before (preparation), during (summit itself) and after (implementation) the summit, which should be 40 percent, 20 percent and 40 percent respectively. That is why in the G-20, there is a T-20 (Team-20) that ensures this rule is adhered to.

Read: President Ruto rallies Africa to walk the climate change talk

African climate summit’s process was exactly the opposite. Kenya’s Ministry of Environment – which was a convener and host, together with the Kenyan team, both of which did not have much of a clue on how to reach the declarations, will certainly have no clue in the implementation of the declaration.

For future success, better learn from the G-20 model and follow the 40-20-40 rule, while applying meritocracy and pragmatism.

Dr Ogola is the CEO at African Health and Economic Institute and Director of the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness. 

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