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Nairobi Hosts First High-Level Climate Summit in Africa: Colombia’s VP and Former President in Attendance


Nairobi Francia Márquez Duque
Francia Marquez and Duque will be at the Nairobi summit – Credit: Twitter/Ivan Duque/GUENGL/CC BY-SA 2.0

Francia Marquez, the Vice President of Colombia, and Ivan Duque, the former President of the country (2018-2022), are participating in the summit against climate change taking place in Nairobi. The capital of Kenya will host the first high-level meeting of this kind on the African continent for three days, with the mission of addressing the necessary measures in the fight that Africa is leading against global climate change.

Colombia continues to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against climate change. President Petro and his government have this point clearly marked on the political agenda. In this regard, the Petro government has undertaken various high-impact political actions that support this commitment: Petro’s statements in his first participation as Colombian president in the United Nations General Assembly, his proposals at the recent Amazon Summit in Brazil, and negotiations with the United States and the European Union, including debt forgiveness for climate action.

Attendees beyond Africa

In addition to African leaders, the summit will be attended by Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ursula Von Der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, leaders from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the current President of the African Union, Azali Assoumani.

Colombia’s Vice President, Francia Marquez, and former President Ivan Duque will also attend the summit. Márquez announced the strengthening of ties between her country and the African continent during her trip to African lands four months ago.

That mission was the highest-level mission that Colombia has had with a continent from which part of its current population’s ancestors hail, including Vice President Márquez herself. During that trip, Colombia signed various cooperation agreements in education and trade with South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Africa Demands Greater Presence

African countries attending the summit in Nairobi will demand greater international involvement in the climate change debate. They will call for a stronger voice and increased financing to address their participation in the global fight against rising temperatures and the effects of global warming that are already being felt.

Kenya’s President, William Ruto, and the African Union inaugurated the summit on Monday in the Kenyan capital. More than a dozen African heads of state will participate, and the event will also give a voice to young people demanding to be heard by current world leaders.

“For a long time, we’ve seen this as a problem. There are also immense opportunities. (…) We’re not here to complain,” Ruto said in his speech, striking a conciliatory but assertive tone.

Nairobi Francia Márquez Duque
Kenyan President William Ruto opened the summit in Nairobi. Credit: Twitter/Williamsruto

From an African perspective, it is incomprehensible how countries that have contributed significantly to the negative effects of climate change through their emissions of polluting gases demand more significant actions from less-polluting countries like those in Africa. That’s why Africa is calling for collaboration in financing these changes to ensure their successful implementation.

Kenya’s president announced that the country obtains 93% of its energy from renewable sources. However, deforestation remains a problem in the African nation. As an illustrative anecdote, a forest was cleared to build the road for the summit attendees in Kenya this week.

$100 Billion Promised

Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has also demanded the $100 billion that wealthy countries promised to emerging economies to combat the climate crisis. The goal set in 2009 is still far from being achieved in this regard.

Additionally, the summit will address the exploitation of clean energy resources from Africa. The continent possesses 30% to 40% of these resources globally.

Africa also needs a unified and global approach to the response and measures to be taken regarding the climate crises it faces, such as repeated droughts and increasingly aggressive cyclones.

The summit will conclude on Wednesday, September 6, with the “Nairobi Declaration on Green Growth and Climate Finance,” which everyone hopes will include clear and tangible commitments from African governments.

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