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Without change, African climate summit could be pretext for ‘neo-colonialism’, activists say

ACTIVISTS said today that without change the first Africa Climate Summit could be a pretext for a new neocolonialism.

The landmark African Union summit, which opens today in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, will run for four days.

It aims to bring together the continent’s policy-makers, practitioners, businesses and civil society to develop solutions to tackle the climate emergency.

It comes in the lead-up to the United Nations Cop28 climate conference, due to take place in the United Arab Emirates in December. 

The continent, which is larger than China, India and the United States combined, has been hit with worsening storms, wildfires, floods, severe drought, desertification and increasing cyclones, leading to displacement, migration and a worsening food crisis. 

Summit host Kenyan President William Ruto said: “Climate action is not a global North issue or a global South issue: it is our collective challenge, and it affects all of us. We need to come together to find common global solutions.”

Alongside the official summit, more than 500 civil society organisations have organised their own event — and in a letter have expressed concern over the direction being taken by the main conference.

The African Coalition on Green Growth, Africans Rising, Afrika Youth Movement and Ecological Justice and more have urged participants to reset the focus of the summit which they believe has been “seized by Western governments, consultancy companies and philanthropic organisations hell-bent on pushing a pro-West agenda and [its] interests at the expense of Africa.”

They said they were worried the summit agenda has been unduly influenced by two US-based organisations: consultancy firm McKinsey and the World Resource Institute. 

“The lead of African officials and ministers has been pushed on the back burner” and the committee set up to drive negotiations at the summit is “chaired by an individual who represents US and British-based organisations,” not African ones, the letter says.

The organisations say they want to see an event that is “of, by and for Africans,” demanding the influence of the US organisations be curbed and that the summit adopts an integrated approach to Africa’s climate, energy and development issues.

Without a more integrated approach, concepts such as green growth would simply further neocolonialism, the signatories say.

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