By Joyce Ojanji

African leaders have called for strategic partnerships and multi-level climate action in cities since they receive the least attention in global climate discourse despite being home to over 600 million people.

Despite Africa contributing the least to global carbon emissions, cities are turning into hotspots of suffering, marked by flash floods, droughts, and heat waves.

The city leaders issued a call to action at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, which focused on “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for African urban cities and the world.”

“Let us seize this opportunity to implement transformative climate action, promote green economies and job creation, and foster sustainable development across Africa and beyond to create safe, inclusive, and prosperous nations and cities,” they said. “Together, we can forge a resilient future and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

The leaders noted that moving forward, they must enhance coordination across all levels of government and support inclusive climate action that transforms cities and improves lives, adding that the increased role of local government in climate action necessitates greater investments in building local capacities. This is the only way to ensure we can implement national strategies and solutions for adaptation and low-carbon development.

They observed that by undertaking integrated planning that leaves no one behind, embracing ecosystem-based approaches and mobilizing climate finance, they can build thriving urban spaces and human settlements in Africa and protect their shared future.

They noted that cities must adapt to the effects of climate change while simultaneously reducing their reliance on fossil fuels, adding that Africa, with its unique challenges and opportunities, is poised to lead the way in this regard.

The leaders also pinpointed that there is a need for localized climate data to support evidence-based planning which is the cornerstone of effective climate action. Informed decisions rely on precise, context-specific data, they said.

In addition, they called for collaborative efforts, such as the partnership between United Nations Human Settlements Programme, (UN-Habitat), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the African Union Commission (AUC), noting that these efforts exemplify the path to resilient urban development.

During the summit, the C40 (Cities Climate Leadership Group) Cities Finance Facility (CFF) unveiled new support for climate adaptation projects in Mbombela and Johannesburg (South Africa). CFF’s current portfolio in Africa includes projects in Dakar (Senegal), Accra (Ghana), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Cape Town, and Drakenstein (South Africa).

This portfolio of projects in Africa is projected to leverage more than US$150 million in climate finance by 2025. The CFF facilitates access to finance for climate change mitigation and resilience projects in cities.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) became CFF’s latest donor, formally announcing US$1.25 million in support during an event focused on mobilizing finance for fair and just climate adaptation in African cities. 

With support from the UK government and in collaboration with C40, the cities of Accra, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, and Tshwane are addressing the climate crisis by adopting sustainable waste management and enhancing energy efficiency in buildings.

Between January 2022 and December 2025, the seven cities are turning strategies into action through the Climate Action Implementation Programme, aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and creating green jobs as well as resilient and livable cities for all.