By Joyce Ojanji
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta was inaugurated as the Global Champion for the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), an initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), at an event held at the University of Nairobi.
The Head of State was given the recognition by GCA Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Prof.Dr Patrick van Verkooijen, who commended him for his sterling efforts in tackling the climate change challenge, leading role in advocacy and mobilizing resources for climate change adaptation in Africa and globally.
Prof.Dr. van Verkooijen said he was deeply honored to work with President Kenyatta for Africa to build forward better by financing a greener, more resilient and prosperous continent that puts people on the move.
“Africa will continue to suffer disproportionately in the world because of the climate crisis , if we don’t act,” he said. “Adaptation is not only possible, but it makes economic sense. Investing in climate adaptation is good for our health, good for our planet and good for our economies.”
In his acceptance speech, President Kenyatta noted that most socio-economic challenges Africa is facing are contributed by the climate change factor and promised his full commitment to advancing the continent’s adaptation issue.
“As an adaptation champion, I will be the voice of the voiceless Africans who are crying out for a climate-resilient and prosperous future,” he said adding that he accepted the role to give impetus to the critical actions and global finance needed to address the climate and food crisis today and to build more resilient continent.
President Kenyatta urged developed countries to fulfil their financial pledges towards Africa’s adaptation agenda. “We have no choice. We must act and do so fast because the window of opportunity is closing on us. This means we must waste no time, and must prioritize and invest massively in adaptation and resilience,” he said.
“Globally, there’s confrontation of multiple global shocks that are reverberating through our economies. The catastrophic drought in the Horn of Africa, catalyzed by climate change, is threatening lives and livelihoods and needs an immediate response. Many African nations are suffering losses of about three percent of GDP per year because of the present climate change.”
As Global Champion for the AAAP, President Kenyatta will support the mobilizing of the global community to honour their climate finance commitments and support the largest adaptation initiative on the continent.
Additionally, his leadership at the domestic level will also contribute to scale up investments in adaptation in Kenya, through GCA’s strategic engagement with the Government of Kenya under the AAAP.
Ban Ki-Moon, Chair of the GCA and 8th Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) also hailed Kenyatta for his lead role in the fight against climate change. President Kenyatta is and will be the strongest voice in mobilizing the global community, for making sure countries honor their climate finance commitments and get behind the largest adaptation initiative in Africa, he said.
Applauding President Kenyatta for the selection, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB’s President said: “The timing is right, just ahead of COP27, the Africa COP in Egypt. It’s time to turn promises into resources, to turn exaltation into execution, hope into reality. And for that we need a champion, a tested leader, with respected global voice. President Kenyatta is a doer, climate –friendly leader. His voice and leadership will help as we drive for better financing for climate adaptation for Africa.”
Dr.Kristalina Georgivena ,Managing Director ,International Monetary fund (IMF) said President Kenyatta through his leadership had already inspired others to step up and accelerate action to tackle global warming.
There’s no one better person to champion adaptation in Africa, including the financing that is so badly needed. And that’s the reason the AAAP and its upstream financing is so important, she said.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Director General, commended Uhuru Kenyatta for being a driving force behind AAAP.
“His strong voice and leadership will inspire others to scale up and accelerate the actions required to adapt to climate change,” she said adding that as an eminent international statesperson, his leadership on this issue is much appreciated and is powerful example to others.