global perspectives

The ‘Road to COP28’ starts in Africa

15 September 2023 / WORDS BY Maggie Comstock

From 4-6 September, the Government of Kenya hosted the first Africa Climate Summit, which was co-located with the annual, regional climate week hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Tens of thousands of climate leaders, practitioners, and other stakeholders flocked to Nairobi to participate in this globally important event.  

The Pollination team attending the Summit in Nairobi were impressed by the level of participation, energy and enthusiasm present throughout the week. Here are Pollination’s key observations from the Summit: 

Africa’s ambitions for sustainable growth

The African continent had a minimal role in contributing to the climate crisis, yet its people will disproportionately feel the effects of climate change. During the Summit, nature-based solutions and low-carbon technologies were discussed as key priorities for the region. However, the focus on these climate solutions was not purely motivated by the need to reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions, but, rather, on proactively decarbonizing Africa’s future growth. In the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action, African leaders:  

Emphasise[d] that Africa possesses both the potential and the ambition to be a vital component of the global solution to climate change. It is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing workforce, coupled with massive untapped renewable energy potential, abundant natural assets and entrepreneurial spirit, our continent has the fundamentals to pioneer a climate-positive pathway as a thriving, cost-competitive industrial hub with the capacity to support other regions in achieving their net zero ambitions. 

Discussions during the Summit highlighted the range of opportunities available today to invest in Africa’s sustainable growth, including a landmark announcement by Climate Asset Management, a joint venture between Pollination and HSBC Asset Management, who will invest $200 million in nature-based carbon projects in Africa in partnership with the Global Evergreening Alliance. 


A widening window for impactful investment from both public and private sources

African institutions showcased examples of how they are already mobilizing climate and carbon finance to build a sustainable future; however, significant funding gaps remain. According to the Climate Policy Initiative, 14% of climate finance in Africa comes from private sector sources, whereas 86% is from public sources.[1]

Ideas for blended finance models were pervasive in discussions and events throughout the week. These ideas need to urgently translate into actual finance flows. To this end, in the Declaration, African leaders called for:  

Additional measures to crowd in and de-risk private capital, such as blended finance instruments, purchase commitments, industrial policy collaboration, and guarantee mechanisms, which should be informed by the risks that drive lack of private capital deployment at scale. 

Scaling up blended finance instruments can help overcome perceived risk for international investors.

Africa-led leadership on carbon markets

Carbon markets are rapidly evolving as the lines between compliance and voluntary markets blur and countries operationalize Article 6 and determine the role of carbon markets in supporting their national climate aspirations. All countries need to urgently build the capabilities and policy infrastructure necessary to effectively participate in carbon markets.  

During the Summit, African governments and initiatives showcased numerous examples of how Africa is advancing carbon markets to drive investment in priority climate solutions. For example, the West African Alliance for Carbon Markets and Climate Finance and its sister organization, the Eastern Africa Alliance, shared their progress on promoting regional access to carbon markets. And the Africa Carbon Market Initiative shared developments related to the formulation and implementation of country ‘Carbon Market Activation Plans.’ 

Kenya, as host of the Summit, demonstrated its own leadership on carbon markets. In the days preceding the Summit, Kenya’s President, William Ruto, signed into law an amended Climate Change Act that includes new details for regulating carbon markets. While the amended Act provides high-level insights on the planned direction for Kenya’s participation in carbon markets, further work is needed to achieve full policy clarity. The next step is to develop the related implementing regulations as well as complementary guidance related to REDD+ nesting, which will further position Kenya as a regional and global climate leader. 


The Government of Kenya should be commended for the success of this impressive and globally significant conference, which marks an important milestone on the ‘road to COP28’ in Dubai. We urge the COP28 Presidency and all world leaders to make this year’s climate negotiations as action oriented as the Africa Climate Summit.  


[1] 1 Landscape of Climate Finance in Africa: Interactive Data Tools – CPI ( 


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