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(Nairobi, Kenya – Wednesday, 6 September 2023) — The Africa Climate Summit (ACS) ended in Nairobi today with nations acknowledging the value of nature and biodiversity for African development and as being vital for the fight against climate change.
Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW, said the Nairobi Declaration announcement underscored biodiversity’s significance to arresting climate change.
“The ACS decision is important. It commits members to strengthen their actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, and desertification and restore degraded land. Recognising the importance of these efforts is a vital step in the right direction,” said Downes, who was speaking from Nairobi.
IFAW was among the few conservation organisations represented at the ACS, where side events paid limited attention to the role of nature and biodiversity in relieving the impacts of climate change.
“The value of nature-based solutions as one of the ways to mitigate the climate crisis cannot be underestimated. We cannot afford to lament what has been lost; we must prioritise protecting what remains and actively seek ways to rectify the environmental damage so far inflicted upon our planet,” said the conservationist.
Simon Addison, IFAW Climate Advisor, said IFAW was pleased with the firm demand by African leaders that the global community must reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement as a first priority.
“Nations also continue to acknowledge the need for rich countries to implement the Loss and Damage Facility – these are both critical actions that rich countries need to take to safeguard nature and biodiversity and protect vulnerable communities from the worst impacts of climate change,” said Addison.
IFAW said it was disappointed by the limited reference to biodiversity and nature in the Declaration’s Call to Action.
“While African leaders have set expectations high for the reform of the international financial systems that restrict their ability to raise funds to support climate-resilient development, the Declaration was light on specifics when it came to the question of how to address the nature finance gap – which currently stands at $700 billion per year,” said Addison.
“Nations were also silent on how they intend to honour their commitments to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which they signed in December. Achieving GBF targets like the need to protect and restore at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and marine and coastal ecosystems, and to minimise the impact of climate change on biodiversity and increasing its resilience will only help African nations to deliver their ambitions laid out in this Declaration.”
IFAW said the first-ever ACS was largely a success for nature and biodiversity. It remained committed to its partnerships with countries in East and Southern Africa in helping them meet their conservation goals.
IFAW experts will be on hand throughout the African Climate Summit for in-person discussion and interviews.
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