In the realm of climate discussions, a vital component has been conspicuously missing: the role of women, particularly from Africa and the Global South. Their historical exclusion from international climate dialogues has not only hindered progress but also stymied Africa’s potential to be a global renewable energy leader.
The Significance of the Africa Climate Summit
The recently held Africa Climate Summit in Kenya has brought hope, shining a spotlight on these entrenched gender inequalities. This event, unprecedented in its nature, aimed to challenge and eventually reverse the years of systematic marginalization that African women have faced.
The significance of this summit goes beyond mere discussions. The African Union Commission, representing 55 African countries, joined forces with the Kenyan government and the upcoming COP28’s UAE presidency. Their joint statement is ground-breaking, endorsing the goal of tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency. This combined effort underscores the intent to maintain global warming within the 1.5C safe limit. Moreover, they advocate for a holistic system change, emphasizing the transformation of food, health systems, and the safeguarding of nature and biodiversity.
Ambitious Moves towards Renewable Energy
Previously, such ambitious objectives hadn’t made it to political agendas, let alone a unanimous statement representing numerous African nations. Yet, the commitment doesn’t end at words. Dr. Sultan Al Jabr, the president of COP28, announced a staggering $4.5 billion investment to stimulate African clean energy projects. This move aims to showcase the commercial potential of clean investment across the continent, intending to set a replicable model for low-carbon growth.
Women at the Forefront of the Energy Transition
However, a pivot towards cleaner energy isn’t the only narrative here. Women need to be at the epicentre of this energy transition. It’s a concerning reality that a mere 9% of energy project aid is oriented towards gender equality. Moreover, women, who contribute to 80% of food production and represent over 60% of agricultural employment in sub-Saharan Africa, bear the brunt of climate change and energy scarcity. Yet, climate finance initiatives have frequently ignored gender considerations.
The gender discrepancy isn’t just an African issue. Past UN climate dialogues have often operated with a gender-blind approach, risking not just the environment but also equitable societal progress. Firms with gender-balanced boards tend to adopt eco-friendly policies more frequently. Women, on a global scale, are more proactive in adopting measures to reduce emissions. Thus, side-lining them can have catastrophic consequences.
Rachel Ruto, Kenya’s First Lady, has highlighted the urgent need to arm women with knowledge and skills. By doing so, they can be trailblazers in the realms of clean energy and sustainability.
The resonance of the Africa Climate Summit should be felt globally, especially at the upcoming United Nations climate dialogues. COP28 has shown a positive trajectory by appointing women in senior roles and emphasizing gender inclusivity. However, baby steps won’t suffice. Empowering African women in climate action, especially those at the frontlines of climate change, is imperative. Without their involvement, global consensus on climate change remains a distant dream.
Feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions.
· Julius Moerder, Head of Energy Transition Centre email@example.com
· Oneyka Ojogbo, Head of Energy Transition Centre, Nigeria & West Africa firstname.lastname@example.org
· Leon van Der Merwe, Head of Energy Transition Centre, South Africa email@example.com
Author: Memoona Tawfiq